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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog

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Woodworking advice, woodworking plans, woodworking projects and woodworking blogs
Updated: 27 min 24 sec ago

Call it Done (For Now)

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 2:34pm

After the worst Thursday on record, I awoke the next morning and resolved to sort out this stool. I needed more maple, so I headed to Frank Paxton Hardwoods and found the perfect board waiting for me. Straight. Clear. Flat. Reasonably priced. So I assumed I’d get into a car accident on the way home. (No collisions.) I milled the new seat, assuming it would be case hardened and twist […]

The post Call it Done (For Now) appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Failing Daily Since 1993

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:50pm

After the 2015 election, I did what every sane American did: I eliminated the annoying people from my social media feeds on both the left and the right who had become singularly obsessed with politics. And then I took another healthy step: I eliminated feeds from the “fake perfectionists.” Who are the “fake perfectionists?” You probably know them. They are the people who post beautiful photos of their work on […]

The post Failing Daily Since 1993 appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Quick, Dirty & Effective Trammel Points

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:07am

When starting in woodworking I couldn’t afford a good set of trammel points. I had my grandfather’s set, but it didn’t lock down well. Then one day woodworker Troy Sexton showed me how he drew large arcs and I realized that I already owned an effective trammel. Troy uses a yardstick (or meter stick if you are metric). Then he bores holes at all the locations where he wants to […]

The post Quick, Dirty & Effective Trammel Points appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Drill Bits for Chairs & Staked Furniture

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:00pm

Making large-diameter mortises for chairs or staked tables requires big drill bits and a way to drive them. Usually a drill press won’t work because the workpiece is too large and the angles are too odd. So here are some bits that work – and some to avoid. To drive big bits (1-1/4” and bigger), you probably need a corded drill. I’ve tried using a brace, but that’s a tall […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

The One-stop Place for Saw Maintenance

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 3:52pm

When I was learning to sharpen and set saws in the 1990s, I was desperate for information. All I had was one modern book, a somewhat helpful video and the attempts I had made on my bargain basement saws. It was a slog. While today there is a lot more information available on saws and saw sharpening, much of it is conflicting and more complex than necessary. Sharpening a saw […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 3:18pm

Flush-cutting saws offer an amazing promise: It can cut a dowel or tenon flush to its surrounding surface without causing any damage. The truth is, however, no matter how awesome your flush-cutting saw is or how skilled you are, things can go wrong. The most common problem is the saw can drift slightly. And with a flush-cutting saw, any drifting can be disastrous. The teeth can dive into the work […]

The post The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

My Lucky Scars

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 4:32pm

When I was about 11, my parents took a trip to Cancun and left us with Hazel, a Nurse Ratched type with a beehive hairdo, a messed-up back and a matching disposition. It was Halloween, and so we were carving pumpkins in the garage. I was using my Cub Scout knife – improperly. The knife slipped and slashed the web between the thumb and index finger on my left hand. […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Make Your Own Linseed Oil & Wax Finish

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 11:45am

A finish made from linseed oil and beeswax is an easy-to-apply, tactile finish that I like for turnings, vernacular chairs and other objects that don’t require the protection of a film finish, such as varnish or shellac. The finish, which I call linwax, is available from suppliers such as Swede Paint, or you can easily make your own in a couple hours. The nice thing about making your own is […]

The post Make Your Own Linseed Oil & Wax Finish appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 9:29am

One of the challenges when building a chair is clamping the dang thing down so you can work on it. I’ve seen lots of solutions that use band clamps. But I dislike band clamps (perhaps I had a bad experience at band camp). So here’s what I do. Most workholding problems can be solved with handscrew clamps and holdfasts, including this one. First you squeeze the legs with the handscrew […]

The post Clamping a Chair is Like Hugging an Eel appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Ingenious Chinese Planing Stop

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 2:58pm

There isn’t enough written in English on the woodworking of the Chinese, who have a long and amazing woodworking and technological history. But today I’ve been gobbling up “China at Work” by Rudolf P. Hommel (MIT Press, 1937), which focuses on tools used for making other tools (blacksmithing), food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Unlike other contemporary writers, Hommel lived in China for several years, had enormous respect for the culture […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

When to Send a Tool Back

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 12:58pm

If you get to know some toolmakers as friends, you’re likely to hear all kinds of wild stories about people who return tools for odd or non-existent defects. Think sidewalls of a handplane that are different in thickness by a few thousandths of an inch. Or cutting bevels of a tool that are ground 1° out of square. But sometimes tools do need to go back to the manufacturer. Students […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

The Half-pencil: Your Layout Friend

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 12:21pm

Carpenter’s pencils have limited uses in a furniture shop, but when I encountered the “half-pencil” years ago I started hoarding carpenter’s pencils to transform them into half-pencils for my friends. The half-pencil, as its name implies, is a carpenter’s pencil that has been planed down to half its thickness. (Using a carpenter’s pencil makes it easier to plane it down and it gives you more bearing surface in use than […]

The post The Half-pencil: Your Layout Friend appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

High-style, Low-style or No-style

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 10:55am

At some point in my early 20s I stopped improving as a guitar player. No matter how much I practiced or played out in bands, I couldn’t crawl to the next level of skill. I needed lessons, guidance, a push or something else. Or perhaps, I thought at the time, that was simply the best I was physically capable of: good, but certainly not great. I never found out which […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Lay Out a D-shaped Seat

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 1:38pm

One of the classic shapes for the seats of chairs or stools is the D shape. If you make or appreciate Welsh chairs (like I do), it’s a shape you see a lot. Yet many beginning chairmakers fret over making a D-shaped seat of their own dimensions. I admit that when I started making chairs, I was similarly befuddled and preferred to trace the shapes of old seats or work […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: Revised & Expanded ‘Handplane Essentials’

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 11:03am

Anyone who knows me personally has probably noticed the the last 12 months have been a struggle. I have been months behind on everything: delivering furniture commissions, restoring my workshop, writing magazine articles and even posting to this blog. The reason: the revised and expanded edition of “Handplane Essentials.” When I agreed to revise the 2009 book I expected it would take a couple weeks of intense work. I was […]

The post Coming Soon: Revised & Expanded ‘Handplane Essentials’ appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: A Handmade Dustpan

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 3:41pm

Almost every plastic or aluminum dustpan I’ve used has been disappointing. The aluminum ones bend too easily and make it impossible to capture fine dust. And plastic ones are just that: plasticy. So like any half-decent woodworker, I set out this fall to build my own. Shopmade dustpans were once a common sight, so it’s not like my idea is original. But finding plans for a rotating dustpan with a […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Cool Nailmaking Video from Austria

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 10:21am

Blacksmith Peter Ross recently sent me a link to the video below that shows production nailmaking of shoe nails in a town in Austria. These guys are working at breakneck speed – forget those modern videos you see of amateur smiths working in their garages. If you’ve never read about pre-industrial nail production, it was a hard life. In the United Kingdom and its colonies, nailmaking was many times a […]

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Categories: Hand Tools