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Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz

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Updated: 31 min 36 sec ago

Coming in 2018: The Lost Art Press Work Jacket

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:24pm

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I have two favorite garments: a beat-up motorcycle jacket for winter and a traditional French work jacket for the other three seasons.

The work jacket, sometimes called a bleu de travail, was popular in the late 19th century and the early 20th century among the French working classes – especially farmers, masons and woodworkers.

The jackets are simple, unlined and incredibly durable. They typically feature four roomy pockets – three on the outside and a fourth on the inside that usually is embroidered with the maker’s name. The only other evidence of the pedigree of the garment is usually found engraved on the buttons.

I wear mine in the shop and when working on our building. The pockets are great for holding tools and the jacket is designed to accommodate a wide range of motion. I can saw and plane in this jacket, and it moves nicely with me. In fact, many times I simply forget I’m wearing it. The more it gets beat up, the better it looks.

It’s also just nice enough to wear out to dinner (once I dust it off).

Most of the French work jackets you’ll find for sale are blue, which was the preferred color of farmers and all-purpose laborers. Management wore a similar jacket in a light grey or white. But French (and German) woodworkers definitely preferred black.

For many years I’ve wanted Lost Art Press to produce a work jacket that was faithful to the originals in every way, including the cotton moleskin cloth, the distinct stitching, the engraved buttons and even the embroidered inside pocket. And, because I’m a woodworker, I wanted to offer it in black.

So we’ve teamed up with designer and woodworker Tom Bonamici, who is similarly obsessed with these jackets. Tom has designed a work jacket based on a vintage one he owns. And last week, the factory (here in the United States, of course) produced the first successful prototype.

We are very excited.

In the coming weeks, Tom is going to share the history of these jackets, the details of their construction and how a garment goes from a cool idea to something you want to wear every day. And, in early 2018, we will offer these for sale.

We don’t have prices or a timeline yet. But all that is coming soon.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Geometry in Time for the Holidays

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:15am

Christ the Geometer

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s perform some simple, ancient geometry to create the iconic symbols of the two religions celebrating major holidays this month. You’ll need only a compass, a straightedge, a piece of paper and a couple of candles to illuminate your work. In chronological order (in more ways than one) let’s start with Judaism’s Star of David:

Scan_20171212

Begin with a circle and mark the focal point. We have actually started with the symbol for Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god for whom winter solstice was celebrated for thousands of years prior to Judaism – but that may or may not be another story.

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Now draw a line vertically through the focal point (i.e. a diameter) and mark its intersection points at the rim.

Scan_20171212 (3)

Next set the compass to span from one of the rim intersection points to the focal point and swing an arc through the rim as shown. Mark the arc’s intersection points.

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Repeat from the other rim intersection and mark two more rim points.

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Connect all the rim points across the circle.

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Erase the circle rim, diameter line and interior arcs and you are left with the Star of David. Now let’s create the Christian cross–also from the intersection of line and circle:

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Again we’ll start with a circle (which came to represent the heavens), but this time we’ll draw the diameter line at about a 45° angle.

Scan_20171212 (8)

Construct another diameter line at a right angle to the first. Use the intersecting arcs method (or just fudge it, I won’t tell).

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Connect the rim intersection points to create a square (which traditionally represents the four directions, the four seasons and the earth itself).

 

Scan_20171212 (10)

Now bisect the lower horizontal line and extend the bisection line from the focal point down past the lower rim of the circle.

 

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We’ll set our compass to the span between the rim intersection point and focal point and swing a second circle. (A second of a pair of circles traditionally represented the Dyad…the reflection, the knowing of the first circle called the Monad (all one/alone)).

Scan_20171212 (12)

When we erase most of the lines we are left with a cross…a symbol of the melding of heaven with earth. Or for the math geeks: a pairing of a diameter line with the non-terminating (i.e. irrational) square root of two.

Note: This geometric construction of the cross is not historical but rather the product of my imagination.

