By day, Hardin Valley resident Lou Mansur is a research scientist specializing in the physics of materials. In his off time, he is a master woodworker, sculpting and planning oak, maple, walnut, and more into functional and decorative pieces.
Mansur is one of 33 artisans who will be featured at the 19th Master Woodworkers Show, which will be held at the Emporium in downtown Knoxville, 100 S. Gay St., Nov. 3-5. The juried three-day show, presented by the East Tennessee Woodworkers Guild, is held every other year and showcases the region’s finest woodworkers. It is one of the Southeast’s best attended woodworking shows.
Mansur has participated in the show since 2003, in past years having displayed hand-turned bowls, sculptural rocking chairs, a king-sized bed, and more. This year he has two featured pieces. One is a curved cabinet on a stand, with a veneer of beeswing eucalyptus over a core of oak and poplar, atop a walnut stand. The second is a natural-edge coffee table crafted from a very old piece of maple. The maple is itself local, collected by a sawyer from Rockwood.
Mansur received his first handheld planer when he was seven, a gift from his father. He was immediately hooked on learning and trying various techniques. As his own children grew up, he made furniture pieces for the home, including a large sideboard. Sixteen years ago he and his wife, Janice Spoone, moved to the Chestnut Grove home where they now live, and where he had the opportunity to create in a much bigger workshop space.
“I immediately tried to elevate what I do,” he say. He says woodworking is more than a pastime or a hobby for him. “I can always learn more skills,” he says. “But it’s already taught me patience.”
You can meet Mansur and other makers at the show and learn more about the East Tennessee Woodworkers Guild. Show hours are Fri., Nov. 3, 4 to 9 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday Nov. 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.masterwoodworkers.org.