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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Beer as a Furniture Stain

Beer shows up in many accounts of early workshop life. Not only was it an important source of nutrition, it also served as payment for trespasses and a way to mark important days in the shop, such as when an apprentice was promoted to journeyman. Beer also shows up in workshop recipes and for...

Planing Away Low Spots in Panels

One of the most frustrating parts of using a smooth plane is when you have a low spot on your board that simply refuses to be planed out. There are several strategies. Here are just a few: Just keep planing as usual until you are an old man or woman. Drop down to a...

In Praise of Knots, the Defect that is Watching You

When I went to the lumberyard to buy the stock for my first project of my own design I picked through the store’s entire stack of 1x12s to find the boards with the most attractive constellation of knots. I wasn’t trying to be cheeky or make a statement (other than “I like knots”). I...

Big Panels? Don’t Tarry

Gluing up narrow boards into big panels stresses out many beginning woodworkers. Sorry to say it, but I have another stressor to put on your shoulders: Don’t tarry. Schnell. Andele. Large panels are like manicured lawns. Right after you mow and trim your yard, it looks like a golf course or a military haircut....

Another Benefit of a Curved Plane Iron

I sharpen a curve on the cutting edge of all my bench planes and block planes. The curve prevents the corners of the iron from leaving behind “plane tracks” – those ugly little steps. But there are many other benefits to using a curved iron. Here’s one more: It can make your mortise-and-tenon joinery...

Don’t Close Your Eyes to the Square

When people injure themselves in the shop, their first reaction is to grab the wound and refuse to look. Sadly, this is the same attitude many woodworkers take with the squareness of their components: They refuse to look and hope things will work out. While there are lots of areas of woodworking where squareness...

Whipple Hook: Turn Any Board into a Bench

When traveling, there are many times when I wish for a toothed planing stop, especially when installing stuff where I rarely even have a bench. Enter the Whipple Hook from Lee Valley Tools. This early 20th-century patented $9.50 gizmo turns any wooden surface into a functional planing stop with the addition of two screws...

A Voice You Can Trust – or 100

My biggest arguments while at Popular Woodworking Magazine weren’t about hand tools vs. power tools, Shaker vs. Arts & Crafts, Grizzly Industrial vs. everyone else. Instead we fought about a question you might not think about: Isn’t so-and-so woodworker full of crap? When you get experienced woodworkers around a table and throw them an...