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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How to Fix a Split Seat

One of the most exciting (and frightening) aspects of building a Windsor-style chair is the ever-present possibility that you will split the seat when you drive the legs home. I always tell students: Keep hitting the leg’s tenon into its mortise until the very next strike will split the seat. Then stop. This is...

Use a Drill to Shape a Chair Seat

Though I’ve built a lot of chairs, I don’t own an adze, which is used to roughly shape a plank seat so it has a buttocks-shaped depression. I also don’t own any of the typical power-tool solutions, such as an angle grinder outfitted with a special cutter for seats. Instead, I have a scorp,...

Friendly Handworks Advice

If you’re headed to Handworks in Iowa this weekend, please do stop by the Lost Art Press and Crucible booths in the Festhalle to say hello. Your editor, Megan Fitzpatrick, has volunteered to give us a hand when she isn’t off exploring the amazing show. If this is your first Handworks, here are a...

Meet the ‘Jimmy Possum’ Chair

I’ve long been fascinated by legends involving old chairmakers. Here in Kentucky we had Chester Cornett, an enigmatic bearded maker of the wildest ladderbacks and rockers I’ve seen. In Indiana we had a chairmaker in the southern part of the state who in the early 20th century made ladderbacks with a woven seat that...

Beer as a Furniture Stain

Beer shows up in many accounts of early workshop life. Not only was it an important source of nutrition, it also served as payment for trespasses and a way to mark important days in the shop, such as when an apprentice was promoted to journeyman. Beer also shows up in workshop recipes and for...

Planing Away Low Spots in Panels

One of the most frustrating parts of using a smooth plane is when you have a low spot on your board that simply refuses to be planed out. There are several strategies. Here are just a few: Just keep planing as usual until you are an old man or woman. Drop down to a...

In Praise of Knots, the Defect that is Watching You

When I went to the lumberyard to buy the stock for my first project of my own design I picked through the store’s entire stack of 1x12s to find the boards with the most attractive constellation of knots. I wasn’t trying to be cheeky or make a statement (other than “I like knots”). I...

Big Panels? Don’t Tarry

Gluing up narrow boards into big panels stresses out many beginning woodworkers. Sorry to say it, but I have another stressor to put on your shoulders: Don’t tarry. Schnell. Andele. Large panels are like manicured lawns. Right after you mow and trim your yard, it looks like a golf course or a military haircut....

Another Benefit of a Curved Plane Iron

I sharpen a curve on the cutting edge of all my bench planes and block planes. The curve prevents the corners of the iron from leaving behind “plane tracks” – those ugly little steps. But there are many other benefits to using a curved iron. Here’s one more: It can make your mortise-and-tenon joinery...