Chris Schwarz Blog

Chris Schwarz's Blog

Christopher Schwarz (the long-time editor and now contributing editor to Popular Woodworking) has been writing this woodworking blog continually since 2005. He covers the world of hand work, plus he writes about building furniture, visiting tool makers, and his travels. Long a woodworker of traditional techniques, Schwarz is dedicated to restoring the fine hand woodworking skills that have slowly disappeared from woodshops in the latter half of the 20th century. He is a firm believer in the role traditional tools play in the modern shop.

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Roman Workbenches High And Low

When researching Roman workbenches, one of the things that leaped out at me was how low many of them were low, knee-high like a sawbench. After building a low bench based on drawings from Pompeii and Herculaneum, most visitors to my shop had one question: Were the Romans really short? The answer is: no....

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Another 511-year-old Woodworking Vise

Screw-driven vises are not modern inventions. The earliest screw-driven vise that I know of is this Italian vise that is circa 1300. I am always looking for earlier vises because the screw mechanism has been around since Archimedes, though his screw was originally used for irrigation. This year I have been delving deep into...

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A Quick Preview of the ‘Vampire Vise’

With only six days before Woodworking in America, I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to get everything ready for the big three-day woodworking geek-fest a few blocks away from my shop. Today I’m putting the finishing touches on one of the two Roman-style workbenches I’ve built for Woodworking in America. I’ll be presenting...

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Tip: Wipe it Where You Store it

I know a woodworker who said he saved himself hundreds of steps a day merely by moving his pencil sharpener so it is under his table saw. I had a similar “duh” moment today when I was wiping down a handsaw to put it in my tool chest. For the last 15 years I’ve...

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How to Start a Woodworking Myth

There are so many old wives’ tales in our craft that you could write an entire book that lists and debunks them. Students constantly bombard me with them, and it makes me wonder: How do these begin? After a slip of the tongue the other day, I think I have a good idea. This...

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Gummy Bear Glue

Hide glue is one of those simple and natural products that is intertwined with our lives in many ways, much like shellac is. The core ingredient in hide glue will gross out your children: it’s the cartilage, connective tissue and bones of cattle or other animals. When cooked down, the resulting product makes the...

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Working Without a Cambered Iron

The cutters in my bench planes all have cambered irons. The jack has the most – a 10” radius curve – followed by the much slighter curves of my jointer and smoothing planes. The curves do two things: They prevent the corners of the iron from digging into the work and creating “plane tracks,”...