Chris Schoenberg – The Third Coast Craftsman

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Building Projects The More Traditional And Satisfying Way!

Chris Schoenberg, the Third Coast Craftsman, pays close attention to detail while working on his projects.

You should check out a new YouTube channel – Third Coast Craftsman – created by Chris Schoenberg of Michigan, home of the “Third Coast.” His videos inspire, entertain and educate. The high-quality and diversity of his work make watching his productions a pleasure.

Woodworking Heritage

His grandfather, who was a very skilled craftsman, helped Chris build a foundation that serves him well in his own woodworking journey.


Chris has a passion for woodworking that started when he was young. He looked up to his grandfather, who was a very respected builder, master woodworker and skilled craftsman.
 
“I absolutely have great memories working with my grandfather. It was just something my grandfather and I did,” Chris said, “and we had a lot of good memories and bonded because of it. Those memories are something that I continue to hold near and dear to my heart.”

The first woodworking project Chris remembers is a fishing pole rack that he made in middle school. It still holds his fishing rods.

Chris has a passion for traditional woodworking and loves working with hand tools and using traditional techniques.


Chris has a few of his grandfather’s tools, and he tries to use them on his projects whenever possible. The tools are a constant reminder of what his grandfather stood for and how he worked.

“He never wanted to produce anything unless it was done right,” said Chris. “I have taken the knowledge and principles I learned from him and embarked on my own woodworking journey. I began to acquire my own tools and developed my own style and passion. On this journey is where I fell in love with hand tools and traditional techniques.”


Transitioning ... Jumping Into His Passion!

Hand-cut joinery that all fits together all tight and sound always gives Chris a sense of satisfaction.


Chris has always had a passion for woodworking and creating things, but it was not always his livelihood. After serving in the US Air Force, he went back to college and earned an undergraduate degree in finance. He had a job as Director of Public Safety while in college, but it wasn’t really a career path choice, more of an opportunity that he fell into. His desire for woodworking eventually led him to start Third Coast Craftsman about a year and a half ago.

Although the YouTube project brought him a lot of joy, as he started making progress he reached the point at which it was becoming difficult to do both YouTube and his job. At this point, Chris made what he describes as “the craziest decision of my life,” and quit his regular job to jump into his passion full time.

A beautifully made trestle table is just one of the many projects that Chris has completed in the last couple of years.

Mortise and tenon table leg connections add to the special look of these tables made by Chris.

“It was a rude awaking and many months and countless hours of hard work before I started having any success,” Chris shared. “I am very excited for what the future holds and all the projects I have planned and for all the adventures that this endeavor will take me.” After months of hard work, he now has some sponsorships and partnerships that will help as he continues to pursue his woodworking goals.

Chris wears many hats to get things done. “I do all the filming and editing. It takes several hours to edit a video, and when you’re doing your project, it slows you down,” Chris said. “You’re constantly stopping and starting, but it’s all part of the gig. I’m still learning, but I’ve come a long way!”

It’s obvious that family life is important to Chris Schoenberg.

Schoenberg believes that there is a bit of a renaissance underway as more and more people are appreciating good craftsmanship and eager to learn more about it. They really want to learn how to build things properly in woodworking and produce high-quality pieces that last. He believes that is why Third Coast Craftsman is such a popular YouTube channel.

“I personally have had a lot of interaction with people who like my work and are inspired to start working with hand tools and start doing traditional joinery and other techniques,” said Schoenberg. “One of my personal goals in my videos is to inspire people to push themselves and get better and to find that joy that comes from making something with your hands that will hopefully last for generations.”


The Traditional Way ... It’s Just More Satisfying!

This bench is another creation that Chris put a lot of work into and the end result was well worth the effort.

Chris is not one to take the easy path, whether in woodworking or outdoor pursuits.

“I’ve always liked doing things the hard or ‘traditional’ way,” said Chris.

Even as an outdoor enthusiast, Chris doesn’t take the easy route. When fishing, he often chooses a fly rod and when deer hunting he uses a longbow. He believes the challenge makes the reward sweeter. That same mindset carries over to his woodworking projects.

