Popular Woodworking 2002-02 № 126, страница 29

Popular Woodworking 2002-02 № 126, страница 29

American Woodshops

Kelly Mehler: Table Saw Whiz in the Bluegrass State

Scott Phillips, host of TV's 'American Woodshop,' visits Mehler's shop and finds — of all things — an automotive showroom filled with table saws.

The lifeline of Berea, Ky., is Chestnut Street. It takes every visitor to the heart of Berea College. This school has been teaching progressive concepts for over a century, programs to keep inspired individuals prospering. This atmosphere touches everyone in Berea, or maybe the people of Berea just are independently unique. Either way, Kelly Mehler's shop on Chestnut Street fits this place like a glove.

Mehler's first passion is custom woodworking. But on the side he finds time to au

thor books, articles and videos, teach classes at Marc Adams School of Woodworking, give seminars at The Woodworking Shows, and to host many workshops across America every year.

The first thing that is striking about his place is that Mehler converted a vintage automotive dealership into his wood shop. Aged brick walls frame huge banks of windows that light up his shop. Years ago, cars probably occupied every inch of both the showroom and the "garage." Today air-dry

ing wood fills that space, and its aroma makes all woodworkers feel right at home.

When I walked through the 24"-wide door into the garage-turned-woodshop I got a little envious. Natural light from the southern exposure streamed in on his vintage machines. Fifteen-foot-high, well-insulated ceilings lift the eyes to explore every nook and cranny.

His shop space totals about 3,000 square feet. This includes a small entrance showroom that features graceful furniture accented by beautifully figured wood that Mehler builds from select logs. When asked to describe his design style, he smiles because most folks see a unique furniture form.

It all is solid, beautifully selected and matched-grain native woods that blend the best of Shaker, traditional and contemporary forms. Mehler says he buys rare logs, then has them sawn so he can use matching boards for every piece he makes. He says he air-dries most of his own lumber because of the rich colors this technique produces. After more than 30 years in the business he has amassed a small fortune in special wood. But don't even think about offering to buy some of it. My guess is that in the back of his mind he has plans for every board.

Mehler's latest project is updating his well-known "The Table Saw Book" (Taunton Press), so his shop is temporarily loaded with about every table saw on earth. It was interesting to see "all" table saws at once. It reminded me that most saws are copies of a few basic designs.

So which saw does he like for the home woodworker? Mehler says he's kind of partial to the new DeWalt DW746. Mostly, though, Mehler warns woodworkers away from buying a saw based only on price.

"We spend $2,000 on a computer that lasts about five or six years," he says. "Yet

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