In Chris Schwarz Blog

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So today I get a copy of the WoodWorker’s Book Club bulletin and it lists the “Top 50 Member Favorites.” I eagerly flipped through to see if my book on workbenches made the list.

It did. It was No. 30.

I was quite pleased by this bit of news. It was good to be on the same list as Taunton’s “Complete Illustrated Guides” (at No. 1), Kerry Pierce’s “Pleasant Hill Shaker Furniture” (No. 2) and Jim Tolpin’s “Measure Twice, Cut Once” (No. 3, and one of my favorite woodworking books).

But my moment of glee was quickly flung into the dirty litterbox when I saw what aced me out at No 28: “Black & Decker’s 24 Weekend Projects for Pets.”  

That put my tail between my legs. Time to go home and start writing that birdhouse book I’ve had on the back burner.

– Christopher Schwarz

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  • Doug Fulkerson

    Don’t worry. It’s just a subversive tactic started by Wives Against Schwarz that runs something like this.

    The Scene: A Woodworking Husband and his wife are at the local bookstore. They have reached the section that has Chris’ book in it. After browsing a bit, the WH sees Workbenches and after skimming through the first chapter or two realizes this is exactly the kind of book he needs to make the bench he has needed and wanted for so long. He then turns to his wife.

    Woodworking Husband: "Oh darling love of my life, I’m thinking of building a workbench; a real one that I can finally build that [insert project of spouse’s desire]you have been asking me to for the past [insert appropriate number of years].

    Woodworking Husbands Spouse: Sees the book in WH’s hands and because of her Wives Against Schwarz Tactical Evade and Destroy (WASTED) training, initiates an Alpha 11 procedure."Oh, sweetheart. That is wonderful, but you know that you have promised and promised and promised to build [insert name of pet(s) here] a [insert project], [insert project], and a [insert project]. Why look at this." She grabs the Black & Decker’s 24 Weekend Projects for Pets, a Wives Against Schwarz approved book, and points out several projects involving scrap materials and tools the WH already owns. "I think you can get these done quickly, and [insert pet(s) name here] will love you forever. Now, we want to keep [insert pet(s) name here] happy don’t we?" and bats her eyelashes.

    WH: Knowing full well that keeping [insert pet(s) name here] happy is the same as keeping the spouse happy, realizes he is boxed into a corner. Desperately, he grasps for a solution. "Ok,precious love of my life, we’ll get both books."

    WHS:Three steps ahead of WH, as usual, smiles and says, "But, darling, we can’t exceed this week’s budget. We can only afford one book. I know you’re disappointed, but we can come back and get that Workbench book (silently gags to herself) after you’ve done these simple little projects that won’t take a big, strong woodworker like you anytime at all to finish."

    WH: "Well, I don’t know…"

    WHS: Sensing she has him on the ropes, feigns anger and says,"I can’t believe you would deny our poor pet(s)decent, civilized treatment." Begins to raise her voice and attract attention from other browsers. "Did I marry a man who would put his own selfish interests ahead of poor, defenseless animals who rely on him and love him? Is this how far you would stoop?"

    WH: Embarrassed by all the stares from other shoppers, hastily shoves the Workbench book out of sight at the back of the shelf, denying other would-be-bench builders the opportunity of knowing it exists. "No, of course not, dear. You know I would never do anything to harm our pet(s)." Stumbles around for a rationale to explain his behavior and instinctively falls back on an old stand by. "I just wasn’t thinking, sweet pea, that’s all. Of course, we’ll buy the other book. You know nothing is too good for our pet(s)." He says this in a loud voice so everyone in the store doesn’t think he is an animal hater.

    WHS: Smiles and says, "I knew you would come around, dear." Kisses him on the cheek, takes him by the hand, and starts walking towards the check out line carefully keeping herself between the WH and the magazine aisle in case he catches a glimpse of Popular Woodworking or Woodworking Magazine on the way out. Inwardly she is full of joy at striking a blow against the Nasty, Evil Schwarz; Home Wrecker and Toolmonger Extraordinaire.

    If you have been a victim of this kind of tactic,or others, you can receive help at, a non-profit organization put together by Bachelor Woodworkers of America. You can send your dues to us via the tab marked "Beer Money", eh, rather that’s "Join Now". All major credit cards excepted. You can also download the pamphlets, "How Chris Schwarz Saved My Woodworking Project" by Reinholdt T. Jones, Roy Underhill’s wife’s third cousin by marriage’s brother in law, and "Wise and Caring Sayings of Our Father" by Chris’ daughters, illustrations by the authors. Those who join now will get the official organization lapel pin carved from hard maple and inlaid with walnut and bubinga showing Chris in profile and shellacked, as only he deserves. The next 250 members who join will receive 10 ounces of woodshavings made by Chris graciously donated by him via dark of night and the Popular Woodworking shop dumpster. Act now while supplies last.

    You see, it all makes sense.

    Doug (with tongue in cheek)

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Thanks Peg!

    Peg runs the Woodworker’s Book Club and is responsible for me scratching my way up to No. 30. However, she had to put her foot down and insist that justice be served: Pet Beds Must Rule!

    I think that’s what she said….


  • Peg @WoodWorker's Book Club

    I second what Dave said. You are hilarious. And just so you know, you’re ALWAYS number 1 in our book. Even if it does say #30….


  • Reed Robinson

    Chris, I’ve recommended your book to every single woodworker I know and several random people at my local woodworking store who had the misfortune of audibly discussing their plans to build a bench in the near future while I was in the next aisle over! "Don’t build a bench without reading this book first" I tell them. "If it doesn’t change something about what you were planning on doing, I’ll buy it from you myself!" Everyone always seems to appreciate the recommendation:)

    It’s a great book and the best wwing dollars I’ve ever spent in terms of sheer value. I can’t wait to build my own Roubo. Keep up the great work and don’t pay any attention to B&D crowd, they were never your audience:)


  • mike Siemsen

    the pet people will roll over to your side when they realize they need a good workbench to build the stuff!

    Pride goes before a fall.

  • David

    Chris – I know you’re joking, but please don’t. They are way, way too many books on kitschy little woodworking doo-dads out there, and there’s a lot of us that think they should be banned. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good.

  • Ron Hock

    _Birdhouses: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use_.

    Can’t wait to read it!


  • Luke Townsley

    I guess some people just don’t know true class when they see it. which begs the question, Why was Black & Decker’s 24 Weekend Projects for Pets’ only #28?…

    Seriously, in my book (pun intended), you would have been in at least the top ten right after… Oh nevermind.

    Anyway, the first link in the article seems to "WoodWorker’s Book Club" is broken. It seems it requires the www prefix to work.

  • Wilbur Pan

    Weekend projects for pets? I had no idea my dog knew how to use a band saw.

  • Dave Beverly


    You kill me.


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