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And Now With Even More Soft Wax

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 6:56pm

Funky Winkerbean the cat likes what he smells! (I think. Hard to tell with him.)

This week, Katy has been crazy busy down in the workshop making soft wax. In fact, she mixed and packaged 77 tins in three days – a new record. I asked her today what kicked her into high gear.

“I need money for food and stuff and….”

And what?

“Maybe a potter’s wheel.”

Last week, Katy’s art class took a tour of a commercial pottery. And when the potters asked if any of the students had used a wheel, Katy raised her hand (she’s taken a couple classes on using the wheel). By the end of the tour they had offered her a summer job, and Katy remembered her love of throwing pots.

So she made a bunch of wax. And now she has her eye on a wheel.

I’m not going to dissuade her. If you would like some wax, now is a good time to buy it and stock up (I’m buying a couple tins myself). It’s a really excellent soft paste with a gorgeous smell – perfect for the interior surfaces of woodwork or for restoring wooden surfaces that have become dried out by time or weather.

You can order it from her etsy store here.

— Christopher Schwarz, who might be surrendering part of his shop to a young potter.

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Periodic Reminder for 2017 Courses at The Barn

The Barn on White Run - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 1:49pm

Here is the full slate of activities.


May 23-27 Making a Ripple Molding Cutter – this is less of a workshop than a week long gathering of fellow galoots trying to design and build a machine to allow us to recreate ripple and wave moldings.  Material and supplies costs divvied up, no tuition.


June 16-18  Make a Nested Set of Brass Roubo Squares – This is a weekend of metal working, as we fabricate a full set of nested brass squares with ogee tips, as illustrated in Plate 308 of l’art du Menuisier.  The emphasis will be entirely on metal fabrication and finishing, including silver soldering with jeweler Lydia Fast, and creating a soldering station for the workbench. Tuition $375, materials cost $50.


July 24-28  Minimalist Woodworking with Vic Tesolin – This week long session with author and woodworking minimalist Vic Tesolin will begin with the fabrication, entirely by hand, of a Japanese tool box.  Who knows where we will end up?  I am looking forward to having my own work transformed.  Tuition $625, materials cost $50.


August 11-13  Historic Finishing – My own long-time favorite, we will spend three days reflecting on, and enacting, my “Six Rules For Perfect Finishing” in the historic tradition of spirit and wax coatings.  Each participant should bring a small finishing project with them, and will accompany that project with creating numerous sample boards to keep in your personal collections.  Tuition $375.


September 4-8  Build An Heirloom Workbench – I’m repeating the popular and successful week-long event from last year, wherein the participants will fashion a Roubo-style workbench from laminated southern yellow pine.  Every participant will leave at the end with a completed bench, ready to be put to work as soon as you get home and find three friends to help you move it into the shop.  Tuition and Materials $825 total.

Since some recent research revealed the attention span of Americans to be eight seconds, I’ll re-run this periodically.

If any of these interest you drop me a line here.

Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 9:29am

One of the challenges when building a chair is clamping the dang thing down so you can work on it. I’ve seen lots of solutions that use band clamps. But I dislike band clamps (perhaps I had a bad experience at band camp). So here’s what I do. Most workholding problems can be solved with handscrew clamps and holdfasts, including this one. First you squeeze the legs with the handscrew […]

The post Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Classical Guitars for Sale, 15% Off All Guitars in Stock!

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 7:48am

I am extending my 15% off sale through March 2017!

Now's your chance to own one of my handcrafted guitars!

Please contact me for details!
Categories: Luthiery

Small-diameter Blades

360 WoodWorking - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 7:42am
Small-diameter Blades

When I slice packs of shop-made inlay or work with material that’s expensive, I generally install a 7-1/4”-diameter, thin saw blade on my table saw. The smaller-diameter blades produce less waste and the material with which I’m working stays around longer. That’s a good thing.

This past week I discovered another good thing about using smaller diameter, thin blades. As I turned off my saw I noticed that the spin-down time was significantly less.

Continue reading Small-diameter Blades at 360 WoodWorking.

3 Stick Chairs and a Pig Bench

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 6:04am


It’s a good day when I find three new images of stick chairs. Researcher Suzanne Ellison sent me the September 2015 issue of Antique Collecting recently, and I devoured it this morning while juggling some technical publishing problems.

Inside the issue were three stick chairs – two likely Welsh and one labeled as Irish. All are notable for one reason or another. Let’s take a look.

The chair above was listed for sale by Suffolk House Antiques and has a burr ash seat that is 2-1/2” thick. There are several things I like about this chair. Its spindle layout and armbow are similar to the chairs I’ve been building recently, but the crest rail and back spindles are quite eye-catching. I like the way the crest rail is curved along its top edge – very graceful.