— Jim Tolpin, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools

 

 

 

 


Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: More Classes at Our Storefront

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 3:21pm

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When I purchased my shop building in Covington, Ky., I swore I wasn’t going to open a woodworking school. And, in all honesty, I still don’t want to run a school or return to teaching.

I will, however, allow my friends to use the space to teach classes.

So, in the coming weeks you can look for Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney to offer additional classes at our storefront. Brendan is especially keen on offering low-cost, one-day workshops for locals to introduce them to woodworking, sharpening and woodworking tools. Why? Almost every day people stop by the storefront asking if we will teach them how to build things. (Today, a plumber and a barber asked for classes.)

Megan has a full roster of classes that we have been planning for many months, including a Morris chair design that was made here in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In conjunction with these classes, we also plan to open the mechanical library up for the public to use. The library is still under heavy construction – Megan and I need to build a 12’-long run of shelves to house part of the collection.

So things are changing here – for the better. By the end of the year the Horse Garage will be a fully functional shop with a few good machines. We’ll have space for me to continue my research and build commissions. We’ll have space for Megan and Brendan to offer instruction. Plus rare old books to blow your mind.

One final note: All of our projects begin incredibly small in nature. Lost Art Press sold about 2,000 books its first year in 2007 (we’re up to about 40,000 a year now. That’s a pathetic growth curve for corporate America, but I have only two words for corporate America). Crucible is still in its infancy, as are our plans for the storefront. I want things to grow organically and be bulletproof. No debt. No reaching for things beyond our grasp.

I hope you’ll join us on our slow journey.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Curriculum aliud*

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:55am

_MG_0516[1]

Fixin’s for tofu and carrot pizza. (Yum?)

My father assigned his office assistant, Bambi, to be my teacher. One of our early lessons involved learning to copy maps, an essential life skill if there ever was one. She showed me how to copy an outline using a grid. “Just draw in some squiggles around the edges,” she instructed as I worked on a map of Florida’s east coast.

“But what about everyone who lives along those bays and beaches?” I asked, concerned that such a laissez-faire approach to cartography might result in the flooding of countless homes, drowning the pets who lived in them. (Never mind their human inhabitants, who were of less concern to me in those days.)

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said. “It’s just a map.”

It wasn’t long before we dispensed with this farce and I sought instruction from the young people who were living in assorted small structures they had erected around our tropical half-acre backyard. I learned to make whole wheat bread, tofu and carrot pizza, and home-churned ice milk, washed my clothes in a puddle, and took cold showers to fortify my character.  I dispensed with my hair brush and allowed my dirty-blond tresses to spin themselves into a head of dreadlocks that unsophisticated acquaintances of my parents dismissed as filthy matted hair.

IMG_2728[1]

Norman Stanley Hippietoe on the way to dreadlocks — emphatically not a sexualized image, but the opposite: a ten-year-old’s attempt to escape the confines of gendered expectations.

In a nod toward formal study, I read several entries in the World Book Encyclopedia each day and was so taken with the one for panpipes that I wrote to the editor and asked for plans that I might use to make a set. I signed my letter Norman Stanley Hippietoe, an androgynous persona I had invented to replace my birth name and gender. I was elated when a letter addressed to Mr. N. Hippietoe arrived in the mail, even though it carried the disappointing news that the publisher could offer no plans for constructing the instrument.–Excerpted from Making Things Work by Nancy R. Hiller

*Fancy Lass-speak for different curriculum. There’s nothing like learning to make tofu and carrot pizza and wash your clothes in a puddle to set a kid up for the discipline and structure offered by the Fancy Lads Academy.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Last Soft Wax of the Year

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 5:05pm

wax_IMG_9805

Katy has made a big batch of soft wax this week – 63 tins that are ready to ship immediately. Click here to order if you don’t need any more information than that.

