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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 1 hour 10 min ago

Holiday Spatulas (From Scraps)

4 hours 57 min ago

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Only once in the last 21 years have I gotten my act together during the holidays and made woodworking gifts for friends and family. Except for that “cutting boards Christmas” I’ve been too swamped with making a living to do the right thing.

So if you think I made those spatulas in the photo above, you are dead wrong. You can thank Rachael Boyd, one of the readers of the blog, for this clever idea for scraps.

Rachael used stock that was 3/4″ x 2-1/4″ x 10″ long. She says she made the first one by drawing it freehand, cut it to rough shape with a coping saw and tapered the main area with a spokeshave.

She saved the best one as a template.

“I have a feeling I will need to make a lot more in the future,” she writes. “If you make these be prepared to make a lot of them ‘cause everyone loves them.”

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The straight spatula shown above is made from a cutoff from a tapered leg that she took to the disc sander to finish up. (I have a bunch of these taper pieces in my shop, so this is the one I might make from some teak cutoffs.)

Thanks to Rachael for saving Christmas.

— Christopher Schwarz, who can feel his liver growing two sizes that day


Filed under: Projects
Categories: Hand Tools

A Message from the Wing-nut Ducks

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 4:49pm

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Suzanne Ellison prepared this montage of swimming ducks from A.-J. Roubo’s “The Book of Plates” (plates 98, 294, 319 and 349) to remind you that you have only a day or so to order “The Book of Plates” and have any hope of it being delivered before Christmas.

Also worth noting: We are shipping this book (and all of our books) via Priority mail until the end of 2014. After that, we will be switching to another system of mailing books. It will be more reliable, likely a little faster than Media Mail and definitely more expensive.

So take advantage of us while you can. Shipping will be more expensive in 2015 (can you hear us, California?).

— Christopher Schwarz


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

The History of Wood, Part 33

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:00am

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Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

Repeat After Me: I Will Not Bead My Wife’s Cats

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 1:05pm

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Small beads – 1/4”, 3/16” and 1/8” – are ideal for creating shadow lines and transitions between flat boards. The classic example is with tongue-and-groove backboards. If you add a bead on the face of every board with a tongue, the back will look finished, instead of something that has oddly spaced cracks.

But beads aren’t just decorative. They also protect corners. If I have an arris (a mid-falutin’ word for “corner”) that is vulnerable to damage, a bead can strengthen it.

Shown above is a classic example: These runners in this tool chest are going to get a lot of wear, and their corners are going to get whacked by tools and wood. By beading each corner, it is much less likely to splinter in service.

The beads also look nice.

And now that I have three beading plane sizes, I can even scale my beads – wider ones at the bottom and smaller ones at the top. Joy! Nerd!

— Christopher Schwarz


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

Fitting out the Inside of a Tool Chest

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 6:12am

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When I finally get to point where I’ve answered all my e-mail (sometime about July 2026), I might write a supplement or revision to the last bit of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” to include more construction information on different chests and the principles of their interiors.

When I wrote that book in 2010, I considered the chest in the book to be more of an idea than something that a reader would really build. I love (that’s the correct word) working out of a full-size floor chest and have since about 1997. But most people I talk to think it makes as much sense as using a gerbil to pull a plow.

This week I’m fitting out a traveling chest for an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking Magazine and am designing the interior to take advantage of every millimeter. Here are a few of the thought processes I use when designing the vertical space of a traveling chest (floor chests are different). Here’s a crude, shop-made sketch of the chest’s elevation in section.

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The Bottom Well
With a typical traveling chest, you aren’t going to be able to store your moulding planes on their toes – that would take up about 10” of your vertical space. So you store them on their soles so they eat up less of the chest’s height.

If you use panels saws – which is typical if you use a traveling chest – you need to be able to accommodate the full height of the saw’s tote. The saw tills on my traveling chests grab the panel saws at their toes. The heel of the blade rests on the floor of the chest.

And you need to be able to put your bench planes on the floor of the chest with their soles on the floor of the chest. If you use tools with a high cutting angle (moulders or bench planes), you have to be careful and measure their heights.

So when I design the bottom well, I start with a height of 6-1/4”. Unless you have any unusually tall bench planes or panel saws, that’s a good starting measurement.

