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.

To receive Daily Update e-mails with Chris’s latest blog posts, click here.

polissoir_IMG_0335

The 2014 Anarchist’s Gift Guide: Day 2

It’s easy to be skeptical about the polissoir. Could a bundle of broom corn radically change the way you finish some pieces of work? All of us who worked on the translation of A.-J. Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier” were wary when we translated the section on the polissoir – literally “polisher.” So we were...

AA-lead_holder_IMG_0324

The 2014 Anarchist’s Gift Guide: Day 1

Full disclosure: The following gift ideas are 100-percent unsponsored. I bought all these tools myself and would buy them all again – that’s why they are on this list. First on my list for 2014 is a tool you don’t see much in woodshops, but you should. It’s called a “lead holder” by artists...

roorkee_front2_IMG_7819

A Faster Way to Assemble a Roorkee

Roorkee chairs are great fun to show customers – until they ask me to take it apart and put it back together for them. For the first year or so, I was pretty slow at putting them together because there are eight buckles to tighten up all while keeping the loose parts from falling...

amps_IMG_0222

How I Read & Write Tool Reviews, Part 4

If you haven’t figured it out, I’m wary of tool reviews in magazines or online. With rare exception they are uninformed or (worse) misguided. And believe me: I am the first to admit that I was uninformed and misguided when I started writing and editing these reviews in the 1990s. In my experience, Milquetoast...

basque_support1_DSC_8232

A Basque Planing Support

There are lots of ways to get around not having a sliding deadman – sometimes called a “board jack” – on your workbench. For the last 15 months I have been working on a bench without a deadman or a tail vise, so I am always looking out for novel solutions. This weekend a...

IMG_0189

How to Read & Write Tool Reviews, Part 3

For experienced woodworkers, it’s easy to ignore tool reviews and say: “I just buy the brands that have served me well.” But what if you know little about the different brands? When I was growing up, Skil made fantastic circular saws. Black & Decker made good drills. Craftsman put its name on some good...

dials_IMG_0185

How I Read Tool Reviews (And Write Them), Part 2

Most tool reviews aren’t really reviews. They’re press releases dressed up with a lab coat and a clipboard to look respectable. For experienced woodworkers, these faux-reviews are easy to spot and ignore. What are the signs? They’re missing key information about the tool’s place in the market compared to its competitors. Even more telling,...