Woodworkers Club of Houston

June 2014 Projects



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Frank Strazza, renowned Texas woodworker and instructor at Heritage School of Woodworking, near Waco, came to the June meeting of the Woodworkers Club of Houston to give a two-hour demonstration: Using hand tools to make dovetail joints, decorative inlay, and other items.

Frank has won multiple awards, including, Best of Show, People’s Choice, First and Second Place, Best Traditional Furniture and much more for many of his pieces, including several awards both at the Texas Furniture Makers Show and at the International Design in Wood Exhibition in California. His most recent win was at the 2012 Texas Furniture Makers Show where he won both Best of Show and People’s Choice for his “Roses Table”. He has also participated in building furniture for the permanent collection at the White House in Washington D.C..

Frank started his presentation with a slide show of some of his projects and some that can be seen in the White House gifts from the outgoing president, George Bush, to the current President, Barack Obama.  He talked about what he called the "balance" between hand tools and power tools, his preference for hide glue but stressing the criticality of having sharp tools.  If you take his complete course many hours will be spent on learning how to sharpen tools.  Frank even uses a chisel to put a very sharp point on his pencil to get crisp clean lines.

Frank prefers a tool well in his work bench for convenience as well as for "catching" tools he might accidentaly shove off the bench.

Some of Frank's work involves bending wood which he says requires wood to be green or air dried.  Kiln drying hard sets the lignun making bending very difficult.

iThis series of photos shows Frank demonstrating how to make dovetail joints while providing members with numerous tips. Frank recommended a loose grip on your coping saw to allow better control of where the blade goes. To clean up the pins Frank demo'ed how he holds a chisel - not at the top but with a finger all the way to the base to more precisely more control the chisel. One word of advice - don't put a finger UNDER the chisel.  To start a cut with a back saw, Frank will turn his saw around and pull it towards him like you would using a Japanese saw, then turn it back around and push in the customary fashion.

eIn these series of photos Frank demonstrates how to make a star and I don't meet the Hollywood type.  A shooting board and a small plane is used to fine tune the pieces that will make up the star. A little dab will do you when it comes to the glue to put everything into place.  Frank makes it look so simple.
Here Frank handily chisels out some stock to make room for an inlay.

These photos are examples of Frank Strazza's handicraft. The eagle and the desk reside in the White House.


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