Class with a Woodworking Legend Frank Klausz

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Blog entry by Karson posted 12-08-2007 04:17 PM 5011 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got a phone call Thursday night that Frank Klausz was in town, (really next town over but 15 miles away) holding three seminars. Friday night Wood Technologies, Sat tools and joinery, Sun Finishing.

I was/am only able to go to the Friday night session because of prior commitments.

Franks is Hungarian, came to the US at age 27. He was trained by his father and grandfather. He said when he came to this country he wanted to learn some additional skills. He said a seminar being taught and so he signed up. It was being taught by a wood glue representative. He is sitting there and this instructor came in and smeared some glue on some wood and used a spring hand clamp to hold it and then a screw clamp to make it tight. He said he started yelling at them. “I paid good money for this (of course all in a Hungarian dialect) I want my money back. As he was leaving they tried to sell him a gallon of glue.

So he left and he told himself that when he gets recognized he is going to hold his own seminars. He has a cabinet shop in New Jersey. Before the class he told me they have a job that requires the same veneer on all surfaces of one room. Walls and ceilings. He said the veneer was over $60,000.

Frank said that he was sitting in a barber shop and saw an advertisement for a new woodworking magazine for professional woodworkers. He tore out the advertisement and mailed it in. When the first issue of Fine Woodworking showed up, He was disappointed so he called the editor and the publisher to rip them about the drivel that they were publishing. He proceeded to tell them that the magazine was terrible.

The next day he was working in his shop and these two gentlemen showed up at his door. They stood there jaws open is amazement as he used a hand plane to take of wisps of wood and then hand cut a dovetail before their eyes.

They became good friends and the rest of the story still continues. They started to match him up with Ian Kirby and if one said white the other said black. And if one said black the other said white. Ian is a tool mechanic he will show you how to set-up your tools to fine precision, Frank is a hand woodworker of the old school.

After about 5 years they became good friends, after 5 o’clock. After the business of competing they sit down and enjoy each others company.

Key points:
Always make the outside, visible piece of wood the innermost surface of the piece of lumber. If it is flat sawn the outer surface of the board is closest to the bark. Make that surface the inside of what every you are making.

Always use wide pieces of wood and if you need smaller pieces take it from the middle of the plank of lumber. Use the outer pieces somewhere where you can screw and glue it down. Like face frames, columns etc.

If you are making a raised panel door make it from one piece of lumber, two at the most, but never 5 or 6 pieces glued together.

Always use quartersawn wood if you can get it.

The best jig for sharpening chisels and plane irons, is attached at the end of your arm. He is not a fan of Scary Sharp sharpening. He says that you will probably spend more money on sandpaper than you would with water stones. He used Norton stones at the class. He took a Japanese chisel out of a package on the wall of the store and in less than 5 minutes he had honed it sharp, probably the same time to take a blade out of a brand new plane hanging on the wall, and had it cutting whisper shavings. He doesn’t care about the thickness of the shavings. He just wants it to cut full width. When adjusting the blade on a chisel move the tilt lever toward the wood that is in the plane mouth. Always adjust the depth of the blade on the push out cycle. First adjust it move the blade until it protrudes through the base then back it off two full turns and then screw it back maybe one turn and try it and then adjust it out about 1/8th of a turn. If you ever have to back it off take it back two full turns and then go forward again. That is to take up all of the slack in the screws. If not when you hit a knot or hard piece of wood the blade will move backward.

He was bitching about the October Issue of Popular Woodworking. A great magazine, but it had an article about him and a “Ruhlmann-style Poker Table” and then it had David Charlesworth. I think the British woodworker who was going to make a board flat with a curved blade in his plane. How can you do that. And Frank’s article was further back in the magazine.

A great guy and a lot of fun.

And sorry Tom (Mot) and Martin. I didn’t even think of the camera and the LumberJock shirt.

No picture but did happen.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

13 comments so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4327 days

#1 posted 12-08-2007 04:36 PM

I watched Charlsworth’s video on planing and sharpening. Something just seemed wrong about the curved blade idea, but he was the expert…. Does Frank advocate a straight bevel?

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4853 days

#2 posted 12-08-2007 04:42 PM

Frank didn’t say anything about beveling the corner of the blade. But you could see him run his fingers across the surface to see if there were any ridges.

