Learning from the Masters... #3: Frank Klausz - The best things come in small packages...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 04-06-2007 06:21 PM 2172 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Frank Klausz Postponed... Part 3 of Learning from the Masters... series Part 4: When Opportunity Knocks... »

After spending most of a week trying to figure out a good way to summarize my seminar with Frank Klausz, I’ve come to a conclusion… I can’t. There is no way to document everything we talked about in a reasonable blog entry – it would be long enough to make a small book! I don’t like to write like that and I think you’d probably not get as much out of it reading it like that.

So instead, I’ve decided to write up shorter blog entries that focus on different aspects of the seminar. This is a good way to highlight the topics I feel are more important without burying them in a bunch of rambling drivel. (It’s also a great way to pad my blog count! Not that it matters to me, Mark…)

To give you a general idea of how the weekend went…

On Friday night, a few select members of the guild were picked to go out to dinner with Frank.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On Saturday, Frank started by giving us a breakdown of his woodworking background. He then highlighted what we would cover during the rest of the weekend, breaking the topics down into four areas:

  • Understanding wood
  • Tools, Hand and Power
  • Joinery
  • Finishing

We then went into Understanding Wood, which took an hour or so of time. Lots of good, useful information came out of that one hour of discussion. It changed the way I will design any future project!

After that, we started in on Tools. For hand tools, he talked about the best places to get them (flea markets, garage sales, maybe even eBay if you’re smart about it) and the best tools to look for. He gave us a list of the basic hand tools every woodworker should have. He then worked his way into power tools. He didn’t spend much time on power tools, though he did focus a little on the table saw and the band saw. I don’t think he mentioned the word “router” more than three times. (He couldn’t spend hours talking about every single tool in the shop or else it would have been a month-long seminar.)

Most of the afternoon was spent on joinery, with a greater focus on hand-cutting dovetails. He also covered mortise and tenon joinery and some furniture construction basics.

At about 2:00 p.m. the first day, we paused to discuss Finishing for a little bit. That was mostly because he wanted to prepare some fresh shellac for the next day. In order to do so, he had to make it then because you have to swirl or stir it every 15 minutes for two hours or else you’ll get a chemical burn and your shellac will be useless.

At the end of the first day, I was able to get a picture with Frank.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(Martin, just look at all the advertising I’m doing here!)

We spent most of Sunday talking about finishes. He spent a great deal of time on shellacs and very little time on lacquers. (I’ll go into why later.) He also talked about his favorite finishing technique and walked us through the different steps with about 10 sample boards he’d brought with him.

We ended with an open question-and-answer session where we could ask about anything he didn’t cover.

And then the weekend was over… Man, it went by way too fast!

I’ll start my next blog with the dinner on Friday night. It was a great experience to sit down with him in a social environment and one I’m glad I didn’t pass up…

-- Ethan,

12 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#1 posted 04-06-2007 06:30 PM

I can’t wait to hear more. Sounds like you learned a lot.

(Also, I can’t get over how different you appear (to me) in these photos vs your little member’s pix).

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4189 days

#2 posted 04-06-2007 06:34 PM

Great job Ethan. I am looking forward to hearing more about the finishing. I prefer shellac, but have had to use polyurethane on more projects than any other.

I can’t wait for the next installment..

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4201 days

#3 posted 04-06-2007 06:39 PM

No, Debbie, I’m the one on the left!

-- Ethan,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#4 posted 04-06-2007 06:40 PM

hahaha too funny Ethan ;)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View BassBully's profile


261 posts in 4124 days

#5 posted 04-06-2007 08:53 PM

At least you weren’t shaking hands all day this time.

I have to say, I’m a little envious at all of the exposure you’re getting with these well known woodworkers. I live in Ankeny, Iowa and we don’t get these high profile people up here. I take that back, we had Phil Lowe recently but I was unable to attend his seminar. The closest contact that I get with these people is through watching video tapes that we can check out from our woodworking club. In fact, I have a Time Life video that has Klausz teaching viewers how to make hand-made dovetails. It’s pretty awesome because he doesn’t measure a thing.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4201 days

#6 posted 04-06-2007 08:59 PM

I got to meet David Marks because he came in for some Woodcraft classes. Last year our guild brought in Marc Adams (not bad – that will probably come up in one of these next blogs, though). This year, they brought in Frank Klausz.

I must say, having and participating in a local woodworking guild has done wonders for my skills and experiences and knowledge. If you have one in your area, join it! If they don’t do anything like this, then get yourself on the board and stir things up! If you don’t have a local guild near you, then start one up!

-- Ethan,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4342 days

#7 posted 04-06-2007 09:22 PM

I’m ready for as much rambling drivel as you can come up with! Sounds like a great weekend.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4125 days

#8 posted 04-07-2007 01:42 AM

Thanks for posting this Ethan. I had been looking forward to it. Hopefully you will get some info out on the tools to look for and his opinion on must have hand tools.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4428 days

#9 posted 04-07-2007 01:56 AM

Well its about time you posted something. You should have taken a court stenographer to take a word for word and had him/her write it up.

Looking for the continuation of the blogs.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4354 days

#10 posted 04-07-2007 02:01 AM

Nice overview, sounds like a great weekend! Can’t wait for some of the minutae!

Now to find myself a guild…

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View EyePhoto's profile


12 posts in 4100 days

#11 posted 04-07-2007 05:01 AM

I agree with MsDebbieP, I couldn’t recognize you from the little photo that made you look older than in real life. And I wasn’t looking for the logo of Lumberjocks.
As Frank learned his craft from his father, who was a real taskmaster, he was also tutored under the seasoned master and gentler grandfather. I could have only wished for that experence. btw you and I need to get together, I have some photos for you to post because after all this is your blog.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4201 days

#12 posted 04-07-2007 06:06 AM

My experiences, and what I took from the class, could be totally different from yours. I suggest you write your own blog and post your photos! It’s always good to have different opinions and views on the same subject.

-- Ethan,

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