Our Instructors

Raúl H. Ramírez

Director, Southwest School of Woodworking

Raúl has been a professional furniture maker since 1990. A member and former president of the Arizona Association of Fine Woodworkers, and a member of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers, Raúl specializes in custom furniture and antiques restoration, and is particularly interested in traditional hand-tool techniques. He began to teach himself woodworking during the 1970's while working in the aerospace industry and eventually changed careers to devote himself to the craft. In 2008, with the help of other accomplished woodworkers, he founded the School in order to bring the highest level of woodcraft education to Arizona and to create opportunities for the next generation of woodworkers to learn from some of today's most respected masters.

Jim Altman

Owner, American Heritage Restorations & Conservation (retired)

Jim Altman is a furniture conservator, master finisher and restorer. He operated his Phoenix-based conservation and restoration business for over 30 years, and is expert in multiple woodworking and finishing techniques. Jim currently takes on high end special commissions, many or which are builr at the school.

David Fleming

Owner, David Fleming, Cabinetmaker LLC

David Fleming studied with woodworking icon James Krenov for two years (1984-6) at the College of the Redwoods. David lived in remote northwest Alaska for many years, relocated to Scottsdale, AZ in 1993 and has made furniture there ever since. An expert in hand tool use, he has taught Krenov-inspired woodworking techniques to small classes and groups since 2009. Visit www.dfcabinetmaker.com

Doug Forsha

Owners, De La Madera Studio

Doug and Rhonda Forsha established their custom furniture business, De La Madera, in 1986. In the years since then, they have built their business into one of the most highly respected woodworking studios in the southwest. Doug is a master woodworker and technician, expert in both traditional and ultra-modern furniture design and construction. Rhonda is a master finisher, creating complex finishes that satisfy the needs of the most demanding and discriminating architects, decorators, and individual clients. For more information, visit www.delamadera.com.

Michael Fortune

Owner, The Michael C. Fortune Studio

Designer/maker, teacher and mentor Michael C. Fortune is one of Canada’s most respected and creative contemporary furniture masters. He is acknowledged for both his technical and design expertise, giving lectures and workshops across Canada and the United States. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. In 1993 Michael received the prestigious Prix Saidye Bronfman, Canada’s highest award in the crafts, and in 2007 he received the Award of Distinction from The Furniture Society. For more information, visit www.michaelfortune.com.

Andy Glantz

Owner, Zenith Design

Andy Glantz designs and builds contemporary sculptural furniture in his Scottsdale, AZ workshop. He is a member and past President of The Furniture Society, and has been active in numerous volunteer and non-profit arts organizations over the years.

Visit www.zenith-design.com/

Frank Klausz

Owner, Franks Cabinet Shop, Inc.

Educated in the Hungarian trade school system, Frank Klausz graduated as a journeyman cabinetmaker in 1959 and moved to the U.S. in 1967. Seeking to introduce Old World craftsmanship in the New World, Frank established his own shop in Pluckemin, New Jersey, where he continues to produce furniture reproductions, custom furniture, and architectural fixtures. Frank is a highly respected author and educator who has produced many books and DVDs and teaches woodworking seminars throughout the United States and Canada.

Visit www.frankklausz.com

Gary McCaslin


It’s safe to say that when Gary McCaslin isn’t actually woodworking, he is thinking about it. Whether he’s teaching or working in his shop, Gary combines his passion for the craft with his desire to demystify the process for others. “My biggest goal is to give woodworkers the information they need to turn out good work and have fun doing it.

Paul Schürch

Owner, Schrch Woodwork

Paul Schürch owns and operates a custom woodworking shop in Santa Barbara, California, where he specializes in high-end furniture with a special emphasis on decorative veneer and marquetry. Prior to opening his own business, Paul completed apprenticeships in Europe in church organ building, boat building, marquetry furniture, and antique restoration. His work has been exhibited around the world and he has written several books and produced two DVDs. Paul acts as a consultant to production and specialty shops and conducts seminars and classes across the country. 

Visit schurchwoodwork.com.

George Walker


An avid woodworker and writer, George has written dozens of articles for Popular WoodworkingFine WoodworkingWoodcraft, and the Journal for the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. He writes a regular column for Popular Woodworking Magazine titled “Design Matters” and hosts a furniture design blog with the same name. George has hosted a series of instructional DVD’s for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks covering furniture design basics. His latest project is the book By Hand & Eye co-written with Jim Tolpin and published by Lost Art Press. By Hand & Eye is about unlocking your ability to visualize using time-honored methods to train the eye. For more information, visit GeorgeWalkerDesign.

Kelly Parker


Kelly Parker is a designer and maker of contemporary studio furniture and sculpture. After graduating with a degree in Biochemistry she worked in the corporate world for 18 years before taking a rather circuitous route into art. In 2009 she shucked the safety of the corporate world and decided to make her living as a woodworker. She has taken numerous design and technique classes at the the Anderson Ranch Arts Center and Marc Adams School of Woodworking where she is currently working on her Michael Fortune Fellowship. She has been awarded a professional development grant from the Furniture Society and was the first recipient of a professional development grant awarded by the Krenov Foundation.   Her work has been featured in Fine Woodworking, Australian Wood Review, and Rooted: Creating a Sense of Place: Contemporary Studio Furniture. Kelly’s work often incorporates other materials such as metal, glass and acrylic. She is a passionate advocate for the craft and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.

John Rivard


A native of northern Michigan, John has called Phoenix home since the early 80’s. He attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthieary and successfully completed the demanding course. John has grown into an excellent craftsman. John’s experience includes; building window shutters, office furniture and custom kitchen cabinets. He is currently employed by De La Madera in Scottsdale Arizona where he builds high end and unique one-of-a-kind furniture the interior designed trade. John has been in instructor for two years. In his spare time, he enjoys building ukuleles.

Thomas Licurgo

Finishing Instructor

Tom Licurgo came to Ashley Furniture in 2005 with over 25 years’ experience in the area of furniture finishing and retail furniture operations. As Vice President of Operations, Tom’s direct contributions are part of the reasons why Ashley Furniture Homestores have been among the top performing operations in the Industry. In this position, he has been in charge of overseeing operations in general. More directly, Tom is responsible for the financial aspects of operations while also analyzing, researching and developing new opportunities and programs. A recognized operations leader known for crafting innovative strategies needed to achieve business goals.

Tom also works very closely with Ashley Industries on manufacturing quality. In less than 10 years, Ashley has become the No. 1 selling furniture brand in the world and the No. 1 retailer of furniture and bedding in the country with more than 700 Homestores in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Japan. Now Tom oversees all finishing and repair shops on a National level for Ashley Furniture.

Prior to joining Ashley Furniture, Tom served as a Corporate Manager for MOR Furniture, Grace Restaurants Incorporated and was CEO of FSC Furniture Finishing in Los Angeles.

Tom maintains active involvement in several community service organizations. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona BBB and also he supports Hoops for Awareness and Athletes for Awareness, regional organizations for the fight against cancer. Tom has also been offered to a position as a board member of the Arizona NBA Legends. He has been the coach of multiple basketball teams for youth in the local community.

Jimmy Clewes

Turning Instructor

Jimmy is not your ordinary woodturner.  Upon a first meeting one would think of him as a renegade, a free thinker and not within the stereotypical image of a woodturner. His charming British style, unending wit, creative mind and magnetic personality are only some of the attributes that make him popular in the woodturning demonstration circuit.

Jimmy is on the Register of Professional Woodturners in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Association of Woodturners. He has over 22 years of experience in woodturning and woodworking. The demand for his services as a freelance demonstrator and teacher takes him all over the world including his homeland of the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Belgium, Australia.

youtube It was not long after leaving school at the age of 16, Jimmy attained an apprenticeship in engineering and decided to further his studies by attending Manchester Polytechnic in Manchester, England. He received a 2:1 Honours Degrees with special emphasis on learning 3-Dimensional Design. With that focus, he began to specialize in designing and making furniture which was influenced by Japanese tools and design.

It was during his time in college that his interest in woodturning was rekindled. The combination of his college education, his limitless imagination and his professional skills was a perfect fit for Jimmy to pursue his creative abilities as a woodturner and to take that ability to the next level.

When asked what drives him, he shares, “My energy comes from those around me. When I can stir the creativity of one’s mind, that for me is very satisfying. As with any artform, expression is only limited as one’s mind and I want to ‘raise the bar’ and create an awareness of the artform that has been virtually unknown to most people.” Jimmy is the first to acknowledge that personal tutelage is by far the best way to learn

Scott Grove

Inlay and Veneer Instructor

As a third-generation artist, Scott Grove designs and creates furniture, sculpture, architectural reproductions, photography, murals, play spaces, interiors, films, and other art using multiple media and many disciplines.

For over thirty years he has developed unconventional methods in his approach; Grove’s large variety of work is known for layers of artistic expression. His pieces are often a combination of uniquely carved textures, radiant veneers and finishes, and found objects. His work creates a desire to touch each piece for a sensuous, pleasurable experience. Sophisticated and elegant with a touch of whimsy, his art raises a sense of wonder and delight.

Grove’s work is a part of the permanent collection in the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York and the collections of Bausch & Lomb, Kodak, Saatchi & Saatchi Roland, Diamond Packaging, and University of Rochester to name a few. He is an active member in The Furniture Society and has exhibited in galleries and leading shows across the country.

Scott has won numerous awards including the Veneer Tech Craftsman’s Challenge Award for two of his works, an unprecedented achievement. He also won a prestigious Napkin Sketch Award from the American Institute of Architects sponsored by Architectural Record Magazine, a DuPont Award for Innovative Use of Material, and has been featured on the broadcast series Woodworking in Action and HGTV’s The Furniture Show.

