Szabo Woodworks: Crafter builds custom pieces made to last

Szabo uses a saw to cut wood for a custom bench. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)
Szabo uses a saw to cut wood for a custom bench. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)

Szabo uses a saw to cut wood for a custom bench. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Szabo worked with a friend to complete four tables for the Lackland Air Force Base. (Courtesy of Robert Szabo)
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Szabo applies finish to a zebra wood wine bottle holder, a project completed with only the use of hand tools, as requested by the customer. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)
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One of the tables Szabo made for Lackland Air Force Base was all-mahogany with engraved details of military air crafts. (Courtesy of Robert Szabo)
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A close up of the military air crafts engraved on the mahogany table made for Lackland Air Force Base. (Courtesy of Robert Szabo)
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Szabo sells basic wooden coasters, wooden coasters with resin or sand streams down the center and coasters with custom engravings upon request. (Courtesy of Robert Szabo)
Szabo Woodworks is a local woodworking business started by veteran Robert Szabo in December 2019 following his return from active duty in the Middle East with the Marines earlier that year.

Szabo started his woodworking journey with what he thought was a weekend-long kitchen cabinet project that ended up taking a year. He began woodworking as a way to keep his mind occupied and moving forward after returning from active duty.

“There are some things that are a little difficult to deal with and figure out when you’re coming home,” he said. “This was a way to focus on reality. At times it was a good distraction. I didn’t want to think about anything else; I just wanted to do something.”

Szabo spent several years in the Marines both in active duty and the reserves. In 2017-18, Szabo was on active duty in Hawaii as the assistant logistics officer before joining the reserves for a year. His most recent active-duty assignment was in 2019 as the Bravo Company executive officer in the Middle East. He currently serves in the reserves for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"On the positive side, my devotion and motivation to do things the right way and for people certainly comes into play here,” he said. “I don’t want to build something for somebody that’s going to fall apart in a few months or a year. I want to do it right, make it last and make sure they’re happy with it.”

In addition to commissioned work, Szabo sells bath trays, cigar holders, coasters and accessory wall shelves along with woodworking patterns for those building their own projects.

His first big project was a commission from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, a set of four large dining tables. Three were made with pine and painted tops representing aircraft, and one was all-mahogany with laser aircraft engravings. All were built with minimal hardware, Szabo’s signature design choice. Despite initially thinking the commission was a prank call, Szabo said this important project was a dream come true.

“It was a very enjoyable time; I learned a lot through it,” Szabo said. “I hope they never need another table, and I believe they won’t for decades to come.”

By day he works as a software developer, but in his free time he runs his woodworking business, often working three to five hours a day on projects. He hopes to expand his venture in coming years to a full-time job, upgrading from his home garage to a workshop.

For custom commissions, customers can message Szabo using the contact form on his website. Customers can also shop online to see Szabo's selection of bath trays, coasters, accessory shelves and more.

[email protected]
By Grace Dickens

Reporter, Lake Travis/Westlake

Grace is the Lake Travis/Westlake reporter for education and city government. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2021 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in journalism and geography.