Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking - Joinery I Class

  • Advertise with us
Review by cakman posted 05-15-2012 06:46 PM 17009 views 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking - Joinery I Class No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Last Friday I took a 1 day class at the Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking in Waco Texas. Homestead Heritage is a traditional Crafts Village where members of their community grow up with and learn trades such as pottery, black smithing, furniture making, and traditional ways of making fabric and clothing. This was my first experience visiting and I was pleasantly surprised at how willing they were to share their knowledge and genuine hospitality with guests.

On to the woodworking. I have been looking for opportunities to take some woodworking courses near me (fort worth, TX), and with the exception of a Rockler and Woodcraft, there doesn’t seem to be many other options for classes other than the Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking in Waco. Their website ( is well done and informative. They have a list of classes available and good descriptions of what is taught in each class. They encourage you to bring your own tools if you want, but it is not necessary because they have enough tools for each student and they are waiting for you already tuned up and sharp.

We started out the morning meeting at the Cafe for coffee and cinnamon rolls (they were devine). They hand you a name tag and you get to sit and visit with other students for a few minutes while you look over their lunch menu to place an order for the lunch break later in the day. After chatting and swapping woodworking stories the instructor shows up and ushers everyone to the wood shop. The instructor for many of the woodworking courses is Frank Strazza. If you take some time and look at the website, you will see some of Franks work, it speaks for itself. He introduces himself to the class and gives an overview of how he is going to teach using his 25+ years of practical knowledge and encourages everyone to ask questions. Each person introduces themselves and gives a short “my goals in woodworking are….” speech and away we go.

The class is setup so everyone gathers around a central workbench and Frank demonstrates everything he teaches. For the Joinery I course, we learned how to sharpen chisels and saws, hand cut a dado, dovetail joint, and mortise and tenon joint. This was all done with handtools even though they do have a fully functional powered workshop in the other room. They provided milled lumber for us, and like i said all the tools were tuned and sharp. After Frank demonstrated how easy it was for him to make each joint by hand (the guy is good), we all go to our workbenches and start to make woodchips and noise. Frank and another shop helper walks around and offers advice and answers questions.

I cant say enough how great Frank and everyone else was about offering advice and knowledge about their crafts. We all gathered around a large table for lunch and talked and had a good time. Frank answered many questions from how long he has been teaching, to what his most challenging piece of furniture was to make, to what kind of vise he recommends for a particular work bench. I have to say, the woodworking class was great, but sitting around and chatting with everyone was a treat.

With all that said, I will be going back for the Joinery II course where we learn how to tune-up and use a handplane, and get to make a shaker style candle box and wall shelf. Maybe I will take enough courses to be able to make the Brazos style Rocker that is on their website (also is sitting in a corner of the shop for you to go check out).

If anyone is looking for a worthy reason to miss a few days of work and learn from some truly skilled craftsmen, Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking in Waco Texas is worth the price of admission.



View cakman's profile


30 posts in 3854 days

9 comments so far

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3649 days

#1 posted 05-15-2012 07:29 PM

That’s good info to have. Being right around the corner from you, I’ve looked at their courses before but never attended.

-- Brian Timmons -

View TexAus's profile


27 posts in 3854 days

#2 posted 05-16-2012 08:00 PM

+1, I took a course there and was very happy with what was taught and how friendly everyone was. Not to mention the best smoked brisket I have ever had (and having grown up in Texas smoking my own and enjoying bbq from others that’s really saying something)!

View cakman's profile


30 posts in 3854 days

#3 posted 05-16-2012 08:05 PM

+1 about the food. I had the cheeseburger for lunch and it was excellent. Fresh greens and bread made from the grainery on site. Cant beat that. A few members of the group had the Coconut cream pie and loved it. Frank asked the waitress if they had Fried Pies but they didnt. Apparently he has the inside scoop on these Fried Pies. Ill have to look into that more the next time I am there :) .

View hokieman's profile


202 posts in 4918 days

#4 posted 05-17-2012 01:20 AM

I have seen Frank at woodworking shows and Lie Nielsen events in Austin. He is really a great guy, very talented and a good instructor. Thanks for the review. I have been interested in learning from Frank for quite a while. Maybe now I’ll do it.

View TominTexas's profile


42 posts in 4000 days

#5 posted 05-18-2012 12:46 PM

Took a course there myself a few years ago – it’s a great teaching environment and excellent instructors – yes, the food is a huge attraction – next time you’re there, try the jalapeno cheese soup.


-- East Side of Big D

View Dawn's profile


17 posts in 3682 days

#6 posted 06-02-2012 04:38 PM

Yes, Homestead Heritage’s classes are well worth the cost. I’ve taken the 6-day joinery foundation class and the 12-day dresser class. Frank, and the other instructors, teach applicable techniques and the balance between working with hand tools and machines. Several more of his classes are on my list. When taking a class, I agree with the rest of you to highly recommend budgeting lunch with the class each day for terrific, fresh food, commeraderie and conversation.

View corpmule's profile


57 posts in 3341 days

#7 posted 08-17-2012 02:12 AM

I just discovered the web site for the Homestead Traditional Craft Village School of Woodworking. I was searching for reviews when I found a link to this one.

I read on the Wookworking online web site that Paul Sellers has something to do with the woodworking school. But that was posted back on December 24th, 2007.

...Paul Sellers, who started his professional woodworking career in 1965. Paul is now the director of woodworking at the Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking in Waco, Texas/

A question for anyone who’s taken the courses down there, especially the “Six-Day Foundational Joinery Course”, I’m wondering, what type of projects do you build during the course and, is it basically just getting a pile of boards already sized up, then cutting a few joints and assembling them? Or does the student actually make all the pieces for the project being built?

I’m just trying get a better idea what the course is like. It sounds very interesting and I’m seriously considering it.

View cakman's profile


30 posts in 3854 days

#8 posted 08-17-2012 02:35 AM


I haven’t taken the 6 day course but I have taken the joinery 1 class, and will be taking joinery 2 next month. As for projects, the joinery 1 class will learn to hand cut dados, mortice and tennon, and dovetail joints. Joinery 2 will make a candle box and a wall hanging shelf. Joinery 3 will make a shakers style side table. All the stock is already milled for you because of time. There is a lot of discussion before you touch the projects and frank usually demonstrates each thing first. Frank knows his stuff and is good about answering questions during the discussion sessions so it really is worth the time spent. He also demonstrates sharpening chisels and saws as well as how to use handplanes, etc. For a beginner or a novice the joinery classes are great. And then after you take them you can enroll in the more advanced classes. Again all this is from my limited experience and looking at the class descriptions on the site. I hope you decide to do them.


View WordCarver's profile


2 posts in 3377 days

#9 posted 03-11-2013 04:31 AM

I just got back from the woodworking show in Fort Worth. The show was great but the best part was learning from Frank. Like others have said, he really knows his stuff and obviously enjoys doing and teaching it. It really left me wanting more. Somehow I will find time to take at least one class at the school.

-- [email protected]

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