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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 14 min 51 sec ago

Be Thankful for Delivery of ‘The Book of Plates’

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 5:50pm


After much consternation and a little yelling, “The Book of Plates” arrived at our warehouse this morning, along with all the custom boxes to ship the book to customers.

I haven’t seen the final bound book with the muted gold stamp on the cover, but John says it looks great.

As promised, our warehouse is setting up a special assembly line to ship out all the pre-publication orders as quickly as possible. If you ordered “The Book of Plates” during our free shipping offer, your book will be in the mail very soon.

If you plan to order the book through one of our retailers, such as Lee Valley Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Classic Hand Tools UK, Highland Woodworking or Henry Eckert, keep an eye on their web sites. Their orders were shipped on Friday.

If you haven’t ordered “The Book of Plates” there is still time for Christmas, though it will be a squeaker. The book is $100 plus $9 shipping and handling. The book is heavy (more than 8 lbs.), oversized and shipped in a custom box.

Oh and the above illustration of Cato the Roubo crow was made by Suzanne Ellison, our researcher, indexer and contributing editor. The elements of the collage come from “The Book of Plates” (except the crow).

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

Beading Planes from Caleb James

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 3:08pm


Fair warning: If you read this blog entry you might end up with a dog that has decorative details.

If you build furniture of a traditional sort, you should consider owning some beading planes. While beading planes are (in general) quite common, furniture makers use the less-common small ones – usually 1/8”, 3/16” and 1/4”. These planes add shadow lines to traditional work that are sometimes lost on the modern eye.

The margin between backboards or bottom boards, for example, is much nicer if beaded. And any flat expanse is best broken up with a bead when you have drawer fronts and door fronts that are flush to their face frames.

Heck, bead those face frames while you are at it.


I couldn’t imagine building furniture without them. Beading planes are faster than a router or scratch stock and leave a beautiful, ready-to-finish surface without sanding.

The challenge, however, is finding beading planes that are a notch above firewood. This summer I hit several tool emporiums and inspected at least 100 beading planes that were sized for furniture. None was worth buying.

So if you can’t find vintage beading planes, you need to find someone who will make them for you. Phil Edwards at Philly Planes is one excellent source. And you might be able to talk Matt Bickford into making you some. Old Street Tool still isn’t taking orders.


So please take a look at the work by Caleb James, a chairmaker, planemaker and excellent craftsman in Greenville, S.C. I met Caleb in person for the first time in the spring, used his planes and placed an order for two beading planes to round out my set – a 1/8” and a 1/4”.

I’ve had the 1/4” plane for a while, and the 1/8” came today.

They are outstanding. Beyond outstanding, really.

One of the nice details on Caleb's planes is the chamfer on the escapement. This makes it easy to press the iron against the blind side of the mortise.

One of the nice details on Caleb’s planes is the chamfer on the escapement. This makes it easy to press the iron against the blind side of the mortise.

Caleb isn’t taking orders for planes right now as he is clearing out a well-deserved backlog. But bookmark his site and watch for when he opens ordering again. Then pounce.

When your beading planes arrive, you’ll want to put a bead on everything. Even your dog.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Handplanes, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

‘The Book of Mine’

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 9:15am


Suzanne Ellison – artist, indexer, researcher and butt-kicker – made this for my office. It’s constructed using tools from Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier” plus a crow. There is no crow in Roubo to my knowledge.

Suzanne calls this crow “Cato.” Yes, after Cato Fong.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Book of Plates:’ Free Shipping Extended 2 Days

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 3:49pm


This is not a marketing stunt. Historically we offer free domestic shipping on all pre-publication orders until the day the title ships. And due to a busy bindery, “The Book of Plates” will ship to us on Friday, two days behind schedule.

So free shipping on “The Book of Plates” now ends at midnight EST Nov. 21, 2014.

The good news is that our warehouse is planning a dedicated assembly line to fulfill all of the pre-publication orders as soon as the book is delivered there. So everyone should get their book in plenty of time before Christmas.

Today I took possession of the only advance copy of “The Book of Plates” now that our box vendor has measured the final product and is busy making 2,500 custom boxes for the book.

In my total glee, I prepared a 10-minute tour of the book, which you can watch below. In it I show the different parts of the book and explain some of the challenges in bringing it to press.

