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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About Me & Woodworking in America

It’s a strange world where I need to write a blog entry about this topic. Recently Editor Megan Fitzpatrick and I have been getting e-mails and phone calls with this basic question: “Why isn’t Schwarz going to Woodworking in America?” Then they ask: • Is it because Popular Woodworking Magazine doesn’t want him there?...


The Monogamy has Ended

When I teach people to sharpen edge tools, I am very much an “I’m OK, you’re OK” guy about the kinds of systems out there and whether you should use jigs or not. But there is one thing I’m all fire and waterstones about: Stick with one system until you know it – at...


It Floats. It’s Full of Stars….

I have lost track of how many vises I’ve built or installed on workbenches. So my early-morning giddiness about the Benchcrafted Crisscross is worth note. This week I’m putting a leg vise on my Holtzapffel workbench that will have both the new Benchcrafted Classic vise screw and the Crisscross Retro (instead of a parallel...


5 Mistakes Beginners Make with Block Planes

When I teach beginners, one of the most common phrases I hear is, “I cannot get this (insert tool name) to work. What’s wrong?” They hand the tool to me and the fun begins. Though block planes are dirt-simple handplanes, there are some important points about them that are rarely discussed in the literature....


Making a Vise Chop for a Benchcrafted Classic

I started making the wooden vise chop for a new leg vise for my Holtzapffel workbench (featured in “The Workbench Design Book”) using some crazy new hardware from Benchcrafted: the Classic vise screw and the Crisscross. The only downside to the Crisscross part of the assembly is that you need a vise chop that...


Another Engine

I have lost track of the number of wooden try squares I’ve built in the last five years. At this time last year I had the parts for about 20 mahogany squares in my shop. Now I’m down to one (the rattiest one I couldn’t sell) and some special parts for squares that I...


Tightening the ‘Stay-Set’ Chipbreaker

Last week I took my new Clifton No. 5 to teach a full-size toolchest class at The Woodworkers Club in Rockville, Md. Several of the students used it on their toolchests, which they made using cherry, pine or poplar. The plane did quite well – the iron stayed sharp through planing up an entire...


How to Stop Your Rabbets from Sloping

Cutting a square rabbet with a rabbeting plane is a challenge for beginners; usually they cut a rabbet that slopes in toward the shoulder or away from the shoulder. When I teach people how to use a moving fillister plane, here are some tips I offer them to assist their efforts. 1. Don’t hold...


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...