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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Anarchist’s 2016 Gift Guide, Day 3: Humidity Monitor

A lot of woodworking problems can be avoided simply by monitoring the relative humidity in your shop with a simple and inexpensive hygrometer. In most areas of the United States, the target relative humidity for inside buildings is 35 to 45 percent, though that will vary if you live in a desert or a...

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Anarchist’s 2016 Gift Guide, Day 1: Clauss Scissors

Well-made high-carbon scissors are a joy to use and are indispensable in my shop for cutting paper patterns to shape, trimming veneer and 100 other tasks. For years I used junky office scissors but finally got my hands on a pair of traditional hot-forged dress makers shears from Clauss. Despite their reasonable cost (less...

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Another Way to Drill Plumb Dog Holes

There are dozens of ways to drill dog holes that dead-nuts plumb, and I’ve written about many of them during the last 17 years. My favorites use the fewest tools and jiggery – not everyone has a big plunge router with massive bits or can clamp a drill press to the benchtop. This method...

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Get Four Feet Flat on the Floor

Getting all four feet of a chair or table in the same plane can be a challenge. What makes the task more difficult is that it can be difficult to figure out when you are done with the job of leveling the feet. After all, your shop floor, your workbench or your table saw...

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2 More Ways to Improve your Vise’s Grip

We’re always looking for ways to improve the grip of the vises on our workbenches. During the last decade I’ve discussed how to use suede or adhesive-backed cork to improve a vise’s gripping power. Benchcrafted recommends “Crubber” (which I haven’t tried yet) and many woodworkers simply use adhesive-backed sandpaper. Last year, Jennie Alexander sent...

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Why Handmade Chairs are Better: Tension & Imperfection

There are many reasons that factory-made chairs fall apart, but I think the biggest reason is they lack what handmade chairs have in droves: tension in their assemblies due to imperfections in the angles. If you’ve ever had to repair a factory chair you might have noticed this: All the parts fit perfectly –...

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A Trick to Sawing Compound Angles & Odd Shapes

The trickiest cut when building a chair or stool is leveling the feet. This cut is always a wacky compound angle. And when you combine a compound angle with a foot that is an odd shape, such as the octagon shown here, it can be difficult to keep your saw in the right plane....