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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Why You Should Work with a Blacksmith

Up until 1999, I didn’t think it was even possible to get blacksmith-made hardware for my furniture pieces. Today I rarely build a piece that doesn’t have some part that was made by a blacksmith or whitesmith. In 1999 my then-boss Steve Shanesy took me to a blacksmith in Cold Spring, Ky., named Marsha...

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A Return of the Home Invasion

This morning the crew from Popular Woodworking Magazine showed up to shoot photos of my recently built aumbry for an upcoming issue. While I’m always happy to shoot my own photographs, if they offer to send photographer Al Parrish, I roll over immediately. He is one of the finest photographers I’ve ever worked with....

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Cut a Bead Detail for the English Square

When I first built an English layout square in 2011, it took me about 20 minutes to cut one of the six bead details on the square. Four years and more than 100 beads later, each bead is less than 5 minutes of work. If you have ever thought of building one of these...

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The Slant-lid Tool Chest

In some Victorian books on woodworking, the author suggests that if you don’t have a shop you could use a chest of drawers as a woodworking bench, tool chest and shaving collector. I’ve not seen an occurrence of this in the wild, but it is an interesting idea. Recently, Will of Texas sent me...

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Grain-painting Done Well – Quite Well

When people ask me what foods I hate, I usually say, “I’ll eat anything, as long as it’s prepared well.” I didn’t like Brussels sprouts until I had them roasted. I didn’t like oysters until I tried them right from the creek. And I didn’t like green beans until I had fresh ones (ugh,...

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Friends of the Finisher: Glazes, Toners & Wax

Here’s a common and frustrating finishing problem: You apply finish to your piece, and one of the parts – say a rail or a stile – ends up a slightly different color or shade. The off-color piece makes the project look like a jumble of parts instead of a cohesive whole. There are several...

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Linseed Oil, an Ancient Friend (and Foe)

When Egyptian King Tutankhamun was buried in haste, the linen cloth he was wrapped in was soaked with linseed oil. And, perhaps because Tut was buried in haste, the oil was not allowed to cure. And so began one of the most common safety messages in relation to finishing: Spread out your oily rags...

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American Gothic: An Aumbry from Kentucky

Last night I put the first coat of linseed oil on this oak aumbry I’m building for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine and think it came out like I wanted. The oak is nothing special – just rift and quartered red and white oak off the rack at the lumberyard. I chose...