Soft wax is a nice addition to the tool kit of the finisher or tool restorer. It can be used as a stand-alone finish on bare wood. It imparts just a little color and a little protection. Its advantage is it’s incredibly easy to apply. Because it is so high in solvent (Georgia turpentine), it is easy to rub onto a surface and does not need to be buffed like floor wax. You simply wipe the excess soft wax away for a nice matte finish.

For tools, it helps lubricate the sticky bits and prevents rust. A thin coat is all it takes.

It is not a good finish for high-traffic items (bathroom cabinets) or your hipster mustache. It is high in solvents that could irritate your baby-smooth Fancy Lad skin.

The wax is made in our basement entirely by a 16-year-old who never ceases to amaze me. She is intent on forging her own path through this world without relying on institutions to prop her up. (Sounds strangely familiar.)

You can order tins of her wax through her etsy store here.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Richard Jones: Why I Wrote This Book

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 7:52am
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Richard recently completed this massive oak refectory table for a client. Here it sits in the workshop, waiting for the client to make a decision on a wood finish.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of blog posts by Richard Jones, who has written a detailed book about timber technology. The book is scheduled to be released in early 2018.

— Kara Gebhart Uhl

I didn’t set out to write a book on timber technology. Doing so was an accident of circumstances. In 2003, I closed my furniture business in Texas, moved home to the UK and started teaching furniture undergraduates at Rycotewood, which I mentioned here. I was given the task of introducing the students to the craft furniture maker’s primary material of wood in the Timber Technology module. I possessed a relatively good expertise in the subject but I’d never prepared and delivered learning materials on it. It was a challenging sink-or-swim moment for me – well, more of an ongoing fight against drowning throughout a 12-week term. But it got easier with practice and as the years passed.

In 2005, I started creating illustrated Timber Tech PowerPoint presentations as learning tools. From that, I converted the PowerPoints into articles to sell to woodworking magazines, a sideline of mine. At some stage in this article production I decided the topic was too involved to be covered adequately in a series of articles in several magazine issues. So, being a bit bloody minded, I decided to create a manuscript covering the key issues relevant and of interest to me as a woodworker. Further, I decided to write it in such a way that non-specialists could understand some of the more challenging elements, and my students were the model non-specialists. Of course, this meant I was writing speculatively, without having a publisher on board – but more on that in a later post.

Most books on timber technology are written by timber technologists for wood scientist colleagues, or students of the topic. They’re consequently a difficult read for the general reader, something probably true of most woodworkers, myself included. Wood science authors assume a certain background knowledge in their expected readership. And why not? They’re generally singing to the choir, or at least aspirant wood scientists. It doesn’t really help the non-scientific woodworker who wants a better understanding of their material as simply as possible. In creating my manuscript I took pains to try and make some difficult science accessible and useful to all woodworkers – carpenters, joiners, furniture makers and so on.

An oak tabletop, such as the one shown above, 1100 mm (~43-1/4″) wide with end clamps (aka breadboard ends) needs allowance for expansion and contraction on the main panel across the grain. A tongue and groove, incorporating three tenons worked in the main panel fit motices in the clamps. The central tenon is glued, and the two end tenons are free to move side to side in extended mortices, but held tight in the main panel with dowels passing through slots in the tenons.

– Richard Jones


Filed under: Timber Book by Richard Jones, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

It Takes Only 100 Workbenches

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 3:27pm

loffelholz_flattening_IMG_9958

Some things in woodworking are hard-earned. Translation: I might not be so bright.

This week I performed some maintenance to my circa 1505 workbench designed by Martin Löffelholz. I’d built the bench last year using components that were soaking wet. This was not my preference, but sometimes we don’t have a choice when it comes to wood.

So what would be my preference? A wet top and bone-dry legs.

In my case, the tenons on the four wet legs had dried out faster than the wet benchtop. Because the ends of a stick of wood dry out before its middle, this was to be expected. As a result, three of the tenons became loose in their mortises, and I needed to re-glue and re-wedge them.

