The folks who oversee the SWAT symposium put in quite a few hours to make it the success it is. The planning is done throughout the year, both in person and online. This organization is fortunate to have qualified, dedicated people coordinating each annual symposium. The AAW stresses that "Successful chapters are those whose leaders are both passionate and committed." Of course, that statement refers to individual clubs, but it holds true for this one, too. The SWAT leadership is passionate about turning and they are committed to helping others become more proficient turners.
President, Tom Beatty
I was born in Virginia where my love of woodworking began. My father and oldest brother were experienced carpenters who owned a cabinet shop in Virginia. At 3 years of age, my dad gave me a toolbox and I have been woodworking ever since.
My family, all 9 of us, moved to California when I was 6. My dad and brother had careers building bridges, schools, banks, and houses. I helped them build 2 houses, my mom and dads and my brothers, before I turned 16. They were so well built that one of my nieces still lives in the house we build for my brother.
My dad had limited workspace in our garage, so he bought one of the first Shopsmiths in the early 1950s. I spent many hours watching him turn bowls, lamps, and table legs out of redwood he reclaimed from old bridges he replaced. I still have some bowls and a lamp that he made along with a couple of his lathe tools that he used.
Even though my life was consumed with college, raising a family, and pursuing an engineering career, I always had time for woodworking. I built bookshelves, helped my brother add a room to my first house, and a lot of other flat work.
In 2005, my lovely wife bought me a Jet mini lathe as a birthday present without knowing the future she was creating.
I tried learning how to use my new lathe by reading books, watching videos, and making lots of shavings and turning lots of pens. I took classes at the local Rockler and Woodcraft and that helped, but I was still a novice woodturner.
In 2008, I met Larry Roberts, who introduced me to Woodturners of North Texas. Thanks to Larry and the club, I learned more in the next 6 months than I had working on my own for almost 3 years. The club offered me the opportunity to take classes from world famous woodturners including Stuart Batty, Mike Mahoney and Jimmy Clewes and attend demonstrations from many other well-known woodturners.
I was Secretary of the Woodturners of North Texas for 5 years, where I learned how much work goes into making a club successful.
Club members introduced me to SWAT, and I started attending in 2012 and have attended every year since.
I enjoy the learning experience that SWAT offers from world class demonstrators. I like meeting the vendors and learning about capabilities of new tools and equipment. I really like the friendly helpful attitude of attendees and demonstrators who are always ready to share their experience and help you learn.
In 2018 I was asked by Stormy Boudreaux if I would like to join the SWAT Executive Committee. I was excited to be asked since I really enjoyed SWAT and was glad when the SWAT Board of Directors elected me to be the 2nd Vice President.
Serving on the Executive Committee for the past few years, provided the opportunity to learn how much work goes on behind the scenes to make the SWAT Symposium a success. The Club directors, the Host clubs for demonstration rooms, the organizing and operation Committees, the vendors, and the Waco Convention Center Staff, and all the volunteers who spend countless hours making SWAT one of the premier symposiums in the World.
I am honored to be a part of this great organization and will try to do my part in making the 31st SWAT symposium a success in 2023.
1st Vice President, Pam Thompson
college and a few years in the workforce, my husband and I moved to Thailand
and lived there for many years. How I wish my love of furniture making had
developed by then because it would have been a great learning atmosphere. We
moved on to 2 other continents before settling back in Texas. While I was
overseas, my parents attended nearly every SWAT symposium from the very
When we returned to the States in 2003, I attended my first symposium with my parents. I had NO idea what turning was but decided to take a little “vacation “ with them anyway. Soon after the symposium was over, my dad sent me his old lathe to try my hand at turning. I can’t say that I was hugely successful, but I kept at it. Now, I’ve added a couple more lathes to my shop, and lots more tools.
I will admit that building furniture is my first love. I started turning to add legs and other “parts” to my pieces. I spent several months studying furniture construction at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. Since that time, I have attended many fine woodworking schools all over the country and hope that I will still be able to continue my furniture construction education.
I always look forward to attending SWAT and have only missed one in the last 16 years. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones each year, is a high point in my life. Serving on the SWAT board in 2019 as the chairman of the 3 for 1 raffle, was such fun. I look forward to spending the next several years on the Board and working for you to make SWAT a continued success.
2nd Vice President, Gary Beers
My first experience of woodworking was in shop in high school. I don’t remember what my project was or even if there was a lathe in that shop.
Fast forward a few years and I’m stationed in Panama with the US Army. My unit made me the Repair and Upkeep individual, which meant building bookcases, TV stands and other things for our building. To make these items, I’d use the Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities. In my free time I also made a dresser, a changing table for my future son, an end table and other items.
When I was transferred back the States, I continued to go to the MWR in my free time, but because the place was always busy it was hard getting on the traditional woodworking tools. But there was two Delta lathes (with Reeves drives) that I was shown how to use. And that’s where my love of woodturning took off. I made mainly bowls, but I also turned other items too. Like most beginning wood turners I gave away a lot of what I turned to family and friends but I was able to sell some of the more unique pieces. I even had a friend that would buy different woods and ask me to turn something for him.
