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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Coping Saw Blades from Pegas

I pretty much eat coping saw blades for breakfast. Just about every piece of casework I do involves dovetails (sometimes more than 100 in a single piece such as a tool chest), so a coping saw is almost always on the bench to remove waste. For years I have used the Olson coping saw...

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Why I Lay Out Dovetails with Dividers

Rob Cosman showed me how to lay out dovetails using dividers about 12 or 13 years ago, and I have never looked back. I’ve caught a lot of crap for using the divider method from fellow hand-tool woodworkers who say that laying them out by eye is much faster. I don’t disagree. However, there...

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Tool Chests, 1997-2014

I’ve worked out of a traditional floor chest since 1997 when I built my first cover project for Popular Woodworking Magazine. It’s not that I’ve always been monogamous, however. I’ve tried all manner of wall chests, tool racks, rolling cabinets, soft-sided bags and suitcases as ways to contain, protect and limit my tools. But...

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New Vise Mechanism from Hovarter

Len Hovarter of Hovarter Custom Vise has developed a simple and inexpensive quick-release leg vise mechanism that looks quite ingenious. Like all of Hoverter’s vises, they work on the age-old principle of unicorn magic. They slide in and out smoothly without a threaded rod. Then they engage the work with a short turn of...

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Basque Workbenches – With Unusual Face Vises

Take one leg vise. Rotate it 90°. Now you have a Basque face vise. Woodworker Matt Talley is working in France right now. And during his free time he is hunting down workbenches in the Southern France/Basque region. He’s posted photos of some of his interesting finds at his web site here. I’ve been...

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Lie-Nielsen Open House (and a Crazy Dutch Chest)

Last weekend I attended the Lie-Nielsen Open House at the company’s factory in Warren, Maine, and got to hang out with a lot of contributors to Popular Woodworking Magazine and work together on an unusual Dutch Tool Chest. What’s a Dutch Tool Chest? Check out the October 2013 issue to find out. Every year,...

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Campaign Birdhouse, the Movie

I often joke that I will someday make my fortune by writing a birdhouse book – typically the best-selling woodworking books (by far). And many readers have asked (jokingly) why I didn’t include a campaign birdhouse in my latest book on campaign-style furniture. So it was amusing when woodworker Ric Archibald showed up with...

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A Visit to the Famous Maine Tool Barn

The first rule of buying old tools: If you think you might buy it, grab it. You can always put it back. So today I did a dumb thing. I spent a couple hours at the Hulls Cove Tool Barn in Maine with Joshua Klein, a woodworker and furniture restorer. That, however, wasn’t the...

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Metal Planing Stops Not Obsolete

Because my workbench doesn’t have an end vise, I’ve become creative when it comes to planing my stock with only a simple planing stop, a holdfast and dogs. Mine is a primitive arrangement compared to a beautiful European tail vise with its array of dog holes, but it works. And I rarely ever think:...