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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Design Brief No. 5: The Danish Campaign Chest

When you set out to design a piece of furniture, don’t be surprised if you end up designing four or five pieces in the same vein. With this campaign chest, I ended up with three separate designs: A Baltic birch plywood version with round stainless steel pulls and a base that uses 4” casters....

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Design Brief No. 4: The Danish Campaign Chest

Unlike other furniture designers, I have a handicap. When I design something I am burdened by 15 years of designing furniture for a magazine audience. During those years, I sought to simplify construction and ornament on every piece so that we could fit it into a six- to eight-page article in the magazine. That...

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Design Brief No. 3: The Danish Campaign Chest

A lot of Danish Modern dressers are taller than your typical campaign chest because the designers added a drawer or two. But some of them look like the pieces shown here. After staring at the 25 campaign chests from part 1 of this series I hope you can see the connection. We have an...

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Design Brief No. 2: The Danish Campaign Chest

So after looking at the 25 campaign chests in the previous post, did you spot any patterns? What I see with these chests is that most of them are a square shape that is perched on some sort of plinth. After measuring a bunch of them, the typical size is 36” long x 40”...

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Design Brief No. 1: The Danish Campaign Chest

While there are a dozen good ways to design a piece of furniture, I can write intelligently only about my own methods. I designed my first piece of furniture in 1993 and have – surprisingly – stuck with the same basic technique for the last 23 years. It doesn’t involve formulas or ratios (though...

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Squaring Up Cabinets – Don’t Forget the Back

When gluing up a frameless cabinet, we all know that we have to square up the carcase before the glue cures – otherwise the doors and drawers will never fit well. When working with beginners and many intermediate woodworkers, they usually square up only the front of the case with diagonal clamping pressure. You...

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James Krenov in the 1990s

When James Krenov died in late 2009 (wow, has it been that long?) I wondered at great length what would happen to his reputation. For some undefinable reason, when some influential woodworkers die, their legacy seems to fade with each passing year. See Tage Frid and Alan Peters for examples of this. And others...

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A Clamping Tip for Wet (or Weakened) Hands

Sometimes I can have seven or eight panel glue-ups going at once. When that happens, my hands get pretty wet and slimy from all the water and wet glue. At times it makes it near impossible to get a grip on my wooden-handled clamps. I’ve also taught many students who have a reduced grip...

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‘Dancing Master’ Calipers

I have a hammer that looks like a squirrel. And I wish I had one that looked like a goat (alas, those are pretty rare and expensive). A little bit of whimsy in your tools is a good thing – it makes the connection that that natural world and the built world are connected....