After getting out of the Army in the early 90’s I moved to the Austin area and began working in a cabinet shop. Around that time my boss’s friend acquired a Rockwell/Delta 12x36 lathe. He didn’t have much use for it so I purchased it from him. I still have and it still works great. I also became a member of the Central Texas Woodturners Association (CTWA) around that time. Around 1996 I took a hiatus from the club to rekindle my military career.
Moving forward to 2015, I went to my first SWAT and I purchased a Jet 1221VS and started attending CTWA. In 2020 I became the President of CTWA and was extended for another year due to COVID. And I was elected President again for 2023.
While attending SWAT 2022, I was approached about possibly becoming a member of the Executive Committee to take James Desbrow’s place. I was nominated and approved which I feel is a great honor. I look forward to doing my part to make SWAT even better.
Secretary, Stormy Boudreaux
My father was a self-employed “old-school” carpenter contractor. I used to help him in his shop in the suburbs of New Orleans. There was nothing he couldn’t make with his hands. Hopefully I’ve learned a few things from him. After college, I joined the US Air Force in 1968. Upon retiring after 24 years, went to work for the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks, transferring to Fort Worth in 2002.
The first time I was exposed to wood turning was in 2003. Hanging around the Woodcraft store, I was invited to attend a Saturday session of Woodturners of North Texas where the national turner Barry Gross would be teaching the group how to turn a wooden egg. I had never touched a lathe prior. He was kind enough to set me up in a corner on a mini-lathe and had me turning coves and beads, basic spindle turning skills – I didn’t know enough to be apprehensive of the skew! I enjoyed that session very much.
At the time, living on a shoestring, I purchased a used Jet Mini and a couple of gouges. And off I went! I went to my first SWAT Symposium in 2004. Soon I was President of WNT. Certainly, not because I was the best turner, no way! We had some very skillful and remarkable turner / instructors in that club and I learned a lot. WNT was one of the clubs that helped bring SWAT, as we know it today, into being, initially known as A Texas Turn or Two. Later, it became the South West Association of Turners when clubs from neighboring states wanted to join in on the TTT turning Symposium.
After 4 years as President of WNT, I passed the baton to Dave Marshall. I became very active with SWAT, first as the Vendor Chairman and then the Chairman for securing art donations for the 2-for-1 Raffle. I did this for many years. Eventually, when an elected SWAT VP needed to back out of his duties due to personal reasons, I was the scrape at the bottom of the barrel to replace him mid-year. I was in above my head but Buddy Compton, who was the SWAT President, was a wonderful mentor and friend; he knew just when to throw me a life preserver and when to let me flounder a bit - eventually I became SWAT President in 2017.
Treasurer, Dave Marshall
Raised in a small cabin on the plains of Kansas, I started my woodworking and woodturning career early in life. After building my first, small lathe, I began my woodturning career by selling hand-turned toothpicks to local farmers and businessmen.
My skill set grew tremendously during this period which culminated in my ability to use a scraper to turn almost any product on the lathe. When I was thirteen, I read with lust about turner David Ellsworth in in an old black and white edition of Fine Woodworking. That article vaulted me to turn (scrape) my first box and lid. A beauty of a specimen in black walnut. Form and function – perfect. The bottom lacking just somewhat as not being completely flat and bearing the hallmark of three screw holes that attached the faceplate. Still stunning today.
Thirteen was the age a young student began his first year in Industrial Arts class in junior high school. I was no different except that I wanted to use those big, Rockwell school lathes! But, alas, those lathes were only meant for the more-skilled, more-mature ninth graders. Balderdash! After sweet-talking my Industrial Arts teacher, Mr. Anderson (who drove a pristine ’57 Chevy), he allowed me to come to shop before classes started for the day and turn all I wanted. He showed me the very basics of some of the limited tools we had available for turning. For some reason I don’t ever recall a lesson in sharpening these tools though…. that probably explains my expertise with the scraper. I turned my heart out that year; sock darns, miniature baseball bats, candlesticks, miniature baseball bats, boxes, small plates, miniature baseball bats to name a few.
Something happened. I think life, girls, schooling, college, my masterplan to escape Kansas tapered my turning time. Now don’t get me wrong, summertime, between parties and pitchers of beer, I tried to design, woodwork and woodturn as much as possible. I’ve always loved the design and then build and then re-design cycle of creation. Maybe that’s why I became an Aerospace engineer.
After graduation and landing in sunny Burbank, California, I got my first paycheck. No, I did not buy an obligatory TV. No, my newlywed wife did not “need” that sofa or cookware. I bought my first Shopsmith for my single-car garage/shop. I bought it for “us.” I was on my way!
