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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 31 min 29 sec ago

The Kindness of Christmas

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 7:30am

“Toy Makers,” photo taken between 1909 and 1919. Courtesy of: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-npcc-19400.

“The return of Christmas is a kind of beacon in the year. Whether it is the Christmas of childhood, full of excitement and a flow of good things, or the Christmas of older folk, woven with memories, or the Christmas of the captives of men far from home, for whom it is full of wistful longings, it is a season different from other seasons and a day different from other days which somehow, even under the most desperate conditions through the grim years of war and its aftermath, men have contrived in some way to celebrate. It stands for the good, peaceful things, for the kindly things, for sanity, in a world in which these are too often eclipsed and, in spite of the trappings of festivity which seem to smother it yet do not, it sends out its light under the dark skies of midwinter to give us new heart.

“… Christmas is the best of all times to relax in, with its break from the ordinary routine, free from the secret pressure of jobs waiting to be done which so often haunts other brief holidays. Time is so precious and those of us with eager and willing hands find more than enough to keep them busy and this question of relaxing can sometimes be quite difficult. How often we arrive home feeling tired at the end of a day’s work and disinclined to make a fresh start on a job of woodwork for ourselves yet with a kind of inner conflict because we do want to get it done. So after a wash and a meal we rather grudgingly make a start and in next to no time our tiredness vanishes and we become completely and happily absorbed in the work. By bedtime we are filled with a pleasant sense of achievement which will encourage us to repeat the process on other evenings. Nine times out of ten it works, but the tenth time may come when fatigue has gone deeper and on such an evening nothing goes right. Any little difficulty makes us impatient and irritable, something is lacking in quick co-ordination between mind and tool and the only remedy is to stop work before, in a rush of impatience, we do some real damage to the work. The fact is we remain so much of a mystery to ourselves that to decide even such a point as this is not always so simple as it seems. If we ceased to work when we did not feel like it we should accomplish less and less and probably end by losing even the desire to work: on the other hand there comes a time when to persist in spite of danger signals is asking for trouble.

“The only remedy is to learn to know the danger signals for what they are. The impatience that is founded on fatigue is something more than a mood. The latter will pass if we are firm with it and exercise the control that is a fundamental part of good craftsmanship: indeed the first-class craftsman will keep control from sheer ingrained habit however tired he is. But he also knows when to stop. One of the fascinations of craft work is that it compels us to this awareness of ourselves. We learn something of our limitations, of our tendencies, we learn to respect our own powers and feel a pride in developing them. It is by doing that the personality grows as well as the skill. It is a heartening thought for Christmas, when we can set our tools aside with easy minds to rejoice in the birthday of the child who, by choosing himself to become a craftsman in wood, blessed both the craft and the wood for all time.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker magazine, 1955

Filed under: Honest Labour, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Trees: What Should a Woodworker Know?

Sat, 12/23/2017 - 9:36am

Live oak, Houston, Texas

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a detailed book about timber technology, which is scheduled to be released in early 2018.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

What’s the best way to approach writing a book for publication? Well, probably not the way I went about it.

So what did I write about? At the end of 2007, I’d perhaps created a manuscript of about 15,000 words and devised a list of key headings. Writing as a woodworker for other woodworkers, not as a wood scientist, I’d decided the following list of topics covered what I, as the model woodworker in this exercise, ought to have a pretty good grasp of, and this probably applied to all serious woodworkers, both professional and amateur:

• Tree Classification, Growth and Structure

• Roots, Leaves, Seeds, Flowers, Germination, Transpiration

• Felling, Conversion and Yield

• Water, Water Vapour and Wood

• Coping with Wood Movement

• Seasoning or Drying of Wood and Drying Faults

• From the Kiln to the User (Storing, Transporting and Selling Dried Wood)

• Fungi

• Insect Pests

• Wood Strength and Structures

• Ecological and Environmental Issues

There were additional topics I felt it important to cover to round out the knowledge of the thoughtful and inquisitive woodworker, such as tree history, tree distribution, a section on the oaks in particular, balanoculture, ancient deforestation, socio-political and historical issues concerning trees and their use, the Latin-binomial system of identification, tree oddities and migration, and so on. All might be considered ‘soft knowledge’, but awareness of these topics contributes to being a well-informed woodworker.

In 2007 I met a publisher of craft books I knew at a woodworking show in the north of England. We talked about my writing project and he indicated he was interested in offering me a contract to write the book. I turned him down gently saying I didn’t want to work to a publisher’s deadline because I’d be writing under pressure and too many mistakes would occur, or important subjects might have to be omitted to meet their deadline. So, there I was, writing at my own pace with no deadline to spur me on, and no-one on board to publish whatever I produced. I’d made a decision that contributed to enabling what I believe is a better book, but left me with the challenging task of finding someone to publish my, er, well, I guess, labour of love.

I’m very pleased Lost Art Press is taking my raw manuscript to the next stage. And maybe I’ll tell the tale of my convoluted path to finding a publisher in a later post.

– Richard Jones

Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Update: Lost Art Press Chore Coat

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 5:34am

One of Tom Bonamici’s sketches from the summer that shows the basic design of the jacket.

The Oregon garment factory has just produced our first chore coat prototype using the Japanese cotton that Tom Bonamici has selected. Tom wants to make a couple small adjustments to the way the collar will sit, but he is almost satisfied.