The Top Till
After drawing out the bottom well, the next step is to sketch the top sliding till. This is the till that usually gets all your small tools that you use constantly – layout tools, block planes a mallet, wax, knives etc. So this till is generally not very tall. I have found that a till that is 2-3/4” is a good overall height. When you figure that the till’s bottom will eat up 1/4” of that height it leaves you with an interior height of 2-1/2”. I really like this height.

When positioning the top till in the chest, I like to leave a 1/4” (or so) bit of airspace above the top till. This gap prevents damage to your tools or chest if you slam the lid and a couple of your tools are accidentally piled on top of each other.

What’s Left
Then you divvy up the space between the top till and the bottom well. If the overall chest isn’t tall, I might put in another 2-3/4”-tall till. But I’d rather have a deeper till that is good for storing tool rolls, boxes of augers, my brace, hand drill and the like. If I can get a till that is at least 5” tall in there, then I’m pretty happy. If I can get a slightly taller one in there, even better. Once you approach 7” deep, however, it becomes a junk drawer.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Apologies for the crude sketch.


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

On Drinking & Woodworking

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 2:33pm

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It’s no secret that I like beer. So I get asked by students occasionally: Do you drink while you are in the shop? The answer?

Absolutely, yes.

Now, before you read another word, know that I am not an uptight or judgmental person by nature. Plus, I want to live a long life with all my natural-born fingers attached to my hands – not sitting in mason jars on the mantlepiece.

Now the “correct” answer is to never ever touch a woodworking tool if you have even seen a beer commercial on television. Jamais! Nicht! Etc.! Historically, we know this teetotaler approach is new. Craftsmen of all trades drank all the time in the shop. There are so many accounts of drinking in shops from the 18th until the early 20th centuries that it’s weird to find an early account of a shop where people didn’t drink.

The drink was likely lower in alcohol than what we consume today. But judging from the quantities listed in historical accounts, we are all on the same historical Breathalyzer.

So what is a reasonable approach? Can you have a beer in the shop in Saturday afternoon?

Here’s my thinking, which has been developed during the last 20 years by doing stupid things (a bottle of wine and a lathe do not mix) and finding my limits.

If I have had any alcohol in the last few hours, I won’t turn on machinery. OK, I might turn on a shop vacuum. But I’m not going to mess with cutting tools.

If I have had one beer, all hand-tool operations are go. I’ll saw, plane and chisel to my heart’s content. By the way, I don’t feel anything after one beer, but I’m 6’3” and 180 pounds.

If I have had two beers or less, I’ll do donkey work. That means I’ll do some handplaning, maybe some rough sawing. But I won’t cut joinery and I definitely avoid the chisels, which are the single-most dangerous hand tools in the shop.

After three beers, I’ll clean the shop – there are very few broom injuries reported to the federal government. I put away tools. I oil stuff. Or I’ll stare at my work in progress and make notes. As a writer, I appreciate the effect that alcohol has on the creative process – do not discount it. Alcohol removes inhibitions, and sometimes that’s what I need when I stare at a work in progress. I need to decide: This stinks. Or, this needs radical surgery.

I rarely drink more than three beers in a night, unless things are going really well or really poorly. Then I sit down with the laptop and write a blog entry, which may or may not get published the next day.

So that’s the truth. You might disagree with my approach, but all I can do is repeat the following quote from one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century: “Lighten up, Francis.”

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

‘A Bad Influence’

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 11:57am

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Every time I teach at Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s School,” he gives me a rash of crap for two things: my waterstones and my plastic, pressurized plant sprayer that I use to moisten my stones.

He now begrudgingly ignores my waterstones, perhaps after I offered data that many early sharpening stones in the Western tradition were also lubricated with water. But the plastic plant sprayer just won’t cut it in the 1930s-era environment that Roy cultivates in his school.

And so this week I bought an old(ish) brass plant mister so that I can avoid the conversation about plastic this year. The mister isn’t particularly old, but it was cheap and works just fine. You can dispense water by tipping the mister forward (like a watering can) or press the top plunger to get some mist from the nozzle.

I’m mentioning this because I am indeed teaching a class in 2015 at The Woodwright’s School. Roy released the 2015 schedule last week and my name wasn’t on it. I got a few messages along the lines of: Did Roy catch you sleeping with his dog?

