This weekend I’m in San Marcos, Texas, at the Wortheffort school of woodworking. Haven’t heard of the school? It’s new. But I hope you will hear more soon.
The school is the brainchild of Shawn Graham, who wanted to create a hand-tool school with a community focus. The storefront school is located in the small college town of San Marcos – halfway between Austin and San Antonio. It’s on the same strip with lots of tattoo parlors, locavore restaurants, boxing clubs and college bars.
Today I arrived at the school as Shawn was finishing one of the French workbenches for the school in order to accommodate 13 students in the classroom. It’s a big, open and airy room, with a digital projector, whiteboards and lots of benches.
And it’s all sourced from Craigslist.com, Shawn says.
After dumping my tools off, I headed over to the Root Cellar Cafe, an incredible little subterranean restaurant, for a late lunch. Then it was back to the school to help prep the stock for my class tomorrow while Shawn held a free open house for members of the community.
During the 2-1/2 hours, Shawn showed the residents (of all ages and genders) how to build a small Roubo bookstand suitable for a cellphone. He cajoled them with humor and geometry to understand the important lessons.
And I sweat like a pig in the corner while sawing up (by hand) the poplar and pine planks for the class on Saturday.
One of the locals looked over and asked Shawn what I was doing.
“He’s the teacher for the weekend class; he’s just sawing up sticks,” he said.
“A teacher? I thought he was just the hired help,” she said.
Well, I really am the hired help. This school is clearly Shawn’s baby. It has the feel of Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s School, but done in a Texas style. As I grew up just one state north (but a world away) we’ll see how I do when I start teaching in the morning.
Perhaps Shawn will see fit to send me back to the corner to saw wood. And I’m OK with that.
— Christopher Schwarz