This is quick and easy work, maybe an hour. And because I use hide glue, there was no need to scrape off the dried PVA glue to remake the joints. (Yay for animal glue – for the 102nd billionth time.)

What’s the point here? Well, if you’ve ever made a workbench with through-tenons or through-dovetails then you know that the most difficult part of flattening the benchtop is dealing with the recalcitrant end grain. It can stop your handplane short, no matter how sharp it is or strong you think you are.

Recessed_tenon_IMG_9962

This week I got smart. Usually when you make a through-tenon, you make the tenon over-long and then saw or plane it flush to the surrounding wood. This is a good idea when making doors or small boxes. But when making workbenches, perhaps not.

This week I decided to cut the tenons 1/16” shy so they would end up recessed instead of proud when the joints were assembled. And, after assembly, I chiseled the wedges down flush with the tenon.

As a result, the benchtop was easy to flatten. My jack plane didn’t encounter any end grain until the last few strokes of flattening the benchtop.

Why haven’t I done this for the last 100 workbenches that I’ve built with my students, for customers or for me?

Lesson: Don’t be a Schwarz. Cut your workbench tenons short.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

New Stickers Available my Fancy Lads (and Lasses)

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 1:03pm

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Perchance would you care to procure a new sticker set for your divan, boudoir or your dearest fainting couch? (Translation: Want some stickers for your pie hole?) We have a new set of three stickers available now from my daughter Maddy the sticker princess (not be confused with Katy the wax princess).

This set features a 3”-diameter sticker from the Fancy Lad Academy of Woodworking & Charcuterie. Click here if that doesn’t mean anything to you. The second sticker is 4” wide and is an original piece of art from Suzanne Ellison – a crow made from tools from A.J. Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier.” The third sticker is the gorgeous cover from “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Roy Underhill.

These are quality 100 percent vinyl stickers. They will survive the outdoors – heck you could put one on your car. Want a set? You can order them from Maddy’s etsy store here. They are $6 delivered ($10 for international orders).

Or, for customers in the United States, you can send a $5 bill and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to by daughter Maddy at:

Stick it to the Man
P.O. Box 3284
Columbus, OH 43210

As always, this is not a money-making venture for me or Lost Art Press. All profits help Maddy escape her undergraduate education with both kidneys.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Door Types

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 4:07am

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This is an excerpt from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing. 

In making plain or flush doors the obvious choice of material appears to be a well-chosen board of solid wood (Fig 353). However this is no solution since the wood may swell or shrink, spoiling the fit, or warp, making any fit impossible. A stable, light door suitable for painting or lower-quality work can be made from a mitred frame to which are glued two sheets of thin ply (Fig 354).

A heavier and more robust door is shown in Fig 355. Here a stronger frame is dowelled or tenoned together with two ply skins. Extra cross members are added to stiffen the door. Air holes are drilled in the cross members and in the bottom rail to equalize air pressure inside and outside. Such cross members must not be too far apart, nor should the ply be too thin (minimum 6mm (1/4in.)), otherwise an impression of the framing may show through.

 

355356

A door from multi-ply or blockboard is extremely stable, but the edges are unattractive and do not take the hinge screws well. Such a door is generally lipped (Fig 356). The lipping may be butted or mitred at the corners. The tongue is essential for good adhesion, particularly on the end grain of blockboard. The lipping may be applied to veneered material but for better work the lipping is concealed by veneering the whole face after the lippings have been glued and planed flush. Lippings must be made from thoroughly dry material, otherwise shrinkage will take place and the lipping will show through the veneer.

357

Good-quality handwork makes frequent use of the framed and panelled door (Fig 357), the inner edge of which is moulded or chamfered. The following illustrations show some of the possible combinations of frame and panel.