The answer is no, he did not catch me.

We haven’t set a date for the class yet because Roy is trying to coordinate it with shooting a couple of episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop.” When we do settle on a date, I’ll announce it here. At this point, I think the class is going to be on how to make the collapsible bookshelves from “Campaign Furniture.” A fun project.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. The headline of this blog entry is in tribute to Megan Fitzpatrick (who also is supposed to be teaching at Roy’s in 2015). A reader complained to Megan’s boss that I was a “bad influence” on her. If you know Megan, you know how funny that is.


Filed under: Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

6 Tools for Sale ALL SOLD

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:21am

To keep this sale civil and smooth, please, please, please read this with care before sending me a note about buying any tools.

If you subscribe to our blog via e-mail, click through to the page to see if the tool you want has been sold. As soon as the tool is sold, I will mark it as such here on the blog.

All prices include domestic shipping. I apologize for this, but I don’t have time now to wait in the line at USPS for 30 minutes per order to ship international packages. If you have a U.S. address, we’re golden.

Ask me all the questions you like about an item. But the first one to say “I’ll take it” gets it. After I receive your your payment, I will ship the tool to you. If I don’t get your payment within two weeks, the piece goes back up for sale.

To buy an item, send an e-mail to chris@lostartpress.com and in the subject line please put the name of the item you want. If you say “I’ll take it,” and I don’t know what item you want, confusion ensues.

Whew. I hate rules. But here we go.

All the tools sold.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Thank You ‘Book of Plates’

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 12:39pm

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Whether or not you purchase “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates” makes no difference to me personally. I have my copy, and it is making my woodworking life more interesting.

Today I finished up the first edit of the final bit of our forthcoming translation of A.J. Roubo’s writings on furniture and tools. (Don’t get too excited, it still has to travel a long way to arrive at the end of the goose – look for it in early summer.)

Today was devoted to plate 265, which describes “Autre Secretarie mobile Pupitre, et Petite Table a Ecrie.” AKA, an incredible unfolding, mechanical secretarie that I am hopelessly in love with. It is one part simple Creole-style side table, one part Transformer and two parts Jere Osgood’s Shell Desk.

As I edited the translated text, the words alone weren’t clear as to how the desk’s pigeonhole section pivots up. I had some detail drawings, but those weren’t enough to make the mechanism clear. Only when I opened “The Book of Plates” and took in the entire plate in full size did the scales fall from eyes. I immediately “got it” – like a Zen koan.

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After that, the editing was a snap. I knew how the desk worked and could build it myself. My copy of “The Book of Plates” just paid for itself.

By the way, reader response to “The Book of Plates” has been incredibly positive (custom wooden box issues aside). It was a financial gamble that just might pay off. You can still get one before Christmas if you order it by Dec. 19 – all books are now shipping Priority mail, which will arrive in three business days.

Though it’s only 3:30 p.m., finishing plate 265 (and the other 87 plates) calls for a beer.

— Christopher Schwarz


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

Let’s Purge Our Tools Together

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 8:50am

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Because of the traveling and writing I do, I end up with tools I do not want or need. It makes me a little nuts.

Some of this is people who give me excess tools and say: “Find a needy student who could use this.” Others are tools that I purchase to write reviews, or because I need a tool while on the road, or to help someone out of a jam.

Many of these tools I’ll be giving away to students at my Hand Tool Immersion class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in 2015. But some of these tools are too specialized or exotic to put in the hands of a newbie.

And so I’m going to sell them off here on the blog starting tomorrow. I’ll post the mechanism for purchasing the tools tomorrow. Please do not e-mail me asking for a list of tools I’ll be selling (I don’t have time for that) or special treatment (that will only annoy me). Prices will be more than fair.

In the meantime, think about any excess tools that you own that could be doing good work in the hands of another woodworker. Whenever I visit tool collectors who have racks of user-grade tools, all I can think of is the unused potential gathering dust before me. To be sure, rare and oddball stuff is better off in a collection. But garden-variety bench planes should be on a bench somewhere (in my opinion).

If you want to purge your tools, consider selling them on one of the swap-n-sell areas on the woodworking discussion forums. Or there’s always eBay.

