Groopshop 2015


For almost a decade and a half I have been an active participant in the on-line discussion, The Professional Refinisher’s Group.  What began as a custom crafted email list with mostly strip-and-dip shop proprietors in attendance it has over the years evolved into a sophisticated lightly-moderated forum for conversations surrounding the practices of finishing and furniture restoration.  Soon after I joined, the idea percolated for Groop, as we affectionately call this entity, to grow into something greater than, and more personal than, a daily exchange of email threads.  In response to this impulse we have gathered periodically in the flesh to have times of fellowship and learning.

Recently I attended, learned, and presented at Groopshop 2015 in Pontoon Bach, Illinois, hosted magnificently in the spacious and tidy shop of John Hurn and John’s associate Michelle Veit, (with a ginormous shout-out to Mrs. Hurn and their daughter).  Both John and Michele are graduates of the famed (and now demised) Woodfinishing Program of the Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, just south of St. Paul.  My beloved friend Mitch Kohanek was their instructor and mentor at DCTC, as he was for many of the artisans in attendance.


I learned immensely from the other presentations, ranging for retired Mohawk technical services guru Greg Williams’ demonstrating wood bleaching and the use of “Finish Up,” an ultra high performance waterborne urethane that blew me away.




Other sessions included Mike Mascelli’s demos (with Michelle Veit) on upholstering techniques and materials.


Fred McLean gave us some great insights gleaned from his recent explorations of lighting options for the shop, resulting in better illumination and dramatically lowered costs.


Martin O’brien shared his passions about paste waxes

I was actually so busy paying attention that I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have.  Missing from the pictures are Ben Myre’s discussion of shop marketing, Mark Faulkner’s presentations on shop business strategies and accounting, Freddy Roman’s demonstrations of veneering and banding, Randy Bohn reminiscing about a thirty year career in the antiquities restoration world, Dave MacFee talking about upscaling mundane projects into revenue enhancers,  and Karl Kennedy leading our wrap-up discussion.


I presented a session on gold leafing, and a practice run of the HO Studley talk I will be giving at the upcoming Woodworking in America.  I’ll post about that next time.

If you are hankering for an excellent forum for discussions on all things finishing and furniture restoration, give “Groop” a try. You won’t be sorry you did.