That prototype is on its way to Kentucky for us to inspect the workmanship and evaluate the cloth. Tom says the fabric is so good it feels like “unicorn butter.” That’s worrisome because we were after “centaur mayonnaise” for the hand feel.

Meanwhile, other details of the jacket are coming together. One of the important aspects of this garment (for me) is that it not be a piece of marketing. Like a traditional French coat, there will be only two details of the maker: The buttons will be debossed with “Lost Art Press” in tiny letters. You’ll have to look closely to see them. And the inside pocket will be embroidered with our skep logo.


The embroidery design for the inside pocket.

There is still a lot of work to be done, including getting the price nailed down and finalizing some of the sizing.

The way we are going to sell these is going to be a little different than your typical clothing store. We’re going to publish very specific sizing guidelines so you can determine which size is for you. We’ll open up the ordering for a month. Everyone who orders one will then get one.

This will do two things: Greatly reduce waste and therefore help us keep the price down because we won’t have to account for garments that don’t sell.

If everything goes smoothly, the jackets will ship in March.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Quick Update: Four (no Five) Titles

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 6:33pm


We are actively working on four books this month. Here’s a quick update.

Richard Jones’s book on timber technology (we’re still fussing with the title) has been fully laid out. Kara Gebhart and I will give it a final edit this month and it should be to the printer in early January. That means it should be released in February or March 2018. (This assumes nothing goes haywire in the process.)

Jögge Sundqvist’s book “Slöjd in Wood” is almost ready for the designer. Megan Fitzpatrick has been sorting through both the translation and notes from Jögge and Peter Follansbee, who is assisting with the editing. This book has taken a lot longer than we hoped (and cost thousands of dollars more than we planned). But the result will be worth it. Look for it in early spring.

Christian Becksvoort has just turned in the materials for his new book with Lost Art Press. The book needs a title, but it’s going to be outstanding. It will feature plans for some of Becksvoort’s best projects from his career, plus advice on the craft and how to make a living at it. We are just beginning the editing process on the book, but it should go quickly. We hope for a summer release.

Finally, there is my book, “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding.” The writing will be complete by the end of 2017 – I have only about 1,000 more words to go. As always, as I get to the end of a book I have found at least 30 untrodden paths before me that I could go down. This book could easily consume another 20 years of my life – and still be incomplete.

Luckily, I have worked with authors who allow themselves to be sucked down the path of researching “one more detail” and then “Oooo, one more thing.” It can go on forever, and the work becomes blurred, ill-defined and all-consuming. You have to know when to cut bait or fish.

I’m ready to fish.

Look for “Ingenious Mechanicks” to be released by May at the latest.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I forgot to mention Joshua Klein’s book on Jonathan Fisher. It’s in the good hands of designer Linda Watts and should be complete in the next couple months. Apologies for neglecting this important title – I have too many chainsaws in the air…. It’s late and it’s been a long day.

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

LAP: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 12:51pm


If you’re from out of town and thinking of visiting the Lost Art Press storefront for an open house or for a class, read on.

Where to Stay
Just a short walk from the Lost Art Press storefront (at 837 Willard St.) is Hotel Covington – a very nice hotel in a fully renovated historic property, with an excellent restaurant. (And no, we don’t get kickbacks.) Other options are to stay at one of the nice and fairly inexpensive chain hotels on the Covington riverfront, book a room through AirBnB, or stay in downtown Cincinnati.

The chain hotels on the Covington riverfront include: Hampton Inn, Courtyard, Extended Stay, Marriott, Embassy Suites and Holiday Inn. All are clean, safe and offer decent amenities within walking distance.

If you opt to stay in Cincinnati, I highly recommend the 21c Hotel. It is a full-service hotel. Amazing restaurant (the Metropole). Fantastic breakfast. Great bar and bartenders. And there’s a semi-secret rooftop bar (the entrance is in the alley). If you’re a fancy lad or lass, you’ll love the Hilton Netherland Plaza. And even if you’re not fancy, the incredible Art Deco bar is worth a visit. Another four-star option (also with a good restaurant) is The Cincinnatian. I’ve never seen the rooms there, but I’ve heard good reports.


A look down Pike Street.

Where to Eat
To make this list manageable, I’m going to focus only on establishments that are in Covington and downtown Cincinnati. If I covered other neighborhoods, it would be a book.

Otto’s: This is one of my favorite places for lunch, dinner and brunch. It has a small menu of Southern food, but everything is outstanding. Get the tomato pie for lunch. Otto’s is also one of my contenders for best burger in the city.

Bouquet: Great wine bar and good food made with local ingredients. I love the trout.

Frida 602: A bustling Mexican place that specializes in mezcal and tacos. Get the queso. You’ll thank me.

Cock & Bull: The best fish and chips in town and a draft beer list that is insane (Delirium Tremens on draft – dang).

Goodfella’s Pizza and the Wiseguy Lounge: Downstairs is a small pizzeria with New York style pizza (yes, you can order a slice) and beer. Upstairs is one of the best bourbon bars in the state and a great place to relax.

Commonwealth Bistro: A new Southern food restaurant on Main Street. I’ve only been once but I was blown away by the fried rabbit and biscuit.

Crafts & Vines: One of the friendliest bars in the city. Wine on draft (you read that right). Plus an inventive beer selection.

Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar: The bartenders know me (and Megan, and Brendan) by name here. An astonishing bourbon selection. The patio out back is one of my favorite places to hang out with a crackling fire and a bourbon.

