Every November, the NWFA hosts a Specialty Training class in St. Louis where top-notch instructors pass along their knowledge and expertise on “out of the ordinary” techniques in the wood flooring industry. This year’s class was no exception. Led by NWFA Wood Floor of the Year winners, Mark Scheller, Tom Ourada, and Lenny Hall, students were able to practice unique techniques and work towards achieving a more specialized skill set for their careers.
Mark Scheller taught how to create the jigs and templates for his “infinite curve” design. The students built the template, and learned about bending wood. They were fortunate enough to learn a few different processes on bending wood from some of the other instructors, and able to see the features and benefits of each method. They were also able to inlay metals into this floor. In the end, the students created a herringbone Yin-Yang design.
Another technique learned on this panel was building and using a jig to cut out an oval pattern. The students decided to cut the Yin-Yang into an oval. This panel finished up in what appeared to be a very simple medallion, but the skillsets taught, and the disciplines that the students walked away with, helped them get closer to becoming the craftsmen they strive to become.
The fireplace began as an abstract idea from one of the students. Rather than just drawing abstract designs and cutting pieces that fit together, Lenny Hall and Tom Ourada worked with the students to understand how math would play an integral role in the design and development of this piece. The main objective was to develop the design with the perspective at the forefront.
“When standing in front of the piece, we want you to feel like it’s real,” said one of the students. This is where math came into play – as the students played with trammel points and used simple trigonometry (if there is any such thing), to determine where each line and each board should be placed.
The students bleached wood, burnt wood, and used the grain patterns and varying species to lay out each element of the floor. On this panel, the students learned using perspective in their design, bending wood, sculpting wood, marquetry, scribing, carving, and several specialized color techniques to develop this piece.
Although these designs may never find their way into someone’s floor, each skillset learned gave the students some invaluable tools that will stay with them through their professional careers.