 

358359

360365

361367

368371

372373

Meghan Bates


Filed under: The Essential Woodworker
Categories: Hand Tools

The 6 Personalities of Workbench Builders

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 5:47am

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This post is by request. Several people have asked me to assemble all the links to the stories in this series in one posting so it would be easy to share or to find in the future.

Workbench Personality No. 1: The Engineer

Workbench Personality No. 2: The Traditionalist

Workbench Personality No. 3: The Cheapskate

Workbench Personality No. 4: The Best of Everything

Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra

Workbench Personality No. 6: The Undecider

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Canadian Sales Temporarily Suspended

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:39am

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We’ve had to stop selling our products in Canada temporarily until we can find a new way to ship our goods across the border.

Our warehouse in Canada has decided to drop us as a customer to focus on other aspects of their business. John is hard at work trying to get a replacement service lined up. Because we are in the middle of the holiday season, however, it’s impossible to really get a shipping service’s attention until January.

We apologize for this and hope we can get it resolved quickly. In the meantime, Lee Valley Tools carries our full line of books.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 6: The Undecider

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:23pm

KD Nicholson Workbench_underside

Of all the workbench personalities, only The Undecider has driven me to reconsider my career in woodworking.

Like herpes, when you encounter The Undecider, everything seems kinda normal at first. But then, inexplicably, you cannot get rid of him.

The Undecider: Hey, I LOVE that Robo workbench on your blog. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about wood movement, wood selection and anything you would change if you built it again.

Me: Sure…. And blah, blah, blah.

Six weeks pass.

The Undecider: Hey, that Nickelback Bench is amazing! It really got me rethinking my workbench plans. Do you think oak would work for this bench? Could I equip it with a quick-release vise?

Me: Sure…. And blah, blah, blah.

Seven weeks pass.

The Undecider: Hey, I just read the article on John White’s “New-Fangled Workbench.” I was wondering if you could compare the strengths and weaknesses of this bench with the Rubiot bench, the Niklesen and this Newfangled one.

Me: I’ve never even seen one of these benches from John White. I read his article, of course, and it’s very interesting. But I’m afraid you know just as much as I do.

Eight weeks pass.

The Undecider: Hey, have you seen the height-adjustable bench? Do you think that could be combined with a Robo bench and the planing platform from the Newfangled Bench? Love to get your thoughts on how this might work.

I put the email aside. I needed to think of how to answer this email without using the phrase: “How many Hot Wheels can fit up your butt?” This process takes a couple weeks and includes some guided meditation. Finally, I am ready to answer this without sounding like a pirate. Then my email dings.

The Undecider: Hey, me again. I’ve actually been thinking I should just buy a workbench and “get to the good part” – you know, making furniture. But I can’t decide if the Lie-Nielsen bench is really worth the money compared to the Sjoberg. Do you think you could do a side-by-side comparison for me? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Me: Dude, my thoughts would get me arrested in 22 states.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Megan has Left the Magazine

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:06pm
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One of my favorite bas-a#% people.

You might have heard: Megan Fitzpatrick is no longer the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

While readers might be wringing their hands or wondering how the magazine will fare without her (hint: it will be just fine), I am personally and selfishly pleased at the news.

Megan was, hands down, the best employee I ever had (followed closely behind by Kara Gebhart). As my managing editor, Megan worked her butt off. She was both passionate and professional. Intensely curious about the craft. Willing to do whatever it took to get the magazine to the printer while refusing to sacrifice quality.

And now, with her days free, she can work for Lost Art Press even more – both editing and writing. As many of you know, nearly every book at Lost Art Press has benefitted from Megan’s careful eye and deadly red pen. And, if I get my way, she’ll allow us to publish a book of hers that’s been percolating for many years.

The community of woodworking editors is small – maybe 30 or 40 people at most. And when someone leaves a publication, one of two things happen. Most editors disappear. They return to their lives as commercial woodworkers or move on to edit a magazine about drones or hospital hand sanitizers. A few (and I can name them on one hand) refuse to leave the world of woodworking and carve out their own place. On their own terms. And they improve the craft (and their own lives).