Covington Coffee: Super-friendly family-run place. Great pastries and the best bagels (Lil’s) in the city.

Chako Bakery Cafe: Fantastic, family-run Japanese bakery and restaurant (within easy walking distance of LAP)

Point Perk: My other favorite coffee shop in town. The hours are limited, but the espresso and chai drinks are fantastic.

Coppin’s in the Hotel Covington: This hotel is the jewel of the city. The restaurant and bar are highly recommended for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. Get the corn fritters, the 16 Bricks bread and… oh just get everything.

Inspirado: Eclectic menu. Osso buco and street tacos? Yes please. A very friendly place – lunch, dinner and brunch.

Zola: A bar and grill with inexpensive (but excellent) burgers and other pub food. (Note: You may encounter smokers here.)


Pork ho fun at Kung Food.

Amerasia Kung Food: Don’t be fooled by the appearance of this divey-looking Chinese place. People come from all over the city for lunch and dinner. It also has one of the best selections of beer in the city. If you like noodles, get the pork ho fun (and ask them to make it a little extra crispy).

Riverside Korean: Authentic Korean. A karaoke room (yes, we’ve done it). Riverside never disappoints.

House of Grill: Tasty Persian food served up by the friendliest family in the restaurant business.

Keystone Grill: Family-friendly place for lunch, dinner or brunch. The mac and cheese varieties are great.

The Gruff: A pizza place in the shadow of the Roebling bridge. Fantastic pizzas (try the Italian meat pizza or the Margarita) plus local craft beer and one of the most inspiring views in the city.

Wunderbar: Excellent burgers, and mostly German-inspired food. (And French…the brie and bacon sandwich is delish).

Whew, Now Cincinnati
I’m going to keep this brief. This blog entry is turning into an opus already. All of these restaurants are less than a mile from the river. I’m also skipping places that are so popular (The Eagle, Bakersfield, Taft Ale House) that you can’t easily get in.

Sotto: The best restaurant in the city. Period. The first time my daughter tried the short rib cappellacci she cried. No lie.

Boca: The big brother to Sotto. A bit fancy, but unforgettable in every respect.

Gomez salsa. Take-out only, from a walk-up window. Try the “Turtle Bowl.”

Maplewood: The best breakfast in the city. No question.

Mita’s: Beautiful Spanish restaurant with achingly good paella.

Nada: Upscale Mexican with a fantastic brunch.

Senate Pub: Go early. Poutine and the best hot dog I’ve ever had (brioche bun!).

Krueger’s Tavern: Delicious hamburgers and homemade sausage.

Taste of Belgium: Fried chicken and waffles. Great breakfast. Belgian ale on tap.

Morelein Lager House: A local brewery with a restaurant – the view of the Roebling Bridge and Covington alone is worth the trip.

Pontiac BBQ. Best brisket. Hands down.


Sweet pea and bacon pizza at A Tavola.

A Tavola: My favorite pizza in the city. Neapolitan-style. Awesome wagyu-beef meatballs and bacon tapenade. Great wine, beer and cocktails.

Salazar: I vacillate between Salazar and Sotto as my favorite places in the city.


Pulled pork sandwich at Eli’s.

Findlay Market & Eli’s: A old open-air market and the pride of Cincinnati. On weekends we walk around, eat whatever smells good and buy sausages (Kroeger meat) for the week. Eli’s is adjacent and it’s my favorite barbecue joint.

Entertain Your Family
The Newport Aquarium is a short walk from downtown. The Fire Museum is awesome if you have kids who like fire trucks. If your kids are a little older (8 to 10), try the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). Start at the top floor where they have a wild area for kids to create art. We’ve spent days there. Plus the contemporary art throughout is top shelf. And the Zaha Hadid-designed building is fantastic to explore.

If it’s nice outside, go down to the riverfront on the Cincinnati side to the Smale Riverfront Park to blow off steam and ride the merry-go-round. Plus there are a ton of places to eat there at The Banks.

The ace in the hole for entertaining the kiddos is the Cincinnati Museum Center. You can spend two or three days solid here without boring the kids (or yourself). The Children’s Museum is there, plus the History Museum, an IMAX theater, the Natural History Museum, an ice cream parlor and all the old train station stuff that kids love. We lived there every weekend when our kids were young.

If your kids like art, head up to Mt. Adams (one of the hills 5 minutes from downtown) for the Cincinnati Art Museum. They have kids programs, including a dedicated space for kids to run wild, art style. Check it out here. And the museum features free admission.

All the above places can be visited easily with public transportation.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

More Classes at the Lost Art Press Storefront

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 10:33am


Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney have opened up some new classes that will be taught in the Lost Art Press storefront in 2018.

All three of us have been busy getting the store and shop ready. We now have six high-quality workbenches in the front room of the storefront, which is filled with natural light. And the mechanical library, Horse Garage and biergarten are coming along nicely as well. All in all, it will be an excellent place to learn handwork.

Here are the details on the classes:


Build a Dutch Tool Chest with Megan Fitzpatrick
Feb. 17-18, 2018
Cost: $300 plus a materials fee. To register, click here.

During this intense two-day class you’ll build a Dutch tool chest from pine using dovetails, dados, rabbets and nails. Because of the demands of the project, this class will likely run into the early evening to ensure everyone will complete their chest. The Dutch chest is an excellent introduction to handwork and the result is a fine place to store your tools.


