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.

Follow this blog with e-mail alerts here. | Follow on RSS here. Chris Schwarz Blog RSS Feed

check_square_IMG_9940-(1)

Check Squareness on Big Pieces

When you’re building casework, your parts really need dead square ends if you hope to fit drawers, dividers or a gallery inside. I don’t trust any table saw gizmo to give me square cuts. And I don’t trust my shooting board, either. The only thing I trust is a square that has been tested...

poplar_backboards_IMG_5196

Faster and Better and Healthier and….

Sometimes I feel the need to test myself, particularly when it comes to crap I say and crap I do. For many years I’ve contended that using handplanes is faster in almost every workshop situation – versus even a random-orbit, DA and drum sander. (I’ve not faced an industrial wide-belt sander. Yet.) Recently I...

bracket_IMG_5177

Use ‘Gun Blue’ to Instantly Blacken Hardware

I use blacksmith-made hardware whenever I (or my customers) can afford it. But if you’re on a budget or have hundreds of pieces of hardware for a project, it’s time to visit the gun store. My favorite way to blacken steel, iron or even zinc-plated hardware is to brush on a thin coat of...

maple_IMG_5156

How to Test for Case-hardened Lumber

Thanks to the long-term relationships I’ve made with lumber merchants, I have little trouble with them sending me crappy stock. But even after 20-something years of buying wood from my suppliers, there are times when I get a bogus load of wood. Most problems can be solved by knowing what is standard in the...

FM_oak_IMG_5133

Don’t Forget the Quality of the Kiln

While I prefer to work with air-dried lumber, that’s not always possible for woodworkers who use a lot of wood or don’t have access to a dealer who air-dries stock. One of the major problems with kiln-dried lumber is that it is sometimes rushed through the kiln to get it to market. As a...

atkins_cover

Free Download: ‘Atkins Saw Book for Home Craftsmen’

Shortly before my friend Carl Bilderback died last year, he gave me a carload of woodworking books, catalogs and other ephemera that he had amassed during a lifetime of tool collecting and woodworking. His instructions: Distribute the books to young woodworkers who can’t afford them. Since his death, I’ve done just that. And all...

bow_screwed_IMG_5084

Pocket Screws: The Mightiest Little Clamp

I don’t have enough elitism in my bloodstream to poop on pocket screws too much. For starters, they are incredibly ingenious and allow people to build things with only a handful of tools and almost no clamps. And they have been around for a long time – I’ve seen pocket screws in many piece...

roorkee_front2_IMG_7819

Woodworking Advice from the Food Industry

Making good food is a lot like making good furniture – you need good raw materials, skill and a decent set of basic tools. Last weekend I was talking to my brother-in-law about his job, which is supplying high-quality ingredients to restaurants. He’s been in the business long enough that he ends up mentoring...

jack_plane_IMG_4949

Hand Tools: What is Most Common is Most Precious

At the beginning of a hand tool class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, one of the students stopped me as I was passing by his bench. “I have a question for you,” he said. “What is this plane for?” He held up a chisel plane. “I thought it looked really useful,” he...