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SAPFM’s mid-year conference approaches

The Society of American Period Furniture Makers will hold its annual mid-year conference June 26-28 at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pa.

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Mickey Callahan, Steve Latta, Mary May, Will Neptune and Alexandra Kirtley have been invited to share their expertise and knowledge at this year’s event. The 2009 theme, “Shop Strategies and Techniques,” focuses on the individual techniques the professionals bring to their work, tackling a wide range of tasks.

“This is probably the most excited I’ve been about a conference in years,” says Latta, an instructor in the Cabinetmaking and Wood Technology Department at Thaddeus Stevens, which is hosting the event for the fourth time. “We have fresh museum trips with great collections, two new presenters in Mickey Callahan and Mary May, Alexandra Kirtley coming from the Philadelphia Art Museum, and Will Neptune, who is always great.”

Callahan, SAPFM’s current president, will share his approaches on constructing a broken pediment and a swan neck pediment using both machine and hand-tool techniques. Latta tackles sequential joinery, answering the sometimes-confusing questions associated with achieving the desired results in the most efficient manner.

May, a master carver from Charleston, S.C., and recently featured in Woodshop News (“Carving a labor of love,” Page 34, October 2008 issue), will demonstrate her techniques for sharpening and executing not-so-common designs such as linen-fold carving.

“Mary May brings a worldwide approach to carving to the conference because she has studied in so many places, from Greece to England to Southeast Asia,” says Latta. “She is bringing international techniques, which will broaden the spectrum for SAPFM people.”

Neptune, known for his wit and wisdom, will share his strategies for chair construction and joinery.

Kirtley, assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will talk about the book, “Prices of Cabinet and Chair Work,” published by a group of Philadelphia master cabinetmakers (“At the Galleries,” Page 43, January 2009 issue). The 1772 book is the only remaining copy of the world’s first published furniture price book.

“There will be bus trips to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Maryland Historical Society,” Latta notes. “Both have collections that aren’t well-known, but, are terrific. The Maryland Historical Society has a great library, and they have a very nice furniture collection.”

Registration for the conference can be done through the SAPFM Web site at or by contacting Jim Altemus at 585-657-5328 (e-mail:

This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue.

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