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  • Texas | Columns | They Shoe Horses, Don't They?

    Frank, the Wood Worker

    by Bruce Martin
    Bruce Martin

    M y grandfather was a carpenter by trade; so his son, Frank, grew up with the familiarity of hand tools used in that craft. After graduation from high school, one of my dadís first jobs was that of working as a Cabinet Maker in an eastside Houston millworks creating products for residential and commercial sale.

    At the beginning of the World War II effort, he left that job to become a millwright at the Brown Shipyard, building vessels for the Navy. When that participation ended, he ventured into other vocational interests.

    His love for crafting objects from wood did not diminish, however. Woodworking became his hobby. When he constructed another residence on the property, he converted the first home into a work shop and began filling it with power tools. Among the machinery were ones such as table saws, band saws, jig saws, shapers, planers, lathes, rotary sanders, belt sanders, grinders, and drill presses. He had an assortment of dado blades for preparing furniture tops with decorative edges.

    Quite a few of my adolescent toys and games were of handcrafted wood. He also built bird houses of all shapes, sizes, and styles.

    In his spare time throughout the year, pieces were constructed that he gave as gifts to family and friends at Christmas. Those objects would include night stands, magazine racks, what-not shelves, and similar handiworks. For the home, he built a buffet cabinet, book cases, lamps with wooden stands and bases, desks, and tables. I still have one glass front gun cabinet that I converted into a display cabinet for curios by adding shelving.

    Being an avid fisherman, another pastime, he built row boats covered with canvas, sealed with waterproofing. They were of a size that he could lift into the back of his pickup truck; yet, large enough for two people to fish from. During some of the heavy rainstorms in Houston, roads and ditches in our area would flood and we kids would drag out one of the boats and row in the flood waters; perhaps pretending to be pirates, or something; canít rememberÖ

    I never learned the skills to follow in his footsteps with his intensity and passion. Perhaps, though, the gene passed on to my son, who is also well-gifted in applying the art and knowledge of wood crafting.


    © Bruce Martin

    They Shoe Horses, Don't They? June 8, 2013 Guest column
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