I am quite pleased with the printing job. The resolution is outstanding and the paper is sweet. I think you will get many hours, days or weeks of pleasure pondering these plates or using the images to amplify the text.

In fact, that’s what I plan to do tonight.

— Christopher Schwarz

 Roubo on Marquetry." In the middle is "The Book of Plates." And on the bottom is the deluxe edition of "Roubo on Marquetry."

The three Roubo volumes we have produced so far – for scale. On the top, the standard “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry.” In the middle is “The Book of Plates.” And on the bottom is the deluxe edition of “Roubo on Marquetry.”

Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

The History of Wood, Part 29

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 5:00am


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

All Sweatshirt Sizes in Stock (Whew), But Wait…

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 5:18pm


At long last, we now have all sizes of our Lost Art Press USA-made sweatshirts in stock and ready to ship. Yes, there is still time to order one for Christmas – John is fulfilling these personally to make sure they get out.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that our current supplier has become unreliable. Why? We don’t know. But we know we can’t wait on them anymore.

So once this batch of sweatshirts is done we will be switching to a different supplier of USA-made sweatshirts: Royal Apparel of New York. These sweatshirts are a bit heavier, have a metal zipper and cost more. So prices will go up once this current batch is sold out, though I don’t know what the increase will be yet.

So if you want an USA-made Lost Art Press sweatshirt at $45 to $46, act now.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

How to Become Immortal (and Help the H.O. Studley Book)

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 5:56pm


Don Williams and I are deep into the guts of his book on H.O. Studley’s tool cabinet and workbench – doing everything we can to get the book out in March 2015 – just in time for the exhibit of the chest at Handworks.

We have found a hole in the visual record of the cabinet that we would like to fill. The cabinet was on display at the Smithsonian as part of the exhibit “Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution 1790-1860” in a vignette with several other tool chests for various trades. Though the exhibit lasted almost 20 years (late 1986 to mid-2006), the Studley tool cabinet was included for perhaps only a third of that time, probably 1994-1999.

We know that thousands of woodworkers saw the cabinet during this exhibit. But we do not have a photo of the cabinet in the display. Do you?

If so, please send an e-mail to Don Williams. If your photo fits the bill it could end up in our forthcoming book on the cabinet and workbench.

Thanks in advance for any help in this matter.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley
Categories: Hand Tools

You Aren’t Sharpening Enough (And I’m not, Either)

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 1:47pm


If a students shows me a tool during class and asks: “Should I s….”

I cut them off. “Yes.”

I have found that when you ask yourself if a tool is dull, the poor pathetic thing is way past being dull and is on its way to getting chipped and trashed. I think you need to sharpen an edge before it actually occurs to you to sharpen that edge. Sounds impossible, but it’s not.

I sharpen a lot, and it is part of the rhythm of my day. As I finishing planing up panels with a jointer plane, I stop to sharpen the tool before I take on the parts for the lid – even if the plane is performing well.

When I chop dovetails, I touch up the tool between each corner of a carcase – even if the chisel is keen and cutting well.

This is the opposite of the way I was taught to evaluate edges. I was told: “The surface of the wood will tell you how your edge is performing. If the wood looks bad, it’s time to sharpen.”

While that makes sense on one level, I don’t want the wood to ever look bruised or scraped or chunked out. So I sharpen the smoothing plane several times a day if this is the day I’m smoothing things.

This approach not only ensures my parts will look their best, it also removes most concerns about what steel your tool is made of. If you keep an edge wicked sharp (and nothing less) then it really doesn’t matter if A4 steel holds an edge longer than Q4.

So shut up and sharpen.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Handplanes
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: Build a Roorkee Chair DVD

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 12:13pm


After building 27 Roorkee chairs myself and teaching students to build 35 more, I’m ready to make a DVD to share the turning, joinery and leatherwork necessary to build one of these campaign-style chairs.

I’ll be filming the DVD at F+W in about a week. I don’t have a release date for the project, but the company is fast – very fast – at editing these videos and bringing them to market.

This weekend I’m prepping all the parts to make two chairs so we have parts to work on that are at all different stages of the construction process. This prep work is probably overkill because I can now build one of the these chairs in about two days. But I was a Boy Scout and we learned to “be prepared” (in my troop that meant “be prepared to have your tent urinated on by bullies”).


