Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Workshop with Frank Klausz - Day 2

The second day of the workshop with Frank Klausz was, if anything, more amazing than the first. Frank demonstrated such breadth and depth of knowledge my head is still buzzing with thoughts and ideas. And I haven't been this enthused about going into the workshop and learning (also known as making mistakes) in a long time.

I had several revelatory moments on Sunday. One of them was when Frank demonstrated how to use a smoother plane to fair the top of the jewelry box we were all making. The speed at which he created the curve on both end grain and long grain was incredible. Even more amazing was the way he kept talking throughout the process, explaining the "why" of what he was doing as well as the "what". I was literally riveted to the spot as I tried to absorb not only what he said but how he did it. Frank pointed out many times during the weekend how he was positioning his body, and how he was moving his body in order to achieve the results he wanted.

Another amazing moment was when I went to a workbench and started fairing the top of my box. As a recovering perfectionist, it was a truly frightening moment when I first put the WWII era 4 1/2 smoother down and started shaping the lid. I bought the plane about a month ago and have been cleaning it up and tuning it ever since. Would it perform well? Would it gouge the lid and ruin my project? Would it perform well but the user (me) completely screw things up? Happily, all went well, and a while later I put down my the block plan I had used to finalize the curves on the top. After checking with Frank to make sure he felt I was ready to do so, I moved on to scraping out the skips I'd dug into the top with an errant swipe of the smoother and then started sanding.

Perhaps my best moment came shortly after Frank used the thin-kerf blade to cut apart my box, freeing the lid. As he looked over the hand-cut dovetails exposed by the separation of the lid, he complimented me on the tightness of the joints. His compliment was completely unexpected and blew me away. Frank is the kind of craftsman I aspire to one day be. He is so highly skilled that even an amateur like myself can recognize his skills. And even more importantly for me, he clearly cares about his craft.

Frank's website has a quote: "If you're going to do it, do it well." Frank clearly lives that quote. He regularly lamented the results he achieved on building his own sample box, despite it's quality and the fact that he was building it in odd spare moments while he wasn't instructing all of us. And he would regularly stop the entire class to instruct us on proper technique after witnessing someone doing something wrong. You might think this would make students resent him, but if our workshop is any indication the opposite is true. His passion for teaching skills was so obvious I don't think anyone took offense. By halfway through the first day, many of us regularly joked with each other about when Frank would use something we were doing as an anti-example. His passion for teaching us good craftsmanship was so infectious that I think it brought out the best in each of us.

If you ever have the chance to take a class from Frank, I think you should jump on it.

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