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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The Best Way to Stamp Your Work or Tools

A name stamp is a great investment to mark your tools as your own, especially if you attend woodworking classes or work in a shop with others. It’s also a good way to stamp your finished workpieces for posterity. Most woodworkers, however, approach the task like Thor might. They raise their hammer high and...

Use Hardboard Templates Instead of Prototypes

If I had the extra time and material, I’d build a full-blown prototype of every new design I create. Prototypes let you see in three-dimensions all the mistakes and awkwardness you cannot see on a two-dimensional plan. And fixing the design is usually obvious when you have a prototype on your workbench. As much...

Woe be it to the Double-Wide Workbench

Perhaps it’s the American love for excess. But no matter how many examples I cite or pleas I make, most beginning woodworkers seek to build workbenches that are entirely too wide. Most historical workbenches are 18” to 22” wide – and they are that wide for functional reasons that I’ll explain in a minute....

Up Your Game with the ‘Make Pretty’

When you make furniture in order to eat or meet a deadline (such as birthdays), it’s difficult to stop yourself from crossing the finish line as soon as possible. Years ago I discovered that taking a day to simply “make pretty” did wonders for my work. What’s “make pretty?” It’s an expression I first...

3 Tips for Wedging Your Joints

Wedging joints adds great strength, but it also is risky. A wedge can split the work, it can fail to dive into the tenon (sometimes popping out of the tenon), or the tenon itself can split when you hit it, making a mess of things. Here are three things I do to reduce the...

Early English Manual Training Workbench

While at Bloodline Merchants we also investigated this English workbench, which is almost certainly an early manual training bench. The face vise is a Parkinsons Perfect Vise (and yes, it is spelled “vise” not “vice” on the casting). Parkinsons were made in the 1880s and this example features early metal screw threads that are...

Antique Lefty Workbench in the Wild

Until yesterday, I’d not seen a left-handed antique workbench in the wild. While I’m sure there are some out there, the historical record suggests that left-handed woodworkers usually made do with right-handed benches and learned to plane with their dominant hand on the toe of a handplane. While poking around Bloodline Merchants, a delightful...

Anarchist’s 2016 Gift Guide, Day 9: ‘Good Clean Fun’

The following statement contains 99 percent corn, but the remaining 1 percent is what gets me moving in the morning. The greatest woodworking gift isn’t a tool or a shop accessory. It’s watching someone else fall in love with the craft based on something you’ve done. If there’s someone in your life who might...