The three back spindles look delicate and fragile, though I doubt they are. I really like how the maker bent the two outside spindles outward. It’s a nice contrast with the density and verticality of the lower spindles and seat.


The second chair was featured in an article on auction results. Though it’s not specifically called out as Welsh, it looks it to me. This chair has a charming lightness to it, despite its 14 spindles. Also, take a look at the “hands” of the armbow. They end in a nice semi-circle. Finally, the ogee on the ends of the crest rail is a nice classical surprise on a folk chair. Who knows if this detail is original to this chair. But it works.


The third chair is listed as an Irish fruitwood chair from the 18th century. I’m charmed by the low seat and the overall boxiness of the thing. Also, if you look close at the seat you can see there is a hole that is plugged at the rear of the seat (it could be a knot but I think that’s unlikely). This chair might have started off as a 3- or 5-legged chair.


Finally, a fascinating pig bench from Suffolk House antiques that might be from the Middle Ages according to the magazine. This bench proves that sometimes warped wood can be your friend.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: John Brown Book, The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Feeling validated. If Christopher Schwarz can teach Chinese,...

Giant Cypress - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 3:18am

Feeling validated. If Christopher Schwarz can teach Chinese, then I can do the same for woodworking.

(Photo from the Lost Art Press blog.)

sharp fixes all.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 2:04am
I got a new molder last night in the mail. I almost missed it because it had fallen off the stoop and behind a bush. If I hadn't looked down, it would have spent the night outside. Instead of that happening I got to play with it after dinner.

the thing that needs to be sharp
I tried this out out of the box and the results sucked. After that disappointment, I put in a citric acid bath overnight. This morning before I left for work, I rinsed it off and oiled it. I'm starting to like the citric acid treatment. Evaporust leaves a film on the metal where this one doesn't. They both do a good job cleaning things up but I like the feel of the metal after the citric acid bath.

One other thing I noticed between the two that is tipping my favor in the direction of the citric is the rust blooms. Evaporust doesn't deal very well with them and they are there at the end of the bath. I left one rust bloom on this iron and the citric acid removed it. It's a hard choice to make because I started out with Evaporust and I'm sure I'll continue to use it. But there are a lot of check marks in column A for the citric acid.

it's a 1/2" astragal
I think I am set on astragals. I have a 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", and 3/4".  The 3/4" is a wee bit too large for woodshop woodworking. It would need a 6x6 leg to make it look in scale. The 3/4" one was the first one I bought so I'll keep it. Maybe I'll make a gigantic toy box for my grandson and I can use it on that.

my first attempt with the new plane last night
The far end is iffy and the near end looks like total crap.

second run
I was paying better attention to where and how I was planing but I could tell the iron was dull. My shavings were short, full of holes, and the planed profile is very rough. And this was with the grain. I tried getting a profile on all four available edges and none were good.

one stop on the plane
The rabbet on the left is the stop for the plane. The rabbet on the right is the registration one. This rides on the edge and the top of the board. This went off the board into La-La land on every edge except for one. On the one edge I was able to keep this where it was supposed to be, I got the molded profile. It looked like crap because the iron was dull. Instead of being smooth it was torn out end to end.

sharp and shiny
I am getting quicker and better at sharpening these molding irons. I think it mostly has to do with the metal the irons are made of. They are very easy to sharpen because you can remove a lot of material without much effort.

ripping off the bad so I can plane some good
not too bad, even and straight end to end
plumb too
This is something I have wanted to do ever since I saw Paul Sellers make a cove molding entirely by hand. BTW, the profile on the left is the one that I made end to end. Another skill I'm picking up and getting better at. I think I'm ready to try to duplicate Paul's cove molding.

squared up the rough sawn edges
it's a small amount of real estate to keep on the edge
I can see how I went OTL (out to lunch) on my first 3 tries. I had to be on my toes keeping this running against the edge.

much joy and rejoicing in Mudville
This was with the grain and it is as clean as a whistle end to end. Sharp does fix a bucket full of problems. The iron was set a frog hair too deep but the shavings still look good albeit a bit thick.

against the grain
This turned out better than I was expecting. As I was planing this, it was tearing out down the whole length. As I planed closer to the end, it started to clean up and by the time I hit the stop, it looked pretty good.

outside groove wall tore out a bit here
That big hole to the left of my finger is the remnants of a mortise I chopped. Most of the tearing happened on this end and decreased as I planed to the opposite end.

