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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New No. 2 Tote; New Finish

This weekend I drew up the plans to make a new tote for my No. 2 plane, and I realized I need to order a $10 drill bit to do the job. So instead I decided to modify the existing tote to see how far I could take it. After studying the tote for...

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Are You Suffering From Smoothing Plane Bloat?

Among the smoothing planes that Stanley Works made (which includes the Nos. 1 to 4), the company sold far more No. 4s than any other size, according to Stanley collectors. That was my rationale for buying a No. 4 many years ago. I still think it’s a good size for a handplane, with a...

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Fine -tune a Handplane’s Back Iron

For me, the goal with my smoothing plane is to set it up so I can ignore the grain direction of a board or a glued-up panel. There are many valid ways to do this. For most woodworkers I know, there are two ways to accomplish this goal that we all agree upon: Sharpen...

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An Experiment: Changing Smoothing Planes for a Year

I’m the weirdo who counts the number of steps and hand motions it takes me to brew a cup of coffee. And I’m always looking for ways to shave away a few minutes here and there from my routine activities (for example, brushing my teeth while simultaneously fetching my clothes for the day). So...

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New Campaign Stool Hardware from Lee Valley

At long last, there is a fantastic and reasonably priced tri-bolt available so you can make your own campaign stool. The hardware is beautifully machined from solid brass and stainless steel, made in Canada and is only $34.50 (U.S.). You can order it directly from Lee Valley here. I’ve made at least 20 of...

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Handplanes: The Long and Short of Flat

Basic handplane theory states that long planes are for straightening wood and short planes are for smoothing it. The planes in the middle can do either job or be set up for roughing out the work. But all planes do some straightening of the work, and most planes do some smoothing, too. So this...

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Northwest Timber Seeks Lumber Perfection

While walking through the ridiculously tidy racks at Northwest Timber in Jefferson, Ore., I realized at that moment something that hadn’t fully occurred to me during the last 20 years. I am buying, transporting and storing a lot of garbage. Not “garbage” in the sense that the wood is of poor quality. But garbage...

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A Tour of the Blue Spruce Factory

Some of my favorite tools come from Blue Spruce Toolworks outside Portland, Ore. I own three of the different mallets Dave Jeske makes, plus several of his fantastic chisels and, of course, one of his marking knives. I was one of Jeske’s early customers when he started making marking knives about 13 years ago...