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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Don’t Kick the Bucket (Out of the Shop)

There’s a lot going on in the photo above that’s important when making casework. I have two case sides for a chest clamped together before dovetailing them. Here is a quick summary of what I’m doing: I’m going to dovetail both pieces at once, called “gang-cutting.” This saves time and makes it easier to...

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Coming: The Anarchist’s Tool Chest DVD

More than five years ago I built myself a full-size 18th-century style tool chest to replace the beat up blue one I’d been using since 1997 or so. That new chest was the subject of the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” and I didn’t think a single person in the world would build it....

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Improve the Grip of all Your Vises: $10

For many years I’ve lined the jaws of all my vises with sueded leather to improve their grip. Whenever I mention that I do this, I get a barrage of questions: Where do you buy suede? (Really? Any craft store, fabric store, Tandy etc.) What glue do you use? (Any glue. Hide, yellow glue,...

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Bad Luck with Hand Drills

While many people get warm and wet feelings about their smoothing planes, I have those emotions about my hand drill. Maybe it’s because I use a hand drill almost daily for nails and screws, especially after building a ton of campaign furniture with all the inset brasses. So this summer I gave away my...

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Breaking News: Mike Dunbar Retiring from Teaching

Mike Dunbar, the founder of The Windsor Institute and the leader in the renaissance in Windsor chairmaking announced today he is closing the school. According to an e-mail sent to students, Dunbar and his wife, Sue, have sold the the school’s buildings and as of March 31, will not be teaching chairmaking. The contents...

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A Quick Tour of my Not-so-great Workshop

Visitors to my shop are always surprised how small my shop is – 15’ x 25’ – and that I share it with the house’s furnace (it’s a friendly relationship, I promise, with good dust collection). At the request of a reader, here are some photos of my shop and some details of why...

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The Better Way to Get a Plane to Stop Cutting

Making “stop shavings” – where the plane cuts only one part of the board – is one of the keys to better edge joints and lots of other handplane techniques. But few people in my hand-tool classes have ever been told how to do it right. Most people do it like they are taking...

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The Best $139 I’ve Spent on my Bench

After 19 years of building workbenches and testing workholding devices, I am darn picky about what equipment I have on my benches. In truth, I don’t have a lot of vises on my benches because I prefer simple workholding. But when it comes to my leg vise – the most important part of my...

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How to Avoid Hours of Handplaning

The trick to becoming fast at handplaning is to never pause during stock preparation. No matter how you prepare your wood for a project (with machines, handplanes or some combination of the two) the biggest mistake you can make is to stop during the process for even an hour. Once you joint and plane...