Tom Shields - President
Tom Shields bought his first lathe at age 50. He has been turning since 2000, more so since he retired several years ago. Tom is largely self taught (and books aren’t nearly as good as You Tube) with the exception of a week at Craft Supplies USA in 2007, three days with Jimmy Clewes in 2018, and what he has learned from other Flint Hills Woodturners. He has also attended several symposia, including one AAW, a couple at SWAT, and a couple with Rocky Mountain Wood Turners.
Tom’s first lathe was a Nova, which he had for 14 years. It started with pulleys and was upgraded to a direct drive unit along the way. Seven years ago he decided he was in this for the long term, and needed some low speed torque, so splurged on a Robust American Beauty. An indulgence for sure. But he loves it. He now turns about three days a week, somewhat more in the winter, less when the weather is warm.
Tod Salfrank - Vice President
Tod Salfrank started woodturning when he was gifted a Craftsman Model 113 Kit lathe and a half dozen old chisels that had been saved from going to the landfill in 2013. He immediately began teaching himself by reading books and watching YouTube videos and immediately became hooked on woodturning. He was invited to his first Flint Hills Woodturners Club meeting in 2018.
In 2019 he purchased his current lathe, and 10” Delta with a bed extension, replaced the single speed motor with a variable speed motor and controller and started adding several tools and accessories to his arsenal.
He now enjoys turning whenever he can find the time and especially enjoys trying new techniques, growing his skills, and sharing his passion with his family. He is a member of AAW and Flint Hills Woodturners Club.
Barbara Drolet - Secretary
Barbara Drolet turned her first piece in an adult education class in 2004 and was immediately smitten. She found the transformational process of log to bowl absolutely fascinating and extremely gratifying. Unfortunately, her next opportunity to turn would not come until much later, in December of 2016, when she was gifted a lathe. In May of 2017 she became a member of the Flint Hills Woodturners Club and became its secretary in December of 2019.
Barbara is still discovering what all she can create and learns so much from Club members. She doesn’t get as much time in the shop as she’d like, but hoping to have more after she retires.
Ross Hirst - Treasurer
Ross has been working with wood all his life. He started playing around with tools in his grandpa’s small workshop as a kid. The source of a lot of the wood he used was cigar boxes from his grandpa’s grocery store. He took woodshop in the 7th grade and had his first experience with woodturning. He did mostly flat work until he got his first lathe in the early 90s. His first lathe was a converted pipe makers lathe that needed new bearings, which he didn’t realize at the time.
Ross started turning pens and stuck with them for several years until he sold the old lathe and got a new Jet lathe which for him was like moving from a Model T to a Cadi.
Ross has four lathes but primarily uses only two. One of his lathes is an Oliver that was manufactured in 1930. He still does some pens but also does bowls and spindle work. He is a member of AAW, Kansas Area Woodturners and FHWT.
Tom Boley - Program Director
Tom Boley started turning wood in about 1995 on a used Sears lathe. His son got interested, too, so he bought a second lathe and now has three. Tom was a hobby turner for several years, selling at many craft shows around northern Virginia. In 2005, Tom bought a one-man custom architectural woodturning business. He sold some of the equipment and moved back home to Kansas in 2014 but still does some commercial work but has shifted mostly back toward hobby work.
Tom teaches classes for UFM Manhattan and once or twice a year at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Tom is the founding president of Flint Hills Woodturners.
Robert Kloppenborg - Operations Director
Robert Kloppenborg’s lathe experience started in the early 2000s, when his dad bought several used Shopsmiths, that “kept Robert busy” when Robert visited him, as they needed much repair. After his father passed away, Robert inherited one of those Shopsmiths, along with some cane handles and shafts. He did not know you could turn square to round, and while trying to finish it back to square. That is how he met club founder Tom Boley — and the rest is history.
Robert enjoys the challenge of turning new items, and he really enjoys teaching individuals and younger groups how much fun woodturning can be.
Heather Marusiak - Member at Large
Turning since 2020, Heather Marusiak has developed a sense for craftsmanship in wood as the daughter of a cabinetmaker, and an eye for form cultivated by her background in fine art. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in art education and enjoys the never-ending challenge of learning new material techniques. She enjoys working sculpturally and applying a number carving, texturing, and coloring techniques to her turned work.
Heather has participated in three AAW Women in Turning (WIT) Exchanges, and the experiences helped her to see the artistic potential of the lathe. She is an active member of the AAW, serves as the club’s WIT representative, and edits the club’s monthly newsletter.