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Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog

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Woodworking advice, woodworking plans, woodworking projects and woodworking blogs
Updated: 59 min 10 sec ago

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 10: O’Keefe’s Working Hands

3 hours 50 min ago

If were being honest, woodworking would be a lot more difficult in the winter months without O’Keefe’s Working Hands. I have a container of this at my workbench and by my computer. It is the only thing that keeps my fingers moving smoothly over my tools and the keyboard. I know there are a lot of other hand-care products out there. I’ve tried many of them. But I keep coming […]

The post Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 10: O’Keefe’s Working Hands appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Turn a Bureau into a Workbench

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 1:41pm

Building furniture without a dedicated workshop or even a workbench has always been a challenge. While there are lots of ways to get around the problem, one of my favorite is what is called the “bureau-shop.” This is where you transform an old chest of drawers into a complete hand-tool shop for light work. The top of the bureau is used as the benchtop (more on that in a minute). […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 8: Clamptite Tool

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:35pm

I love wooden tool handles. Their only downside is they break and need to be repaired or replaced. If you prefer to repair your tool handles, the inexpensive Clamptite tool is your best friend. The Clamptite is a bit difficult to explain to people who haven’t used it. Basically, it is a device that can pull a wire tight and then cleverly knot it around an object, such as a […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 7: Drawer Tape

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:35am

If you build traditional drawers without metal slides, then “drawer tape” is something you should probably become acquainted with. Sometimes sold under the brand Nylo-Tape, this stuff is great for fixing drawers or any other sliding assembly that has become worn from use. My tool chest, for example, has three sliding tills that get moved a dozen times a day. After five years of this activity, the sides of the […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 7: Sewing Machine Oilcans

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 12:45pm

There are a few things I keep at arm’s reach in the shop: an oily rag, some paraffin and a small sewing can oiler. Shown in the photo above are the four that I could gather in just a few minutes. I have at least four more around the shop. These incredibly cheap oilers keep my tools in good condition. I oil the moving parts of my handplanes. The adjustment […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 6: Drawing Bows

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 2:52pm

Drawing furniture-scale curves – up to 48” or so – is a challenge to do by yourself. And many times when you use a springy stick and nails, you are so focused on holding things in place that you fail to see if the curve is fair or not. Years ago I bought the Lee Valley symmetrical drawing bow and designing with curves became a heck of a lot easier. […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 5: Rosin

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 4:48pm

I’m a bit ashamed of how long it took me to buy an inexpensive block of rosin and put it in my tool chest. Rosin, also called calophony, is derived from pine sap and increases friction on anything you rub it upon. That means that your slippery bench dogs or planing stop will suddenly stand at attention and stay that way. Rosin makes things stick. It comes in a variety […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 4: Rivierre Nails

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 4:25pm

The wire nails at the home center stink for making furniture. Don’t even think of them as nails. They are more like greased straws than they are fasteners. Once you try Rivierre forged nails, I think you’ll develop a deep respect for the nail that has Roman DNA. Nails built this country. At one point in the 19th century, the sale of nails was a significant amount of the country’s […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 3: No-Kill ‘Mutton’ Tallow

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 1:11pm

Hand-tool woodworkers love mutton tallow as a lubricant for saws, auger bits and the soles of our handplanes. A smidge of the stuff will make your tool slide easier – and your shop will smell like lambchops. But because of animal-rights concerns, mutton tallow is shunned by some woodworkers. (They already shun paraffin because it is made by Big Oil.) In 2016, a start-up corporation tried to make mutton tallow […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 2: Tape Dispenser

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 5:39am

You might think I’m kidding. I am absolutely not. This year, a tape dispenser for my blue tape is the nicest thing I’ve added to my shop. Like many woodworkers, I use blue painter’s tape for many tasks, from taping down small repairs to marking out joinery to shimming things square. For years I simply pulled it off the roll. You know the drill: Find the end of the tape, […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 1: Kershaw Knife