Build the Cabinetmaker’s Sector with Brendan Gaffney
June 2-3, 2018
Cost: $300, which includes all raw materials. This second class is already full with people who signed up for the first class. We’ll be opening a wait list soon.

In this two-day class, students will build their own Cabinetmaker’s Sector, my modernized design for the ancient geometer’s tool, used for drawing, drafting and (in my shop) the layout of dimensions and joinery on woodwork. The class will revolve around the skills of modern hand-tool makers, including careful marking and measuring, mixing metal and wood, hand shaping, finishing and (of course) how to use the tool.

Each student will be provided the wood and the necessary brass hinges and pins, everything needed to produce the sector. The first day will revolve around affixing the brass and wooden tabs into the tools, riveting the leaves together, flattening and lapping the tools and reviewing the principles behind the geometry of the sector. The second day will revolve around shaping the sectors, stamping and inking the sector marks, finishing the sectors and learning to use them in the shop. Every student will leave with a completed sector, plus the knowledge of how it works and how to use it.

Build a Shaker Silverware Tray with Megan Fitzpatrick
June 23-24, 2018
Cost: $250, plus a small materials fee for wood & cut brads (likely around $30). To register, click here.

Make a classic Shaker silverware tray in this introduction to hand-cut dovetails. In this two-day class, you’ll learn:

  • Dovetail layout using dividers
  • How to use a backsaw to saw to a line
  • How to wield a coping or fret saw
  • How to pare and chop to a line with a chisel
  • Several strategies for transferring the tails to the pin board
  • Techniques for fitting the joint
  • Why dovetails work – and we’ll look at some examples of long-lasting period dovetails that look as if they were gnawed out by a beaver – “perfection” is overrated when it comes to the efficacy of this joint. (That said, you’ll also learn some “tricks” for fixing less-than-stellar dovetails.)
  • How to lay out then cut and fair the handles (both the hand holds and the curved top edge)
  • How to smooth-plane your surfaces
  • How to use cut nails (to secure the bottom board)
  • And of course, how to put it all together (and why I recommend liquid hide glue).

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

A Review of ‘Carving the Acanthus Leaf’ by Mary May

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:00pm


When I first stepped into one of Mary May’s architectural woodcarving classes, I had some vague notion of what it would be like to carve wood. Though I had some interest (I’m interested in making just about anything with wood), woodcarving had never ranked high on my list of interesting avocations, much less passionate ones. But after two days of her instruction, I walked away with an entirely different appreciation for woodcarving and for what Mary had to offer.

As readers of her book, “Carving the Acanthus Leaf,” will quickly find out, Mary is not simply a person who happens to carve wood for a living; she is a woodcarving master par excellence, a truly gifted soul whose work is an expression of some deep passion, driven by faith, and guided by years of diligent apprenticeship and experience.

To most of us, acanthus leaf carvings are a familiar albeit barely understood adornment to historic architectural woodwork. We’ve seen them in the mighty cathedrals of the European Renaissance and in grand public buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries. We’ve probably even seen them on ornate pieces of Chippendale cabinetry. But what Mary May shows us through her book is the robust history of the acanthus leaf from its early Egyptian beginnings through its history in Grecian, Roman and Byzantine architecture; its influence on (though absence from) Viking woodcarvings; its rich revival during the Renaissance; and, ultimately, its decline in the 20th century “machine age.”

As with many aspects of traditional craftsmanship, acanthus leaf carvings have enjoyed a renewal of interest in recent years, perhaps as we humans struggle to maintain our identity amidst an increasingly technological ubiquity. To that end, Mary has offered a gem.

While the book can be through of as nothing less than a how-to guide for woodcarvers, it is much more than that. Steeped in detailed instruction on carving numerous styles of acanthus leaves, Mary’s book weaves the reader through a complex array of history and tradition, of love and romance, and of skill and passion for the art form. This is a uniquely personal text through which the author walks the reader through her own history with woodcarving as a means of inspiring others to take the leap into what may prove to be a highly rewarding journey toward mastery of a new skill. Relating her friendship with Bill Cox, who, at 89 years of age, took up woodcarving and served as her shop helper for six years, Mary encourages others to take up the craft. And, by relating some of her own mistakes along the way, Mary reminds us that we are all human, including the masters.

If you have ever looked at ornate woodcarvings and found yourself at awe of the skill it took to produce them, buy this book. Read it. Get some tools, pick up a piece of basswood, and start carving. You won’t soon regret the experience.

– Michael A. Knox

Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

‘Handplane Essentials’ Now Available in French

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:53am


Thanks to the tireless work of woodworker Yann Facchin, my book “Handplane Essentials” has been translated into French and is now available for sale. You can read about the book and order it through the publisher’s website here.

I recently received a copy of the book and am impressed that the publisher took pains to manufacture the book on high-quality paper. The book block is sewn (like our books at Lost Art Press). And the binding job is first-rate. And, as a bonus, the book is printed in France.

(I am mentioning the great job that Editions du Vieux Chene did with this book to also shame the overseas publishers that have been printing my F+W books on glorified newsprint. Apologies, but I have zero control over that.)


The French translation of “Handplane Essentials” is of the revised edition of the book, so it has all the information in the current English version, which is available here.

