RWS member and master craftsman, Jim Altemus, will talk about his many woodworking activities, including those at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. The meeting will begin at 7:45 p.m. on Friday, February 24 in 135 Basil Hall on the campus of St. John Fisher College. There is no workshop associated with this meeting.

Like most kids in the 1950’s Jim took shop classes in high school and made things for the family as projects. His Father had a table saw, and he did some small projects with it, plus liked making airplane and boat kits.  His parents had a few pieces of antique furniture, and he always admired how they looked , especially 18th century furniture.  His father was  an antique arms collector, and they did some hunting also.

After graduation from college, his focus was working and raising a family, and he did not really get into woodworking until his mid to late 40’s.  He and his wife moved to Western New York in 1970, and soon thereafter bought an 1830’s house in Bloomfield, wanting to furnish it with late 18th century and early 19th century antiques.  While they could find some pieces locally, they could not find or afford what they really wanted, so he decided to try his hand at making some, and things went from there.

They camped a lot with the kids and enjoyed canoeing.  Jim saw this rather beat up old wood/canvass canoe on a lot, and bought it for the heck of it to restore it.

Jim and his wife had been long time members at Genesee Country Museum, and as he approached retirement age, he thought it would be fun to work part time there as a cabinetmaker and interpreter. He started building some furniture for some of the houses in the village shop, using primarily 19th century hand tools which he had started to collect a few years back.

Since the cabinet shop there was actually a gunsmithing shop, Jim thought it would be fun to learn about making black powder flintlock and percussion guns appropriate to the period as part of the interpretation of the shop at the village. There are several pieces of furniture and guns in the buildings which came from the shop.

Jim has been a past director and Presidents of RWS, and a director and treasurer of the national Society of American Period Furniture Makers.

Jim says “I guess I can get hold of a beat up wooden canoe to restore, make a Windsor chair to sit and contemplate the work ahead, and if the project looks hopeless I can make the gun to put it out of its misery”.


Prior to the meeting, we will hold a silent auction where you can sell items that are no longer needed. Please fill out the Silent Auction Form with the minimum price and incremental bid amount and bring it with your items on Friday, one form per item. The silent auction will begin at 7 p.m. (Note: 10% sellers donation to RWS is appreciated).