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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog

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Woodworking advice, woodworking plans, woodworking projects and woodworking blogs
Updated: 4 hours 34 min ago

Dugout Chair Step 2: Lose 200 Ugly Pounds

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 9:02am

I can roll this rotted log around my driveway for the dugout chair. But danged if I can lift it by myself. So the next step is to start chainsawing away the majority of the bulk that is not part of the finished chair. With my tiny 16” electric chainsaw I spent a good hour wasting away the first two kerfs on this chair. This activity attracted the attention of […]

The post Dugout Chair Step 2: Lose 200 Ugly Pounds appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Dugout Chair Step 1: Get it Out of the Truck

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 5:37pm

After picking up the rotted stump for my dugout chair, I parked my truck in front of my shop and then went inside to ponder: How do I get it out of the truck? Sure, there are lots of redneck methods involving wax paper, Wesson oil and chains. But I wanted to avoid damaging myself and trashing my truck. I could rent a forklift or other machine to make it […]

The post Dugout Chair Step 1: Get it Out of the Truck appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Success Isn’t at the Bookstore or the Museum

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 7:42am

When my first book, “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use,” was released, I played a game that many first-time authors play. I looked for my book on the shelves of any bookstore I visited. After a few years I gave up. I’ve never seen the book for sale anywhere except online. But I do have something else that I’ve decided is better: Hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos […]

The post Success Isn’t at the Bookstore or the Museum appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Yes, a Moisture Meter is Essential Equipment

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 8:07am

A moisture meter is a device that lets you see the future. It allows you to avoid mistakes where your furniture will – literally – fall to pieces. But convincing woodworkers to buy one is like trying to push water uphill. This weekend, Brendan Gaffney and I were each working on some chair projects and got on the topic of moisture meters. Brendan has an idea for how to make […]

The post Yes, a Moisture Meter is Essential Equipment appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The ‘Dugout Chair’ Begins With a Rotted Stump

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 8:33am

For as long as I have been writing about woodworking, I have wanted to build a dugout chair. I first encountered the form in one of the many furniture books we had a Popular Woodworking Magazine. Soon after I started working at the magazine in 1996 I began poring through the books whenever I had a spare moment – attempting to get up to speed with all the different furniture […]

The post The ‘Dugout Chair’ Begins With a Rotted Stump appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Nails: Your Unexpected Friend in the Forest

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 10:32am

A lot of hand skills develop hand-in-hand with other hand skills. Learning to sharpen a handplane gives you the skills to sharpen a carving gouge or turning tool. These are pretty obvious. But some hand skills help you in unexpected way. For example: Working with a lot of nails makes splitting green wood for chair parts much easier. Both skills benefit from dead-on accuracy with a striking tool – a […]

The post Nails: Your Unexpected Friend in the Forest appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Notes on a Steam-bending Jig

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 5:34am

I do only a little production work in my shop, so I don’t have a lot of jigs and fixtures. In fact, I think I can count them on one hand: a sliding table for my table saw, a shooting board/bench hook, my doe’s feet for my workbench and a V-block for planing objects to octagons. But when I build a jig, I want it to last. This week I […]

The post Notes on a Steam-bending Jig appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Rosin – Your Sticky Friend in the Workshop

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:28am

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 other products and has a variety of uses in industry and the arts – everything from ballet dancers to […]

The post Rosin – Your Sticky Friend in the Workshop appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Like Your Woodworking Teacher? Maybe You Shouldn’t

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 2:06pm

Last month I taught two short classes in Germany – a rare exception to my vow to avoid teaching and instead focus on new furniture designs. The reason I taught those two classes is quite personal, so I won’t discuss it here. But during the classes I was struck by an odd question I’ve struggled with for 30 years: Is it a good idea for students to personally like their […]

The post Like Your Woodworking Teacher? Maybe You Shouldn’t appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

A Different Way to Use a Doe’s Foot

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:05am

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 ways to use them. I’ve just finished an article for Popular Woodworking Magazine on the topic for a future […]

The post A Different Way to Use a Doe’s Foot appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Born to Fail at Woodworking

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 9:40am

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 for you. (Also, it shows you how I deal with woodworking despair.) For the last month I’ve been working […]

The post Born to Fail at Woodworking appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 8:32am

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 used before. This summer I made myself a quick pair while in Germany. These were made with a Forstner […]

The post Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

In Praise of the Cork Sanding Block

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 1:37pm

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 the tendency today is to eschew abrasives and finish projects straight from the tools, but that’s a pretty new […]

The post In Praise of the Cork Sanding Block appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy

Sun, 06/25/2017 - 8:36am

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. Here’s how I think about perfection: We now have the technology to abolish time zones. Each person’s phone could […]

The post Against Perfection, Precision or Accuracy appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Case Against Tail Vises

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 4:57am

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 was assigned to review a full-size European workbench with all the bells and whistles, including a […]

The post The Case Against Tail Vises appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 1:46pm

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, I broke down and gave Peter $60 for a Galbert Caliper. Today I put it to […]

The post The Galbert Caliper and my Pigheadedness appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 4:33am

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. The same goes for mortising where exactitude is important. During the last few weeks I’ve been […]

The post Be Seated: The Benchcrafted Swing-away Seat appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 4:59pm

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 reward is that they were inspired enough to pick up the tools and build something. Building […]

The post Taking Credit, Giving Credit and Stealing it appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

How to Make 90° Your Best Friend

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 6:28am

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 beginners, Arts & Crafts enthusiasts and machinists. After years of working by both hand and machine, […]

The post How to Make 90° Your Best Friend appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 4:26pm

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 shipping). That’s a lot less money than original copies fetch, and this reprint is actually nicer […]

The post Denning: Get it Before it’s Gone appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

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