Thanks to Yann and the French publisher for doing such a fine job.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Handplanes, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Richard Jones: My Approach to Writing About Timber Technology

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 9:20am

Richard Jones - Wave

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a detailed book about timber technology that required hundreds of hours of research, which he talks about here. The book is scheduled to be released in early 2018.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

My tentative foray into writing articles on timber technology for magazine and journal publication morphed almost seamlessly into writing a book (which you can read about here). I felt the material was unsuitable for the compressed format expected by woodworking magazine editors. Short, snappy articles of 2,500 to 3,500 words incorporating 10 or so images are favoured. The generally small remuneration for significant writing effort was off-putting, and occasional, irritating editorial blunders made by the magazines niggled: How, for example, could a couple of sentences from one paragraph be moved into another paragraph on another page? It turned the article I’d spent a great deal of time perfecting into verbal flatulence, and rather diminished the end product.

I wanted to create something that differentiated itself from other books on timber technology. I asked myself questions such as: “As a woodworker, what’s important to know?” and “Are there issues secondary to the core material that gives a woodworker important and useful ‘rounding out’ knowledge?” By this time in 2007 I’d moved to a new job leading the undergraduate Furniture Making programme at Leeds College of Art (LCA, now Leeds Arts University). LCA required I develop a ‘research profile’ befitting a lecturer in the UK Higher Education sector. I had a project in hand that I could use to undertake appropriate ‘academic research and publishing’. I had the kernel of a manuscript suited for such a purpose where light Harvard Referencing would be appropriate.

My starting point was to write what I knew, but to verify the information. It quickly became apparent that what I ‘knew’ was a mixture of truth, along with myth and hearsay that had been passed down through generations of woodworkers to me. I needed to research a topic through studying several reliable sources of information, collate, assess, draw conclusions, and then write. Sources were books, journals, online publications, personal discussions and correspondence with specialists in their field, all with verifiable credentials, e.g., wood scientists, entomologists, mycologists, engineers, etc, and further, to persuade experts to peer review relevant sections of my manuscript. Being in an academic field at the time of writing had its advantages. There’s a common etiquette in academia of peer reviewing the work of fellow academics – I was in the fortunate position of being able to take advantage of this arrangement.

– Richard Jones

Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Simple by design

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 11:38am

Making Things Work

IMG_2749[2] One of these things is not like the others. Last week I attended a holiday party held by a local publication. This biannual event is always characterized by classy live music and an atmosphere of big-city sophistication found so rarely in the south-central Indiana college town where I live that it always seems to verge on the surreal.

Another defining feature of the event is the elaborate presentation of food. A central table holds crudités, charcouterie and fish. On this occasion the fish were two strapping salmon (discreetly shorn of their heads and tails) festooned with cucumber-slice scales. The muscular fish were artfully arranged side by side to evoke their movement while swimming. (Nothing says “eat me” like a headless corpse positioned so as to suggest its once-lithe motion.)

This pair were joined by a regiment of jumbo prawns hanging from the edge of a silver tureen, as though…

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Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Consider the Used Tool Chest

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 5:43am


Though you might find this odd, a sizable chunk of my commission work is building tool chests and workbenches for people.

When customers first approached me with these jobs, I resisted. My response was: You’re a woodworker; you can build your own for much less money. But after further discussions, I realized that I could say this to almost any aspect of the craft.

Don’t have a shop? You’re a woodworker – build one.
Don’t have a handplane? You’re a woodworker – build one.
Don’t have a wooden floor?
Don’t have a dovetail saw?
And etc.

When it comes to the great Time Vs. Money Scale, some of us have more time. Others have more money. (Few of us have both or neither.) And so I started making workbenches and tool chests for customers. This also conveniently drained my supply of half-built tool chests and workbenches in my garden shed that were left over from classes.


For woodworkers who can’t afford a tool chest from me (they cost $2,000 to $3,500 depending on the options), I encourage them to buy a vintage tool chest. In the Midwest, South and East, almost every antique store has a chest to sell. You just have to tune your eyes to see them. Typically they are holding other items – plates, glassware or creepy dolls – and so they are easy to miss.

They often show up in local auctions – an Amish auction near me usually has a dozen chests each year.

And the price is right. About $200 to $400.

Most of them need to be cleaned up. The tills are worn out and need to be repaired. Mouse holes are common. Rot in the bottom boards is a frequent feature. Dislocated hinges and a pink paint job round out the list of things you’ll want to remedy.

But it is a great alternative. Most chests can be fixed up with a day of work in the shop. And you will get a gold star in woodworker heaven for saving a tool chest from its doom as another plant stand.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

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


Fri, 12/15/2017 - 3:29am

Deeply carved rosette in cherry on a antique wardrobe, George Davis Antiques & Interiors, Savannah, Ga.

This is an excerpt from “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” by Mary May.

Various styles of rosettes have been used since the Roman Empire as decorative accents and are often used as appliqués (applied to a surface) to adorn furniture and architectural features.

Here are some of the design elements for rosettes:

• They are symmetrical and can be circular, oval, square or rectangular.

• There is a small bead in the center that is either plain or carved.

• In oval or rectangular designs, this center bead is also oval.

• Square or round rosettes that are symmetrical can be turned on a lathe before carving to establish the basic profile.

• There are typically four primary leaves evenly positioned around the rosette.

• The leaves start at the center bead and flow outward toward the edge, with the tips of the leaves defining the outer edges.

• For square or rectangular rosettes, the tips of the leaves end at each corner.

• The midribs or center stems get narrower as they reach the ends of the leaves.

• They often have small, secondary leaves that are between and appear to be positioned under each primary leaf. This example does not contain these secondary leaves.

