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Thread: Creeker interview: Harry Strasil

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX

    Creeker interview: Harry Strasil

    1. Name (and nick names)

    Harry L. Strasil Jr. I have always been called Jr. since I can remember by everyone except a couple of old school teachers and people who don't know me well. Most other forums I frequent I am known as irnsrgn or irn ( short for ironsurgeon) as that is what one of my vehicle license plates is, some call me FeDoc too.

    2. Age/DOB

    62 - 02/27/44

    3. Location (present and previous):

    I live in Falls City, Nebraska, just a few miles from Missouri and Kansas.
    I was born in the hospital about 3.5 blocks from where I live and have lived my whole life here except the time I spent in the Navy SeaBees.

    4. Tell us about your family:

    I am an almost newlywed, 1.5 years to my second wife who works for a Mental Health Hospital in KC, Mo. My friends tell her she has had good training for living with me. LOL
    I was married 36 years to my first wife who passed very unexpectedly and we had 4 children, 1 boy and 3 girls. The girls are all married and have moved away and I have 5 grandchildren. I have 2 step daughters also now and 4 more step grandchildren.
    Our son was killed by lightning while on a CAP (Civil Air Patrol) training mission at the age of 17 while still in high school, he was a C/MSGT at the time of his death and had a full military funeral.

    5. How do you earn a living, woodworking or other, any interesting previous occupations.

    I am a 3rd generation Blacksmith, Welder, Machinist and own operate a one man repair shop. I started my apprenticeship under my father and uncle at age 7.
    I have done short stints over the years as a construction electrician, sheetmetal worker, carpenter, Ride Foreman-Electrician-Trouble shooter for a Carnival, Trouble Shooter for a Construction Co. and as a rough carpenter.
    I am what is called an Adjunct teacher and give layout classes at community colleges and for Blacksmith organizations and Associations. Kind of funny I am a high school drop out but can teach college accredited classes. I have also in the past taught off campus welding classes for one of the Nebraska state community colleges.
    I am presently unable to do much because of a back injury. I am also a Disabled Veteran. I lost the sight in one eye while in the service.

    6. Equipment overview (hand tools and other):

    My hand tools are mostly antiques and ones I have made myself. I have a Table Saw I made from scratch, an antique radial arm saw which I got in trouble for posting on the Haven LOL, a 14 inch import band saw, a 6 inch jointer , drill press, a delta portable thickness planer and a couple of tailed routers, hand drills and a sander.

    7. Describe your shop:

    My wood shop takes up about half of my basement with the wood storage area and is lit with salvaged flourescent light fixtures from various jobs. I also have a portable shop with all hand tools stored in a 6 by 10 enclosed trailer that I use at public demonstrations, steam shows and living history events.

    8. Tell us about the hand planes you own, and your favorite one(s) to use:

    I only have a couple of all metal planes, A sargent smoother and Keen Kutter #8 but I never use them. Most of my planes are either all wood or wood bottom transitional. I do have some of the metal specialty hand planes. 4 or 5 stanley 45's, 2 stanley 55's, stanley 50, stanley scrub, stanley chamfer, stanley 71 router, small stanley router, both stanley 66's, stanley 79, stanley 95, stanley 112 scraper, 113 circle, 2 metal match planes, stanley 80, stanley 140 and 60.

    My favorites are my woodies and my series 2 stanley 45 and my woody match and of course my homemade coopers jointer.

    9. You favorite chisels:

    My favorite chisels are sharp ones. LOL, I have no complete sets of chisels, just what I picked up at flea mkts and antique malls.

    10. Your favorite handsaw(s):

    My favorite saws are frame and bow saws, but my 2 old disstons are right up there. one of them may be the oldest disston known.

    11. Do you use western tools or Japanese, why do you prefer the ones you use:

    Only western tools, Japanese tools all look awkward to use to me.

    12. Do you have a woodworking home page:


    13. Do you have any influences in your work? Certain styles or designers you follow/prefer:

    I prefer Shaker style for the clean lines, simplicity and it also goes with any decor.

    14. Do you have any ancestors who were woodworkers that served as inspiration?

    Only my Grandfather as old time Blacksmiths had to be competent woodworkers as way back most things were of wood with iron rienforcements. The Blacksmiths were often the Wainwright and Wheelwright for the Community.

    15. What is your favorite neander project, or part of a project, you have ever done and why:

    My portable demo work bench and my tool chests are my favorites neander projects as they were among the first all neander things I did and where I learned to use neander tools.

    16. Do you believe there is any spiritual dimension to woodworking with hand tools:

    Spiritual I have no idea, but there is a calming, soothing sensation listening to a sharp plane or saw work in wood. The howling, deafening roar of their tailed cousins can definately make you tense and they also fill the air with a cloud of dust particles. Besides the shaving from neander tools are good to light your coal forge with.

    17. How much of your work is done by hand tools. Do you use whatever is best for the job or do you use hand tools even when they are less efficient:

    In the basement shop I will use the tailed cousins to rip, joint and thickness as it is much easier at my advanced age, but when out demoing I do it all by hand. After all my demo tools are all ultra modern, they are cordless.

    18. What is your single most favorite tool, and why.

    My portable work bench, it is unique and not the norm, but it lets me efficiently use all the hand tools.

    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX
    Harry, it was great to know you better. You continue to be a very active member of this community, and among the glitz of shiny new tools your ideas are very refreshing.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  3. #3
    jr, you`re one of the ol` timers i like to sit and listen to! thanks for chippin` in your .02.....tod

  4. #4
    From one Cornhusker to another............thanks for sharing!
    Last edited by John Kain; 08-18-2006 at 10:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Central NY State
    Hey Jr, what Tod said.

    Thanks for telling so much about yourself. I look forward to reading your posts. Feel better, friend.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    It is good to read about you. I always enjoy talking to you,Jr., George.

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