The History of Smoky Mountain Woodturners

It’s easy to see the beauty and artistry of woodturning when you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful wooded country in America.  For 20 years, the Smoky Mountain Woodturners have been meeting in East Tennessee surrounded by native trees like sugar maple, black walnut, eastern red cedar, dogwood and boxelder. 

The club was founded in 1993 and originally met at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  For several years, the club split time between Gatlinburg and Knoxville, Tennessee.  Eventually the club moved to Knoxville permanently and has called the Knoxville Woodcraft store home for well over 10 years.     

Located within a 90-minute drive to the Arrowmont school, a world-class teaching facility, and the energetic artist’s community of Gatlinburg, the legacy of wood artistry in the area is strong.  Several early members have gone on to become prominent wood artists at the national level including founding member Ralph Watts, Member Emeritus.  Many regional and local artists are or have been members of our club including early members Jacki and Janis Proffit, known for their intricately textured and burned items.  

And, of course, we boast of many enthusiastic hobbyists who are learning, teaching and experimenting with the wonderful world of woodturning.  In recent years, we have had the honor of hosting world-class turners such as David Ellsworth, Mark Gardner and Frank Penta for demonstrations and hands-on workshops.

Each year, the members of the club turn Christmas ornaments to be auctioned off at Knoxville’s annual Fantasy of Trees with all proceeds going to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.  Trees decorated with turned ornaments have raised as much as $1500 for Children’s Hospital.  We also participate in the Woodcraft-sponsored Turn for the Troops by turning pens for the US military stationed around the world.  

We thank those who have come before us who have made the Smoky Mountain Woodturners a vibrant and exciting artistic community!  Twenty years and counting!


Tom Knight's picture

Well done Brad. The beauty of the SMWT is it has become a dynamic entity providing all levels of turning education to its members. This includes in-house demonstrators (members) providing informative demonstrations at monthly meetings. Special weekend demos and hands-on classes, done by well recognized professionals in the craft, enforces a major goal of the club; educational opportunities.

Greg Davis's picture

Absolutely fantastic wished we could've gone all night, but I know time is short limited.  The information that you guys are providing is awesome.  The bowl turning class that I attended last Saturday was energizing.  Drue was great at helping me adapt a style of turning bowls that works well for me given my current level of physical capabilities.  He made me want to turn another bowl as soon as I got home.  And Tuesday night's class added a whole new dimension to working on and developing bowls.  Thanks to John Jordan for giving me a few more lessons a few more understandings on tool sharpening and finials.  There just aren't enough hours in the day right now to be able to do everything I want to do.  Now learning to properly process green wood is on my agenda.