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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 27 min 29 sec ago

Megan has Left the Magazine

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:06pm

One of my favorite bas-a#% people.

You might have heard: Megan Fitzpatrick is no longer the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

While readers might be wringing their hands or wondering how the magazine will fare without her (hint: it will be just fine), I am personally and selfishly pleased at the news.

Megan was, hands down, the best employee I ever had (followed closely behind by Kara Gebhart). As my managing editor, Megan worked her butt off. She was both passionate and professional. Intensely curious about the craft. Willing to do whatever it took to get the magazine to the printer while refusing to sacrifice quality.

And now, with her days free, she can work for Lost Art Press even more – both editing and writing. As many of you know, nearly every book at Lost Art Press has benefitted from Megan’s careful eye and deadly red pen. And, if I get my way, she’ll allow us to publish a book of hers that’s been percolating for many years.

The community of woodworking editors is small – maybe 30 or 40 people at most. And when someone leaves a publication, one of two things happen. Most editors disappear. They return to their lives as commercial woodworkers or move on to edit a magazine about drones or hospital hand sanitizers. A few (and I can name them on one hand) refuse to leave the world of woodworking and carve out their own place. On their own terms. And they improve the craft (and their own lives).

The smart money says that Megan will do the latter.

So please welcome Megan to the ranks of the Woodworking Editorial Hobo Society (of which I am lifetime member). There’s a warm chair and a cold beverage waiting for you at our next meeting.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:05pm


I call this type of workbench builder the “Frank Sinatra” because they always do it “My Way.” In other words, a Frank Sinatra workbench is entirely disconnected from tradition and – at times – human reason.

Is this bad? Shouldn’t workbenches be a “I’m OK and You’re OK” kinda thing? If it works for you it’s right, right?

While I don’t seek to poo on anyone’s parade, there are certain guidelines for building things that are related to the human form and the work. If someone came to you and said: I’ve just rethought the idea of the chair – I’ve made the seat 24” deep so there’s more room to relax! Isn’t that great? More, more, more!

Me: Doesn’t that cut off the circulation of blood to the legs?

Designer: Hey, it works for me.

The following descriptions of my encounters with the Frank Sinatras are not an effort to quash innovation in workbench design. Instead, this is a look at what happens if you build a bench without knowing how benches are used.

How it Begins
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever met a Frank Sinatra in person. Instead, they are the people who read my blog entries and then send me photos of their workbenches with a note that says something like:

“Saw your Rubio bench. Thought I’d show you what a REAL bench looks like. I designed this one myself – an ORIGINAL design. Want to do a story on my bench? It’s awesome.”

The first Frank Sinatra I encountered had made a U-shaped bench that was 12’ wide and 16’ long (yes, 12 feet x 16 feet). It was comprised entirely of kitchen cabinets that were bolted together and then covered in 4×8 sheets of plywood. Imagine a giant “U” covered in plywood. And there were vises every 3’ or so.

Me: Do you run a school? Is this for your employees? Or are you Catholic like my wife and have a lot of kids?

Frank Sinatra: Nope. It’s just me. But it’s the best damn bench I’ve ever seen. Better than your Robo bench for sure.


Your Bench is for Pansies
Like many bench builders of the last 2,000 years, I like a bench to have some mass. You can work with a lightweight bench – we’ve all had to do it – but mass makes things easier.

Some people, however, take mass to a ridiculous level. One day I received an email from Frank Sinatra with photos of a bench “that makes your benches look like church picnic tables.”

I opened the attached photos. It was a French-style bench that was made entirely out of 2x12s. The top was all 2x12s that were face-glued (the top was 11” thick). The legs? 2x12s that finished out at 11” x 11”. (Elephants would be jealous.) The stretchers? 2x12s.

In all honesty, it looked like a cartoon sketch of a bench. But I wanted to be diplomatic. After reading the stats provided by the Frank Sinatra (it weighs 575 lbs.!), I asked a simple question.

Me: Bench looks beefy. How do the holdfasts work?

Frank Sinatra: Don’t know. Haven’t used the bench yet. Just finished it last weekend.


