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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog

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Woodworking advice, woodworking plans, woodworking projects and woodworking blogs
Updated: 13 min 11 sec ago

Use a Drill to Shape a Chair Seat

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 3:30pm

Though I’ve built a lot of chairs, I don’t own an adze, which is used to roughly shape a plank seat so it has a buttocks-shaped depression. I also don’t own any of the typical power-tool solutions, such as an angle grinder outfitted with a special cutter for seats. Instead, I have a scorp, which is like a drawknife that was bent around a telephone pole. It’s much slower in […]

The post Use a Drill to Shape a Chair Seat appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Friendly Handworks Advice

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 1:13pm

If you’re headed to Handworks in Iowa this weekend, please do stop by the Lost Art Press and Crucible booths in the Festhalle to say hello. Your editor, Megan Fitzpatrick, has volunteered to give us a hand when she isn’t off exploring the amazing show. If this is your first Handworks, here are a few tips for making the most of the show. Bring cash. Credit card readers sometimes have […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Meet the ‘Jimmy Possum’ Chair

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 5:47am

I’ve long been fascinated by legends involving old chairmakers. Here in Kentucky we had Chester Cornett, an enigmatic bearded maker of the wildest ladderbacks and rockers I’ve seen. In Indiana we had a chairmaker in the southern part of the state who in the early 20th century made ladderbacks with a woven seat that look incredibly modern. In Australia, they have the “Jimmy Possum” chair. Reader Bradley van Luyt sent […]

The post Meet the ‘Jimmy Possum’ Chair appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Beer as a Furniture Stain

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 5:54am

Beer shows up in many accounts of early workshop life. Not only was it an important source of nutrition, it also served as payment for trespasses and a way to mark important days in the shop, such as when an apprentice was promoted to journeyman. Beer also shows up in workshop recipes and for diluting glue. Recently Thomas Lie-Nielsen encountered a use for beer that I hadn’t heard in the […]

The post Beer as a Furniture Stain appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Planing Away Low Spots in Panels

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 4:14am

One of the most frustrating parts of using a smooth plane is when you have a low spot on your board that simply refuses to be planed out. There are several strategies. Here are just a few: Just keep planing as usual until you are an old man or woman. Drop down to a coarser plane (such as the jointer). But this could introduce tear-out. Increase the depth of cut. […]

The post Planing Away Low Spots in Panels appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

In Praise of Knots, the Defect that is Watching You

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 7:37am

When I went to the lumberyard to buy the stock for my first project of my own design I picked through the store’s entire stack of 1x12s to find the boards with the most attractive constellation of knots. I wasn’t trying to be cheeky or make a statement (other than “I like knots”). I genuinely liked knots because they reminded me that the board was once a tree – not […]

The post In Praise of Knots, the Defect that is Watching You appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Big Panels? Don’t Tarry

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 3:03pm

Gluing up narrow boards into big panels stresses out many beginning woodworkers. Sorry to say it, but I have another stressor to put on your shoulders: Don’t tarry. Schnell. Andele. Large panels are like manicured lawns. Right after you mow and trim your yard, it looks like a golf course or a military haircut. But within minutes or hours, the blades of grass and weeds begin to move and grow, […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Another Benefit of a Curved Plane Iron

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 4:25pm

I sharpen a curve on the cutting edge of all my bench planes and block planes. The curve prevents the corners of the iron from leaving behind “plane tracks” – those ugly little steps. But there are many other benefits to using a curved iron. Here’s one more: It can make your mortise-and-tenon joinery tighter. This might sound improbable, but it’s something I achieve with every mortise-and-tenon joint in my […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Want to Feel Twice as Strong? Get Blaster

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 5:00am

I work alone, so when I need to move a 70 lb. chunk of rough lumber over my jointer, I’ve got to be tricky if I don’t want to be sore the next day. For me, the best trick has been to squirt some Blaster Dry Lube on the bed and fence after a few passes. In fact, this Teflon-based lubricant is really the only thing that makes it possible […]

The post Want to Feel Twice as Strong? Get Blaster appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Don’t Close Your Eyes to the Square

