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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Smoothing Milk Paint & Other Rough Surfaces

If your painted finish feels a little rough, you need to go to the liquor store. OK, that doesn’t make sense, so let’s back up a couple weeks when I was teaching a bunch of young woodworkers how to build a tool chest by hand at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. After building...

Before: This is how I was cutting sliding dovetails and rabbets by hand.

A Tip for Handsawing Rabbets & Sliding Dovetails

I’ve been cutting a lot of large-scale sliding dovetails and rabbets lately. And when these housed joints get to a certain size (think of a dovetail socket that is 4” wide and 30” long) it’s much more efficient to saw out the walls by hand. When I need the rabbets or sliding dovetails to...

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A Tale of Two Hand Drills

Buying vintage tools through the mail can be frustrating – and expensive if the seller does not allow you to return the item. My favorite way to buy old tools is – hands down – in person and at a meeting of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. If you need tools and cannot buy...

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A Look at the Seaton Tool Chest

The first real tool chest that I built was based (loosely) on Benjamin Seaton’s famous tool chest that now resides at the Guildhall Museum in Rochester, England. Most woodworkers know it because of the famous book “The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton” – now in its second edition, and one of the core books...

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Chinese Workbenches – a Little Bit Roman?

When you start studying ancient woodworking tools, it’s the similarities that are most striking – not the differences. Saws, chisels and planes – the core tools of the furniture maker – are only mildly different in the East and West. While some people amplify those differences – pushing a saw vs. pulling it is...

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A Furniture Show, Vandals & a Mystery

Two weeks ago I managed to spend a few hours at the Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design in Cheltenham, an impressive display of bespoke furniture makers both young and seasoned. Contemporary English furniture always makes my head shift gears. Most of the stuff I see in America has roots in traditional design. But in...

David Savage in his personal shop at Rowden.

A Tour of David Savage’s Workshop and School

For the last two weeks I’ve been teaching a course and taking a class in veneering at David Savage’s school and workshop, which sits on a farm in rural Devon. It is an inspiring place where amateurs and professionals hone their skills to the highest level – piston-fit drawers, London-pattern dovetails, drawing, design, veneering...

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A (Still) Better Way to Plane Chair Seats

For many years I’ve used the following trick to plane irregular-shaped objects: Screw a square block to the underside of the piece and then clamp that block in my face vise. It’s a trick that I showed in my 2007 book “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use.” (Psst, the second edition...