Once you pare your tools down to a good, basic set, you will find that taking care of your tools is easier because you have fewer. You will have a little extra money for wood, glue and finishing supplies. And the tools you sold will have a new home where they are used and appreciated.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

Lost Art Press Now Ships Priority Mail

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:33pm

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All Lost Art Press books now ship via USPS Priority Mail, which arrives anywhere in the United States in one to three business days.

From a practical standpoint, this means you can order Lost Art Press books up until Dec. 19 and  be confident they will show up by Christmas.

Until today, we have shipped book orders via Media Mail, a less-expensive shipping method for books that is supposed to take eight business days for delivery. During the last seven years and 100,000 packages, we have seen slower and slower delivery times (up to 15 business days) for Media Mail and seen more lost and damaged packages.

So today we switched to priority mail for books and have raised some rates (but not all) by $1. Shirts and hats will, as always, will continue to be shipped by first-class mail or priority mail, whichever is less expensive for you.

In 2015 we will offer other shipping options and have opened negotiations with other shipping services. Our goal is to get your order to you as quickly as possible without damage or excess expense.

So if you have been eying “The Book of Plates” or “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” but thought it was too late to order, think again.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Products We Sell
Categories: Hand Tools

The Just Reward of Labor

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:21pm

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  1. The proper, legitimate, and just reward of labor.
  2. Security of person and property.
  3. The greatest practicable amount of freedom to each individual.
  4. Economy in the production and uses of wealth.
  5. To open the way for each individual to the possession of land, and all other natural wealth.
  6. To make the interests of all to co-operate with and assist each other, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other.
  7. To withdraw the elements of discord, of war, of distrust and repulsion, and to establish a prevailing spirit of peace, order, and social sympathy.

— Josiah Warren, “Equitable Commerce,” 1852


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

The History of Wood, Part 32

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:00am

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Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

The Aumbry Makes the Cover

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 12:31pm

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The aumbry from the upcoming “Furniture of Necessity” book is featured on the cover of the February 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, which will mail to subscribers later this month.

My article discusses the history of the aumbry and how to build it. The book version will be much expanded and more detailed, as I’ll have about 10 times the space. Still – I think it’s a good magazine article; even beginners will be able to tackle the project with the magazine article.

I have to thank Editor Megan Fitzpatrick personally for taking a gamble on this project. Few people have ever heard of an aumbry, and fewer people would tell you they love Gothic furniture. I think the stuff is the cat’s meow. It’s fun to build and uses simple geometry and basic tools to design and construct.

I was allowed to read over the entire February issue before it went to press and was quite impressed (perhaps a bit professionally jealous). There’s a fantastic myth-busting article on teak oil, an excellent piece on making your own copper hardware with simple tools and Peter Follansbee shows you how to build his cool Chinese firewood carrier.

If you don’t subscribe, or if you have let your subscription lapse, this is the time to rectify that. Megan is steering the magazine to explore areas outside the traditional Shaker, Arts & Crafts and Period styles (though those will always be part of the magazine’s fabric). Look for some Japanese, Mid-century Modern and Ruhlmann stuff in forthcoming issues.

OK, back to the shop. I’ve got another project to build for Popular Woodworking.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

450 Scans Later, Peter Galbert’s ‘Chairmaker’s Notebook’ Emerges

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 5:18pm

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Peter Galbert’s upcoming book on chairmaking began more than two years ago with a short afternoon chat in Berea, Ky. It started as a DVD project with some plans. Then it was a booklet. Next, a book with photos and drawings. And finally, a massive opus on green-wood chairmaking with more than 450 hand-drawn illustrations by Peter himself.

Peter, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, has drawn out the process of chairmaking in such incredible detail that I think you could build a chair even if you never read a word of the book.

And while I say there are 450 drawings, that is a gross underestimation. There are 450 sheet of drawings (plus a couple dozen on the way). Many of these sheets contain as many as six individual illustrations.

Many of these illustrations were drawn four or five times over as Peter refined the look of the illustrations. As I scanned every one of these illustrations during the last five days, I was in awe of the scope of his work.

It is the Roubo of green chairmaking, and I do not say that lightly.

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I’ve been making chairs for more than 10 years, and I am blown away by the clarity of Peter’s methods, his metaphors and his ability to explain complex problems with only a few sentences and a perfect drawing.

