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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When the Machine’s Guard Becomes Dangerous

Machine guards are supposed to protect us from harm, but there are times when they can turn against you. The worst injury I’ve ever received from a machine was cutting my hands on the anti-kickback pawls while installing my table saw’s guard. Yesterday I ran into trouble on my jointer with...

Make Your Own ‘Drawing Bow’

If you design furniture or work a lot with curved parts, it’s difficult to function without a “drawing bow.” This simple jig – a stick and a string – allows you to lay out precise and large curves with only two hands. Before I could afford a commercial one (Lee Valley...

Handplane Maintenance (That Most People Forget)

Metal-bodied planes require so little maintenance (aside from sharpening) that it’s easy to forget that they do need some love every year to work smoothly. Recently I borrowed a friend’s smoothing plane to demonstrate a cut and was struck by how easily her iron adjusted. It was like silk. I thought...

The Strength of a Chair Comes from Imperfection

If you’ve ever used a hand-cut rasp or a hand-filed saw you know how their tiny imperfections from handwork make the tool cut smoother. When it comes to making chairs, the small handmade imperfections are what give it its strength. If you build a lot of casework, I am sure you...

Podcast: The Afterlife of Trees

Popular Woodworking Magazine has just launched a new podcast that…. Wait, wait. Where are you going? Give me a few moments to explain. Look, we know the woodworking world has enough podcasts. So when Scott Francis decided to create “The Afterlife of Trees,” a lot of the discussion was about what the...

Folding Bookstand Made with Rivets

For the June 2018 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I’ve built a folding and adjustable bookstand that is assembled with copper rivets and folds up to a neat package about the size of smartphone. It’s a quick and fun project that uses shop scraps and regular shop equipment. The result is...

Yellow Glue & its Weird Superpowers

A friend in Utah needed a new kitchen and interviewed some cabinetmakers to do the job. My friend wanted dovetailed drawers, but one cabinetmaker said he had “something better.” What could be better? “It’s glue and super-high clamp pressure,” the cabinetmaker said. If you apply enough pressure, he said, the joint...

Real-life Test: Do You Need Glue?

I build my chairs in a way where glue is only a minor player. And after a stupid mistake yesterday, I now get to test how effective my strategy is. Before I pull my pants down and tell you how I messed up, here’s the set-up. The stretchers and legs of...

My First Experience with Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Here in the Midwest, we seem to have a lot more Buckeyes who are people (it’s the nickname for Ohioans) than actual buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra, sometimes called the horse chestnut). In fact, I’ve lived in the range of the Ohio Buckeye tree for most of my adult life and have...