a handful of shavings to burnish the profile

got another surprise
The shavings smoothed out the profile more than I thought they would. I can feel a big difference between the unburnished one and the burnished one. It didn't get rid of the few tear out pockets but it did feather them out some.

profile #4
This one was against the grain also but I got a better looking profile on this one. I took it slower and tried to take a shallower cut. I'm sure that if I hadn't been in such a hurry to try this out, and if I had set the iron a bit shallower, the results against the grain would have been better.

this is an interesting profile
This I've seen on pine T&G boards at the big box stores. On thicker stock this might work better yielding a thicker tongue. This board is 9/16" thick.

screws came in
McMaster-Carr didn't have these which surprised me. They had the right size and length, but they weren't threaded up to the head. I got these on Amazon Prime from the Hillman group. Brass flat head, all threaded, 10-24 screws. A box of 15 for $12.84 which is a pretty good price for a big brass screw.

clever design
Put some thread lock in the brass 'tube' on the disc and that will keep that secure. I have had some of these spin on me and now I know how they are put together. The biggest problem I've had with these is the part that screws into the threaded insert doesn't stay inserted and the threads are mangled up. Brass and steel together equals steel wins every time.

the part sticking out screws into the threaded insert
I wonder if the brass disc is an off the shelf item?

after dinner work
I found and glued up two boards that were 3 1/2" wide for the shelf. The shelf will be  6 1/2" wide.

also found a board I can use for the back stretcher
got most of the wood for the towel holder
The first shelf is now the crest rail. I only need one more board for the gallery railing but I'll hold off on that until I get the gallery spindles.

set #1 after 4 rounds
set #1 and the comparison piece
set #2 after 4 rounds
set #2 and the comparison piece
all 3 together
The two sets appear to be me to be about the same. I can't see a difference in them but I can see a difference in both sets against the comparison piece. It has been roughly two months since I last used this ebonizing stuff. The tannic acid seems to be just as effective now as then. The apple cider vinegar iron sulfate seemed also to be equally effective. The white vinegar iron sulfate didn't make it. My conclusion on this is to mix up what I need to do the job at hand. Once that is done and if there nothing on the horizon, discard it. I wouldn't keep it more than a week or two at the most. I also like the apple cider vinegar iron sulfate better than the white vinegar. It appears to be stronger and longer lasting then the white stuff. And it is better smelling. I'll be making up a new, fresh solution for each job.

I am going to put a few coats of lacquer on the biggest piece of wood in both sets. I want to see what the black looks like with some finish on it.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who has won the most Grammy awards?
answer - conductor Georg Solti with 31

Rag-in-a-can Oiler

Paul Sellers - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 11:50pm

From Journal Tuesday 14th February 2017 I’ve used my rag-in-a-can oiler for over 52 years to date. It’s for adding a super-fine film of oil to my planes and saws and so far as I know it knows no equal. The trouble is it’s prompted questions that come up all too often so hopefully the …

Read the full post Rag-in-a-can Oiler on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Ingenious Chinese Planing Stop

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 2:58pm

There isn’t enough written in English on the woodworking of the Chinese, who have a long and amazing woodworking and technological history. But today I’ve been gobbling up “China at Work” by Rudolf P. Hommel (MIT Press, 1937), which focuses on tools used for making other tools (blacksmithing), food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Unlike other contemporary writers, Hommel lived in China for several years, had enormous respect for the culture […]

The post Ingenious Chinese Planing Stop appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Acclimating Wood

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 1:00pm
acclimating wood

Whether you buy your furniture wood from a specialty hardwood lumberyard or from a local sawyer, the chance that the wood is ready to go into a piece of furniture with a minimum risk of shrinking (or, rarely, expanding) unduly is just about nil. Instead, it’s more likely (at least in most areas of the United States) that the wood has been sitting in an unheated space and is, at […]

The post Acclimating Wood appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Psychologists Explain Why Ikea Is a Relationship Death-Trap

Giant Cypress - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 11:58am
Psychologists Explain Why Ikea Is a Relationship Death-Trap:

For your woodworking Valentine’s Day pleasure, here’s Cari Romm on how Ikea breaks up couples:

The Ikea website currently lists more than 30 different types of side tables alone, and a side table’s one of the least consequential types of furniture you can get. And once you land on the model you want in the price point you want, there are supplementary decisions to make — size, color, etc.

There’s some debate surrounding the concept of ego depletion — the idea that you have a finite amount of mental energy to spend before you become decision-fatigued — but even for someone with infinite willpower, making all those choices with a partner can be a fraught, highly delicate balancing act, says psychology professor Julie Peterson, who leads the Self and Close Relationships Lab at the University of New England. Shopping for a high-stakes item is stressful even when you’re on your own, “but then you add a relationship partner to that — who you care about, love, ostensibly want to please in some way — and it it just compounds it even more,” she says.