Suckier Workholding
It’s a simple note via email: You don’t need vises. No one needs vises. Take a look!

The bench in the photos is a 4x4x8 box made of plywood. Every foot or so is a vacuum port. They are on the benchtop. On the end of the box. On the front face. The bench is powered by two large compressors, which, through a venturi nozzle, provide the vacuum power.

Now there is no need for vises. Place your work on the vacuum port and it is immobilized. Cutting dovetails? No problem! The work is held immediately upright, ready for sawing? Planing? Put it on the benchtop and the vacuum ports hold it fast. No planing stops. No tail vises. No nothing.

I ask a question: How does it hold rough stock? Stuff that is fresh off the sawmill?

To this day, I still haven’t heard a reply.

Torsion or Tension?
Many times the Frank Sinatras come at me with their torsion box designs – “The T-Box Rules!”

So instead of a simple slab of wood, the T-box designer wants to make a benchtop from thin skins of plywood that cover a baffle system of thin components. This is a great way to make a lightweight tabletop that has a lot of visual presence. But a workbench top?

Me: How will you get holdfasts to hold in a torsion box?

Frank Sinatra: Those areas will be solid wood, surrounded by air.

Me. What about the dog holes?

Frank Sinatra: Same answer. Solid wood in the areas for the dogs.

Me: Don’t you want some mass? This benchtop weighs only 17 lbs.

Frank Sinatra: I’m going to fill all the cavities between the baffles with sand.

It’s Not a Bench. It’s the World
A common Frank Sinatra affliction is to add endless functionality to the bench. A table saw is integrated into the benchtop. A planer is in the base. There is tool storage galore. A fridge. A router table. And Bluetooth.

But does it work? Outside of your mind? Outside of a piece of paper?

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

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 6: The Undecider

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Saturday: A Book-release Party & an Open Storefront

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:43am


This Saturday, Dec. 9, will be the last day the Lost Art Press storefront will be open for 2017 (our next open day will be Jan. 13, 2018). So if you need holiday gifts or something with a personal signature, this is the best and last day to get them.

That same evening, Dec. 9, we’re throwing a book release party for Mary May, author of “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” and George Walker, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools.” Both authors will give brief presentations, and then they’ll be happy to answer your questions and sign books. Lost Art Press will supply drinks and light snacks. The free event is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and is just about filled up. We still have a few places left – you can register here.

If you haven’t been to the storefront in a while, there is a lot of progress to see. The Horse Garage is nearing completion, and we’re setting up the Covington Mechanical Library in the back room for reading and research.

We’ll also have lots of blemished books and tools for sale at 50 percent of retail (cash only). We also have the “Big Bag of Free T-shirts” for you to dive into. Recently I culled my collection of woodworking T-shirts (from all over the world). Come and get as many as you like to wear or to cut them up for rags.

As always, we are happy to answer any of your woodworking questions during these events. Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney (from Popular Woodworking Magazine) will also be there to help out. Here’s a map to the storefront:

Hope to see you there.

— Christopher Schwarz

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

The Year of the Covington Mechanical Library

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 4:17pm


This calendar year has been all about gutting, rebuilding and setting up the Horse Garage, which will store wood and a few machines that I use for processing stock. For 2018, the major project will be setting up a mechanical library in the area formerly known as the storeroom.

Today, Brendan Gaffney and I took the first step on this project by moving all of the book inventory, furniture parts and shelving to the basement below the shop.

I’ve been waiting months for the humidity level in the basement to reach a tolerable level for books and furniture parts. Earlier this year, we dug out the basement floor about 18”, installed French drains and a sump pump and concreted the place. At the time, the humidity levels down there matched the outdoors (or a little higher).

About two weeks ago, the humidity level in the basement began to match the humidity in my shop upstairs.

Tomorrow, I’ll start moving the bulk of my woodworking book collection to our library area. When I run out of shelf space, my plan is to build an entire floor-to-ceiling bank of bookshelves on the blank north wall of the building.

I hope that task will be easier than gutting a building and rebuilding the Horse Garage. But I’ve been wrong before.

