For more information about the Northwest Indiana
Woodworkers Association, call president Steve Franek (219) 844-7535, vice
president Max Hernick (219) 663-6955 or secretary George Pluard (219)
George Pluard places a small piece of cedar under the needle-fine point of a
scroll saw and cuts swirls to show the way he makes intricate woodworking
Pluard, secretary of the 42-member Northwest Indiana Woodworkers
Association, says it's the saw used for the mosiac type of woodworking known as
He goes to his workshop to demonstrate operation of the saw he used to make
several polished plaques of animals displayed in the entry of his home in
Munster. It's one of many tools he's collected since he started working with
wood about 12 years ago.
"It's the kind of saw that women like to use. It operates sort of like a
sewing machine," says Pluard, who is a retired manager of Metropolitian Life.
He says he worked for the company's Fox Valley office for 20 years.
He joined the club, established in 1990, after reading a story about people
wanting to get together to share experiences about woodworking.
The club is trying to recruit more members and is encouraging women to join.
Pluard says his wife, Beatrice, likes to decorate some of the projects he
makes. She isn't a member of the club that's comprised mostly of retired men.
"I think if we'd get a few women to join it would break the ice and other
women would join the club," he says. "We see a number of women at some of the
annual woodworking shows so we know there are women interested in woodworking."
Club president Steve Franek agrees with Pluard.
"Women might know something we don't," said Franek, who added his wife,
Carmen, is learning to use a wood lathe.
Pluard doesn't focus on one type of woodworking. He's made a variety of
projects including tables, cabinets, doors, bookcases, trunks, toy chests, mail
boxes and rocking horses.
"I like to make signs," he says as he shows photographs of some of the signs
he's made. He finds new ways to design signs that he gives to friends and
relatives. The signs have the names of the recipients so they can be used to
help visitors identify their homes.
Franek, a resident of Hessville in his first year as association president,
says his forte is clock-making.
During a convention held last week at Chicago's Navy Pier, one of Franek's
wall clocks was selected by American Woodworkers magazine to be placed in a
Franek said the 24-inch clock he calls a Worthington was the only piece sold
in the gallery.
"My specialty is scroll work," Franek said.
The Northwest Indiana Woodworkers Association lets people who enjoy working
with wood get to know others interested in the hobby. Pluard says creating with
wood is an outlet that brings a sense of pride.
Many members are prolific woodworkers who spend a great deal of time working
with wood; some sporadically work on projects; and others do little woodworking
but enjoy the camaraderie, Pluard says.
"People don't have to have experience in woodworking to become members,
just have an interest in woodworking," he says. "We don't teach classes, but if
someone is interested in learning something particular, there's always a member
that's willing to help someone else learn more about woodworking."
Club members have a wide variety of skills. Some specialize in scroll saw
work, others in wood turning and some on specific craft items. Cabinet making,
router work, clocks, signs and toy making are some of the special interests.
Formal teaching isn't offered by the club. But there is the opportunity to
learn a lot about woodworking. Speakers, demonstrations and members showing and
talking about their projects are featured at meetings.
The club sessions are at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month in the
woodshop of Clifford Pierce Middle School at 199 E. 70th Place in Merrillville.
This Thursday, the association's guest speaker is a representative of Dewalt
tools who will be giving a hands-on demonstration of routers, drills and
biscuit-joiners (which are used when grooved pieces of wood interlock).
"At every meeting, we do learn," Franek said.