In the Fall of 1994, several people in Saint Petersburg began asking around in the wood trade shops if there was a wood group or club organized for woodworkers in Saint Petersburg. They heard about the Woodworking Guild in Tampa and wanted to know why there wasn’t one in Saint Petersburg. At that time Ernest Barta was the President of the Tampa Woodworkers Club. He met Don Montgomery and they both got to know Charlie Webster who was working in the Christmas Toy Store making toys for kids as a volunteer and Kevin Thompson who was a local carpenter.
Charlie, Kevin Thompson and others began posting flyers inviting all interested people to a meeting of woodworkers. The first meeting of the Saint Pete Woodcrafters Guild was held on December 10, 1994 at H & D Hardwoods then located on Morris St North. Eight people showed up for the first meeting. Among the first people were Ernest Barta, Don Montgomery, Charlie Webster, Dale Neff and Kevin Thompson.
Ernest Barta was working for the Annapolis Sailing School. He had been a member of the Sarasota and Tampa Wood Guilds for many years and then became the president of the Tampa Guild in 1994. He ended his term in December and because he had the best knowledge about how to organize and run a guild, he became the first president of the Saint Pete Guild. He served for nine months as president. The group decided to copy the ruled and by-laws of the Tampa Guild and this became the first charter for the Saint Petersburg Woodcrafters Guild. Then, Don Montgomery took over as the second President of the guild after Earnest had surgery. Ernest maintained a woodworking shop until 2009 and has been a member of the guild since the very first meeting. He entered the Florida State Fair numerous times and won “Best of Show” 2002 for his “Drop Leaf Desk.”
Don Montgomery became the second President of the guild. He owned a successful electrical company located on 16th St N. He served as president of the guild until the end of 1996. By this time there were around 15 members and the yearly membership dues were set at $25 per year. Don had his first woodworking shop at his home and he worked there until he sold his business and moved to Brooksville, Fl. He stopped being an active member when he moved. The club historian recorded in 2002 “The club was the brainchild of Don Montgomery and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude.” Woodworking has long been a hobby that Don enjoyed. He recently said, “I watched my dad, who had been a painter, reach retirement age and he had not done anything but work, work, work. I wanted to do something with my hands and I developed my love of woodworking.” Don’s particular woodworking skill was woodcarving. Among many other projects, he carved the Guild Logo that is displayed on the podium at every meeting. His shop now occupies a full six car garage. He has had a lifetime of furniture and projects made for family, friends and the public.
Charlie Webster retired as a Greyhound Bus Driver in 1990. He had worked as a volunteer in the Christmas Toy Shop as a volunteer for many years when he decided to join Dale Neff in starting the guild, in 1994. They printed flyers advertising the first meeting. These were placed around the area woodworking businesses. Charlie has been a member since the first meeting. He has served on the board of Directors for the Christmas Top Shop.
Dale Neff was a natural business man. He owned and operated H & D Hardwoods for many years in Saint Petersburg. He hosted the first meetings of the guild in his shop. He remains in the area and is still working with wood.
Kevin Thompson worked for many years as a Finish Carpenter. He was the guild’s first secretary. He has recently begun building beautiful Wooden Kayaks. His extensive work can be seen on his blog http://kayakkev.wordpress.com/category/wood-kayak/expedition-single/. Though he is no longer a member of the guild, he has done program presentation and introduced his work to the St Pete Guild several times. He has also taught about making wooden kayaks for other area wood groups. He has been a long time friend of the guild and supports us in many ways.
Through the years
Over the years the Saint Pete Woodcrafters Guild has met at various places (listed below). Our Website started in 2002. Over the years we have run the guild by our motto, “We teach what we know and learn what we don’t.” As Don Montgomery put it, “that’s why we’re a guild and not a club.” The teaching and sharing nature of the Saint Pete Woodcrafters Guild has been characterized by this motto since the early years. It has influenced our teaching about woodworking, volunteer work in making toys, working on community projects, giving to worthy causes, sharing with and promoting other woodworking groups, preserving and utilizing our natural resources in recycling and re-using wood, and promoting interest in the community. One of our constant goals is to share the love of woodworking with the next and younger generation.
Presidents: Meeting Places:
1995 Ernest Barta (9 months) H&D Hardwoods
1995-96 Don Montgomery Don Montgomery’s Shop
1997 Doc Nunkovich Earl Tyro Photo Shop
1998 Pat Brophy P.T.E.C
1999 Don Green Woodworks Warehouse
2000 Lee Zandanel Fossil Park Community Center
2001 Sean Kelly Grace Lutheran Church and School
2003 Mark Miller
2004 Art Mowry
2009 Joe Petit
2011 Joe Petit