Building a mahogany jewelry box with Frank Klausz

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Jon Spelbring posted 03-23-2010 03:26 PM 2756 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wow, what a weekend! I spent last Saturday and Sunday learing from Frank Klausz. It was just a 2 day class, but I think we managed to pack a lot into it. Frank is one funny, funny guy!

So, here’s my impressions of the class – plus and minus, and a recap of what I learned (at least I think I learned).

Overall, the class was excellent. We had 15 students, with varying skill levels. The first part of day one was some background on Frank, and some good tech info on wood, wood movement, and joinery. Interspersed with the lecture were several side-stories from the world of Frank – again, funny stuff, and it kept things from getting too dry.

He brought pre cut kits for the jewelry boxes – 1/2” mahogany for everyone. We also had a pair of practice pieces for warming up on our dovetails. That was very interesting for me – the only way I had ever cut dovetails was using the tails first style of Rob Cosman. Pins first felt a little weird at first, but my first set of dovetails turned out OK, so I guess it works. I still haven’t decided which way I like better. Franks style tends to look a little more “by hand” than Cosmans – in Frank’s style, you don’t measure. You approxiimate, then you cut. A little scary for the engineering types.

So, the next step was to cut our pins, then use them to mark out the tails – not too bad. Frank has a very efficient way of doing things. There was no wasted movement of effort. Of course, you have to actually follow said instructions – my box is a little bit narrower that it should have been because I messed up on one of the steps. The box still turned out OK – lesson learned. As with all mistakes, it became a design opportunity.

By the end of day one, we had cut our dovetails, and glued them together, and glued on the top and bottom.

Day two was sanding, shaping the top, sanding, cutting the top off, and (you guessed it), sanding.

So, things I liked/didn’t like:

Liked: Learning pins first dovetails Frank’s teaching/presentation style (tough love – if you screwed up, he called you on it)

Disliked: Time. This is a tough class to teach in two days – we didn’t have time to install hinges or the lock. To actually finish the box (hardware, mirror, and actual application of the finish) would take at least 4, preferably 5 days.

Kit price – there was a $40 charge for the kits – with no hardware. I know it’s nice Mahogany, but that seems steep to me

Lessons: Pins first doesn’t necessarily suck PAY ATTENTION (aka measure twice, cut once) Always plane “downhill” when rounding an edge

Even with my minor dislikes, I would highly recommend the class to anyone who wants to word with hand tools, and listen to a crazy Hungarian spin tales.

-- To do is to be

3 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4182 days

#1 posted 03-23-2010 05:41 PM

Sounds like fun.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4682 days

#2 posted 04-12-2010 05:42 AM

It WAS fun!

I agree with a lot of what you said, Jon. He is an intimidating presence in a room. But I was grateful to learn as much as I could in the two days we had.

In the end, there was an over-charge for the class, so everyone should be getting a bit of a refund – should make up for a little of the pricey kit. In Frank’s defense, he provided us with some nice wide and clear-grained lumber for the sides and had plenty of cathedral-grained wood for one-piece tops. Plus, he milled all of the lumber himself, so we were paying for a little more than just the wood.

But honestly, for the opportunity to learn in a hands-on class from such a great woodworker, I would have gladly paid more. It was such a refreshing change from 40 guys sitting on metal chairs listening to someone lecture for two days!

-- Ethan,

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4762 days

#3 posted 04-12-2010 02:21 PM


You’re absolutely right. It was worth the price and then some!

Another lesson that I took away – his squiggly mark – outside, top. A simple thing to be sure, but not one that I had though of (I used to mark Front, Back, Left, Right, and even used funky arrows to show which way was up).

-- To do is to be

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics