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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Rosin – Your Sticky Friend in the Workshop

Woodworkers use waxes (and other things) to decrease friction, but what about when we want to increase friction? Lately I’ve been trying inexpensive rosin – intended for the bows of stringed instruments – with excellent results. Rosin is a byproduct of heating tree sap to make turpentine or a variety of...

A Different Way to Use a Doe’s Foot

During the last few years, the doe’s foot has become one of my most important workbench appliances. Paired with a holdfast, the doe’s foot can eliminate the need for a tail vise on a workbench. I have about four of these doe’s feet at my bench, and I’ve found some surprising...

Born to Fail at Woodworking

No matter how long I work in this craft, there are days when I feel incapable of doing anything correctly. Such as today. Readers love to be reminded that even people who do this every day suffer regular failures. If you like to wallow in other people’s misery, this post is...

Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy

Two years ago I wrote about some unusual homemade winding sticks I encountered in North Carolina (read the article here). Instead of using inlay to help broadcast a board’s twisted state to your eyes, these used a pair of half-moon cutouts. They worked brilliantly, perhaps better than any other set I’ve...

In Praise of the Cork Sanding Block

When I wrote about the 50 or so essential hand tools you need to make furniture in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I neglected to include my cork sanding block in that list. I think the reason I forgot was that the block is as essential as my marking knife. I know...

Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy

It’s difficult to argue against perfection in woodworking. That’s because the counter argument is something like: “You’re a hack and can’t get it right, and so you say that your imperfections are intentional.” Or put another way, you can’t be too rich, too thin or have joinery that is too perfect....

The Case Against Tail Vises

If workbenches were like automobiles, then I’d consider the tail vise to be like the heated seats in a car. They’re an option, of course, but they are by no means standard equipment, like tires. Out of economic necessity, my first three workbenches didn’t have tail vises, and so I was...

The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness

I don’t care for gizmos, jigs and silly accessories. So even though I spend a fair amount of time on the lathe, I resisted purchasing the Galbert Caliper for many years. In its place, I used go/no-go gauges, box wrenches and traditional turning calipers (which are the worst). But while at...