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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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 thrilled when I...

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 Handworks this year,...

Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

Sitting at your workbench does not make you lazy. Many times it makes you smart. Chopping out the waste between dovetails requires endurance and patience – especially when building a large piece of casework with drawers. If you sit while chopping, you conserve energy and your eyes are closer to your chisel, improving accuracy....

Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it

On the way back from Handworks, editor Megan Fitzpatrick asked me a question I get a lot: “Does it irk you when people build your furniture designs and fail to credit you when they post them on social media?” Answer: Not at all. For me, the reward isn’t that someone praises my design. The...

How to Make 90° Your Best Friend

One of the great things about handwork is that 90° is not the most critical angle. While absolute 90° is a holy setting on machinery, 87° or 93° is just as easy to cut with a handsaw, plane or chisel. And so sometimes hand-tool users (myself included) denigrate absolute 90° as something reserved for...

Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone

Popular Woodworking Books has just reprinted the classic text “The Art and Craft of Cabinet-Making” by David Denning (1891) in a beautiful edition at a great price. If you are at all interested in historical woodworking methods, you should stop reading this blog entry and buy the book. It’s only $36 (with free domestic...

How to Fix a Split Seat

One of the most exciting (and frightening) aspects of building a Windsor-style chair is the ever-present possibility that you will split the seat when you drive the legs home. I always tell students: Keep hitting the leg’s tenon into its mortise until the very next strike will split the seat. Then stop. This is...

Use a Drill to Shape a Chair Seat

Though I’ve built a lot of chairs, I don’t own an adze, which is used to roughly shape a plank seat so it has a buttocks-shaped depression. I also don’t own any of the typical power-tool solutions, such as an angle grinder outfitted with a special cutter for seats. Instead, I have a scorp,...

Friendly Handworks Advice

If you’re headed to Handworks in Iowa this weekend, please do stop by the Lost Art Press and Crucible booths in the Festhalle to say hello. Your editor, Megan Fitzpatrick, has volunteered to give us a hand when she isn’t off exploring the amazing show. If this is your first Handworks, here are a...