I hope to rise to the challenge of presenting this material. We are now on our second full round of scanning the drawings. All 450 illustrations have been processed and cleaned up in Photoshop individually.

As I type this, Linda Watts, the designer, is laying out the book in an 8-1/2” x 11” format so it has an open feel with plenty of white space to frame Peter’s illustrations.

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We’ve decided to call this book “Chairmaker’s Notebook” because it has the look and feel of a technical sketchbook. It appears casual and airy, but is filled with big ideas.

When will it be ready? We hope to send it to the printer in January with a release in late February or early March. We have no information on pricing. But I do have one tantalizing detail to share. One of Peter’s friends is a bookbinder and plans to offer a hand-bound version of “Chairmaker’s Notebook.”

I know that many of you have been waiting a long time for this book. We are close, and it will be worth the wait.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Books in the Works, Chairmaker's Notebook by Peter Galbert
Categories: Hand Tools

Have a Party, Build a Sawbench

Sun, 12/07/2014 - 3:32pm

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The first project in my next book, “The Furniture of Necessity,” is a Windsor-style sawbench. While some might think it’s a complex exercise in geometry and joinery, it’s ridiculously easy once you understand a few principles that have nothing to do with trigonometry.

In my mind, this project is fundamental to understanding chairmaking and building early Western tables and other pieces of “staked” furniture, such as backstools and formes.

To explore this form a bit more, John and I threw a sawbench-making party in Indianapolis this weekend where eight of us built sawbenches using a variety of hand- and power-tool methods. We also consumed a ridiculous amount of food and alcohol.

(If you are interested in this form – not to mention food and booze – I am teaching a weekend class in building these sawbenches at Highland Woodworking next month. Details here.)

Some of the highlights of the weekend (for me):

Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks demonstrated a technique for adding a gorgeous charred finish to wood that will be the subject of an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking Magazine by blacksmith Seth Gould.

John, my partner at Lost Art Press, built a sawbench using four different and messed-up legs that had been sent to the burn pile by the rest of us. John assembled that sawbench, and then almost made me pee my pants by polishing the legs of the thing like it was on the cover of a woodworking magazine.

Narayan Nayar, the photographer for many Lost Art Press projects, demonstrated an offset turning technique that resulted in some beautiful elliptical legs.

Dr. Tim Henrickson made his first leg on a lathe that looked like it should be in an alien porn movie.

Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, had a video chat this weekend with her 4-year-old niece. So we all took off our shirts and walked around in the background during the chat.

Dr. Koa, aka Sean Thomas, brought along some cask-strength bourbon and rye that triggered all of the above events.

This is the third party we’ve thrown to explore early techniques, and it was a bunch of fun. Not to mention useful. If you ever feel uninspired or stuck with your woodworking, consider throwing a quick build-fest to tackle a fun project like this.

But don’t be like us and go shirtless in December. Engorged man nipples are not pretty.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

Slab Bench Maintenance: Remain Reamed

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 5:02am

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Because holdfasts are the primary workholding device on my French oak workbench, I am quick to investigate things when the holdfasts stop working well.

This week I noticed my holdfasts were getting stuck in their holes. They were difficult to get in and out. After a little investigating I found two things had gone wrong.

As the thick slab continued to dry, the holdfast holes had distorted enough to create an interference fit with the shaft of the holdfast. The distortion isn’t something you could see, but you could definitely feel it when you pushed the holdfast into its hole.

Second, the end of one of my holdfasts was a few thou too big for the holes. How did this happen? Easy. When the holdfast holes started to distort and the holdfast began to stick, the only way to release the holdfast was to strike it from below the benchtop with a metal hammer.

Surprisingly, this hammering upset the end of the holdfast and caused it to swell at the end of the shaft. And it was enough to make the holdfast even more difficult to insert and remove.

At this point in the blog entry I should insert a few proctology jokes. And something about a swollen shaft. But I’m feeling too classy this morning to go to that dark place.

To remedy my distorted holes and swollen shaft, I turned to two electric tools: A corded drill and a grinder. I put a 1”-diameter Wood Owl Nailchipper bit into the drill and reamed the holes. One of the holes – the most distorted one – gave up a spider web and two mummified houseflies.