One of the fun aspects of this project is I’ve asked Jason Thigpen at Texas Heritage Woodworks to hand-stitch stitch the arms for this matched pair of chairs, which are going to a customer right after Thanksgiving. Jason makes a lot of cool stuff, including shop aprons and tool rolls. I plan to order an apron from his as soon as I wear out my current one.

The DVD will be aimed at the general woodworker who has never turned or done leatherwork. We’ll be using only one turning tool to make all the chair parts on a midi-size lathe. The leatherwork will be done with basic hand tools – mostly a utility knife and a rotary punch.

And we’re definitely going to cover finishing with shellac and wax – I’m going to make the case we should show how to do it with an inexpensive HVLP system.

If you can’t wait for the DVD, the complete instructions to build the chair are covered in my latest book, “Campaign Furniture.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Campaign Furniture
Categories: Hand Tools

Hung up on Workbench Overhang

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 5:49am


When designing a French workbench (or any other style, really), one of the most common hang-ups for new woodworkers is determining how much the benchtop should overhang the base at the ends of the bench.

When I design a workbench that doesn’t have an end vise, I usually use an overhang of 12” to 15”, and I make the overhang equal at both ends of the bench. Simple. And it looks good.

When you add an end vise into the equation, some bench designers become a bit uncertain. Is that cantilever too much? And when you are building a smaller workbench – say 6’ long – then real worry begins to set in. Will the bench be stable?

Here’s how I go about proportioning things.

With An End Vise on a Big Bench
If your bench is 8’ or longer things are pretty simple when adding an end vise. Determine how much overhang you need to accommodate the end vise, usually somewhere between 13” and 20”. Use the same overhang on both ends of the bench and you are pretty much done.

Because of the thick top of the French bench, the cantilever isn’t a problem. A 4”- to 6”-thick top is plenty thick enough to resist gravity and the weight of the vise.

If, however, you are making a short bench, things get complicated.


With An End Vise on a Short Bench
Here’s a typical problem: You want to put a Benchcrafted tail vise on a 6’-long bench. You need about 19” overhang on one end. If you made the overhangs symmetrical – 19” at both ends – then your workbench’s base is only 34” long. That’s ridiculous and unstable.

What do you do?

One solution is to use a small overhang on the end opposite the end vise. This is the solution used by the modern European-style workbench with its massive tail vise. This solution works just fine, though the bench loses its symmetry. But hey, it’s a bench, not fine furniture.

The other downside is that the bench – like European workbenches – becomes less stable. If you or your fat friend plops down on the cantilever, then you might get an unexpected thrill ride. I have seen this happen dozens of times, especially at Woodworking in America when people are setting up benches in the Marketplace.

Or Use No End Vise
If you are willing to eschew an end vise, your bench will be less expensive and easier to design. Plus, you can easily use A.-J. Roubo’s dimensions and proportions to draw a bench that is – to my eye – beautiful.

At the top of this blog entry is a detail from Plate 11 from “l’Art du menuisier” on which I have overlaid the known dimensions from Roubo’s text. I do not think that everything in his drawing is perfectly to scale. However, I do think that Roubo is showing a 9’-long bench, which he says is the standard size. If the bench is indeed 9’ long, then the planing stop, the legs and the stretchers are all correctly scaled and match his text. (The mallet is a different matter).

If you want to follow Roubo’s drawing, then make the overhang 12” or a little longer.

One side note: What if you are making a 12’-long bench? Do you need a third set of legs in the middle? I think you can avoid this complication by making the top thicker – 6” or a bit more – and by using an 18” to 24” overhang on the ends.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Chinese Spy Satellites Over Indianapolis

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:54am


You did not see this here.

John needed an advance copy of “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates” so our box supplier could measure it and make a custom carton – no one wants a $100 book with bumped corners.


The bindery sent this early bound copy – without the cover stamp, which is weird.

The book will start shipping next week. Order here before Wednesday to get free domestic shipping. After that date, shipping will be significant – this book is whopper-big, thick and heavy.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Handplane Essentials’ Going out of Print

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 9:50am

u7285_500px_72dpiI’ve just been informed that my book “Handplane Essentials” (F+W Media) will not be reprinted, either in paperback or hardbound. It will, however, continue to be available as a downloadable pdf.

