Lesson No. 3

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The Tale of the Foul-mouthed Countertop Guy can be viewed through a lot of filters: that of the artisan, the customer, macroeconomics and on and on.

However the lesson embedded in the story has nothing directly to do with haggling, the value of craft or Socialism.

Instead, it is about the word “no.”

Run your business so you always, always have the power to say “no.” No to a supplier, a customer, a request for proposal (RFP), an employee. Never overextend yourself or your business so you are powerless and must say “yes” to the customer who demands an unreasonable price, the supplier who treats you like a gnat, a piece of work that is dangerous, an employee who does not pull his or her weight.

Take away whatever you like from the story, but that was the intended lesson, like it or no. And I do like no (though I’m quite polite when I use the word).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 12 Comments

Stuff in the Store (and in Store)

BHAE_detail2_500_IMG_7428We have sold out of “By Hand & Eye” but are working on getting that title back to the printer immediately. If you need the book, check out some of our retailers; many still have the book in stock. We should have the title back in stock – the fourth printing! – by early February.

In other “By Hand & Eye” news, authors Jim Tolpin and George Walker are working on a fascinating “workbook” supplement to “By Hand & Eye.” Written and illustrated like your grammar-school workbooks, it will take you through the exercises to open up your designer’s eye. The authors have been sharing the early drafts with me, and it’s going to be fun. Look for that in 2015.

We are down to our last box of Christian Becksvoort’s “With the Grain.” A third, revised edition is at the printer and should be in stock in early February. For the third printing, Becksvoort added 10 species of trees to the chapter on identifying the different North American commercial species, including the most important Western trees.

If you have the current edition, you can download the pages of the 10 species for free here:

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The revised edition will be slightly more expensive because we had to add a signature to the book block.

And in sweatshirt news: We are sold out of 2XL and Large sizes. We are almost out of all the other sizes. We will restock in January with a new brand of USA-made sweatshirt – same color and same logo. These will be about $4 more – a significant increase.

John and I are juggling about a dozen new books right now. Here is what is on the front burner this minute. I don’t have any details on prices on these products, I’m afraid:

“Chairmaker’s Notebook” by Peter Galbert is being designed by Linda Watts. She has the first 10 chapters designed and the book will go to press in January for a February 2015 release.

“Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley” by Don Williams is written, edited and headed to design in early January. It will be released in March or April – right before Handworks.

“Roubo on Furniture” is translated, edited and awaiting design. Look for it this summer.

Lots more in the works, of course.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in By Hand & Eye, Chairmaker's Notebook by Peter Galbert, Products We Sell, Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley, With the Grain | 5 Comments

Wisdom from the Boss

LAPFinalEveryone has something to teach me. Even if it’s as simple as: Avoid that person.

As John and I plunge into our eighth year of running Lost Art Press, I am reminded of three things that I learned about life and business from Steve Shanesy, my old boss at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Steve was the best boss I ever had. And though we didn’t always see eye to eye about the magazine’s content, we always worked together – never against one another.

Lesson No. 1: Business is a fight. It’s a struggle and it always will be. If you think it’s going to get easier next financial quarter or next year, you are wrong. So either accept that, or go work for someone else. Corollary: Business and magazines are not democracies, nor should they be.

Lesson No. 2: Sometimes the best action is to do nothing. It’s easy to react quickly to something. But that’s not always the best thing to do. Sometimes doing nothing and watching things unfold is the best course. I spent 18 years observing Steve and learning this valuable skill from him – it might be the best thing he ever taught me. Know when to act swiftly and when to pause.

Lesson No. 3: It’s a story that Steve told me once about one of their countertop suppliers when he was in the furniture trade. One time Steve was visiting the guy’s shop when some customers came in to pick up their order, a custom-made countertop.

The customers asked for a discount – not because the work was shoddy, but because they could.

The countertop guy said: No. The customers said, “OK, we’ll pay full price.”

The countertop guy said: No. I won’t sell this to you. I’d sooner destroy the countertop than sell it to you. Get the &^$% out of my shop.”

I’ll allow you to extract the lesson from that story.

Year eight has begun. Let the fight continue.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 66 Comments

5 Tools for Sale – All SOLD

The purge continues. Please, please, please read this with care before sending me a note about buying any tools.

If you subscribe to our blog via e-mail, click through to the page to see if the tool you want has been sold. As soon as the tool is sold, I will mark it as “sold” here on the blog.

All prices include domestic shipping. I apologize for this, but I don’t have time now to wait in the line at USPS for 30 minutes per order to ship international packages. If you have a U.S. address, we’re golden.

Ask me all the questions you like about an item. But the first one to say “I’ll take it” gets it. After I receive your your payment, I will ship the tool to you. If I don’t get your payment within two weeks, the piece goes back up for sale.

To buy an item, send an e-mail to chris@lostartpress.com and in the subject line please put the name of the item you want. If you say “I’ll take it,” and I don’t know what item you want, confusion ensues.

Whew. I hate rules. But here we go.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Holiday Spatulas (From Scraps)

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Only once in the last 21 years have I gotten my act together during the holidays and made woodworking gifts for friends and family. Except for that “cutting boards Christmas” I’ve been too swamped with making a living to do the right thing.

So if you think I made those spatulas in the photo above, you are dead wrong. You can thank Rachael Boyd, one of the readers of the blog, for this clever idea for scraps.

Rachael used stock that was 3/4″ x 2-1/4″ x 10″ long. She says she made the first one by drawing it freehand, cut it to rough shape with a coping saw and tapered the main area with a spokeshave.

She saved the best one as a template.

“I have a feeling I will need to make a lot more in the future,” she writes. “If you make these be prepared to make a lot of them ‘cause everyone loves them.”

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The straight spatula shown above is made from a cutoff from a tapered leg that she took to the disc sander to finish up. (I have a bunch of these taper pieces in my shop, so this is the one I might make from some teak cutoffs.)

Thanks to Rachael for saving Christmas.

— Christopher Schwarz, who can feel his liver growing two sizes that day

Posted in Projects | 7 Comments

A Message from the Wing-nut Ducks

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Suzanne Ellison prepared this montage of swimming ducks from A.-J. Roubo’s “The Book of Plates” (plates 98, 294, 319 and 349) to remind you that you have only a day or so to order “The Book of Plates” and have any hope of it being delivered before Christmas.

Also worth noting: We are shipping this book (and all of our books) via Priority mail until the end of 2014. After that, we will be switching to another system of mailing books. It will be more reliable, likely a little faster than Media Mail and definitely more expensive.

So take advantage of us while you can. Shipping will be more expensive in 2015 (can you hear us, California?).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 7 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 33

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