Simple, rugged, masculine and awesome – this sometimes-forgotten style of furniture is great for beginning and advanced woodworkers.
By Christopher Schwarz
Campaign-style furniture is as sturdy and simple as Shaker. It is as masculine as Arts & Crafts. And it is free of adornment, like Bauhaus pieces. Yet many woodworkers are unaware of this furniture style, which was popular for more than 150 years in Great Britain, its colonies and North America.
Perhaps the problem is that campaign furniture goes by many names: military furniture, “patent” furniture or traveling furniture. Perhaps enough original examples of the style haven’t survived or been featured at major museums. Or maybe there just aren’t enough books written about it. For whatever reason, campaign furniture is rarely discussed or built by modern woodworkers, and I would like to change that.
Blog: See an array of historical campaign chests with unusual drawer arrangements.
Video: Watch a video of the author installing the L-brackets on this chest.
Blog: The author reviews several brands of campaign hardware here, here and here.
Hardware: The hardware used on this chest is from Horton Brasses. You’ll also find a full range of excellent hardware for campaign-style pieces at Londonderry Brasses.
To Read: “British Campaign Furniture” by Nicholas A. Brawer (check at your library).
In Our Store: “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker,” a British book that will introduce you to traditional casework techniques.. Read more
This joinery-tweaking plane belongs in every woodworker’s tool kit. by Christopher Schwarz Page 14 Even when I am in full-blown power, power, power mode in the workshop, there are two handplanes I turn to all the time: a block plane and a router plane. Most woodworkers own a block plane, but only a fraction own … Read more
Don’t be intimidated by these essential joinery planes – a few tricks make them easy to use.
by Christopher Schwarz
Many woodworkers think planes that cut joinery are difficult to use, slow-cutting and complex to set up. Quite the opposite is true. If you can sharpen a block plane, you already have mastered the skill essential to using rabbet planes and plow planes – the two most important joinery planes.
In fact, when I teach students to use these planes, I usually have to ask them to stop making shavings at some point so we can all get back to work – the tools are quite addicting to use.
So why do most woodworkers opt for their router or table saw when cutting rabbets or grooves? I think it’s because there is little information out there on how to set up these hand tools and – more important – how to hold them properly. This article will tell you everything you need to get started with rabbets and plows.
Video: See the author cut grooves and rabbets both with and across the grain.(Coming soon.)
Web: Learn about combination planes at the Cornish Workshop web site.
Blog: Read Christopher Schwarz’s blog on handplanes – five years’ worth of free material.
In Our Store: “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” by Christopher Schwarz.
In Our Store: Read “Handplane Essentials,” by Christopher Schwarz, available in both print and iPad-optimized PDF format for eReader viewing. Read more
A versatile and durable form from the early South.
by Christopher Schwarz
From the April 2012 issue, #196
Early tables such as this one were hardworking. Finished on all sides, they could be placed anywhere in a room in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They could be used for writing, getting dressed or for any other task required of the household.
This particular table, which is in the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (commonly called MESDA), straddles the 17th and 18th centuries in its form and its joinery. It looks somewhat like a “joint stool,” a typical form of heavy joined furniture in the 16th- and 17th-century household. Yet it has thinner vase-like turnings that are more delicate than an early joint stool, and its drawer has features of both early and later dovetailed drawers.
The original table was painted, yet the surviving example has lost almost all of its paint to time. When I decided to build this piece (approximately 3.2 seconds after seeing it at MESDA), I decided to build it like it was when originally constructed and not distress the wood or the finish. The crisp and new look is a bit arresting to modern eyes, but I think it’s like getting a glimpse of the past that few ever get to experience.
Video: See the author peg the top to the base.
Blog: Visit the Chris Schwarz blog at popularwoodworking.com.
PDF: Download a chart of common moulding profiles: VignolaMouldings
In our store:“Furniture in the Southern Style” by Robert W. Lang and Glen D. Huey.
To buy: “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing.
Web site: Learn about drawboring, an oft-overlooked technique.
Museum: Visit the web site of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem village in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Download the free SketchUp Model of this project. Read more
Konrad Sauer improves a 150-year-old handplane design. by Christopher Schwarz pages 50-54 From the April 2012 Issue, #196 Let’s say you were good at building Chippendale highboys. Really good. Phil-Lowe-kind-of-good at it. Customers came to you regularly and you had plenty of work to keep you busy. Then why – oh why – would you … Read more
A former musician brings an improvisational skill to the craft.
By Christopher Schwarz
From the February 2012 issue #195
Buy the issue now.
Somewhere between street musician and the symphony orchestra, between an 18th-century hand woodworker and a contemporary designer, is Jeff Miller, a Chicago furniture maker, teacher and author who defi es every pigeonhole. In fact, if given the chance, he might just redesign that hole to better fit the pigeon.
SLIDESHOW: See more photos of Jeff’s shop.
CLASS: Take a class from Jeff.
TO BUY: “Chairmaking & Design,” by Jeff Miller. Read more
Don’t reinvent the wheel when storing your tools. A proper chest is still the best.
By Christopher Schwarz
From the December 2011 issue #194
Buy this issue now
When I tell people that I’ve worked out of a traditional tool chest for 15 years, they look at me as if I’m someone who has not yet discovered the joys of indoor plumbing.
They say, “Haven’t you tried a wall cabinet? Or built storage below your workbench? Why not a series of open shelves next to your bench?”
VIDEO: See how easy it is to get to all your tools with just one hand motion.
BLOG: Follow the Lost Art Press blog for more insights into tool chests.
ARTICLE: Read the rules for workbenches.
TO BUY: “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” by Christopher Schwarz (Lost Art Press).
IN OUR STORE: “Handplane Essentials” (Popular Woodworking) by Christopher Schwarz is available in both print and as a digital download. Read more