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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Shannon Rogers’ Big French Saw. Dang.

Shannon Rogers of the Hand Tool School brought along his 48”-long Roubo frame saw to the Saturday meeting of the Chesapeake chapter of the Society of American Furniture Makers, explained its details and (most importantly) let us try it out during lunch. It was so effortless to use (as long as you used your...

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Settling Debts: An Update on Clifton Handplanes

Though I’ve been a non-editor at both Popular Woodworking and The Fine Tool Journal for almost three years now, I still have debts to pay. And I take those debts seriously. One of my first reviews for The Fine Tool Journal, which was reprinted in the book “Handplane Essentials,” is a review of Clifton...

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The Church of ‘Leave me Alone, Please’

During the last 17 years that I have been using a honing guide to sharpen, I’ve been approached (sometimes nearly assaulted) by people who want to teach me to sharpen freehand. My response: “I sharpen freehand all the time.” They don’t believe me, and so they spend an hour or so to show me...

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Quick Like a Dutchman

During the last year, I have been trying to figure out how to build the Dutch Tool Chest in two days during a class without sacrificing any of the joinery or important handwork lessons. I think I have it pretty much nailed. If you are interested in building one of these chests (featured in...

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Fast Prototypes of Bamboo-leg Stools

While waiting for a flight to Alaska today I decided to spend my morning knocking out prototypes of a folding camp stool using bamboo turnings. The first piece of custom furniture I ever owned was a bookcase that my grandfather made for me. The bookcase was huge – almost 7’ tall – because all...

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A Place to Call ‘Hone’

When I think of all the things that improved my sharpening skills, two things loom large. No. 1 is practice, of course, but close behind that is a dedicated sharpening tray. About 14 years ago I built a shallow tray from scrap plywood, nails and glue. No fancy joinery, no water-resistant materials and no...

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Questions About the ‘Moxon Vise’

Almost every day I get some sort of question about the ‘Moxon vise,” a double-screw vise that I wrote about for the December 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. It’s an ingenious portable vise that has been around for almost 400 years, yet it still generates controversy and questions whenever it is in the...

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The Most Domesticated Dog

One of the unanswerable questions in woodworking is: What type of bench dog is best? (Other unanswerables: What does Peter Follansbee hide in his beard? How many puns are possible with the word “rabbet?” Would you like to see my feathered crotch?) At least on the bench dog question, I have answered it for...

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An Observation on Vintage Handplanes

Note: I started writing this blog entry more than a year ago. I shelved it and have revisited it several times since. Each time, I thought: I don’t need this kind of grief. For whatever reason (four beers, perhaps?), I offer this as an observation based on teaching students, both amateur and professional. For...