The goal of the mechanical library is amorphous for now. There are plenty of excellent mechanical libraries out there (Winterthur and American College of the Building Arts are two wonderful ones that I have visited). But the mechanical societies of the 18th and 19th centuries had other functions that were social and educational. So I’m letting things fall into shape as the community of Covington and our storefront get on their feet.

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

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

Workbench Personality No. 4: The Best of Everything

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 7:50pm


The Best of Everything calls to ask if he can hire me to consult on his workbench build. And, if we get along personally, he would like to fly me to his shop so we can build the bench together.

Me: I have young children and a day job with little vacation. I can’t really do that, but I’ll be happy to help you (for free) like I do all our readers via email.

The Best of Everything decides to fly to Cincinnati, meet me for lunch, look over my workbenches and pick my brain about his design ideas.

Question No. 1, of course, is wood selection. His first choice: tiger maple from Irion Lumber Co. He shows me some photos from the website. I tell him it’s beautiful stuff, but that he might get a little nauseated staring at it all day. And it’s a bench. It’s going to get beat up and dirty. I recommend plain rock maple.

His second choice: purpleheart. My response: It’s dark and difficult to work – it’ll be hell on your tools. Plus, a light-colored workbench (such as rock maple) is much easier to work at in my experience. Setting your tools against the light background of a benchtop is much easier than against a dark wood.

Choice No. 3: Ipe.

Me: Really? Ipe? That’s not a wood. That a metal that once fondled some wood grain. And it’s dark. And it’s a pain in the butt to work – like purpleheart, but worse.

His final choice: Cuban mahogany – an old stash he’s located at a lumberyard. It’s the least objectionable of his other choices, so I say: OK, kinda?

Next up are the vises. He wants a vise for every corner of the bench: A Benchcrafted Glide on one corner, a Lie-Nielsen tail vise on one end, an Emmert patternmaker’s vise on one back corner and a Benchcrafted end vise on the final corner.

Me: May I ask why?

The Best of Everything: I can’t make up my mind about which vises are better, so I decided to get them all. I do have one question, however: Is there any brand that’s better than Benchcrafted that I should be considering instead? Something from Germany or Japan perhaps?

Me: No, there’s nothing better in my experience.


The Best of Everything: I also want six rows of dog holes on 3” centers all along the length of the benchtop.

Me: May I ask why?

The Best of Everything: I’ll be able to hold anything then, no matter its size or shape.

Me: No one needs that many dog holes.

The Best of Everything: I think it will also reduce wood movement in the bench because all areas of the bench will be exposed to the atmosphere.

Me: Aren’t you worried that dust, tools, screws and the like will fall into these holes?

The Best of Everything: Not at all. Every hole will have its own dog.

The discussion turns to the cabinet he’s going to build below the bench. (“I don’t recommend those,” I say.) The drawers will have Blumotion slides, and all the tools will be French-fitted with custom-cut foam. Do I have any recommendations on foam?

“Kaizen Foam,” he says, “is so coarse.”

I look up Kaizen Foam on my phone to see what the hell it is. He starts talking about getting his Benchcrafted vises chrome-plated. Oh look, I find a cat video on my phone….

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

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra

Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Woodwright’s School Classes for 2018!

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 7:06am


The 2018 class schedule is now live at The Woodwright’s School website. Roy Underhill has been diligently working on the new calendar of classes for the upcoming year and it is finally complete. Most of the regular classes are back with many new classes added as well. You can check it out here.

As most of you know, If there is a class you are interested in get signed up ASAP, they fill up quickly.


— Will Myers


Filed under: Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

And the Other Stickers

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 6:11am


In addition to the “Fancy Lad Academy of Woodworking & Charcuterie” sticker, the next set of stickers will feature the “Mine!” image (above) by Suzanne Ellison. Suzanne created this image of a crow made of tools using bits from A.J. Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier.” The original hangs in my office.

The third sticker will be the cover of Roy Underhill’s book “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Jode Thompson.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

New Stickers are Coming

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 6:30pm

Fancy Lad Sticker

My daughter Maddy is sold out of stickers. But three new designs are being printed now. My favorite is the one shown above. If that sicker doesn’t make a bit of sense to you, read this blog entry at my other blog.