This design has similar structural elements to other leaves, but some details, such as positioning the eyes, will need to be visually located without guidelines.


STEP 1: Draw a square. This example has slightly curved edges. Draw the center circle and the midrib (center stem) of each leaf ending just before each corner. Notice for this design that the midrib connects from one leaf to the next. This is often done to create a continuous flow between the leaves.


STEP 2: Draw the eyes close to the center circle. These eyes represent where two leaves overlap.


STEP 3: Draw eight circles as shown that intersect and slightly overlap at the pointed end of the eye. These locate the edges of the overlapping lobes.


STEP 4: Erase the parts of the circles that are no longer needed. The remaining lines should extend from the pointed end of the eyes. The dotted lines represent the edges of the lobes underneath.


STEP 5: Erase the dotted lines. Draw the two eyes on each leaf about a third of the way up the leaf at a slight distance from the midrib.


STEP 6: Draw circles as shown that represent the overlapping secondary lobes. The edges of these lobes should extend from the eyes drawn in STEP 5. The dotted lines represent the parts of the lobe that are underneath. Sometimes drawing the edges of the lobes first can help locate the eyes, so steps 5 and 6 can be reversed.


STEP 7: Erase the dotted lines. Draw the pipes that start from the eyes drawn in STEP 5 and curve and flow them alongside the midrib.


STEP 8: Draw the lines that locate the serrations as shown. These are typically positioned perpendicular to the center veins on each lobe, but in this design there are no center veins on the side lobes. Draw these lines at an angle located approximately halfway between the eyes and the tip of each lobe. Note that the center lobe has two of these guidelines that are perpendicular to the midrib. After learning how to position the serrations in the next few steps, these lines are usually no longer necessary as guides.


STEP 9: Take a deep breath. It really isn’t as complicated as it looks. Draw small circles that locate the serrations along the edges of the leaf. These lines should start at the edge of the leaf and curve down to meet the guidelines drawn in STEP 8. The dotted lines show the correct direction of the curve. These circles are simply used to show the curvature of the serrations. Erase the parts of the circles that are not necessary. This process of drawing the circles is often not necessary after learning to understand the shape and position of these serrations.


STEP 10: Erase all lines that are no longer needed. Complete the edges of the leaf by connecting the serration lines as shown and also complete the tips of the leaves.


STEP 11: Erase any unnecessary lines.


STEP 12: Draw lines starting from the inside corners of the serrations that flow down each lobe. These lines represent a high edge (or high corner) in the leaf.


This is the finished drawing with all details.

Meghan Bates

Filed under: Carve the Acanthus with Mary May
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming in 2018: The Lost Art Press Work Jacket

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:24pm


I have two favorite garments: a beat-up motorcycle jacket for winter and a traditional French work jacket for the other three seasons.

The work jacket, sometimes called a bleu de travail, was popular in the late 19th century and the early 20th century among the French working classes – especially farmers, masons and woodworkers.

The jackets are simple, unlined and incredibly durable. They typically feature four roomy pockets – three on the outside and a fourth on the inside that usually is embroidered with the maker’s name. The only other evidence of the pedigree of the garment is usually found engraved on the buttons.

I wear mine in the shop and when working on our building. The pockets are great for holding tools and the jacket is designed to accommodate a wide range of motion. I can saw and plane in this jacket, and it moves nicely with me. In fact, many times I simply forget I’m wearing it. The more it gets beat up, the better it looks.

It’s also just nice enough to wear out to dinner (once I dust it off).

Most of the French work jackets you’ll find for sale are blue, which was the preferred color of farmers and all-purpose laborers. Management wore a similar jacket in a light grey or white. But French (and German) woodworkers definitely preferred black.

For many years I’ve wanted Lost Art Press to produce a work jacket that was faithful to the originals in every way, including the cotton moleskin cloth, the distinct stitching, the engraved buttons and even the embroidered inside pocket. And, because I’m a woodworker, I wanted to offer it in black.

So we’ve teamed up with designer and woodworker Tom Bonamici, who is similarly obsessed with these jackets. Tom has designed a work jacket based on a vintage one he owns. And last week, the factory (here in the United States, of course) produced the first successful prototype.

We are very excited.

In the coming weeks, Tom is going to share the history of these jackets, the details of their construction and how a garment goes from a cool idea to something you want to wear every day. And, in early 2018, we will offer these for sale.

We don’t have prices or a timeline yet. But all that is coming soon.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Geometry in Time for the Holidays

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:15am

Christ the Geometer

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s perform some simple, ancient geometry to create the iconic symbols of the two religions celebrating major holidays this month. You’ll need only a compass, a straightedge, a piece of paper and a couple of candles to illuminate your work. In chronological order (in more ways than one) let’s start with Judaism’s Star of David:


Begin with a circle and mark the focal point. We have actually started with the symbol for Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god for whom winter solstice was celebrated for thousands of years prior to Judaism – but that may or may not be another story.

Scan_20171212 (2)

Now draw a line vertically through the focal point (i.e. a diameter) and mark its intersection points at the rim.

Scan_20171212 (3)

Next set the compass to span from one of the rim intersection points to the focal point and swing an arc through the rim as shown. Mark the arc’s intersection points.

Scan_20171212 (4)

Repeat from the other rim intersection and mark two more rim points.

Scan_20171212 (5)

Connect all the rim points across the circle.