As an artist, sculptor and designer, Grove works directly with interior designers, architects and private collectors. He holds workshops nationally on topics such as design, specialty finishes, veneering, mold making and fiberglass construction. Grove also consults on marketing, workflow efficiencies, and product development for artists and manufacturers.

Scott is a featured instructor at the prestigious Marc Adam’s School of Woodworking in Indiana and will be teaching at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont and the Chippendale International School of Furniture in Edinburgh, Scotland, among others.

Grove has also authored a number of books including his most recent, Advanced Veneering and Alternative Techniques, for Schiffer Publishing, which highlights some of his pioneered veneering techniques. He writes for a variety of national publications and his work has been featured in magazines such as Fine Woodworking Magazine, Celebrated Living (American Airlines First Class Magazine), Woodshop News, Architectural Record, Interior Design, Design New York, The Robb Report and the Los Angeles Times.

A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in environmental design and a minor in sculpture, Grove also studied at RIT’s School for American Crafts. He maintains a studio in downtown Rochester where he produces commission work and speculative art as well as limite

J. Paul Fennell

Turning Instructor

Born and raised in Beverly, Massachusetts, on the Atlantic coast north of Boston, my earliest memories of woodworking were as a very young boy, sawing and nailing scraps of wood cutoffs together in my Dad's basement workshop. And, I will never forget the pleasant aroma of freshly-cut wood emanating from there.  Any further interest in working with wood, however, was years later as an adult, but the reverence for wood always remained. After receiving BSc and MSc degrees in engineering from The Ohio State University and the University of Southern California respectively, I became employed in California as a mission, rocket performance and orbital mechanics analyst in the Apollo space program.
I was first exposed to woodturning in 1970 through a woodworking course at a local high school Adult Education program in California.  My first lathe project in that class was a small table with turned legs, which has been in our home ever since.  

I am for the most part self-taught, and have focused on the expressiveness of hollow forms for most of my life as a woodturner.

I presently reside in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, in Scottsdale, Arizona with my wife Judy, and work in a 400 sq. ft. studio.  I have been a member of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) for over 25 years, and have missed only one of their annual symposia since 1987.  I am currently a committee member of the AAW's Professional Outreach Program.

Graham Blackburn


Graham Blackburn was born and trained in London, England. He built his first house in Woodstock, NY over twenty-five years ago. Since then he has written five novels and more than a dozen books on all aspects of housebuilding, interior carpentry, and basic woodwork, as well as books on traditional woodworking, cabinetmaking, furniture making, hand tools, and design, together with books on philately and sailing.


While running his own custom furniture making shop—selling nationwide and exhibiting at some of the country's top shows—he also became a frequent contributor to leading magazines such as Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, and Woodwork—-of which he was also the Editor-in-Chief for a number of years.


As well as being a prolific writer and illustrator, he has been the subject of several books on crafts and design. He was featured in Maxine Rosenberg's Artists of Handcrafted Furniture at Work: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard; and Jane Smiley's Catskill Crafts: Artisans of the Catskill Mountains: Crown Publisher, and has made numerous television appearances, including serving as the national spokesperson for Boyle-Midway's media campaign: Secrets of the Master Craftsmen. He was a featured speaker at the nationwide Woodworking Shows from 2001 to 2011 and a frequent lecturer at Guilds and colleges from coast to coast.

Joe Tripodi


Joe has had a life-long experience in woodworking. Starting at a very early age, he spent time
in his father’s shop. His father’s business was building kitchen cabinets, building furniture,
remodeling houses, and constructing new houses.
He spent his teen years with his older brothers building houses and developed construction
skills, cabinet making skills, and trim skills. He learned to use all woodworking tools and had
experiences from the sawmill to finished product.
After 4 years in the Air Force and completion of a college degree, he had a 32 year career in the
Aerospace industry. During those years he accumulated tools and kept busy building furniture
and items for his children, neighbors, and friends.
After retirement, he went back to his roots, built his shop, and started a woodworking business.
Joe spent many years as the Mentor Chairman of the Arizona Association of Fine Woodworkers
and was responsible for providing learning and sharing opportunities for members of the
Additionally, he started doing demonstrations and skill teaching for Woodworkers Source
Stores in Phoenix and Tucson. For the past seven years he has been teaching woodworking
classes three weekends a month on a variety of topics including joinery of all types, finishing,
design, shop tips, cabinet making, drawers, doors, and a spectrum of woodworking machine
operations, set-up, and safety techniques.


Jessica has been working for the Southwest School of Woodworking for the past 3 years.  During that time she has taken numerous classes and has become an accomplished woodworker. She has becom particularly interested in turning. She has taken many turning clases and had taught spindle, bowl and pen turning. Jessica has studied under Jimmy Clewes and is a new comer to the teaching staff.  She will be a regular, teaching Pens, bowls and spindles as well as other forms.

Rhonda Forsha


Rhonda is a master finisher. She is the finisher for De La Madera located in Scottsdale Arizona.  She creates complex finishes that satisfy the needs of the most demanding and discriminating architects, decorators, and individual cl