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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Make a Marking Gauge for Curves

If you work with curves, you need a marking gauge that can deal with curves. Me, I make chairs. So I need a gauge that can follow the curve of a seat so I can delineate the lines for the scooped-out saddle, the spindles and the “gutter” – a shallow and...

The Tools in the Bottom of my Tool Chest

The tools at the bottom of my chest are the heavy and expensive stuff – the planes and saws that get constantly used. At the back of the chest are my moulding planes. And the front wall of my chest has a tool rack that contains the stuff I need to...

A Dovetailing Kit for Beginners

Last week I discussed the Zona Razor Saw and how it’s the ideal saw for beginning dovetailers. It’s just $12 to $15 and cuts extremely well. This saw got me thinking about what other inexpensive tools could fill out the kit for the beginner (or someone who is short on money)....

The Tools in the Third Till of my Tool Chest

The bottomost till in my chest carries the heavy stuff that isn’t on the floor of the chest, and stuff that doesn’t fit in the top two tills and has migrated downward. Three of my essential planes are here, as are some of my most important measuring equipment. When you keep...

The Best Dovetail Saw for Beginners

I get asked all the time about which dovetail saw is best for a beginner. It’s a difficult question because saws now come in a crazy variety of prices and configurations, from Japanese dozukis to premium handmade Western saws to well-manufactured mid-range saws. So I usually duck the question and suggest...

The Tools in the Second Till of my Tool Chest

The second till of my tool chest sits right below the top till and is almost exactly the same size. My trips to this till are infrequent. This till holds the small items I don’t use every day, including the spare bits and blades, a few specialty chisels and a bunch...

Tools in the Top Till of my Tool Chest

I am asked on a regular basis about the hand tools I keep in my tool chest. In fact, when people visit my Covington, Ky., workshop during the days we are open to the public, some people have photographed every tool in my chest. I’m going to list brand names. But...

Reviewing Saws (and Automobiles) is Kinda Dumb

First, let me say that I am guilty of the behavior that I am discussing below. When I reviewed tools for Popular Woodworking Magazine for 20 years, I fell into the trap I’m about to describe. After decades of woodworking, I have achieved a bit of wisdom. And I think this...

bench planes

The 6 Stages of Tool Love, Hate & Obsession

Like the life cycle of a frog, woodworkers go through a predictable pattern when acquiring tools. I’ve watched it play out with thousands of readers, hundreds of students and my own tool chest. Here are the 6 stages most of us go through. Get Tools, Any Tools When I first decided...