The smart money says that Megan will do the latter.

So please welcome Megan to the ranks of the Woodworking Editorial Hobo Society (of which I am lifetime member). There’s a warm chair and a cold beverage waiting for you at our next meeting.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:05pm

Village_carpenter,_making_plows,_mat05920sr

I call this type of workbench builder the “Frank Sinatra” because they always do it “My Way.” In other words, a Frank Sinatra workbench is entirely disconnected from tradition and – at times – human reason.

Is this bad? Shouldn’t workbenches be a “I’m OK and You’re OK” kinda thing? If it works for you it’s right, right?

While I don’t seek to poo on anyone’s parade, there are certain guidelines for building things that are related to the human form and the work. If someone came to you and said: I’ve just rethought the idea of the chair – I’ve made the seat 24” deep so there’s more room to relax! Isn’t that great? More, more, more!

Me: Doesn’t that cut off the circulation of blood to the legs?

Designer: Hey, it works for me.

The following descriptions of my encounters with the Frank Sinatras are not an effort to quash innovation in workbench design. Instead, this is a look at what happens if you build a bench without knowing how benches are used.

How it Begins
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever met a Frank Sinatra in person. Instead, they are the people who read my blog entries and then send me photos of their workbenches with a note that says something like:

“Saw your Rubio bench. Thought I’d show you what a REAL bench looks like. I designed this one myself – an ORIGINAL design. Want to do a story on my bench? It’s awesome.”

The first Frank Sinatra I encountered had made a U-shaped bench that was 12’ wide and 16’ long (yes, 12 feet x 16 feet). It was comprised entirely of kitchen cabinets that were bolted together and then covered in 4×8 sheets of plywood. Imagine a giant “U” covered in plywood. And there were vises every 3’ or so.

Me: Do you run a school? Is this for your employees? Or are you Catholic like my wife and have a lot of kids?

Frank Sinatra: Nope. It’s just me. But it’s the best damn bench I’ve ever seen. Better than your Robo bench for sure.

lumber-truck-accident_1937

Your Bench is for Pansies
Like many bench builders of the last 2,000 years, I like a bench to have some mass. You can work with a lightweight bench – we’ve all had to do it – but mass makes things easier.

Some people, however, take mass to a ridiculous level. One day I received an email from Frank Sinatra with photos of a bench “that makes your benches look like church picnic tables.”

I opened the attached photos. It was a French-style bench that was made entirely out of 2x12s. The top was all 2x12s that were face-glued (the top was 11” thick). The legs? 2x12s that finished out at 11” x 11”. (Elephants would be jealous.) The stretchers? 2x12s.

In all honesty, it looked like a cartoon sketch of a bench. But I wanted to be diplomatic. After reading the stats provided by the Frank Sinatra (it weighs 575 lbs.!), I asked a simple question.

Me: Bench looks beefy. How do the holdfasts work?

Frank Sinatra: Don’t know. Haven’t used the bench yet. Just finished it last weekend.

Malden-auto-accident-lumber-truck-1951-01

Suckier Workholding
It’s a simple note via email: You don’t need vises. No one needs vises. Take a look!

The bench in the photos is a 4x4x8 box made of plywood. Every foot or so is a vacuum port. They are on the benchtop. On the end of the box. On the front face. The bench is powered by two large compressors, which, through a venturi nozzle, provide the vacuum power.

Now there is no need for vises. Place your work on the vacuum port and it is immobilized. Cutting dovetails? No problem! The work is held immediately upright, ready for sawing? Planing? Put it on the benchtop and the vacuum ports hold it fast. No planing stops. No tail vises. No nothing.

I ask a question: How does it hold rough stock? Stuff that is fresh off the sawmill?

To this day, I still haven’t heard a reply.

