Woodworking, San Marcos Style

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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.

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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

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Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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5 Responses to Woodworking, San Marcos Style

  1. Fantastic! Good for Shawn. I wish him much luck and would love to make a trip to his place one day.

  2. Ya gotta try Torchy’s Tacos in Austin for the best tacos you’ve ever had while you’re there!

  3. Marilyn says:

    There are some small gems in Texas. San Marcos is one of them. Most of my time there was spent in an inner tube floating down the river. A woodworking school would have been a way better option.

  4. Patrick Gumz says:

    If you have the time, you should travel south on 35 to New Braunfels for their Wurstfest this weekend. It is a celebration of all things German, including good beer, good food, and too much Polka.

  5. Donna Menke says:

    I really did think you were a local college kid hired to do the tough job- silly me. Next time be sure to drive the 25 miles to Lockhart for some Chisolm Trail Barbeque. Well worth the trip. Hope you class went well.

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