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 3:51pm

Every year, I write up a gift guide that discusses the small items that have made a big difference in my shop.  These are items that are ideal for gifts – it’s difficult to ask your toddlers for an Altendorf table saw for Christmas. I hope that these items are useful to you. If you have any complaints about this gift guide, please submit it here. The first item is […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

A Return to Cold-bend Hardwood

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:45pm

For several years I used CompWood for furniture parts that needed to be bent precisely. It’s a wood that has been compressed in its length under heat and with moisture. When the wood cools, it can be bent cold. No steambox. And I have yet to encounter wood failure with the stuff. The only downside? It’s expensive compared to cutting down a tree, riving out the stock and bending it […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Words for Woodworking that Make me Barf

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 7:38am

I love to look at websites of woodworkers – amateurs and professionals – and see photos of their work. But when they describe their work using the following words, I think: This person is a pompous wee-wee head with a fake underbite and who walks like they are carrying a corncob without using their hands. You might disagree – that’s what the comments are for. But here is my list […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Pricing Your Work – You Can’t Win

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 5:00am

I typically keep a few pieces of my work in the window at my workshop in Covington, Ky. Right now I have a couple chairs on display, plus an aumbry. The pieces do attract attention – and also some uncomfortable conversations about the prices on my work. Recently Patrick Edwards visited my workshop, looked at the aumbry and said: “It’s too cheap. You should be charging three times as much. […]

The post Pricing Your Work – You Can’t Win appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

It’s OK (Good Even!) When They Hate Your Work

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 4:59pm

The city council candidate was screaming at me through her phone as I sat hunched over my desk in the newspaper’s newsroom. “How about I pull down my pants and you come and watch me go to the bathroom?” she screamed. “You’d like that wouldn’t you?” This impolite invitation was issued after I inquired about a long string of tax troubles the candidate had suffered during the last few years. […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Dugout Chair: Fastening the Seat

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:44pm

Every step of making this dugout chair has been a little weird. Fastening its seat in place was no different. After cutting the seat to shape using using the help of ticking sticks, I rasped the rim of the seat until I could wedge it inside the trunk and get it level. I usually use a 6” spirit level for this task, but I left it at home. So I […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Yes, Megan and Brendan are Alive

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 6:12pm

This week, Popular Woodworking Magazine is short two employees as Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney have joined me on a chair class in Maryland. We’re building a version of the Jennie Alexander chair from “Make a Chair From a Tree” with Larry Barrett – one of Jennie’s students and friends. If you think that taking a class is easy for an experienced woodworking magazine editor, think again. No matter how […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Post & Rung & Jennie Alexander

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 6:47pm

For the next five days I’m in Maryland with four other friends to build a Jennie Alexander chair from Larry Barrett, a student and long-time friend of Alexander. Larry makes a chair that is 90 percent similar to Jennie’s iconic chair from her book “Make a Chair From a Tree.” Some of the details of Larry’s chair are a little different than Jennie’s – especially the front rung that is […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Diagonal Wedges: The How & Why

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 4:57am

When wedging through-tenons, I prefer to orient the wedge diagonally across the tenon. This is a somewhat atypical way to work, so an explanation is in order. A diagonal wedge has the advantage of closing up any gaps on all four edges of a rectangular mortise. That’s because it pushes the tenon against all four walls of the mortise. The more typical wedge, on the other hand, will push against […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

Fit Irregular (Impossible!) Shapes with ‘Ticking Sticks’

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 4:26pm

The trick to fitting wooden pieces into impossible recesses is to learn about “ticking sticks.” These simple sticks – plus a sheet of paper – can make monstrous tasks into a easy job. Here’s how they work. “Ticking sticks” go by many names in the historical record, but they are the best technology for cutting a piece of wood to fit an odd opening. All you need to perform this […]

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Categories: Hand Tools

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