So the following announcement is a public service. Full disclosure: I’ve never received royalties from writing that book – I was an employee of F+W at the time and worked on it during company time. So buying that book – new or used – has no affect on my bank account.

But if you have ever wanted to own that book in paperback or hardback, you might want to buy it soon before the last ones dry up. I was told that while ShopWoodworking.com lists it on its site, the book is actually backordered and they will not be fulfilling it. However Amazon, ABE and other sellers still list “Handplane Essentials” as in stock.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Handplanes
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!’ has Landed

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:15pm


I am pleased to announce that “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Roy Underhill has arrived in our Indianapolis warehouse and is shipping out to customers as I type this.

Our warehouse has set up a special line in its packaging department to fulfill “Calvin Cobb.” If you ordered your copy before today it will be in the mail to you by Friday. (Administrative note: Some customers will receive two notifications that their book has shipped. Please do not be alarmed. You will receive the correct number of books – not twice as many as you ordered. It was a small computer snafu.)


If you haven’t yet ordered “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” you have 17 more days to do that and receive free domestic shipping. After Nov. 29, 2014, shipping will be about $7. Also good to note: Orders made now will make it to their destination for Christmas.

The book is $29 and can be ordered here.

This morning I drove the 100 miles to our Indianapolis warehouse to pick up some copies and it was well worth the drive. The book – every bit of it – is impressive. The matte dust jacket looks fantastic, the interior printing job is crisp and even the cloth headbands on the spine match the cloth cover and internal stamping. I think you will be impressed with the physical product.


As those of you who have already read the electronic version of the book know, you know the story is great fun to read.

Thanks to everyone who worked on this crazy project – from Roy who signed on for a wild ride, to editor Megan Fitzpatrick, designer Linda Watts and cover illustrator Jode Thompson.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. For our international customers and those who buy our books through other sources, such as Lee Valley Tools, Henry Eckert and Lie-Nielsen Toolworks (to name a few). Their books are en route, but we have no information on when they will arrive or when those vendors will begin selling them.

Filed under: Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!
Categories: Hand Tools

The History of Wood, Part 28

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 5:00am


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Mike Siemsen Now Featured on Craftsy.com

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 5:07am


Mike Siemsen, the host of “The Naked Woodworker” DVD, has a new video that is being streamed through the Craftsy.com site on building benches and boxes with basic hand tools.

The seven-part high-definition video takes a bootstrap approach to getting started with hand tools and (amazingly) employs even fewer tools than “The Naked Woodworker.” As always, Mike comes up with ingenious low-tech solutions to common workshop problems, such as laying out dovetails with the help of an index card.

The videos show you how to build a simple boot bench using dados and a second bench using through-dovetails. Then you build a dovetailed box.

The videos are normally $49.99 for lifetime access, but if you use the following link, the price is $39.99. (Also, if you use the above link, Mike gets a slightly bigger cut.)

We’re huge fans of Mike and his enthusiasm for teaching beginners. So if you know someone who wants to get started in the craft (or that someone is you), it’s definitely worth checking out.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: The Naked Woodworker DVD
Categories: Hand Tools

Lost Art Press Now Available at Best Made Co.

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 6:50pm

BM_logo_bottom_03Despite what seems like common sense, John and I like to keep our retail network small and personal. We enjoy working with people who share our philosophy on craft and business. Those people are few and far between.

Recently we began working with Best Made Co., a retail and online store headquartered in Tribeca in New York City. After initial conversations, it became obvious that our businesses were well-matched. Best Made Co. offers really nice tools, knives, books and outdoor clothing.

We are pleased and honored to be associated with Best Made Co. They currently carry three of our titles: “With the Grain,” “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and “By Hand & Eye.” Be sure to check them out next time you are in the city or online.

I hope to stop by their retail store at 36 White St. during a visit to Brooklyn in January for a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: By Hand & Eye, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, With the Grain
Categories: Hand Tools

Knocked Up, Knocked Down & Naked

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:56pm

Editor’s note: Mike Siemsen, the host of “The Naked Woodworker” DVD has built a cool little knockdown bench designed for traveling and apartments. Check it out – and we promise that more copies of “The Naked Woodworker” are on the way to our warehouse! Thanks for your patience.