The real class of tools and joinery is today and because 5 people in last nights class were not coming back, he did a quick thing on sharpening and dovetails.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4853 days

#3 posted 12-08-2007 04:54 PM

Frank had a lot of comments about the so called experts. Taking a wide board and sawing it into smaller pieces and then glue it back together (Don’t do)

Alternate the grain when gluing up wide panels (Don’t do – see his comments above on the visible side of the board to be the innermost surface of the board.)

Use fasteners to keep a larger flat surface from bowing. Clips to hold the surface to the apron.

He also told us why a board twists. When you take a wide board and make it narrower and you cut it all off one side. What you have done is leave the outer edges on one side, and heart wood on the other and the wood moves differently and there-by twists.. Have the center of the board as the center of what you are making and it will stay stable longer.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4547 days

#4 posted 12-08-2007 04:54 PM

That was a lucky phone call, Karson. I learned the other day that Frank Klausz was the speaker at the Minnesota Woodworkers Guild two years ago. Sadly, I was not a member.

Frank sounds like a great storyteller and seems very personable from what I have heard. One of the fellas in the guild mentioned a story Frank told about Norm Abram at the seminar. Apparently, Norm and his wife purchased a new boat and invited Frank and his wife out for a jaunt (Frank and Norm are well acquainted I guess). Basically, the joke was that Norm can work a set of power tools but he can’t pilot a boat because there was a, umm, mishap when leaving the dock… Who knows how much of it is really true but Frank apparently got a kick out of it.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4547 days

#5 posted 12-08-2007 04:58 PM

I have recently read somewhere the same comments about alternating the grain when gluing up a panel. I think it may have been in one of the back issue of Woodworking Magazine.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4853 days

#6 posted 12-08-2007 05:00 PM

Frank was talking about what woods to buy, Lumber, Lumber Core plywood, veneer core Pylwood, MDF core plywood, Particle board core plywood.

He said never make anything out of melamine. If you want, go to Ikea and buy it cheaper than you can make it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4365 days

#7 posted 12-08-2007 05:37 PM


Great stroke of good fortune to get the phone call! Nice write-up on the seminar. I admire Frank Klauz quite a bit. He is definitely one of the few old masters in the woodworking community that I’ve seen. I have a few older videos of him doing drawers and dovetails. It is amazing how well versed he is in his craft. COngratulations on the ability to see and talk with him directly.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4853 days

#8 posted 12-08-2007 06:00 PM

I told Frank an interesting story about him. I met him at a woodworking show in Pennsylvania. He was doing a mini show just inside the front door of the show. I was standing there with my 8 year old, LJ son Dave He asked Dave to help him make a set of his trademarked handcut dovetails. He was standing in front of this Purpleheart workbench that one of the wood magazines had a challenge between him and Ian Kirby on each making a workbench.

So he hands this small piece of pine and asks Dave to tighten it up in the vise. he did and after Frank cut the pins he tried to open the vise and Dave had really cranked it down. Frank reminded him that it was just necessary to hold the board. After cutting the matched dovetails he autographed the board and gave it to Dave.

He took it home and placed it on top of his computer moniter, but then he took this big old wide magic marker and put his name on it and colored it all up.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4767 days

#9 posted 12-08-2007 07:22 PM

So I’m confused…glue up the boards, wide as possible, with the rings all curving the same way? I know nothing!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4432 days

#10 posted 12-08-2007 07:59 PM

Hi Karson;

Sounds like a fun evening.

Servining an apprenticeship in almost any European country was a very difficult endeavor, particulary when it’s with family.

But when you emerge from this training, you are a MASTER.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4415 days

#11 posted 12-08-2007 10:57 PM

I’m jealous!! Frank is one of my heroes. I’ve bought magazines just because there was one of his articles in them. I remember one article about dovetails where he said, “Stop measuring and learn to saw straight!” Very practical woodworker.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Grumpy's profile


25536 posts in 4304 days

#12 posted 12-08-2007 11:18 PM

Thanks for sharing Karson. There are some really good tips in that article.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4450 days

#13 posted 12-11-2007 08:50 AM

Another admirer of Klausz here – thanks for sharing your experience of the eve with him…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

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