Road Trip Woodworking: Austin, Texas

Hurricane FlagsIt may seem tough to believe, but I actually have two consuming passions in my life.  (Well, three if you count my wife – I don’t think she’d ever forgive me for NOT counting her on the list!)

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read at the National Hurricane ConferenceWoodworking is of course one of my favorite things.  The other is the weather – especially hurricanes.  That’s why my office sent me to the National Hurricane Conference taking place this week at the Austin Convention Center.

All day during the conference, I’ve been learning about hurricanes – how they form, how they are tracked and how people can get ready for them.  I’ve also been doing some teaching about how to communicate the risk to their residents about the threat posed by these storms.

That’s been a great way to spend the day.  However, at night, I’ve been staying at a good friend’s home just outside of the city.  And, he’s a woodworker.

Craig Andrews in his shopI met Craig Andrews while at a woodworking school up in Indiana.  We have kept in touch, and he is hosting me at his house.  Besides the great Tex-Mex food, we’ve been doing a little work in his shop.

Craig, as with many other woodworkers, works out of his garage.  He has many of the standard tools you would expect to find in a typical shop – a Delta contractor’s table saw, a band saw, drill press and other power tools.  He is also an avid hand tool collector and has become highly skilled in their use.  His shelves have more than their fair share of Veritas and Lie-Nielsen planes tuned to perfection.

Craig cutting a groove for a haunched tenonBefore the trip, Craig promised me that he would show me a technique he picked up  on how to hand cut a haunched tenon.  Armed with a Veritas dovetail saw, a few chisels and some hand planes, we made a sample tenon to fit into a pre-milled mortise. Since all I had was the camera on my cell phone, I couldn’t get good shots.  However, I will write that technique up once I get back to my shop.

I also built him a bench hook for his planing and sawing chores.  Since he does so much hand tool work, it was something that’s going to make his efforts easier and more effective.

We worked at his bench until late in the night and had a great time making sawdust and swapping tall woodworking tales.

The best part about the entire trip is that I got to learn a lot more about weather and woodworking all at the same time.  And, a two-for-one is always a good thing.

One thought on “Road Trip Woodworking: Austin, Texas”

  1. Tom, That is so cool that you got to hang with our ole friend Craig. I am happy to see that Craig has mastered the skills of joinery with hand tools. Looking forwad to your write up on the hand cut haunched tenon. Good to see you Craig,and thanks to both for sharing your woodworking skills.
    I just had flash backs to our fun times in the workshop, especially during the build-a-thons with big hair and big Mac! I must find those shop photos!
    Hey I didn’t see Iggs on this road trip. Was Iggy making a run for you guys at the Austin neighborhood deli?

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