Frank Klausz – The First Master I Met
About a month after I joined the Popular Woodworking staff (so three weeks after I learned to spell “rabbet”), I traveled to New Jersey with then Senior Editor David Thiel (he’s now in charge of our videos) for a woodworking show. I remember three things about that 2005 trip: I’ve never been so ill yet still ambulatory than I was that weekend; Harrelson Stanley taught me his side-sharpening method; and I met Frank Klausz and his wife, Edith.
I seriously don’t recall much else about the show, though I know we had our “anvil test” rig set up to drop a heavy piece of anvil-shaped iron onto dovetails, doweled joints, biscuit joints and the like and watch them explode (or not).
And I remember having dinner at Frank’s house with his wife, Edith (who kindly cooked us what I am told were delicious stuffed peppers…I couldn’t eat anything), and several other woodworkers who were in town for the show. And I remember the awesome collection of plumb bobs Frank has hanging in his shop. (I also recall staying as far away as possible from everyone so as not to pass along my pestilence.)
The next time I met Frank is far more clear in my memory; it was in 2008 at the first Woodworking in America, where he was teaching sessions on joinery. I clearly recall his uttering the classic “Frank” statement: “You can do it the wrong way, or Frank’s way.” He got a big laugh (as always)…though I don’t actually think he’s joking. (He was talking to Roy Underhill at the time; they were doing a joint session on pins first (Frank) vs. tails first (Roy). (For the record, Frank, I can do either…but usually, I do it “wrong.”)
Since then, I’ve gotten to know Frank better through various articles he’s worked on with us, and at many woodworking shows. He is one of the most genial, funniest craftsmen working today. He’s also among the best woodworking teachers I’ve encountered, with his dry, straightforward delivery that leaves you in no doubt of what he’s doing, how he’s doing it and that you, too, can do it.
If you ever have the opportunity to take an in-person class with Frank, jump at it – even if you already know the subject he’s teaching. (You’ve probably been doing it wrong.)
In the meantime, consider this new collection of four DVDs (new and vintage) from Frank: “Joinery Master Class” with two discs and seven hours of instruction; “Master Craftsman: An Interview with Frank Klausz” for an intimate look at the man behind the legend; and “Making Mortise-and-Tenon Joints” and “Dovetail a Drawer” for focused instruction on making these two critical woodworking joints.