They were smarter than us; or at least faster.

There are many secrets to be uncovered in the practice of hand tool woodworking, but it’s no secret that pre-industrial workers were capable of using the same tools we do (or much worse in some cases) and producing fine work at a rate that boggles the modern mind. Were they smarter than us? Maybe. A more…

The brand is not (always) important

One of the things I most admired about ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ on first reading was that it was not about name (brand) dropping. The important thing was the functionality of the tool, not the name cast into the iron. That kind of thinking was far more helpful to a budding hand tool user than…

Threshold techniques

Σκάνδαλον (skándalon) Greek – properly, the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim); stumbling block. I have come to understand that there are certain techniques in every field that present themselves as thresholds to novices even as they are mindlessly routine to someone more proficient. They are stumbling…

Christopher Schwarz: perfect, in 1000 words or less

This entry needs little introduction. The same could be said for its author. Over the past few months I have sought out woodworkers, writers, tool makers, and other people who are passionate about our craft and have asked them to write about the idea of perfection in 1000 words or less.  Today’s guest writer Christopher…

A birthday gift to myself.

Tomorrow I turn 37 years old. That’s 263 in dog years, 165 in cat years and 1753 in robot years. Tomorrow is also the second installment of the guest blog series “Perfect: in 1000 words or less” and I confess that publishing this particular entry by this particular guest writer on my birthday is a sort of like…

let me just say…

…that my daughters are awesome. Last night as I was cleaning up the shop I moved the workbench that I made for them to a spot that was more out in the open. They already play on it, but to encourage its use I also put a few tools on it for them to use….

The suite life

The desk top is looking fantastic. I still need cut it down some to length and make all the ends and edges dead square, but the wood is the star here. This beautiful black walnut is tricky to work with in some ways, but unbelievably gorgeous. After leveling the panel front and back yesterday I…

Like a kid at Christmas.

I know I said I was going to let the wood sit for a while to acclimate, but looking at that pile of walnut I was anxious to get started. There are some arguments that say acclimation is crucial and others that call bunk on the need to let the wood sit for more than…

This is more like it

It was a little bit of a drive, but the family all loaded in the van on Saturday and headed off to Raleigh on the promise of actual black walnut. This time I had seen pictures of the machine surfaced wood and knew that not only was it actually black walnut, but beautiful as well. A few…

It is what it isn’t

I learned a very important lesson about my limitations as a hand tool woodworker yesterday. I learned that no matter how hard I may wish, black cherry cannot become black walnut. I really believe that one of the reasons most of us stick to building from dimensional lumber at the local box stores for so…

to the whetstone

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape…

Beauty of whatever kind.

“That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most elevating, and the most pure is, I believe, found in the contemplation of the beautiful. When, indeed, men (sic) speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect—they refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation…