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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Shaker Workbench No. 1 at Pleasant Hill

When most people discuss Shaker workbenches, they conjure up images of massive cabinets with drawers and doors that are topped by a workbench top – plus a tail vise, leg vise and probably a sliding deadman. This form of workbench shows up in many of the East Coast Shaker communities, but in the Western...

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You Can Own the Rulers of the Ancient World

How we measure the world around us is a reflection of how our society interacts with the world. To wit: The metric system is, in my opinion, the most efficient way to gauge everything around us. And that is exactly why I dislike it so. It is a system based on base-10 efficiency and...

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The Amazing Finger-jointed Block System

As a kid I had every manner of toys that allowed me to build stuff, from my grandfather’s set of wooden blocks to Lincoln Logs, LEGO, Spinwelder, Girder and Panel, Erector sets and on and on. But I never had Crandall’s Improved Building Blocks for Children. This fascinating system of components is based on...

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A Quick Hold-open Lid Stay for a Tool Chest

In two weeks I’m moving to a new workshop (ground-floor storefront, yay!). But last night as I was trying to get to sleep I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to prop the lid of my tool chest open against a wall. Most old tool chests that I have seen don’t have...

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Different Campaign Furniture (Different Campaign)

Though I’ve been building campaign furniture pieces for five years, my focus has been on British pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are definitely other traditions in campaign furniture. They just don’t appeal as much to me as a woodworker. North American campaign furniture – mostly from our Revolution and Civil wars...

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Details for a Rack in a Tool Chest

A tool rack in your chest is a nice way to keep your chisels, screwdrivers and other tools close at hand and protected from damage. After experimenting with lots of different racks, here’s how I make racks for myself and customers. I start with a length of pine that’s about 1” x 1-1/4” x...

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File a Scraper with the ‘Universal Sharpener’

In the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine I review the Chestnut Tools Universal Sharpener from Lee Valley Tools. I learned about this remarkable and inexpensive little tool from furniture maker Freddy Roman. I was skeptical about it until I got my hands on it. This thing is … well you’ll have to wait...

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Small Changes to my Moxon Vises

Since I began making Moxon-style vises in 2010, I’m made several dozens for students customers and have made some small changes to the way I build them. Above all, I try to keep my Moxon vises as simple and compact as possible, which is why I haven’t added tables or other gizmos. Here is...

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New DVD on Bookcases now Available

My latest DVD with Popular Woodworking, “Build a Hand-Crafted Bookcase“ is expected to ship this week. It’s a 126-minute exploration of building the bookcase from “The Anarchist’s Design Book” entirely by hand using surfaced home-center pine. The DVD begins by throwing out the modern idea of using adjustable shelves and discusses how the design...