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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Eleventy-hundred Benches Later, a New Glue

I know that some day I’ll perfect building these simple French workbenches, but it won’t be today. After 10 years of making benches by myself and in groups, I’m finding new strategies for making them better. The last time we built these French oak workbenches the wood was wet – sometimes out of the...

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The Best Jointer Fence I’ve Used

All stock jointer fences stink. No matter how tightly you crank them down or how gingerly you treat them, they won’t remain square to the tables. Why? Because they can be adjusted off 90°. Anything that can be adjusted will eventually go out of adjustment. So today at the French Oak Roubo Project, we...

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Big Workbenches Need Big Machines

This week a team of 25 woodworkers is in Barnesville, Ga., to build 17 massive French workbenches using ancient oak imported from France and every bit of machinery muscle we can get. I love hand tools, but when it comes to moving around 400-pound slabs of oak, I’m happy to see a forklift coming...

The commercial chair as purchased.

A Happy Ending for a Terrible Chair

Upholsterer Mike Mascelli was kind enough to send along some photos of what happened in his class to the terrible chair frame I wrote about this week. It’s a bit like the story of George Washington’s axe in a museum. After George died, the next owner wore out the head and replaced it. The...

The crappy frame below the upholstery.

Typical (& Frightening) Chair Construction

Most modern, factory-made furniture is poorly constructed – most woodworkers agree on that point. But would you ever call it dangerous? This fall while teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, I got a moment to peek in at the upholstery class being run by Mike Mascelli, a New York-based professional who does...

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My Difficult Relationship With Exotics

Being raised Protestant, guilt isn’t at the fiber of my being. But I know guilt; my wife is Catholic. And I get a feeling that resembles guilt whenever I work with tropical hardwoods. Like many woodworkers, I’ve read a lot about C.I.T.E.S., both in the mainstream media and in the woodworking world (here’s W....

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Modern ‘Register Calipers’ Available from Woodpeckers

One of my favorite tools from the Studley tool cabinet are his register calipers, which are displayed prominently on the right-hand side of the cabinet. These calipers were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell out of favor when dial calipers became inexpensive. Since first encountering these locking calipers I...

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First Look: ‘Workbenches, Revised Edition’

ShopWoodworking.com is now taking pre-orders for the new revised edition of “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” for $34.99 plus free domestic shipping. The book will be released on or about Oct. 20. I spent several months earlier this year on the revision to the book and am quite pleased with...