Scan_20171212 (6)


Erase the circle rim, diameter line and interior arcs and you are left with the Star of David. Now let’s create the Christian cross–also from the intersection of line and circle:

Scan_20171212 (7)

Again we’ll start with a circle (which came to represent the heavens), but this time we’ll draw the diameter line at about a 45° angle.

Scan_20171212 (8)

Construct another diameter line at a right angle to the first. Use the intersecting arcs method (or just fudge it, I won’t tell).

Scan_20171212 (9)

Connect the rim intersection points to create a square (which traditionally represents the four directions, the four seasons and the earth itself).


Scan_20171212 (10)

Now bisect the lower horizontal line and extend the bisection line from the focal point down past the lower rim of the circle.


Scan_20171212 (11)

We’ll set our compass to the span between the rim intersection point and focal point and swing a second circle. (A second of a pair of circles traditionally represented the Dyad…the reflection, the knowing of the first circle called the Monad (all one/alone)).

Scan_20171212 (12)

When we erase most of the lines we are left with a cross…a symbol of the melding of heaven with earth. Or for the math geeks: a pairing of a diameter line with the non-terminating (i.e. irrational) square root of two.

Note: This geometric construction of the cross is not historical but rather the product of my imagination.

— Jim Tolpin, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools





Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: More Classes at Our Storefront

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 3:21pm


When I purchased my shop building in Covington, Ky., I swore I wasn’t going to open a woodworking school. And, in all honesty, I still don’t want to run a school or return to teaching.

I will, however, allow my friends to use the space to teach classes.

So, in the coming weeks you can look for Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney to offer additional classes at our storefront. Brendan is especially keen on offering low-cost, one-day workshops for locals to introduce them to woodworking, sharpening and woodworking tools. Why? Almost every day people stop by the storefront asking if we will teach them how to build things. (Today, a plumber and a barber asked for classes.)

Megan has a full roster of classes that we have been planning for many months, including a Morris chair design that was made here in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In conjunction with these classes, we also plan to open the mechanical library up for the public to use. The library is still under heavy construction – Megan and I need to build a 12’-long run of shelves to house part of the collection.

So things are changing here – for the better. By the end of the year the Horse Garage will be a fully functional shop with a few good machines. We’ll have space for me to continue my research and build commissions. We’ll have space for Megan and Brendan to offer instruction. Plus rare old books to blow your mind.

One final note: All of our projects begin incredibly small in nature. Lost Art Press sold about 2,000 books its first year in 2007 (we’re up to about 40,000 a year now. That’s a pathetic growth curve for corporate America, but I have only two words for corporate America). Crucible is still in its infancy, as are our plans for the storefront. I want things to grow organically and be bulletproof. No debt. No reaching for things beyond our grasp.

I hope you’ll join us on our slow journey.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Curriculum aliud*

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:55am


Fixin’s for tofu and carrot pizza. (Yum?)

My father assigned his office assistant, Bambi, to be my teacher. One of our early lessons involved learning to copy maps, an essential life skill if there ever was one. She showed me how to copy an outline using a grid. “Just draw in some squiggles around the edges,” she instructed as I worked on a map of Florida’s east coast.

“But what about everyone who lives along those bays and beaches?” I asked, concerned that such a laissez-faire approach to cartography might result in the flooding of countless homes, drowning the pets who lived in them. (Never mind their human inhabitants, who were of less concern to me in those days.)

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said. “It’s just a map.”

It wasn’t long before we dispensed with this farce and I sought instruction from the young people who were living in assorted small structures they had erected around our tropical half-acre backyard. I learned to make whole wheat bread, tofu and carrot pizza, and home-churned ice milk, washed my clothes in a puddle, and took cold showers to fortify my character.  I dispensed with my hair brush and allowed my dirty-blond tresses to spin themselves into a head of dreadlocks that unsophisticated acquaintances of my parents dismissed as filthy matted hair.


Norman Stanley Hippietoe on the way to dreadlocks — emphatically not a sexualized image, but the opposite: a ten-year-old’s attempt to escape the confines of gendered expectations.

In a nod toward formal study, I read several entries in the World Book Encyclopedia each day and was so taken with the one for panpipes that I wrote to the editor and asked for plans that I might use to make a set. I signed my letter Norman Stanley Hippietoe, an androgynous persona I had invented to replace my birth name and gender. I was elated when a letter addressed to Mr. N. Hippietoe arrived in the mail, even though it carried the disappointing news that the publisher could offer no plans for constructing the instrument.–Excerpted from Making Things Work by Nancy R. Hiller

*Fancy Lass-speak for different curriculum. There’s nothing like learning to make tofu and carrot pizza and wash your clothes in a puddle to set a kid up for the discipline and structure offered by the Fancy Lads Academy.

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Last Soft Wax of the Year

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 5:05pm


Katy has made a big batch of soft wax this week – 63 tins that are ready to ship immediately. Click here to order if you don’t need any more information than that.

Soft wax is a nice addition to the tool kit of the finisher or tool restorer. It can be used as a stand-alone finish on bare wood. It imparts just a little color and a little protection. Its advantage is it’s incredibly easy to apply. Because it is so high in solvent (Georgia turpentine), it is easy to rub onto a surface and does not need to be buffed like floor wax. You simply wipe the excess soft wax away for a nice matte finish.

For tools, it helps lubricate the sticky bits and prevents rust. A thin coat is all it takes.

It is not a good finish for high-traffic items (bathroom cabinets) or your hipster mustache. It is high in solvents that could irritate your baby-smooth Fancy Lad skin.

