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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog
Here in the Midwest, we seem to have a lot more Buckeyes who are people (it’s the nickname for Ohioans) than actual buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra, sometimes called the horse chestnut). In fact, I’ve lived in the range of the Ohio Buckeye tree for most of my adult life and have never seen it for sale. It’s not a popular tree for many reasons. Its leaves and nuts are poisonous […]
The post My First Experience with Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
All the sharpening systems out there work, but I have a favorite: Shapton Pro Series stones in #1,000, #5,000 and #8,000 grits. Shapton Pros cut fast, stay pretty flat and don’t have to be soaked beforehand. As I sharpen three to five times a day, those are important qualities. Recently there has been turmoil with the supply of Shapton stones to the United States. In the end, the U.S. distributor […]
I resist making jigs like I resist going to the dentist. So when I do break down and build a jig, it’s going to be something with a dial indicator and lasers. No, that’s a lie. It’s going to be something dirt simple but solves my difficulties completely. I build a lot of chairs with spindles that run between the seat and the armbow. The best way to drill the […]
When dealing with round tenons, you have an important choice about their shape. Should they be tapered (like a cylindrical cone)? Or straight (like a dowel)? The engineering answer seems obvious: use a tapered tenon. This form of joint gets tighter the more you use it, like a Morse taper on a lathe or a drill press’s chuck. But the historical answer is more complicated than that. When you look […]
I’m in the final stages of setting up a new workshop in Covington., Ky. It’s my seventh (!!) workshop. I could probably write a book on the process, but instead I think I’ll sum it all up here. During the last 20 years I’ve visited and written about some of the most impressive and modest shops all over the world. From a home shop with a remote-control crane (that shop […]
One of my long-time obsessions has been with chairmaker Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a traditional Eastern Kentucky chairmaker who moved to Cincinnati later in life and turned to making mind-bending chairs. Trained by his family in green chairmaking, Cornett made hundreds of chairs and other pieces of furniture during a time in the 20th century when the world was turning to manufactured goods. After serving in World War II, Cornett moved […]
The post A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
I use a lot of arched shapes in my work. They are a pleasing geometrical construction that can be used in doors, on the ends of bookshelves or on the bases of chests (I particularly like them on the ends of a six-board chest). For the most part, I use three types of arches. And to be honest, that was because I didn’t know the geometry for other forms. Recently […]
I’m not easily riled. But if you want to get me worked up, then make a casual comment on a piece of woodworking that you’ve never built or dealt with. Case-in-point: I’ve been using a metal planing stop (as shown above) for more than 12 years. It is the foundation of everything I do at the bench. Yet, if I ever show its teeth in an article or on the […]
Every year with this gift guide, I recommend one tool that is just a little more expensive than the others but is definitely worth the money. This year it’s the Lee Valley Cast Masons & Engravers’ Square. This is a new item in Lee Valley’s catalog, and the minute I saw it, I ordered one. This well-made tool excels at scribing lines that are parallel to the edge of a […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 11: Masons’ & Engravers’ Square appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
If were being honest, woodworking would be a lot more difficult in the winter months without O’Keefe’s Working Hands. I have a container of this at my workbench and by my computer. It is the only thing that keeps my fingers moving smoothly over my tools and the keyboard. I know there are a lot of other hand-care products out there. I’ve tried many of them. But I keep coming […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 10: O’Keefe’s Working Hands appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Building furniture without a dedicated workshop or even a workbench has always been a challenge. While there are lots of ways to get around the problem, one of my favorite is what is called the “bureau-shop.” This is where you transform an old chest of drawers into a complete hand-tool shop for light work. The top of the bureau is used as the benchtop (more on that in a minute). […]
I love wooden tool handles. Their only downside is they break and need to be repaired or replaced. If you prefer to repair your tool handles, the inexpensive Clamptite tool is your best friend. The Clamptite is a bit difficult to explain to people who haven’t used it. Basically, it is a device that can pull a wire tight and then cleverly knot it around an object, such as a […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 8: Clamptite Tool appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
If you build traditional drawers without metal slides, then “drawer tape” is something you should probably become acquainted with. Sometimes sold under the brand Nylo-Tape, this stuff is great for fixing drawers or any other sliding assembly that has become worn from use. My tool chest, for example, has three sliding tills that get moved a dozen times a day. After five years of this activity, the sides of the […]
There are a few things I keep at arm’s reach in the shop: an oily rag, some paraffin and a small sewing can oiler. Shown in the photo above are the four that I could gather in just a few minutes. I have at least four more around the shop. These incredibly cheap oilers keep my tools in good condition. I oil the moving parts of my handplanes. The adjustment […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 7: Sewing Machine Oilcans appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Drawing furniture-scale curves – up to 48” or so – is a challenge to do by yourself. And many times when you use a springy stick and nails, you are so focused on holding things in place that you fail to see if the curve is fair or not. Years ago I bought the Lee Valley symmetrical drawing bow and designing with curves became a heck of a lot easier. […]
I’m a bit ashamed of how long it took me to buy an inexpensive block of rosin and put it in my tool chest. Rosin, also called calophony, is derived from pine sap and increases friction on anything you rub it upon. That means that your slippery bench dogs or planing stop will suddenly stand at attention and stay that way. Rosin makes things stick. It comes in a variety […]
The wire nails at the home center stink for making furniture. Don’t even think of them as nails. They are more like greased straws than they are fasteners. Once you try Rivierre forged nails, I think you’ll develop a deep respect for the nail that has Roman DNA. Nails built this country. At one point in the 19th century, the sale of nails was a significant amount of the country’s […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 4: Rivierre Nails appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Hand-tool woodworkers love mutton tallow as a lubricant for saws, auger bits and the soles of our handplanes. A smidge of the stuff will make your tool slide easier – and your shop will smell like lambchops. But because of animal-rights concerns, mutton tallow is shunned by some woodworkers. (They already shun paraffin because it is made by Big Oil.) In 2016, a start-up corporation tried to make mutton tallow […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 3: No-Kill ‘Mutton’ Tallow appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
You might think I’m kidding. I am absolutely not. This year, a tape dispenser for my blue tape is the nicest thing I’ve added to my shop. Like many woodworkers, I use blue painter’s tape for many tasks, from taping down small repairs to marking out joinery to shimming things square. For years I simply pulled it off the roll. You know the drill: Find the end of the tape, […]
The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 2: Tape Dispenser appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Every year, I write up a gift guide that discusses the small items that have made a big difference in my shop. These are items that are ideal for gifts – it’s difficult to ask your toddlers for an Altendorf table saw for Christmas. I hope that these items are useful to you. If you have any complaints about this gift guide, please submit it here. The first item is […]