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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Coming Soon: A Handmade Dustpan

Almost every plastic or aluminum dustpan I’ve used has been disappointing. The aluminum ones bend too easily and make it impossible to capture fine dust. And plastic ones are just that: plasticy. So like any half-decent woodworker, I set out this fall to build my own. Shopmade dustpans were once a common sight, so...

Cool Nailmaking Video from Austria

Blacksmith Peter Ross recently sent me a link to the video below that shows production nailmaking of shoe nails in a town in Austria. These guys are working at breakneck speed – forget those modern videos you see of amateur smiths working in their garages. If you’ve never read about pre-industrial nail production, it...

Stop Spelching with an Unlikely Ally: Sandpaper

When you shoot end grain with a handplane, you have to be wary of spelching – when the end grain breaks off at the end of your stroke. There are several ways to avoid spelching; one of the quick ways is to use sandpaper. This trick works best when you are just trying to...

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...