Maddy will start selling the stickers once they arrive.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 3: The Cheapskate

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:55pm


Quick editor’s note: These entries on the six kinds of workbench builders are all 100 percent true. I have removed the names of the people involved (except for Todd). Note that I have only love for these nutjobs.

My encounters with The Cheapskate could fill a book on workbenches. This is but one short story.

I receive a fax. On the paper is the message: “Could you call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX please? I have an important question about workbenches.”

Intrigued, I call. My first question: Hey, uh, why the fax?

The Cheapskate: “We’re not allowed to make long-distance calls here at my place of employment. But they didn’t say anything about making long-distance faxes.”

A cold stone grows in my stomach.

The Cheapskate gets down to business: “I want to build a Roubo workbench, but I’m tight on fundage. We’ve got these pallets where I work, and I’m wondering if those will work? I don’t know what the species is – something weird – and the stock is thin and filled with nails and spiral screw things.”

I am certified in counseling The Pallet People. So I know what to do.

Question: What sort of sizes can you get from the pallets?

The Cheapskate: “About 1/2” thick, 4” wide and 48” long.”

Me: So for an 8’-long bench, you will need almost 100 of those pieces just for the benchtop. You will need to de-nail them, flatten them and glue them together in stages that are staggered – probably about 18 to 20 stages – if I remember right from my Pallet People Intervention Manual.

The Cheapskate: “Brilliant! Thanks so much! I’ll do it!”

A few weeks pass; another fax arrives.

The Cheapskate: “I’m working on the benchtop, and I have a technical question for you. How little glue do I need to use to stick these pieces together? I mean, I’m trying to recover all the squeeze-out, but I’ve laminated seven layers so far and used up a 16 oz. bottle of glue. That’s crazy.

“Can I get away with just gluing a little bit at the top and bottom of each board – leaving the middle dry?”

Me: I explain that glue is the cheapest part of any project. (“Not this one!” he interjects. “So far I’ve spent money only on glue!”) Deep breath. OK, I say, if you use this strategy, once you flatten the benchtop a few times the top will delaminate.

There is silence on the phone line. (I’ve won!)

Then he answers: “What if I put a paste of rice and water in the middle instead of glue? I’ve heard that rice glue was used in Japanese cultures. We have a lot of rice.”

I unplug the office fax machine.


The Cheapskate sends me an email: “I need to make a face vise and a tail vise, but all I have on hand is all-thread rod from a neighbor’s fencing job – 32 tpi. Can you help?”

I am seriously considering counseling for myself when a follow-up email arrives. It continues the discussion of the 32 tpi vises.

The Cheapskate: “I’m thinking a quick-release mechanism is the way to go – 32 tpi is really slow. But it’s super precise! So here’s the thing.  I have a friend with a SawStop. He set the thing off when ripping my benchtop for me (some of the glue wasn’t dry). The SawStop cartridge has these strong blue springs in it. He was going to THROW THEM AWAY! That got me thinking: I could use those as a quick-release trigger for my vise – holding a bit of metal against the all-thread.

“Have you ever seen plans for something like this?”

Weeks pass, and I hope The Cheapskate has taken up Animal Husbandry, cheaping out on animal condoms or something. But then I get a phone call.

The Cheapskate: “I see you’re teaching a workbench class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.”

Me: Yup.

The Cheapskate: “I was wondering: Could get a student to take videos of your lectures and send them to me? Not the building part. Just the part where you explain how to make the thing. I don’t really have the fundage to take a class.”

Me: I’m afraid that’s not really fair to the students or the owner of the school. Sorry.

The Cheapskate: “Hey, I totally understand. How about I just come to the class and watch? Is that OK? I won’t build anything. I’ll just be there, like a fly on the wall to listen? That OK?”

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

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 4: The Best of Everything

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 2: The Traditionalist

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:48am


The Traditionalist sends me an email. He wants to find a source for his slab workbench top. It needs to be 6” thick, 20” wide and 9’ long. One piece of oak. And rived. Definitely rived. Rived is best. He’s talked to a tree service in his town about riving a tree for him, but they just shook their chainsaws at him.

