Homestead Heritage - School of Woodworking - Joinery I Class (Rating: 5)

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.