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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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,”...

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The Almost-flush-cutting Saw

Flush-cutting saws are great, except when you have heavy work to do, or the saws dive into the work below the teeth, or they bend because you got too aggressive. I usually use these specialty saws for light-duty work – trimming small dowels – or when I can’t otherwise do the work – trimming...

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The Lever Cap Isn’t a Screwdriver (Or is it?)

When I bought my first Stanley No. 5 in the mid-1990s, I regularly used the lever cap as a screwdriver to adjust the tension screw in the center of the frog and to tighten and loosen the cap iron screw. Then one of my fellow employees dressed me down. You should never do that,...

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An Imperfect Surface

For those of you who think that sanding and abrasive technology is a fairly new thing, I have news. Sanding is older than handplaning. As Geoffrey Killen points out in “Egyptian Woodworking and Furniture” (Shire, 1994), Egyptians did not use handplanes. Those tools were invented by the Romans or Greeks. Instead, Egyptian woodworkers used...

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Adjusting Wooden-bodied Planes

Handplanes that secure the cutter with a wedge need to be adjusted with a series of taps from a mallet or a hammer. The principles below apply broadly to all wedged planes, whether it’s a wooden jack plane, a delicate 1/16”-wide hollow plane or a wedged infill plane with a metal shell. However, you...

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An Improvised (and Excellent) Sticking Board

Sticking boards are an excellent benchtop appliance when cutting mouldings by hand. A proper sticking board is an L-shaped device that holds the wood you want to “stick” (the old fashioned term for “cut mouldings.”) The fence on the sticking board prevents the wood from bowing along its length. The adjustable stops at the...