And it gets even worse:

Here’s the cruelest of all the cruel jokes Ikea plays on its customers: If — if — you and your significant other still make it out of there with minimal strife and all the furniture you need, you still have to go home and assemble it.

Piddle on Your Parade – 360w360 E.223

360 WoodWorking - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 4:00am
Piddle on Your Parade – 360w360 E.223

In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking the 360 guys are joined once again by Ron Herman who proceeds to piddle on your parade.

Join the guys twice each week for six lively minutes of discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more). Chuck & Glen, and sometimes a surprise guest, all have their own opinions. Sometimes they agree and sometimes they don’t, but the conversation is always information packed and lots of fun.

Continue reading Piddle on Your Parade – 360w360 E.223 at 360 WoodWorking.

An Affordable Spokeshave For You

Paul Sellers - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 12:30am

I bought a spokeshave you can afford and one I haven’t tested out before either. I liked the look of it and Draper UK has been a long established distributor of all kinds of tools, machines and equipment here in the UK for decades and whereas their quality is generally accepted as reasonable to well made, …

Read the full post An Affordable Spokeshave For You on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

towel holder and more........

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 11:49pm
There was an "Aha, gotcha" with the supposed snow storm for Monday. The day was cold, windy, but sunny and snow free. All day long. Not a hint of precipitation and there isn't any forecasted for the rest of the week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this being the last of the white stuff this winter.

batting lead off tonight
The entire back right side was blown out. It is way too late to put a claim in for the damage, so I'll have to fix it. The cabinets are all wood except for the panels in the doors being MDF. The plywood used looks ok but feels as light as tissue paper. The fronts are solid wood but I don't know what kind.

this is it
There was no glue in the dado at all on the busted out side. The left side has this blob of silicone at the top and running down to the bottom. That is part one of how the cabinets are held together. The second part is 1/4" crown staples. That's it. I am not impressed with these at all. On wednesday I start the demo of the bottom cabinets so this has to be ready to go in thursday.

chopping the tails
I have gone from having a double row of 15 holes for the bench hooks down to 3. Of the 3, I only use one. And I only use that one to chop pins and tails. I'm still debating whether or not to put any holes for bench hooks in the new bench.

pins sawn
The chisels need to be touched up and I don't feel like stopping to do that. I will have to do that tomorrow before I chop out the pins.

towel rack is batting cleanup
I got a roll of paper towels to check the clearance on the pattern. I don't want to have this completed and have a hiccup putting paper towels in or out.

ready to cut out
I have the two halves screwed together in the waste areas. I cut this out on the bandsaw being careful to arrange the cutting so that the screws held the two halves together for the longest time possible.

cut out and ready for shaping
most of the rough shaping is done
The big 'C' shaped curve will done with the oscillating spindle sander. I tried using a spokeshave on it but I only had success with the back wall. The two curves are too tight for the spokeshave.

slight difference
Rather then use up a piece of the same board for ears, I used a piece of 1x2 poplar that I had in the wood stash. It wasn't as thick as the other board and I planed it flush because I didn't want this to catch on the OSS table.

dead nuts flush
This is going to be painted and if this is less than dead nuts flush, it will show through the paint. I got a good glue joint with no gaps on both sides. I can not detect any proud along the length with my finger tips.

I don't like this point
I do like the look of this but it is a very fragile part. This will get busted and destroyed the first time something brushes against it.

sides are done
I made the 'flat' on the point as small as I could. It is something that you can't really see head on but you can from the sides. All the shaping is done on this and I can't do much more until I get the closet rod set. I need that to get the final width of this.

the shelf
I want the shelf in a stopped dado with it being 3/4" from the front. This shelf is shy of that by a couple of inches. I have more 1/2" stock that I can use to glue to this to make up the width but I'm thinking on that.

something I'm adding
There isn't any stretcher on the back of the towel holder in the pic. I think it is something that is needed to keep the bottom of the holder from spreading out or closing in. It isn't going to be this big, a stretcher 1 1/2" wide will suffice here.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the maximum allowed weight for a PBA bowling ball?
answer - 16 pounds

A 2,400-year-old Heart-shaped Box

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 5:01pm

The Ma’agan Mikhael, a 5th-century BCE Cypriot merchantman, was found off the coast of Israel in 1985. The wreck was an important find in learning more about ancient shipbuilding techniques and trade practices. After excavation and preservation the reconstructed hull was placed in the Hecht Museum in Haifa.

