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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Handplanes: The Long and Short of Flat

Basic handplane theory states that long planes are for straightening wood and short planes are for smoothing it. The planes in the middle can do either job or be set up for roughing out the work. But all planes do some straightening of the work, and most planes do some smoothing, too. So this...

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Northwest Timber Seeks Lumber Perfection

While walking through the ridiculously tidy racks at Northwest Timber in Jefferson, Ore., I realized at that moment something that hadn’t fully occurred to me during the last 20 years. I am buying, transporting and storing a lot of garbage. Not “garbage” in the sense that the wood is of poor quality. But garbage...

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A Tour of the Blue Spruce Factory

Some of my favorite tools come from Blue Spruce Toolworks outside Portland, Ore. I own three of the different mallets Dave Jeske makes, plus several of his fantastic chisels and, of course, one of his marking knives. I was one of Jeske’s early customers when he started making marking knives about 13 years ago...

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Prevent a Cut Nail Explosion Disaster

The only downside to using cut nails is they can split the work, especially when used near the ends of boards. While a properly sized pilot hole will usually prevent splits, there are times when the gnarly grain of the wood wants to split anyway. Cut nails also will split your work if you...

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Traveling Tool Chest with a Marquetry Lid

My favorite project from 2014 is one I haven’t been able to talk much about, until now. Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted and I collaborated on building a tool chest for a two-article series in Popular Woodworking Magazine. My article on building the chest will be in the August 2015 issue; Jameel’s article on the...

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‘Workshop Companion’ Series Available Again

In the early 1990s, Nick Engler and a team of woodworkers and designers took on an incredibly ambitious task: Create a series of how-to books that encompass all of woodworking, from the router to the router plane, table saw to scroll saw. Called the “Workshop Companion” series and first published by Rodale Press, the...

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In Defense of Splines, Grooves, Biscuits & Dominos

Woodworking opinion swings with the generations when it comes to picking tools, woods and techniques. Lately I’ve seen a lot of writing about gluing up panels that goes something like this: Because the glue bond in an edge joint is stronger than the wood itself, it’s unnecessary to use splines, biscuits or a tongue-and-groove...

A drunken brawl in "Tacuinum Sanitatis."

Furniture from Another Planet

A drunken brawl in “Tacuinum Sanitatis.” In our minds, we all have a good idea of what a typical chair, table, stool, desk or workbench looks like and how these pieces are built. But today I’d like to take you on a brief trip to the Middle Ages when furniture was built using different...