International Wood Collectors Society

A Dedicated Group of Wood Collectors and Crafters

Founded in 1898, Fork Union Military Academy is home for around 500 Cadets during the school year, and location for the IWCS meetings hosted by long term member Chris Nothnagle.

On Friday 6 June, early arriving members were taken on a tour of Charlottesville, including a lunch at Historic Michie Tavern's In the Ordinary.

McGuffey's Ash table

We then proceeded to the University of Virginia (UVA) to have a look at the famous and historic McGuffey's Ash table, which was written about in the May/June World of Wood. The carefully crafted table with inlaid walnut floral designs was made from the wood of the McGuffey Ash (Fraxinus americana var. biltmoreana) and is now in the Facilities Management building off Alderman Road near the UVA's Scott Stadium. We were able to gather around the table while the Architect, Don Sundgren, who is the caretaker of the table, told the story of its making.

The tree was planted in 1826 by one of the University's first professors, George Tucker, on the famous West Lawn in Thomas Jefferson's garden Pavilion IX. In 1990 it was taken down, and in 1994 craftsman David Ramazani from Charlotte, North Carolina, was commissined to construct the table.

After viewing the table we headed over to the West Lawn where Jefferson's pavilion IX is still being kept up as it has been for 182 years. In 1948 they repaired the garden walls as close as they could without and changes to the original design. After the tree was taken down, a few sprouts came up, which were replanted with painstaking care to create clones with the same DNA as the original tree. The tree that we visited is one of these clones that 'took well' and was planted in the same spot as the original.

Clone of Ash Tree planted in 1826

The tree today is about 25 feet tall and looks marvellously healthy. It is purposely unmarked so as to reduce the temptation for people to collect leaves and samples as memorabilia of this famous tree.

The final leg of our journey took us to Monticello proper for the full house and garden tour which was very interesting. On the way to the housse one of our members identified a large tree as a Linden. We asked the guide what type of tree this was and she replied it was a Linden imported from Germany. I was impressed with the member that could so quickly identify such a tree at a minutes inspection.

The following day, despite the record head, our membership was swelled by several local folk who showed up for the demonstrations and the auction. Bob Hansen from Maryland gave an excellent demonstration with what can be done with the scroll saw. Steve Pence of the National Forestry Service gave an interesting talk on the importance of bees and pollination. Lucy Cruise gave a fine talk on historical woods of the 1800's and Bill Perkins tried to get me fired putting one of his short stringed pencils into the sleeve of the Academy's President. Luckily he also has a good sense of humor. Finally Chris Nothnagle gave a demonstration on gluing curves in band sawed laminations for cutting boards and the making of bullet pens. The Auction was in a terrific heat of close to 100 degrees so we had 6 fans attempting to cool off the proceedings. Luckily the Auctioneer didn't linger too long on pricing. Ed Marks sent some fine items for auction before hand but his health prevented him from attending. All in all, it was a fine weekend with members glad they made the trip.

We hope to see you in Floriday in Febuary.