Our Members Make a Difference
Across the country and overseas, in all professional roles and career stages, woodturners provide a wide scope of skills and interests that contribute much to the woodturning community. Each month, another member will be spotlighted, then archived here for future reference. Check each spotlight – you’ll find valuable information including PDF downloads and project ideas.

December 2022: Dave Bleil
Dave Bleil

Lancaster Area Woodturners member Dave Bleil comes to the club with a diverse history of experiences and interests. A math teacher for forty and a half years – a year and a half at a private boarding school and thirty-nine years at Manheim Central in local Manheim, Dave taught everything from general math to advanced placement calculus.  He was also an adjunct at Harrisburg Community College in Lancaster for thirty years.  Dave and his wife Sue have three children and three grandsons. 

Dave’s first introduction to the lathe was in high school and he further honed his skills on his uncle’s Shopsmith while in college. While being a “dorm daddy” at a local college, he had access to a lathe at the shop used for stage productions and played on it making small objects such as candle stands.

When he built his house in 1976, Dave bought some equipment and got interested in making all-wood, pre-Flexible Flyer sleds called “clipper” or “cheese-cutter” sleds, joining the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen in about 1980.  He would make full or quarter-turned handles for the sides of the sleds.  LAW member Ted Rasmussen provided instructions on the best way to make turned boxes and Dave started making his locally renowned acorn decorative boxes, sold at the Lancaster Guild and PGC shows.  In 1988, Weekend Woodworking Projects magazine featured how Dave makes the acorn boxes. After a hiatus, Dave came back to turning after retiring in 2008. He considers himself a “wood butcher” but makes some truly interesting small items. During the pandemic, he gave a demonstration using photos and a handout of the acorn box for LAW, and AAW’s August FUNdamentals 2022 shows the construction of his off-center (off-axes) turned top hat wine stoppers.

Dave has gifted every family member and many friends with his acorns along with many other items such as vases, boxes, trees, and wine stoppers.  Many children love his custom-made “The-top-is-a-top” boxes!

Download Dave’s articles below and enjoy one of LAW’s most gifted turners –