Christopher Schwarz

Fire-setting

A 500-year-old Shavehorse

There are some woodworkers who say that shavehorses weren’t used in chairmaking – according to the historical record. But shavehorses were definitely used in the mining industry. Check out this 1556 illustration of a guy working at a shavehorse from the Latin text “Georgius Agricola: De Re Metallica.” The gentleman looks like he is...

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French my Bench

This summer I have made two changes to my Roubo-style workbench that I built in 2005 that have made the bench even more effective and easy to use. First up, a real-deal antique French holdfast, sent to me by a colleague in France. Clearly blacksmith made, this holdfast is sized somewhere between the monster...

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Entirely Unimportant

The first lesson of handwork is this: Most things that you think are important are not important. Most surfaces do not need to be true. Most edges do not need to be square. Most boards do not need to be four-squared (or even free of bark). Most dimensions – length, thickness, width – will...

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Joinery Changes to Consider for Your Tool Chest

I’ve hauled my tool chest all over the United States and Canada, and I remain impressed – deeply impressed – by how it has handled all the miles. I’ve even dropped it from a height of 36” – fully loaded – onto concrete. One corner of the chest’s dust seal splintered a bit, but...

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On Symmetry and Screwing Up

In the world of design, you read a lot about the acceptance or rejection of symmetry. Wait, wait. Don’t go away. This blog entry, by the way, has to do with Audrey Hepburn’s gorgeous face. You can reject symmetry in design based on the fact that human beings are decidedly not symmetrical. A perfectly...

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Blue Tape Fixes Twisty Boards

While teaching a recent class, I nicked my thumb on something sharp, and the shop’s first aid kit was locked up for some reason. No matter – I closed up the wound with cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) and bandaged it with toilet paper and blue painter’s tape. While I won’t win any MacGyver awards (that...

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Tapping Threads Without Tapping Out

Threading and tapping wood by hand can be frustrating, even when you know what you are doing. Today, 11 students and I at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship built Moxon-style vises to prepare for a week of dovetailing and more dovetailing. Of course, almost all of the students had some sort of problem with...

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More Experiments with Chipbreakers

This week I’ve been surfacing a lot of wood by hand, from pedestrian sugar pine to funky metals that have wood-like properties (e.g. purpleheart). And all the while I have been testing, testing, testing things with my chipbreakers and the cutting angle of the iron of my handplane. Huh? You might say. Yes, there...

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A Visit to Peter Follansbee’s Shop

I spent the afternoon with Peter Follansbee at his shop at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts – watching him work for a profile I’m writing about him for Popular Woodworking Magazine. “The Peter Show” – as some Plimoth employees refer to it – consists of Peter working in his shop as visitors pepper him with...