Hmm, I reply. Have you tried visiting RivedBigSlabs.com? I apologize for my joke. OK, let’s try again: If you want a riven benchtop, you will have to do the work yourself.

He’s considered that, he writes. The problem is that the wedges they sell at his hardware store are either plastic or cast iron. Surely there is an online source for wrought-iron wedges. Wrought iron has grain, like a tree, and is much more suited to cleaving without deforming or breaking.

Also, could I suggest a class for making traditional forged axes in the American pattern? Nothing too late in the game – definitely an axe pattern before 1860. Best before 1830, when the great design malaise of Classicism crept into the work of the craftsman.

The Traditionalist send me a message on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook. A week later he sends me another email. He’d like to buy a large frame saw for ripping his bench legs, but he can’t find anything suitable. Yes, yes, he knows there are people who sell kits for building a saw. He owns those already. But the blade isn’t right. The blade’s teeth have fleam.

Fleam, he explains, doesn’t show up in the historical record until sometime in the mid-19th century, well after the Golden Age of furniture making. If their saws didn’t have fleam, then surely they knew something we didn’t. Fleam must be an unnecessary modern contrivance.

My short reply: Dude, you definitely want fleam, especially in wettish hardwoods.

A week later, The Traditionalist replies: he’s removed the fleam and is having problems. The saw sticks. Do I think they filed sloped gullets between the teeth back then? Perhaps these larger gullets will carry away the waste? Also, he’d like to make some mutton tallow to lubricate the blade but doesn’t know what cut of lamb he should ask for at the butcher to make the tallow. Should it have a lot of fat? Cartilage? Do I have any cites to share on this matter?


The Traditionalist asks me a question during one of his SnapChat stories. One of my teenage daughters sees it and shows it to me on her phone. I decide to wait for his email.

The Traditionalist takes a workbench-building class. On the first day I explain how we’re going to build all the workbench components as a group – one team will work on tops, a second on leg joints, a third on the undercarriage and vises.

During a coffee break on the first morning, The Traditionalist asks if there’s any way he could build his bench during the class without power tools. He explains: Using these machines tends to rob the work of its soul. Everything is too exact. Too perfect. It has lost all its humanity. He wants to stand at a workbench that reflects his own values on craft. It should be beautifully imperfect.

I think about his request. OK, I say. You can build your bench by hand in the afternoons and evenings, and I’ll help you. But in the morning I need you to do your part on the machines so the class doesn’t fall behind. He gladly agrees. I assign him to the Altendorf sliding table saw to crosscut the components to length.

At lunch that day, The Traditionalist sits next to me.

How much, he asks, is an Altendorf?

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


Next up: Workbench Personality No. 3: The Cheapskate

Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

The 6 Different Workbench Builders

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 7:07pm


I’ve built more workbenches than any other woodworking project. I’ve taught more workbench classes than any other type of class. And I’ve written more words about workbenches than I care to remember.

During the last two decades, I’ve encountered six distinct personalities of workbench builders. These are the six little angels (or devils) that sit on my shoulders as I peck away at my laptop on my latest effort: “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding.”

I’d like to introduce you to them. I am quite fond of all six. But all six drive me a bit bonkers at times. Let’s start with “The Engineer.”

Workbench Personality No. 1: The Engineer
It begins with a discussion of the wood selection for the top. The engineer looks over the stock and begins measuring the angles of the annular rings on the end grain.

“This top,” he says, “will never remain flat.”

He’s done the calculations for how much each stick will move tangentially and radially. The conclusion: These pieces of wood cannot be joined into a benchtop that will move homogeneously throughout the yearly humidity changes. He wants all his sticks to be perfectly quartersawn. Or, at the least, all the annular rings should be at nearly the same angler to the true faces of each board.

I attempt to explain how flat a top needs to be for typical planing operations (not very flat), and that it has to be reasonably flat in only certain areas of the benchtop (near the front 12” of the benchtop). I take away his feeler gauges when he isn’t looking.

When cutting the joinery for the base, I implore (beg, really) for all the students to make their tenons fit loosely. The tenons should fall into the mortises – like throwing a hotdog down a hallway. This makes the bench much easier to assemble and faster to build. Drawboring will lock the joints together instead of glue.