I decided to try my hand at a knockdown bench for transport to shows and demonstrations. Such a bench could also be used by people with limited space.

It is 5’ long so it fits in the trunk of my Honda Civic with its back seats folded down. With the bench’s aprons folded down, it is 6-3/4” thick. If you pull the hinge pins and remove the aprons it is only 4-1/2” thick. It is 22-3/4” wide and stands 32” tall when assembled. The leg sections do not break down. If you leave the aprons attached there is no loose hardware. As to workholding, the crochet is removable for easier transport; there are no vises, only holdfasts and planing stops.

Above is the bench when it is knocked up.


Here it is knocked down. The aprons are hinged to fold flat, or you can knock out the pins and remove the aprons. The leg sections do not disassemble. The legs slide into the large dados in the aprons and pins lock the aprons to the legs.


This is the hardware I made for the leg-to-apron joint. A bolt through the apron and into the leg would work just as well, but I was going for a tool-less knockdown.


The mortise for the crochet before the top goes on.


I made the crochet just a 1″-square stick that slides in a mortise so it can be removed for easier packing and hauling. Chris thinks this is an emasculator, but it is too late for that!


I made a simple planing stop. A 3/4” dowel with a 1/4” x 1” x 1” square of steel screwed to the top. I sharpened the leading edge and cut in some notches. I still need to recess it into the top. I also made a “doe’s foot” and there is a stick that goes in the slot in the center of the bench for use as a planing stop as well for traversing.


Just another shot with one set of legs removed. It is very solid and a bit heavy. I can move it by myself, though.


Here is the hardware for the pins. It is just 1-1/2” x 1/4” steel bar cut to the width of the leg and drilled for a 1/4” x 4 steel pin. Drill them in pairs so the 1/4” holes match up so the pins slide in after assembly. I drilled the apron plate that receives the pin 1/64” bigger in diameter (that’s 9/64”) for clearance and I ground a chamfer on the ends of the pins. The pin is offset because I wanted the holdfast holes in the legs to be in the center.


I used 4” x 4” hinges for the aprons, three on each apron. When you mortise for the hinges make sure there is no gap between the apron and the benchtop.


I used bigger screws than the ones that came with the hinges.


I clamped the legs to the aprons when I bored the holdfast holes through the apron and into the top of the leg. I drew the location of all the hardware and screws on the face of the apron and top of the bench so I wouldn’t hit them when boring holes. You can see that the holes at the bottom of the leg are offset to avoid the screws that attach the stretcher to the leg.


I used the drill press to bore a 3/4” hole through a thick block of wood for a guide for the brace and 3/4” bit. I clamped it for the first hole and then used a holdfast in that hole to clamp it for the next one.

This is a very solid little bench that I plan to bring to Handworks in May 2015.

— Mike Siemsen, Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking

Filed under: The Naked Woodworker DVD, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Summer School with David Savage

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 5:12am


If I have only one complaint about my life, it is that with all the teaching, writing and building that I do, I have no time left to take woodworking courses for myself.

I don’t drool over tool catalogs. My personal pornographic publications are the brochures and web sites from woodworking schools that teach skills that I want to master.

So when I had dinner with David Savage last summer, you can imagine how long it took me to say “yes” to his following proposition: I teach a class in building a tool chest at his school in Rowden, then stay on for a second week to assist and take a class in sunburst veneering.

Savage has long been one of those woodworkers I wanted to learn from. He does amazing work. And, equally important to me, he is one of the most daring woodworking writers alive today. He is, simply put, nobody’s tool. He is fearless in exploring the craft and his own human failings. Check out some of his articles here.

So this summer I head to Rowden to lead a class in building a dead-nuts traditional tool chest, one I have specially designed for this course. During the first week, Aug. 24-28, we’ll build the chest using hand tools and traditional production methods and joints – dovetails, tongue-and-groove, miters, breadboards etc.

