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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The Mistakes of First-time Bench-builders

If you’re about to embark on building your first workbench, you might want to read this blog entry. I expect you to discard every piece of advice in it (most bench-builders do) and build the crazy contraption you’ve planned out in your head. Here, in my opinion, are the most common missteps woodworkers make...


An Economic Truth About Cut Nails

I prefer to use cut nails in reproduction work because they hold better and look right to my eye. But when it comes to cut headless brads, which are used to hold moulding in place while the glue dries, I don’t think these nails are the right choice for me. While cut nails are...


Reverse Hide Glue’s Bond

Whenever I talk about glue to clubs and classes, I hand around a bottle of liquid hide glue and ask them to tell me what its disadvantages are. “It’s weak.” Actually no, it produces a bond stronger than the wood itself. “It stinks.” Hide glue smells only as bad as a wet rawhide chew...


When Weird Chests Look Less Weird

For most of my life, I thought wood that was grain-painted looked like… an unprintable bad word that rhymes with “bass.” Many pieces of furniture were grain-painted to make a less-expensive wood look like a nicer wood. During the Arts & Crafts era, pine was painted to look like quartersawn oak. If you go...


For Those Who Love Books, Travel & Joinery

When I was a kid, I used books to escape from my (boring) Arkansas upbringing. Today, I use books to escape from the drudgery of air travel. Every room in our house is full of books, and there is never enough room for them all. So as a woodworker, I’m always building more bookcases...


5 Must-build FREE Project Plans!

When I started work at Popular Woodworking in 1996, the goal was to cram as many projects into each issue as possible. No techniques. No tool reviews. Just 17 to 20 projects. Oh, and we couldn’t use outside authors to help. As a result, we were building all day, everyday. And we were always...

Mexican workbench.

Workbenches, Mexi-Roman Style

Discussions about the proper height for a workbench always crack me up because they are usually myopic in the extreme. When you look at workbenches across long periods of time and across cultures, there is a lot more diversity. Roman workbenches, for example, were about knee high. And lest you think that bench went...