The engineer asks: Won’t a loose fit make the joints weaker? And therefore the overall bench?

Me: Not in any meaningful way.

Engineer: Prove it.

He makes his tenons so they are .002” smaller than the mortise opening. (“That is loose” he protests.) When he’s in the bathroom I take a wide chisel and pare slightly the walls of his mortises. When glue-up time comes, he’s amazed that the bench goes together so easily.

Me: The glue is acting like a lubricant.


We’re installing the vises. The engineer isn’t satisfied with the bushings and bearings used on the guide bars. He recommends we overnight some alternative raw materials from MSC that we could mill up the next evening. Also, he has drawn up some sketches of shielding we could construct that would prevent dust from ever landing on the screw mechanism. Perhaps they could run in a sealed oil bath.

After the class adjourns for the day I drive to my hotel to drink a beer and sleep – thrilled that a throng of engineers built my vehicle and made it safe. But I’m also hoping against hope that that The Engineer will discover LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy that evening and is going to show up to class the next day in a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops.

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

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 2: The Traditionalist

Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Piece by Piece Until Peace

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 1:32pm


I’ve found that the way I design furniture and the way I restore buildings are unusually similar.

When I design a chair, cabinet or workbench, it’s a subtractive process. I usually begin with something quite complicated and then remove bits and pieces until the thing looks right. I’m not looking for a design that excites me (the building part is exciting enough). Instead I’m looking for a quietness or peace in the design. (For more on this process, see the chapter titled “Seeing Red” in “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”)

With old buildings, the process is much the same. Typically they are festooned with the detritus of the 20th century, including oodles of wiring, layers of silly wallboard, paneling, tile and buckets of fossilized “Great Stuff” foam.

The first step is always to subtract. A lot. And keep going until the builder’s original intent begins to emerge.

That’s where I am with the Horse Garage. We finally pulled down a lot of ridiculous cripple studs that served only to hold up the butt-ugly ceiling tile. Then came down the obsolete pipes for the wiring. This afternoon a very early 20th-century garage began to take shape. I could see the original structure. And though it is astonishingly straightforward and plain, it has finally brought me some peace.

— Christopher Schwarz

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

New Book, New Author: Richard Jones

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 7:52am


Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a generous and detailed book about trees and their structure, and how this affects the work of furniture makers. As you’ll learn from this post, Richard is an incredibly skilled designer, woodworker, teacher and writer. Part of his genius is in the ability to take a technical matter and present it in a way that makes it easy to pick up his book for casual reading. At the same time, the charts and information within this tome on wood technology will quickly become invaluable to the work you do in your shop, and will be a resource you turn to again and again. The book is written, and Meghan Bates is now working on the page design. The book is scheduled to be released in early 2018.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

Hello. My name is Richard Jones, and I’m introducing myself to you at the invitation of the good people at Lost Art Press. The reason for this invitation is because I am a new author to them and they are transforming my manuscript on timber technology into a book which, at this stage, is still seeking a title that is somewhat different from my working title.

So, who am I to be writing about trees and wood?

I’m not a wood scientist. But I am a trained furniture designer/maker with British City & Guilds qualifications in the subject. I trained in the 1970s, working at the bench making craft furniture and joinery, gaining my qualifications in the early 1980s. Since those first steps I have worked continuously in and around the trade and profession. The early years consisted of gaining experience in a variety of workshops, primarily for smaller businesses, making furniture, repairing and restoring old furniture and antiques, and working as a joiner with jobs that included securing pay stations, and making panelling and architectural doors.

During the 1980s and early 1990s I worked as a technician in the Furniture Department of Edinburgh College of Art. It was the first time I was really required to take on a supervisory and management role within a workshop environment, and my work included overseeing other users, machinery maintenance, sourcing spares and materials, budgeting and other such tasks.

In 1993 I moved to Houston, Texas, with my American wife and became the temporary workshop manager for the Children’s Museum of Houston during the building of “The Magic School Bus: Insider the Earth” travelling exhibition. After this contract ended I started my own business, Richard Jones Furniture. I closed this business in 2003 to take up the offer to teach the Furniture: Design and Make undergraduate course at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, one of UK’s premier centres of craft furniture learning.