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Then I dressed the end of the holdfast on the grinder until everything worked well. The shaft dropped smoothly into every hole and the holdfast returned to its normal grabby self.

— Christopher Schwarz

Note: The shaft of my vintage holdfast was made so its shaft is the same diameter along its entire length. Not all vintage (or new) holdfasts are like this. Some taper along their shaft. This makes them immune to the above problems, but I don’t find they are as easy to set.


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Workholding with the ‘Naked Woodworker’

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 4:43pm

The workbench that Mike Siemsen builds in the DVD “The Naked Woodworker” doesn’t have a single vise, but it can perform all the standard woodworking operations.

To prove this point, we asked Mike to make a short video that demonstrated how to use this Nicholson-style workbench for planing, sawing and chiseling tasks. Mike, always the overachiever, made the above 31-minute video that puts his bench through all of its paces.

Even if you are an old hand at hand tools, I think you’ll pick up a few tricks from the video. I know I did. Be sure to watch Mike using a ripsaw at 23:30. The man can rip. And the dovetail vise – similar to Caleb James’s version – is mighty clever.

The Naked Woodworker” is available on DVD and via instant download from our site. No matter how you purchase the video, you’ll also receive a spreadsheet that details all the materials and tools in the video, plus drawings for the workbench and a transcript of the entire DVD in Word format.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Be sure to watch to the end so you can see Mike’s cornball joke. And please do consider taking a class at the Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking. Mike is an excellent woodworker and fantastic teacher. I’ll be teaching a class there in 2016.


Filed under: The Naked Woodworker DVD
Categories: Hand Tools

The Anarchist’s Gift Guide

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 9:13am

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Most holiday “gift guides” are mostly bogus – lists of items that a store needs to move, are at a particular price point or have a high profit margin.

My gift guide is the opposite. These are things that I don’t sell (also FYI, I have never participated in an affiliate program anywhere, either). These are things I have used to death and really like. I think you will like them, too.

For the most part, they are inexpensive items that are worth far more than their price tag suggests.

I did a gift guide last year (which is still valid) and am in the middle of writing one for 2014. Both are on my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine here. Check it out if you have family members who want to get you something for the shop.

Me? I just asked for beer.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

You Are the Vise of Meat

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 5:04am

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Workbench disclaimer: A traditional workbench makes many tasks easier. Please read that sentence again with the emphasis on the last word. Easier. While you can build anything with nothing, things are easier with a traditional bench.

Today I dressed the carcase of a tool chest, which was quick and easy with the help of my legs.

Use a Sawbench. Here I’m leveling the end grain of the tails. The traditional sawbench, when paired with a heavy bench, makes many carcases an easy job. Add a moving blanket to protect your work. Note in the photo above how I am using one leg to push the work firmly against the bench. For bigger cases, I put the moving blanket on the floor – no sawbenches – and push the case against the leg of the bench.

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Use the End of the Bench. I like narrow workbenches because they allow me to sleeve the carcase over the benchtop. The benchtop prevents the case from deflecting while you plane it. Again, my leg keeps the case in place against the benchtop.

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On Tippy Toes. Leveling the ends of a carcase can be difficult because they can rarely be sleeved over the bench. Even over this short span – about 18” – the board will deflect when you plane it, making it difficult to make it true. When possible, I put my leg into the carcase (note the rag protecting the work) and push up with my knee to support the panel while planing it.

This honestly and truly works. Try it before mocking.

When I cannot wedge my leg into the carcase I use a “goberge,” also called a “gobar.” Essentially I wedge a heavy stick inside the carcase to support and push against the panel I’m planing. Big cases sometimes need two goberges.

Last trick and I’ll let you go: Grab some shavings. Usually I am trying to plane a carcase square and flat so I can add mouldings, skirtings, whatever. But sometimes the panel doesn’t have to be dead flat, it just has to look flat.

When that’s the case with a case, You can use a few shavings to help plane that last little hollow in the board that is giving you fits. While the carcase is sleeved over the bench, put a couple shavings between the carcase and the benchtop right under the hollow spot. The shavings will deflect the board right into your plane’s mouth. Thank you Robert Wearing for that trick.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

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by Dr. Radut