The wax is made in our basement entirely by a 16-year-old who never ceases to amaze me. She is intent on forging her own path through this world without relying on institutions to prop her up. (Sounds strangely familiar.)

You can order tins of her wax through her etsy store here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Richard Jones: Why I Wrote This Book

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 7:52am

Richard recently completed this massive oak refectory table for a client. Here it sits in the workshop, waiting for the client to make a decision on a wood finish.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a detailed book about timber technology. The book is scheduled to be released in early 2018.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

I didn’t set out to write a book on timber technology. Doing so was an accident of circumstances. In 2003, I closed my furniture business in Texas, moved home to the UK and started teaching furniture undergraduates at Rycotewood, which I mentioned here. I was given the task of introducing the students to the craft furniture maker’s primary material of wood in the Timber Technology module. I possessed a relatively good expertise in the subject but I’d never prepared and delivered learning materials on it. It was a challenging sink-or-swim moment for me – well, more of an ongoing fight against drowning throughout a 12-week term. But it got easier with practice and as the years passed.

In 2005, I started creating illustrated Timber Tech PowerPoint presentations as learning tools. From that, I converted the PowerPoints into articles to sell to woodworking magazines, a sideline of mine. At some stage in this article production I decided the topic was too involved to be covered adequately in a series of articles in several magazine issues. So, being a bit bloody minded, I decided to create a manuscript covering the key issues relevant and of interest to me as a woodworker. Further, I decided to write it in such a way that non-specialists could understand some of the more challenging elements, and my students were the model non-specialists. Of course, this meant I was writing speculatively, without having a publisher on board – but more on that in a later post.

Most books on timber technology are written by timber technologists for wood scientist colleagues, or students of the topic. They’re consequently a difficult read for the general reader, something probably true of most woodworkers, myself included. Wood science authors assume a certain background knowledge in their expected readership. And why not? They’re generally singing to the choir, or at least aspirant wood scientists. It doesn’t really help the non-scientific woodworker who wants a better understanding of their material as simply as possible. In creating my manuscript I took pains to try and make some difficult science accessible and useful to all woodworkers – carpenters, joiners, furniture makers and so on.

An oak tabletop, such as the one shown above, 1100 mm (~43-1/4″) wide with end clamps (aka breadboard ends) needs allowance for expansion and contraction on the main panel across the grain. A tongue and groove, incorporating three tenons worked in the main panel fit motices in the clamps. The central tenon is glued, and the two end tenons are free to move side to side in extended mortices, but held tight in the main panel with dowels passing through slots in the tenons.

– Richard Jones

Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

It Takes Only 100 Workbenches

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 3:27pm


Some things in woodworking are hard-earned. Translation: I might not be so bright.

This week I performed some maintenance to my circa 1505 workbench designed by Martin Löffelholz. I’d built the bench last year using components that were soaking wet. This was not my preference, but sometimes we don’t have a choice when it comes to wood.

So what would be my preference? A wet top and bone-dry legs.

In my case, the tenons on the four wet legs had dried out faster than the wet benchtop. Because the ends of a stick of wood dry out before its middle, this was to be expected. As a result, three of the tenons became loose in their mortises, and I needed to re-glue and re-wedge them.

This is quick and easy work, maybe an hour. And because I use hide glue, there was no need to scrape off the dried PVA glue to remake the joints. (Yay for animal glue – for the 102nd billionth time.)

What’s the point here? Well, if you’ve ever made a workbench with through-tenons or through-dovetails then you know that the most difficult part of flattening the benchtop is dealing with the recalcitrant end grain. It can stop your handplane short, no matter how sharp it is or strong you think you are.


This week I got smart. Usually when you make a through-tenon, you make the tenon over-long and then saw or plane it flush to the surrounding wood. This is a good idea when making doors or small boxes. But when making workbenches, perhaps not.

This week I decided to cut the tenons 1/16” shy so they would end up recessed instead of proud when the joints were assembled. And, after assembly, I chiseled the wedges down flush with the tenon.

As a result, the benchtop was easy to flatten. My jack plane didn’t encounter any end grain until the last few strokes of flattening the benchtop.

Why haven’t I done this for the last 100 workbenches that I’ve built with my students, for customers or for me?

Lesson: Don’t be a Schwarz. Cut your workbench tenons short.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

New Stickers Available my Fancy Lads (and Lasses)

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 1:03pm


Perchance would you care to procure a new sticker set for your divan, boudoir or your dearest fainting couch? (Translation: Want some stickers for your pie hole?) We have a new set of three stickers available now from my daughter Maddy the sticker princess (not be confused with Katy the wax princess).

This set features a 3”-diameter sticker from the Fancy Lad Academy of Woodworking & Charcuterie. Click here if that doesn’t mean anything to you. The second sticker is 4” wide and is an original piece of art from Suzanne Ellison – a crow made from tools from A.J. Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier.” The third sticker is the gorgeous cover from “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Roy Underhill.

These are quality 100 percent vinyl stickers. They will survive the outdoors – heck you could put one on your car. Want a set? You can order them from Maddy’s etsy store here. They are $6 delivered ($10 for international orders).

Or, for customers in the United States, you can send a $5 bill and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to by daughter Maddy at:

Stick it to the Man
P.O. Box 3284
Columbus, OH 43210

As always, this is not a money-making venture for me or Lost Art Press. All profits help Maddy escape her undergraduate education with both kidneys.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools