Dennis Laidler's
Woodturning Page

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Time at the lathe




You can see more of my recent woodturning exploits on my blog at


In the workshop

I have always had an interest in working with wood.  My interest in woodworking was ignited as a child when I helped my father building a boat, used for many enjoyable holidays at Lake Kariba.  At the beginning of 1997 I purchased a lathe and was introduced by Tony van Niekerk to the Western Cape Woodturning Association (WCWA).  I was totally “bowled” over when I saw the members of the association in action.

I soon became an active member of the WCWA and was approached to join the committee as editor of the association’s newsletter.  However, after two years, professional obligations forced me to give up this position.  Gigi, my wife, took over as the editor of “Turnings”, the WCWA’s monthly newsletter.  Woodturning has now become a passion shared by the whole family.  Both the boys are competent turners, however their studies limit their time at the lathe.  Gigi handed over the editorial baton to Ken Turner in 2004.

 I focus on bowl turning.  I used to demonstrate and sell work at the Constantia Craft Market once a month.  It was through Constantia and other markets that I contributed to exposing the South African public to woodturning as an art form rather than a utilitarian pursuit.  I have regularly been invited to demonstrate at the well known Somerset West and Kirstenbosch craft markets.

 I have taken the opportunity to attend classes given by well-known British turners Phil Ions, Reg Sherwin and more recently Liz and Mick O'Donnell.  I have benefited immensely through my friendship with Andi Wolfe of Central Ohio Woodturners who hails from Columbus, Ohio.  Andi’s web site is also well worth a visit (See Links page).

 I have exhibited at the Lindburgh Arts Foundation in Muizenberg during a month long exhibition in July 2001, at the Bellville Art Gallery in 2001 and 2002 as well as at Galerie de Lyons in Cape Town.

In January 2003 I joined 7 other Cape Town Woodturners in a small outlet, Waterfront Woodturners, at the Explorer's Market at Cape Town's Victoria and Albert Waterfront.  We moved to "The Red Shed", a somewhat more upmarket establishment in the main V&A Waterfront shopping mall, in June 2005.

I enjoy working with Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria excelsa) and camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), which I find in and around Cape Town.  I also enjoy the great variety of indigenous South African woods, such as yellowood (Podocarpus spp.), red pear (Scolopia mundii) and wild olive (Olea europea ssp. africana), but a strong environmental ethic largely limits the use of these to fallen and found wood.  In the last year I grew to love turning Karree (Rhus lancea) after a beautiful log or two found themselves in my wood store.  This tree has apparently become established in the drier part of the USA where it is known as African sumac.

 I am focusing on honing my technical skills and building up my workshop.  I am inspired by elements of the African veld, which I am increasingly using in my work.  I am also extending my creative horizons through contacts with other turners, both within South Africa and beyond.

The latest developments in my workshop include the addition of a Jet mini lathe to my lathe collection and of late a locally made pyrograph of excellent design and capability. To top that, an Australian made Stubby 1000 arrived in Cape Town in May 2005, and is now up and running in my workshop.  The two pics above show a work in progress on the new Stubby, nicknamed 'Sheila' of course!



My main outlet is


I prefer turning bowls and hollow vessels


I am increasingly inspired by elements of the African veld that are starting to be reflected regularly in my turnings.


I am a member of:

 The Western Cape Woodturners Association (WCWA);

 The Association of Woodturners of South Africa (AWSA);

 The American Association of Woodturners (AAW);