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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog

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Woodworking advice, woodworking plans, woodworking projects and woodworking blogs
Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy

11 hours 53 min ago

It’s difficult to argue against perfection in woodworking. That’s because the counter argument is something like: “You’re a hack and can’t get it right, and so you say that your imperfections are intentional.” Or put another way, you can’t be too rich, too thin or have joinery that is too perfect. Here’s how I think about perfection: We now have the technology to abolish time zones. Each person’s phone could […]

The post Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Case Against Tail Vises

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 4:57am

If workbenches were like automobiles, then I’d consider the tail vise to be like the heated seats in a car. They’re an option, of course, but they are by no means standard equipment, like tires. Out of economic necessity, my first three workbenches didn’t have tail vises, and so I was thrilled when I was assigned to review a full-size European workbench with all the bells and whistles, including a […]

The post The Case Against Tail Vises appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 1:46pm

I don’t care for gizmos, jigs and silly accessories. So even though I spend a fair amount of time on the lathe, I resisted purchasing the Galbert Caliper for many years. In its place, I used go/no-go gauges, box wrenches and traditional turning calipers (which are the worst). But while at Handworks this year, I broke down and gave Peter $60 for a Galbert Caliper. Today I put it to […]

The post The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 4:33am

Sitting at your workbench does not make you lazy. Many times it makes you smart. Chopping out the waste between dovetails requires endurance and patience – especially when building a large piece of casework with drawers. If you sit while chopping, you conserve energy and your eyes are closer to your chisel, improving accuracy. The same goes for mortising where exactitude is important. During the last few weeks I’ve been […]

The post Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 4:59pm

On the way back from Handworks, editor Megan Fitzpatrick asked me a question I get a lot: “Does it irk you when people build your furniture designs and fail to credit you when they post them on social media?” Answer: Not at all. For me, the reward isn’t that someone praises my design. The reward is that they were inspired enough to pick up the tools and build something. Building […]

The post Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Make 90° Your Best Friend

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 6:28am

One of the great things about handwork is that 90° is not the most critical angle. While absolute 90° is a holy setting on machinery, 87° or 93° is just as easy to cut with a handsaw, plane or chisel. And so sometimes hand-tool users (myself included) denigrate absolute 90° as something reserved for beginners, Arts & Crafts enthusiasts and machinists. After years of working by both hand and machine, […]

The post How to Make 90° Your Best Friend appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 4:26pm

Popular Woodworking Books has just reprinted the classic text “The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making” by David Denning (1891) in a beautiful edition at a great price. If you are at all interested in historical woodworking methods, you should stop reading this blog entry and buy the book. It’s only $36 (with free domestic shipping). That’s a lot less money than original copies fetch, and this reprint is actually nicer […]

The post Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Fix a Split Seat

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 1:13pm

One of the most exciting (and frightening) aspects of building a Windsor-style chair is the ever-present possibility that you will split the seat when you drive the legs home. I always tell students: Keep hitting the leg’s tenon into its mortise until the very next strike will split the seat. Then stop. This is not always possible. Today, I split a seat twice. Both splits occurred in mortises for the […]

The post How to Fix a Split Seat appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

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 […]

The post Friendly Handworks Advice appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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, […]

The post Big Panels? Don’t Tarry appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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 […]

The post Another Benefit of a Curved Plane Iron appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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 […]

The post Don’t Close Your Eyes to the Square appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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

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