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 9:21am

When people injure themselves in the shop, their first reaction is to grab the wound and refuse to look. Sadly, this is the same attitude many woodworkers take with the squareness of their components: They refuse to look and hope things will work out. While there are lots of areas of woodworking where squareness doesn’t matter (stick chairs, for one), if you are going to build rectilinear boxes and hope […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Whipple Hook: Turn Any Board into a Bench

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:46am

When traveling, there are many times when I wish for a toothed planing stop, especially when installing stuff where I rarely even have a bench. Enter the Whipple Hook from Lee Valley Tools. This early 20th-century patented $9.50 gizmo turns any wooden surface into a functional planing stop with the addition of two screws (so don’t use this in your hotel room). This week I installed it on the corner […]

The post Whipple Hook: Turn Any Board into a Bench appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

A Voice You Can Trust – or 100

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 5:47pm

My biggest arguments while at Popular Woodworking Magazine weren’t about hand tools vs. power tools, Shaker vs. Arts & Crafts, Grizzly Industrial vs. everyone else. Instead we fought about a question you might not think about: Isn’t so-and-so woodworker full of crap? When you get experienced woodworkers around a table and throw them an article from someone new, the reaction is: This dingus doesn’t know how to cut a dado. […]

The post A Voice You Can Trust – or 100 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

3-legged Stool Design: Sixth Time is a Charm

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 12:00pm

To move forward with my design for a three-legged stool, I had to look back to my past work. Though the above stool might look a lot like the other designs I’ve shown here, it is significantly different (or really similar if you’re familiar with my past designs). Here are some of the major design changes and the history behind them. Yellow pine. I have a long history with yellow […]

The post 3-legged Stool Design: Sixth Time is a Charm appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

A What? A Dovetailed Dustpan?

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 7:57am

One of the great things about working for editor Megan Fitzpatrick is that she will laugh at your face and then (usually) go along with your crazy ideas. Case in point: the dovetailed dustpan in the June 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. When I submitted my sketches of a shop-made dustpan and asked to write an article, I strongly suspect she thought I was kidding. After all, you can […]

The post A What? A Dovetailed Dustpan? appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Insomnia – the Greatest Design Drug

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 10:48am

For the last 20 odd years I have benefited from regular bouts of insomnia. When they happen, I’ll wake about 4 a.m., roll over and my head will spin with several conflicting images, usually relating to something on my workbench from the past, present or future. For years I tried to get back to sleep when this happened. When Lucy and I had children who were young, we needed every […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Call it Done (For Now)

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 2:34pm

After the worst Thursday on record, I awoke the next morning and resolved to sort out this stool. I needed more maple, so I headed to Frank Paxton Hardwoods and found the perfect board waiting for me. Straight. Clear. Flat. Reasonably priced. So I assumed I’d get into a car accident on the way home. (No collisions.) I milled the new seat, assuming it would be case hardened and twist […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Failing Daily Since 1993

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:50pm

After the 2015 election, I did what every sane American did: I eliminated the annoying people from my social media feeds on both the left and the right who had become singularly obsessed with politics. And then I took another healthy step: I eliminated feeds from the “fake perfectionists.” Who are the “fake perfectionists?” You probably know them. They are the people who post beautiful photos of their work on […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Quick, Dirty & Effective Trammel Points

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:07am

When starting in woodworking I couldn’t afford a good set of trammel points. I had my grandfather’s set, but it didn’t lock down well. Then one day woodworker Troy Sexton showed me how he drew large arcs and I realized that I already owned an effective trammel. Troy uses a yardstick (or meter stick if you are metric). Then he bores holes at all the locations where he wants to […]

The post Quick, Dirty & Effective Trammel Points appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Drill Bits for Chairs & Staked Furniture

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:00pm

Making large-diameter mortises for chairs or staked tables requires big drill bits and a way to drive them. Usually a drill press won’t work because the workpiece is too large and the angles are too odd. So here are some bits that work – and some to avoid. To drive big bits (1-1/4” and bigger), you probably need a corded drill. I’ve tried using a brace, but that’s a tall […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

The One-stop Place for Saw Maintenance

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 3:52pm

When I was learning to sharpen and set saws in the 1990s, I was desperate for information. All I had was one modern book, a somewhat helpful video and the attempts I had made on my bargain basement saws. It was a slog. While today there is a lot more information available on saws and saw sharpening, much of it is conflicting and more complex than necessary. Sharpening a saw […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

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