In 2005 I moved to Leeds, Yorkshire, to become Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Furniture Making programme, a position I held for nine years until its closure in 2014. Throughout all these years in business and in my teaching roles I continued designing and making furniture for sale through exhibitions, galleries and direct sales to clients. Nowadays I continue to work in a number of part-time roles in furniture making and joinery on a freelance basis.

My next blog post? Why I wrote a book on timber technology.

– Richard Jones

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

More Soft Wax Available Now

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 7:05pm


Katy has been hard at work making soft wax, and she now has 53 more tins to ship out immediately. Tins are $12 each and are available here through her etsy.com store.

This is likely the last batch she will be able to manage before the end of the year, though she is a determined young lady. She’s pushing hard to sell wax so that she can go on a school-sponsored trip to Boston in 2018. We’ve agreed to pick up half the cost, but she is responsible for the rest of the trip’s expenses.

And (God help me) she will almost certainly become a fully licensed driver this Friday and need to purchase gasoline and “Little Tree” air fresheners for her vehicle.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Vintage ‘Cheesecake’ Postcards for Your Shop

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 7:15am


Years ago I visited a well-know tool collector and was completely charmed by a series of 1910 postcards that adorned his stairwell. Each postcard featured a modestly dressed woman posing with a tool. The surface of each postcard featured some low-level pun: “Its perfectly plane that I love you.” (Yes, they made a grammatical error there.)

At the bottom of each postcard was written: Copyright 1910 by F. Bluh.

The tool collector had amassed the postcards during many years of searching (before eBay existed). I thought these postcards would make a nice shop decoration and made a note to search some out.

Then life got in the way. John and I had started Lost Art Press, then I quit my job and forgot about the postcards. Earlier this year, Suzanne Ellison stumbled on one of them, she sent it to me and it reignited my desire to collect them.

I now have 13 of them (there are more, but 13 is enough for me). I’m going to frame them this week and decided that you might like to have them for your shop as well. So I scanned each at 300 dpi, did some mild repair and sharpening and have bundled them in the following .zip file that you can download.


These images are entirely in the public domain. Feel free to print them on photo paper and hang them in your shop or stairwell.

Of the postcards, I have two favorites. The oil can postcard and the handscrew postcard. The oil can postcard says: “If sympathy can’t soothe you, perhaps oil can. What.” What does “what” mean? “What” the heck? The handscrew postcard is just creepy. The woman has a half-lidded “Ringu” expression on her face and the text reads: “I like to be squeezed.”

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

Filed under: Personal Favorites, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Hay is for Horses

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 4:38am

Just as the Lost Art Press Horse Garage has been nearing completion, this happened.



Hay field on a gray late-autumn day


Whenever my sister or I said “Hey” as children, at least within earshot of our local grandma (the other grandma lived far away, in New York), we were gently nudged in a more genteel direction. “Hay is for horses,” she’d say.

But European art suggests that hay and gentility have not always been at odds.

Twice this week I heard from Suzanne Ellison (a.k.a. Lost Art Press’s saucyindexer). Unbeknownst to me, The Saucy One had turned some images of the hayrake table I made for my book on English Arts & Crafts furniture (forthcoming in June 2018 from Popular Woodworking) into a framework for a collage of women using traditional hay rakes.

Hayrake collage jpg

“I thought if a woman builds a Hayrake Table than she should probably have a collage combining her table and women using a hay rake (apparently, men scythed and women raked and fluffed),” wrote Suzanne.

Judging by their attire, most of these women are peasants (as were my grandma’s forebears), but a couple look far more refined. Please tell me that Rosina (center row, right) was not really going to rake and fluff hay in high heels and a ribboned bonnet. And what about that corseted lady in the middle of the top row?

I’m grateful to Suzanne for applying her erudition in the cause of fun. And I chuckled when I read how she addressed me in the last message: “Hey Nancy.”


Suzanne has provided the following Information about the images:

Top row (from the left): Jean-Francois Millet, a watercolor from a mid-Victorian** friendship book, Winslow Homer.

