Author Archives: Christopher Schwarz

Christopher Schwarz

About Christopher Schwarz

Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. He's a hand-tool enthusiast (though he uses power tools, too).

Drill Bits for Chairs & Staked Furniture

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...

The One-stop Place for Saw Maintenance

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...

The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws

Flush-cutting saws offer an amazing promise: They can cut a dowel or tenon flush to its surrounding surface without causing any damage. The truth is, however, no matter how awesome your flush-cutting saw or how skilled you are, things can go wrong. The most common problem is the saw can drift slightly. And with...

My Lucky Scars

When I was about 11, my parents took a trip to Cancun and left us with Hazel, a Nurse Ratched type with a beehive hairdo, a messed-up back and a matching disposition. It was Halloween, and so we were carving pumpkins in the garage. I was using my Cub Scout knife – improperly. The...

Make Your Own Linseed Oil & Wax Finish

A finish made from linseed oil and beeswax is an easy-to-apply, tactile finish that I like for turnings, vernacular chairs and other objects that don’t require the protection of a film finish, such as varnish or shellac. The finish, which I call linwax, is available from suppliers such as Swede Paint, or you can...

Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel

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...

Ingenious Chinese Planing Stop

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...

When to Send a Tool Back

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...

The Half-pencil: Your Layout Friend

Carpenter’s pencils have limited uses in a furniture shop, but when I encountered the “half-pencil” years ago I started hoarding carpenter’s pencils to transform them into half-pencils for my friends. The half-pencil, as its name implies, is a carpenter’s pencil that has been planed down to half its thickness. (Using a carpenter’s pencil makes...