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Hobbyists and professionals will be coming out of the, well, woodwork for annual craft show.

March 07, 1998|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It doesn't take much to get a woodworker excited. Just whisper the right words.

Mahogany, walnut, maple, ash.

Any woodworker worth his or her sawdust can gab about these varieties and dozens of others for hours. They dwell on their beauty and usefulness, what can be done with them and what can't.

There's sure to be talk about color, grain and dependability today in Ontario as the American Woodworker Show continues at the Ontario Convention Center through Sunday. Top craftsmen from Southern California, including several from Orange County, are gathering to present their work and discuss the best ways to get the most out of wood.

William Bardick of Fullerton will be there. Bardick, who owns Bardick Wood Products in Brea, was asked to display a 5-foot-tall cabinet he made from Honduran mahogany and African padauk in the show's gallery. The piece, featuring a rollback tamboured door, combines both the aesthetics of woodworking and practical design, Bardick said.

"Wood is really wonderful. . . . Working with it is only limited by your own imagination," Bardick said.

Besides the gallery--where one-of-a-kind tables, desks, cabinets and lathe-turned bowls are displayed--the show will offer booths in which veteran woodworkers and novices can get information on techniques and buy saws, blades, sanders and other finishing tools.

Although the show will probably appeal most to pros, Bardick says anyone thinking of starting a home project or taking up woodworking as a hobby should find value.

"There ought to be a lot of stimulus there for everybody," he said. "And [woodworkers] tend to be nice, helpful people anyway."

A national survey of woodworkers, conducted in 1995 by American Woodworker magazine, found that most are married with children and have completed some college. They earn on average $47,000 and have spent 15 years pursuing their hobby. Two-thirds of those surveyed say they watch "This Old House."

Bardick's interest in wood began when he was 15. His father, an artist, asked him to make frames for his paintings, and Bardick, now 42, was soon carving away.

After improving his style, Bardick started making custom pieces based on his designs. He specializes in desks, cabinets, tables and end tables, many built from traditional woods such as maple, cherry and walnut but including details made out of exotic varieties, such as padauk.

One of his goals is finding woods that complement each other. Bardick said the tamboured cabinet is a good example.

"The padauk is this bold, flamey orange that contrasts with the mahogany, which is a beigy red," he explained. "A beautiful contrast, I think."

Bardick said he's always looking for unusual wood when he visits lumberyards.

"I love exotic specialty woods because they're so colorful. Sometimes I'll just come home with a piece of wood with nothing specific in mind [but] just because it's appealing and I want to have it around to enjoy."

Besides making custom furniture for homes, Bardick has built several pieces for Disneyland. His racks for Mickey Mouse beanies and merchandise cabinets are scattered throughout the park. The trick, he said, is making sure his designs fit the area they're in.

"Something in Frontierland has to look like Daniel Boone made it," Bardick said. "While in Tomorrowland, it's got to be more high-tech."

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The American Woodworker Show continues today from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ontario Convention Center, 2000 Convention Center Way. Admission is $10. (800) 914-9395.

Among the prominent craftspeople scheduled to appear at the show:

* Don Weber, who will demonstrate Welsh chair-making;

* Jan Agrell, classical carving;

* Frank Klausz, joinery;

* Steve Blenk, lathe-turning;

* Toshio Odate, Japanese joinery.

Daily seminar topics include "Design and Build Great Furniture," "Fearless Finishing," "Setting Up Shop" and "Sharpening Secrets."

And for those who like it big, the world's largest lathe-turned bowl will be displayed. The bowl, made from a Sitka spruce log by Stuart Mortimer of Great Britain, has a diameter of nearly 8 feet. Mortimer will also be turning another big bowl, this one out of cedar, during the show.

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