The second week (Aug. 31-Sept. 4) we will embellish the interior lid of the chest with a sunburst veneer pattern designed for the course, plus traditional veneer and crossbanding on the lid of the top till. The goal is for all of the students to walk away with a finished chest, a boatload of newfound skills and a slightly swollen liver.

When David announced the course last week, it filled up immediately. But the wait list is very short right now and these classes always have a certain amount of churn. If you’d like to read more details about Rowden, David’s crack team of instructors and the course, check out these pages here and here. You can sign up for the course’s wait list here.

I’ll be writing more about the chest design in the coming months. It is based off a number of historical examples that have survived quite well and has some features you might consider for your tool chest.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

An Improved ‘Doe’s Foot’ Appliance

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:04pm


After writing last month about the “doe’s foot” appliance in A.-J. Roubo’s plate 14, I decided to make a couple of these devices that resembled the ones shown in the plate.


For the last couple years, I’ve been using a doe’s foot that is about 1/4” x 2” x 24”. Roubo’s looks shorter and wider. So today I made two doe’s feet that were 3/8” x 5” x 14” and tried them out on the bench.

The big advantage of the ones shown in Roubo is that their increased size makes it easier for them to be positioned anywhere on the bench. Because they are wider, a holdfast is much more likely to find them.


Its shorter length makes it easier to secure the doe’s foot without hitting the shop wall – assuming your bench is up against a wall.

Because I am a woodworker, I couldn’t help trying to improve the doe’s foot a bit. While it works fine as-is, I added stick-on sandpaper (#150-grit) to the underside of one of the appliances and tried the two side-by-side to compare, naked vs. grippy.


The one with the sandpaper was almost impossible to slide laterally. The one without sandpaper was secure enough, but I could rotate it with the pad of the holdfast serving as the centerpoint. So I like the addition of the sandpaper.

— Christopher Schwarz

Plate 14 and 384 more plates are all shown in our forthcoming “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates.” You can still order this book with free domestic shipping until Nov. 19, 2014. The book ships on Nov. 19.

Filed under: Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Introducing ‘The Naked Lady Saw’

Sat, 11/08/2014 - 11:31am


The following blog post contains artistic (no, that’s too strong a word), um, renderings of the female human body that might offend if you are the kind of person who blushes while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art or viewing other high art, such as “Porky’s II: The Next Day.”

Click at your own peril.


If could own only one handsaw in the world, it would be the Disston D-23 that I and my friends have long called “The Naked Lady Saw.”

I first encountered the saw in the basement workshop of Carl Bilderback, a union carpenter, tool collector and woodworker in La Porte, Ind. The somewhat homely D-23 was hung among the other rare saws in Carl’s collection. Carl specializes in tools that are one-of-a-kind, such as Disston D-95s with an original stainless steel blade and an unusual Disston compass saw with a rosewood handle and interchangeable blades.

And, true to form, the Naked Lady Saw is one of a kind.

Owned by one of Carl’s supervisors, the sawplate is engraved with the owner’s family crest, his name and the images of three naked women.

“He put naked ladies on all of his tools,” Carl explained.



Well one day Carl went to at a garage sale at the guy’s house and this D-23 saw was for sale. Carl bought it and put it in his collection until one year the Mid-West Tool Collector’s Association asked its members to bring their “ugliest too” to a meet. Car took down the Naked Lady Saw and labeled the three ladies: “Ugly,” “Butt Ugly” and “Not Bad.”

Butt ugly.

Butt ugly.

While Carl is not a professional art critic, I agree with his assessment. “Butt Ugly” reminds me of my 8th-grade math teacher, or someone who has been the victim of a blind plastic surgeon.

On the other hand “Not Bad” shows some promise. She is prancing forward toward the viewer with a surprising amount of lightness and – dare I say – poise.

As Carl noted, carpenter J.C. Lowe did his best work on nipples.


Yesterday, Megan Fitzpatrick and I visited Carl and poked around his tool collection all afternoon. Carl has been liquidating parts of his collection lately and I told him that I wanted to buy that saw if he ever decided to sell it.

Then, in a moment of grace that “Butt Ugly” could only dream of, Carl gave me the Naked Lady Saw. This might be one of the tools I am buried with. Both to amuse me in the afterlife and to protect future generations from “Butt Ugly.”

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Saws
Categories: Hand Tools


by Dr. Radut