Torsion or Tension?
Many times the Frank Sinatras come at me with their torsion box designs – “The T-Box Rules!”

So instead of a simple slab of wood, the T-box designer wants to make a benchtop from thin skins of plywood that cover a baffle system of thin components. This is a great way to make a lightweight tabletop that has a lot of visual presence. But a workbench top?

Me: How will you get holdfasts to hold in a torsion box?

Frank Sinatra: Those areas will be solid wood, surrounded by air.

Me. What about the dog holes?

Frank Sinatra: Same answer. Solid wood in the areas for the dogs.

Me: Don’t you want some mass? This benchtop weighs only 17 lbs.

Frank Sinatra: I’m going to fill all the cavities between the baffles with sand.

It’s Not a Bench. It’s the World
A common Frank Sinatra affliction is to add endless functionality to the bench. A table saw is integrated into the benchtop. A planer is in the base. There is tool storage galore. A fridge. A router table. And Bluetooth.

But does it work? Outside of your mind? Outside of a piece of paper?

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 6: The Undecider


Filed under: Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Saturday: A Book-release Party & an Open Storefront

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:43am

LAP_wreath_IMG_0633

This Saturday, Dec. 9, will be the last day the Lost Art Press storefront will be open for 2017 (our next open day will be Jan. 13, 2018). So if you need holiday gifts or something with a personal signature, this is the best and last day to get them.

That same evening, Dec. 9, we’re throwing a book release party for Mary May, author of “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” and George Walker, one of the authors of “From Truths to Tools.” Both authors will give brief presentations, and then they’ll be happy to answer your questions and sign books. Lost Art Press will supply drinks and light snacks. The free event is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and is just about filled up. We still have a few places left – you can register here.

If you haven’t been to the storefront in a while, there is a lot of progress to see. The Horse Garage is nearing completion, and we’re setting up the Covington Mechanical Library in the back room for reading and research.

We’ll also have lots of blemished books and tools for sale at 50 percent of retail (cash only). We also have the “Big Bag of Free T-shirts” for you to dive into. Recently I culled my collection of woodworking T-shirts (from all over the world). Come and get as many as you like to wear or to cut them up for rags.

As always, we are happy to answer any of your woodworking questions during these events. Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney (from Popular Woodworking Magazine) will also be there to help out. Here’s a map to the storefront:

Hope to see you there.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

The Year of the Covington Mechanical Library

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 4:17pm

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This calendar year has been all about gutting, rebuilding and setting up the Horse Garage, which will store wood and a few machines that I use for processing stock. For 2018, the major project will be setting up a mechanical library in the area formerly known as the storeroom.

Today, Brendan Gaffney and I took the first step on this project by moving all of the book inventory, furniture parts and shelving to the basement below the shop.

I’ve been waiting months for the humidity level in the basement to reach a tolerable level for books and furniture parts. Earlier this year, we dug out the basement floor about 18”, installed French drains and a sump pump and concreted the place. At the time, the humidity levels down there matched the outdoors (or a little higher).

About two weeks ago, the humidity level in the basement began to match the humidity in my shop upstairs.

Tomorrow, I’ll start moving the bulk of my woodworking book collection to our library area. When I run out of shelf space, my plan is to build an entire floor-to-ceiling bank of bookshelves on the blank north wall of the building.

I hope that task will be easier than gutting a building and rebuilding the Horse Garage. But I’ve been wrong before.

The goal of the mechanical library is amorphous for now. There are plenty of excellent mechanical libraries out there (Winterthur and American College of the Building Arts are two wonderful ones that I have visited). But the mechanical societies of the 18th and 19th centuries had other functions that were social and educational. So I’m letting things fall into shape as the community of Covington and our storefront get on their feet.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Workbench Personality No. 4: The Best of Everything

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 7:50pm

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The Best of Everything calls to ask if he can hire me to consult on his workbench build. And, if we get along personally, he would like to fly me to his shop so we can build the bench together.