You’d be hard pressed to find better made or better looking mallets that these made by Schoenberg.


“I gravitate towards the traditional or what equates sometimes to the more difficult way of doing things,” said Schoenberg. “The reward I get is so worth the challenge. It gives me a sense of self accomplishment.”

Chris says that when he hand-cuts some joinery and it all fits together all tight and sound, he feels way more accomplished and proud than if he had used a jig. It takes a lot of time and practice and years of learning, but he personally feels proud when doing it that way.

So far, he’s made mallets, a trestle table, a wooden jack plane, a leather and wood photo album, breadboard ends, signs, a backlit cross and a coffee spoon, among many others.


Here’s a wooden jack plane and a coffee spoon that show great design and craftsmanship.


Introduction to Japanese Tools

5-Piece Blue Steel Dovetail Chisel Set by Matsumura (#156104) and a Tsunesaburo Damascus Blue Paper Steel Smooth Plane (#159531).


We at Japan Woodworker recently sent Chris some Japanese tools to play with, including some Matsumura bench and dovetail chisels, a Japanese Tsunesaburo Damascus Blue Paper Steel Smoothing Hand Plane and some Iwasaki files and rasps.

Shigezo Matsumura is a Japanese Master Blacksmith who has been hand-forging chisels one at a time for over 60 years. Tsunesaburo is one of the most well-known plane makers in Japan, and Iwasaki makes popular high-quality files and rasps that work the wood quickly.

“I really like the Japanese chisels and the rasps,” said Chris. “The hand plane was fun to use, and it’s a sweet tool as well.”


Iwasaki files and rasps are among the best available and Matsumura Blue Steel Cabinet Chisels are a dream to use.


He likes both the bench and dovetail chisels and says that when using the Japanese chisels, he gets an instant energy transfer to the wood when striking the chisel with a metal mallet. Since he’s received them, he’s pretty much been using them exclusively. 

“The hand-made Japanese chisels are really beautiful,” said Chris. “I show them off to everyone that comes by. I’ve used a lot of chisels over the years, and it is instantly apparent that these are top-notch.”


Loving the Outdoors and His Loyal Sidekick Utz

One way that Chris enjoys sharing his love of the outdoors with his family by going camping.


Chris is an avid outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing and camping with his family. He said that it’s incredibly important to him to appreciate and respect nature. “I’m almost get spiritual when in the outdoors,” said Chris.
   
Communing with nature often leads Chris to a special appreciation of wood and a desire for it to “live on.” Sometimes that means not manipulating the wood too much and letting the wood tell him “what it wants.” A perfect example of that is when he runs upon a beautiful live edge slab of wood.

Wow! What a catch for Chris. That’s one to be proud of for sure.


When hunting, Utz, a German breed bird dog, is his sidekick. Utz appears in several Schoenberg’s woodworking videos. In the fall Chris guides pheasant hunts at a local preserve and also hunts on his own with Utz.

“Utz is an incredible bird dog,” said Schoenberg. “He’s a really cool dog, really good pointer, and he’ll will retrieve ducks all day long and blood track deer. We hang out together any chance we can.”


Chris with his loyal bird dog “Utz” while out hunting. Utz also appears occasionally in his YouTube videos filmed in his shop..


Looking Forward to Projects to Come

There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of projects and videos in Chris’s future. He’s built up a pretty big inventory of items that he would like to make, and he plans to keep growing his business and producing videos.

The beauty of what he does now is that it gives him the freedom to build what he wants on his own schedule without being tied down to anything. Some future projects he has in mind include building a timber framed shop and venturing into other areas such as metalworking and welding.

To learn more about Chris and his woodworking, watch his Third Coast Craftsman videos on YouTube and visit thirdcoastcraftsman.com.

If you have any interesting projects or stories you'd like to share with us at Japan Woodworker, be sure to take a photo and send it to us along with your comments to Blog@JapanWoodworker.com.


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