Three wooden boxes were found in the wreck: one in a heart shape with a pivoting lid and two violin-shaped boxes. There is plenty of evidence in the archeological records that these boxes were of a type used for cosmetic pastes and creams.

In 2004 Yigal Sitry published, “Unique Wooden Artifacts: A Study of Typology and Technology” part of a series of research articles in “The Ma’agan Mikhael Ship – The Recovery of a 2,400 Year Old Merchantman” by Yaacov Kahanov and Elisha Linder.

In his article Sitry provides a full description of the heart-shaped box and outlines, with illustrations, “the order of operations” in the making of the box (and easy for a modern woodworker to follow).

The box, before conservation that caused uneven shrinkage, measured 110 mm x 109 mm x 34.5 mm (about 4.3″ x 4.3″ x 1.4″) and was made of oak. One note: the heart-shaped box has been renamed the ivy leaf box as that shape was more consistent with shapes found in contemporary pottery and art.

The link to Yigal Sitry’s article is here.

For the “recently spurned:” Put Nirvana’s “Heart-shaped Box” on a loop, make the box, burn it, repeat.

— Suzanne Ellison

Filed under: Historical Images, Personal Favorites
Categories: Hand Tools

The Completed Dovetail Desk! {Part 17 of “Build a Dovetail Desk with Hand Tools”}

Wood and Shop - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 4:52pm
You're not going to believe it. My family didn't believe it. Remember a couple years ago how I started building a dovetailed desk? Well it's finished! And here is the final video and some photos to prove it. If you remember, I was building this desk for my two oldest boys' Christmas present...in 2014. And

More Evidence

Northwest Woodworking - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 2:28pm

After a teaching excursion in Germany some years ago, an old friend and I decided to drive over to visit Prague in the Czech Republic. We toured the old city and the square with its magnificent clock tower. Then we walked up to the very old Prague castle and explored around it. St. Vitus Cathedral is right beside the castle. Church and State never far away from each other in medieval Europe. The cobblestone streets there date back 1000 years.

On the back side of the church is an alleyway where merchants no doubt kept shop for the clerics and nobility up on top of this hill. It is not wide this alley. Barely room for two carts to pass by each other and the walls of the church rise up far above our heads with gargoyles starting out or down at us to menace and keep us peasants in our place.

There is not much to see walking down this alley. It is a route to the back road down the hillside. But passing through it, I saw these large doors, the back doors to the church. On these iron doors, held together with giant black metal spikes and screws were hung a few door knockers. Made of iron, these knockers showed the bodies and heads of serpents hanging down to the pavement below.

I lifted one to let it see the alley once again instead of the stones below. Then I let it drop against the steel and resume its watch of the street. Who would put this much effort into a door knocker on the poor side, the distaff side of the cathedral? Who would make something so carefully? More evidence of the value of doing things well. Even when ignored by most of a world but known to the craftsman.

Consider exploring another world with us in the Studio. Join us for The Hand Tool Shop this spring starting March 13th and lasting through April 7th. Take one week of class or all four in an exploration of hand tool work, patience, and practice. Working with hand tools is a different kind of meditation and exercise on the value of quality.





Categories: Hand Tools

Moravian Work Bench in South Korea

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 1:29pm

In the years since I wrote about and hosted a video on building the knockdown workbench from the collection at Old Salem, N.C., folks have sent me hundreds of photos of the benches they have built. I absolutely love getting these. I am always interested to see the different  vise set-ups, materials and alterations different people have done with the design.


I few days ago, Luther Shealy sent some photos of a Moravian work bench he has nearly completed. Shealy is in the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea. He had to leave his Roubo bench behind when he was deployed overseas.


Fortunately the Army base has a morale and welfare shop the servicemen can use, and he decided to build a bench for use while in Korea. He was able to source the pine parts of the bench on location, but the oak part proved to be problem. Undeterred, Shealy had friends back home mail him enough white oak for the short stretchers. He brought the oak vise chop over in his luggage; that must have been interesting trip thru TSA!



I very much admire Shealy’s determination to make this happen in a less-than-ideal situation.

— Will Myers



Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

When to Send a Tool Back

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 12:58pm

If you get to know some toolmakers as friends, you’re likely to hear all kinds of wild stories about people who return tools for odd or non-existent defects. Think sidewalls of a handplane that are different in thickness by a few thousandths of an inch. Or cutting bevels of a tool that are ground 1° out of square. But sometimes tools do need to go back to the manufacturer. Students […]

The post When to Send a Tool Back appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools


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