Years later, and hundreds of projects later, we ending up in panther-sleepy Fort Worth. After starting a family, I began to look for a woodworking club to join, similar to ones I belonged to in California and Georgia (kids can be noisy and whiny, unlike the soothing whir of a lathe or tablesaw). Not finding anything close by in the Metroplex, I ran across a magazine article featuring Devore Burc and its mentioning of a bunch of ragtags called the Woodturners of North Texas. Whoa…. they met only three miles from my home! Their next meeting, I snuck in and grabbed a seat and was blown away by the demo. I was hooked again.
I know that this is fascinating as all get-out, but long-story short, I joined that ragtag bunch and haven’t looked back. After a while, I was president of the Woodturners of North Texas. The glamour and prestige went to my head and I ruled the Club with an iron fist for four years. That group of ragtags became a lean, mean turning machine, I say.
As a Club member, I became familiar with the South West Association of Turners and attended my first SWAT symposium. Blown away, again! Unbelievable talent…and some of the other turners weren’t that bad either.
I’ve been Treasurer of SWAT for a few years now and can almost make the budget numbers add up - between turning projects. The remainder of my free time is spent….wait, I have no free time outside of SWAT. Other activities I do between SWAT projects are spending quality time with my wife (as long as she’s conveniently standing in my dusty shop), devotion to my new career in the Oil and Gas business, I’m also Treasurer of a professional organization (North Texas Measurement Association), eating, sleeping… well, you get the drift.
I am truly honored to be associated with SWAT and every year look forward to the unbelievable talent and skill that you all bring to Waco!
Being raised in North Dakota where it is very flat and really called the “plains and grassland state”, wood is a mute item. Most of North Dakota is country living or old farms where the kids did not want to carry on. Believe it or not there are still soddy’s being used; now mostly for storage. But years ago prior to my birth my grandparents lived in one. and many farmers still shovel manure around the side of the building to keep things warm. If anyone needs information on cold or snow I’m your man! Plugging in your car at night, wearing hats with ear flaps “you betca!” and information on the best insulated underwear to buy or wear. Let me know! By the way my wife still wears insulated underwear even down here.
My first introduction to wood turning was in high school. I came from the generation where you needed to be a “well rounded person.” This meant boys took shop or wood working, choir or band, a foreign language, and so forth. The girls took sewing and cooking, foreign language. etc. I have other siblings and all five of us kids have many college degrees as education was first and foremost to our parents. Back to high school wood shop, our first assignment was to make something on a lathe. This did it, I absolutely loved it.
After high school life I, like many changed directions and went to college and then the US Army. However, this lathe business kept creeping into my mind. Now that I am at the end of my career as a CPA, Certified Fraud examiner and Forensic CPA I needed to do something to clear my mind. Giving me a break from highly concentrated thinking. Before my very eyes came the idea of doing woodworking and a lathe.
Being a member of several organizations where the presiding officer uses a gavel for meetings The organization usually presents the individual with a gavel or a maul, for their year in leadership. After looking at gavels and mauls for sale and the blandness of the factory made choices, I decided I could make one that was more unique. In fact, I found no company who made the Maul type gavel.
I purchased a Harbor Freight special, and a matching set of gouges and I started. After several gavels and mauls and burning out several Harbor Freight lathes I bought a good mini lathe. The Jet! After a few years and wearing that out as well I went to a full sized Nova and more and more projects to boot!
My shop grew from an 8’ X 12’ shed to using the entire garage. Had to have the garage re-wired for all my “toys”. I do have to take one car out of the garage for full space. But my wife’s vehicle is always out! Although she does not mind. She is a good sport. Beside it was her idea for me to use the garage! Ha!
I have done some production work of smaller items: bottle stoppers, ink pens, and finally my wife’s favorite Christmas decorations. Like most turners, the spare bedroom has projects of all sorts. But my favorite projects are live bark edged bowls with worm holes and bark inclusions. To me, natural wood with all of nature’s imperfections shows the character of the wood and the piece itself.
Alamo Woodturners accepted me for membership about four years ago and just two years ago I attended my first SWAT in 2021. Then I volunteered to have my name submitted for consideration for the Executive Committee.
Come on out for SWAT and stop and visit anytime you see me.
Past President, Henry Pennell
My first experience with a lathe was at a Woodworking Show in Dallas in 2009. Craft Supplies had a booth and invited me to make a pen. I was hooked. Later, I took a class from John Horn at Woodcraft, and bought a Jet mini lathe. I joined Dallas Area Woodturners (DAW) in November of 2010, and the demonstrator was Michael Hosaluk. Wow, I was mesmerized by his skill and the ease with which he handled his tools. I later became Treasurer of DAW in 2013, and most recently, President in 2017.
I attended my first SWAT Symposium in 2013, and have been here every year since. I love talking to the other turners, seeing the demos and expanding my awareness of the various areas of our craft. I hope to help SWAT prosper and improve in the coming years.
"the only permanent value of work lies in achievement." Bill Percell