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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A Visit to the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts

If you want to learn to build high-end gorgeous American furniture, then Phil Lowe at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts is the guy to see. He is the father of the modern furniture program at the North Bennet Street School. He is a winner of the Cartouche Award from the Society of American Period...

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Patterns for a Simple Camp Stool Seat

The most difficult part of making a folding camp stool (for woodworkers) is the leather or fabric seat. Getting the right shape for the seat and the three pockets for the legs has vexed many people who aren’t accustomed to a material that bends with hand pressure. These patterns are based on a few...

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Archimedes the Chair Maker

The first time I ever tried steam bending wood, it took two of us to pull the scalding hot ash against the bending form and then clamp it down before it cooled. While it was an amazing experience, it was something I had difficulty doing on my own with just pure muscle (you will...

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A Benefit of an Out-of-flat Workbench

I’ve been putting off the inevitable chore of flattening my workbench – I have a low spot that is interfering with my ability to handplane thin panels. But this time, I’m going to allow a high spot to remain high because it has proven to be useful. Like many French workbenches with the traditional...

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This Maple Eats Tools

Yesterday was the first time in 20 years I wished for an electric sander. I’m finishing up a new table design and am just about to finish all the surfaces before assembly. The only problem is that this maple trashes every plane iron after about two strokes. I’ve seen this happen with exotics such...

Skewing at the beginning of the cut can eliminate skittering.

Skew the Handplane – Sometimes

Skewing the body of the plane lowers its effective cutting angle, which can work in your favor or against you. Skewing also changes the relationship of the cutting edge to the wood fibers, which can change the surface finish of the wood. While the above two statements might seem obvious, I’ve watched a lot...

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A Tour of the Tool Chest in the August 2015 Issue

The August 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine mails soon. It features the first installment of a two-part series on building a tool chest with a marquetry panel. The chest was a joint project between me and Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted. I built the carcase; he built the carved marquetry lid, which will be...

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Cushion Your Work With Leather Battens

I’m always looking for ways to protect my pieces as I work on them at the bench. Simple things such as a moving blanket (see my entry on that here) can save you a day of clean-up on a project before you apply the finish. Now I have an additional defensive weapon. Earlier this...