Me: I have young children and a day job with little vacation. I can’t really do that, but I’ll be happy to help you (for free) like I do all our readers via email.

The Best of Everything decides to fly to Cincinnati, meet me for lunch, look over my workbenches and pick my brain about his design ideas.

Question No. 1, of course, is wood selection. His first choice: tiger maple from Irion Lumber Co. He shows me some photos from the website. I tell him it’s beautiful stuff, but that he might get a little nauseated staring at it all day. And it’s a bench. It’s going to get beat up and dirty. I recommend plain rock maple.

His second choice: purpleheart. My response: It’s dark and difficult to work – it’ll be hell on your tools. Plus, a light-colored workbench (such as rock maple) is much easier to work at in my experience. Setting your tools against the light background of a benchtop is much easier than against a dark wood.

Choice No. 3: Ipe.

Me: Really? Ipe? That’s not a wood. That a metal that once fondled some wood grain. And it’s dark. And it’s a pain in the butt to work – like purpleheart, but worse.

His final choice: Cuban mahogany – an old stash he’s located at a lumberyard. It’s the least objectionable of his other choices, so I say: OK, kinda?

Next up are the vises. He wants a vise for every corner of the bench: A Benchcrafted Glide on one corner, a Lie-Nielsen tail vise on one end, an Emmert patternmaker’s vise on one back corner and a Benchcrafted end vise on the final corner.

Me: May I ask why?

The Best of Everything: I can’t make up my mind about which vises are better, so I decided to get them all. I do have one question, however: Is there any brand that’s better than Benchcrafted that I should be considering instead? Something from Germany or Japan perhaps?

Me: No, there’s nothing better in my experience.

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The Best of Everything: I also want six rows of dog holes on 3” centers all along the length of the benchtop.

Me: May I ask why?

The Best of Everything: I’ll be able to hold anything then, no matter its size or shape.

Me: No one needs that many dog holes.

The Best of Everything: I think it will also reduce wood movement in the bench because all areas of the bench will be exposed to the atmosphere.

Me: Aren’t you worried that dust, tools, screws and the like will fall into these holes?

The Best of Everything: Not at all. Every hole will have its own dog.

The discussion turns to the cabinet he’s going to build below the bench. (“I don’t recommend those,” I say.) The drawers will have Blumotion slides, and all the tools will be French-fitted with custom-cut foam. Do I have any recommendations on foam?

“Kaizen Foam,” he says, “is so coarse.”

I look up Kaizen Foam on my phone to see what the hell it is. He starts talking about getting his Benchcrafted vises chrome-plated. Oh look, I find a cat video on my phone….

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Next up: Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra


Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
Categories: Hand Tools

Woodwright’s School Classes for 2018!

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 7:06am

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The 2018 class schedule is now live at The Woodwright’s School website. Roy Underhill has been diligently working on the new calendar of classes for the upcoming year and it is finally complete. Most of the regular classes are back with many new classes added as well. You can check it out here.

As most of you know, If there is a class you are interested in get signed up ASAP, they fill up quickly.

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— Will Myers

 


Filed under: Woodworking Classes
Categories: Hand Tools

And the Other Stickers

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 6:11am

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In addition to the “Fancy Lad Academy of Woodworking & Charcuterie” sticker, the next set of stickers will feature the “Mine!” image (above) by Suzanne Ellison. Suzanne created this image of a crow made of tools using bits from A.J. Roubo’s “l’Art du menuisier.” The original hangs in my office.

The third sticker will be the cover of Roy Underhill’s book “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Jode Thompson.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

New Stickers are Coming

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 6:30pm

Fancy Lad Sticker

My daughter Maddy is sold out of stickers. But three new designs are being printed now. My favorite is the one shown above. If that sicker doesn’t make a bit of sense to you, read this blog entry at my other blog.

Maddy will start selling the stickers once they arrive.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Stickers, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

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