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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Use ‘Gun Blue’ to Instantly Blacken Hardware

I use blacksmith-made hardware whenever I (or my customers) can afford it. But if you’re on a budget or have hundreds of pieces of hardware for a project, it’s time to visit the gun store. My favorite way to blacken steel, iron or even zinc-plated hardware is to brush on a thin coat of...

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How to Test for Case-hardened Lumber

Thanks to the long-term relationships I’ve made with lumber merchants, I have little trouble with them sending me crappy stock. But even after 20-something years of buying wood from my suppliers, there are times when I get a bogus load of wood. Most problems can be solved by knowing what is standard in the...

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Don’t Forget the Quality of the Kiln

While I prefer to work with air-dried lumber, that’s not always possible for woodworkers who use a lot of wood or don’t have access to a dealer who air-dries stock. One of the major problems with kiln-dried lumber is that it is sometimes rushed through the kiln to get it to market. As a...

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Free Download: ‘Atkins Saw Book for Home Craftsmen’

Shortly before my friend Carl Bilderback died last year, he gave me a carload of woodworking books, catalogs and other ephemera that he had amassed during a lifetime of tool collecting and woodworking. His instructions: Distribute the books to young woodworkers who can’t afford them. Since his death, I’ve done just that. And all...

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Pocket Screws: The Mightiest Little Clamp

I don’t have enough elitism in my bloodstream to poop on pocket screws too much. For starters, they are incredibly ingenious and allow people to build things with only a handful of tools and almost no clamps. And they have been around for a long time – I’ve seen pocket screws in many piece...

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Woodworking Advice from the Food Industry

Making good food is a lot like making good furniture – you need good raw materials, skill and a decent set of basic tools. Last weekend I was talking to my brother-in-law about his job, which is supplying high-quality ingredients to restaurants. He’s been in the business long enough that he ends up mentoring...

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Hand Tools: What is Most Common is Most Precious

At the beginning of a hand tool class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, one of the students stopped me as I was passing by his bench. “I have a question for you,” he said. “What is this plane for?” He held up a chisel plane. “I thought it looked really useful,” he...

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The Myth of Wiping Wet Glue

The craft is clogged with so many counter-productive myths and practices that someone could make a career out of a “Mythbusters”-like approach to woodworking. If I could eliminate one myth from the national wood-consciousness, it would be that you shouldn’t wipe off wet glue from a joint and should let it set to a...

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When Rasps Aren’t Fine (or Small) Enough

For curved and sculptural work, nothing beats a good rasp. But there are many times that I need to do precise and fine work that most rasps aren’t capable of (at least the rasps I’ve seen or can afford). So I make my own custom sanding sticks using sticky-back sandpaper from the home center...