Middle left: Peter Breugel.  Middle right: Rosina is dated 12 May 1794 by Laurie & Whittle, London (no other info), but much earlier than the mid-Vic watercolor in the top row.

Bottom row: Camille Pissarro, Maud Mullen by John Gast, after J.G. Brown, ‘Sweet Memories’ a postcard from around 1905, Leon-Augustin Lhermitte.

Center portion: butterfly from your table, a Shaker hay rake from Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, hayrake from an original table (your photo), hayrake from your table.

The frame, as you know, is constructed from your table.

**Here is a link to the mid-Victorian watercolor in the top row, it is for sale (£28.00):



Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Countdown on the Horse Garage

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 5:39pm


Thanks entirely to Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney, the machine room for my workshop is on schedule to be complete by the end of the year.

It feels incredibly good to be typing those words.

When we bought the storefront 26 months ago, I almost lost heart at the closing. Lucy and I had fought like hell to buy the property – it took six months of wrangling with real estate agents and lawyers to simply pay the asking price for the property and be done with it.

Anyway, on the day of the closing, Lucy and I went to Left Bank Coffeehouse before signing the papers, and I went completely numb. Suddenly it seemed like buying a half-derelict lesbian bar in downtown Covington wasn’t such a good idea. Perhaps the building was even worse than the inspection had revealed (it was). Perhaps we would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars more to get it livable (we did).


Despite my sudden malaise, Lucy pushed me forward through the closing. At the end, I received a Captain Morgan’s Rum necklace filled with keys to the bar. Lucy went off to work, and I went to the bar.

I unlocked the front door and walked around, convinced I had made a huge mistake. There was so much work to do, I didn’t even know where to start. So I left the bar, locked the front door and went home for two weeks, refusing to even drive by the place or think about it.

When I finally came to my senses, I decided to measure the bar’s rooms so I could create a floorplan. I walked up to the front door of the bar to unlock it.

The door was unlocked and swung open.

Suspicious, I tiptoed into the bar and looked around. No one was in the bar. Nothing had been stolen or disturbed.

Curious, I began fiddling with the lock to the front door and realized that I had left it sitting unlocked and wide open for two whole weeks.

At that moment, for some reason, I fell in love with the neighborhood and the building. Since then I have been helped by old friends and new to demolish the beer-soaked interior and create a beautiful and traditional working space.


It’s been a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. But today, as we hung the first two doors to the machine room, I felt like maybe buying the lesbian bar wasn’t such a bad idea. With good friends and the neighborly people of Covington, it was starting to feel like home.

— Christopher Schwarz

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

The 2017 Anarchist’s Gift Guide Has Begun

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 5:01am


When my wife asks me what I want for Christmas, I say the same thing every year: Please do not get me anything. Nothing. I do not want a single dang thing.

I know, however, that there are times where you can’t stop your loved ones from getting you something during the holidays. And that is what this “gift guide” is for. It is a list of small things – usually very inexpensive – that will make your shop time a little nicer.

Here is a list of manufacturers who sponsor this gift guide:




Yup. Most “gift guides” are affiliate programs in disguise. Or they are sponsored content that seeks to offload goods that haven’t sold well enough this year.

All the items in this gift guide are things I’ve bought. With my own money.

One more thing: Since we started Crucible Tool, I have stopped writing tool reviews. I know this gift guide blurs the line a bit. I’m sure I could type some rationalization for this, but instead I’ll just ask the naysayers to take up a new hobby instead.

The gift guide begins here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

About the Lump Hammer

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 3:34pm


Want to make your own or modify an existing tool? Rip off our specifications by reading this blog entry at Crucible Tool.com.

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Trailer for ‘Roubo Workbench: By Hand & Power’

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 5:01am

Above is a trailer for our video “Roubo Workbench: By Hand & Power” that Will Myers and I shot earlier this year. If you are thinking about building a French workbench using a giant slab, you might find the 4-hour-long video helpful.

The video is downloadable and has no DRM (digital rights management), so you can put it on any device you like and carry Will (and my off-color jokes that survived the editing process) with you wherever you please.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools