By Dawn M. Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Will Arcularius and Brent Arnold are an unlikely set of woodcrafters. More than 50 years of age separate the two, one is retired and the other is home-schooled.
Arcularius is President of the Southern Utah Woodturners Club and Arnold is into computer-aided drafting, playing the cello, and creating woodturning and technique videos on his own YouTube page. They do have one thing in common. Both share a passion for fine wood, a flair for turning old, discarded pieces into artful forms and a talent in woodturning.
Arnold, age 16, and the youngest member of the local wood turners club, began to fashion small wooden sculptures with a basic set of carving tools and a pocketknife his mom purchased for him when he was 8 years old. Carving became a keen interest for Arnold when he joined the Utah Valley Woodcarvers group in Orem, and met silver-haired seniors who enjoyed it as a favorite pasttime.
“I went home from those first few meetings and started to carve for hours at a time.” Those early projects earned him merit badges with his Cub (Boy) Scout Troup, by etching an Indian Head, animal shapes or decorative ornaments. It wasn’t until his move to Cedar City in 2015 that an avid interest in all things wood evolved into much more.
“I was really sad when I had to leave all of those friends in Orem” said Arnold, “But when I went to register for high school classes here, I met the woodshop teacher, Mr. Thorley, who told me about the wood turning club. So I thought I would give it a try.”
That’s where Will Arcularius stepped in.
As a retired firefighter from Bishop, Calif., woodturning began with demonstrations and working with other guys on past-time projects. In 2009, after building a house in Enoch, and a roomy shop full of equipment, Arcularius opened the first meeting with 25 who had a passion for wood, an interest in sharing their work, and pursing more advanced skills and techniques.
The Woodturners have become both friends and mentors to Arnold. For his recent Eagle Scout project, Arnold turned wood finials to dress the top of the American, State and military branch flags for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, used for burials and ceremonies.
“We just didn’t expect this young man to walk into the club, or to see the talent he had already developed,” said Arcularius. “But every once in awhile you run into a young person who is so focused and driven that they kind of stand out from the rest.”
The club space is a collection of lathes, band saws and wood-working tools and has become a hub for 75 members who enjoy turning a variety of wood scraps and salvaged pieces into useful and artful objects at weekly meetings.
Meanwhile, Arnold credits the club for introducing him to new techniques, the proper use of tools and what he needs to know about tool and equipment safety. “We do all sorts of projects,” says Arnold of demonstrations, “that can be anything from working with bandsaws and laser equipment, to fashioning vases or candle holders using the lathe.”
Arcularius would like to see more youth take an interest in wood crafting and real-world learning projects.
“Members have a perfect opportunity to share their talents through demonstrations. For young people, that can build self-confidence and improve public speaking skills, to better interact with people from another generation.”
Arnold organized his own home workshop. It is small by club comparison, but outfitted with a wide set of tools, donated by some members who hope Arnold will pursue his talent. In the past year, Arnold has set up his own webpage, established a line of products on an Etsy shop site, and has continued to market his line of ornaments, birdhouses, pens, bracelets and candleholders or through techniques featured in weekly YouTube videos.
Both Arcularius and Arnold are avid wood buffs. Some of their favorite species: Aspen, Mountain Mahogany, Catalpa, Big Leaf Maple, or burl pieces can sometimes be found as discarded, or at abandoned sites.
“We try to engage younger ones in a variety of practical skills,” said Arcularius of weekly projects. “That might be working with electrical connections, repairing a screen, or helping to build a wheel-chair ramp.”
The process of rough woodturning is a lengthy one that requires a craftsman to wait anywhere from several months up to a year to a complete a final turn, a sealed and finished work: so patience and diligent effort is part of the mindset.
“This young man can take this into a career or into a business,” said Arcularius, of youth who are commonly distracted by video games or with social media. “Working with wood, you learn real world skills, and how to live.” (Photo by D. Aerts)
Caption: Brent Arnold, age 16, with mentor, Will Arcularius, Director, Southern Utah Woodturners Club. Members will participate in the International Woodturners Symposium set in May. For more information, see SouthernUtahWoodturners.com; or visit Brent Arnold’s website, brentmichaelarnold.wordpress.com, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org