Roy Underhill Reads ‘Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!’

Listening to an author read his or her work is always enlightening. For me, it’s similar to the difference between a recorded song and a live song. You hear something different.

Because we cannot drive Roy to your house, we asked him to take a few minutes this week to read one of his favorite chapters from his new novel: “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” He read Chapter 12 in his cabin, which is above the mill building where he and Jane live in North Carolina.

Roy lit a fire, fired up the laptop and recorded this short 7-minute chapter for you to enjoy.

This weekend, Megan Fitzpatrick (who edited the novel) and I (who watched) will be filming each of us reading our favorite chapters and posting them here. I plan to read mine while wearing my tube top, if I can find it.

If you can get the image of a tube-topped yeti out of your head, I’d also like to mention that “Calvin Cobb” is available with free domestic shipping until Nov. 29. After that, I think shipping will be $7.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I know this little film will renew calls for Roy to do an audiobook version of the book. We hear you! Before we even think about that possibility we have to complete a lot of other projects first. Sorry. We are only two people.

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 9 Comments

Shipping Update: ‘Book of Plates’ & ‘Calvin Cobb’


For those of you who placed a pre-publication order for “The Book of Plates” or “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” this information is for you.

Calvin Cobb
We’ve heard from several customers that they have not yet received their copy of Calvin Cobb, especially customers on the West coast. Here’s the straight dope: We printed the labels on Nov. 13. All of the books were packed and put into the mail stream on Nov. 14.

They were sent Media Mail, which can be slow this time of year. And it is probably especially slow this year because of reports we are hearing from other shippers. Media Mail can take up to 14 business days to reach you.

So I wouldn’t be concerned until after Dec. 1. We apologize that we cannot speed this up.

The Book of Plates
Our shipping company has boxed all of the pre-publication orders and delivered them to the postal service as of today. These also are being sent Media Mail, so it could take a couple weeks for you to receive your book, especially if you live out West.

Thanks for your patience. We’re happy that you really want your books, and we’re doing everything we can to get them to you.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 10 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 30


Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 3 Comments

Be Thankful for Delivery of ‘The Book of Plates’


After much consternation and a little yelling, “The Book of Plates” arrived at our warehouse this morning, along with all the custom boxes to ship the book to customers.

I haven’t seen the final bound book with the muted gold stamp on the cover, but John says it looks great.

As promised, our warehouse is setting up a special assembly line to ship out all the pre-publication orders as quickly as possible. If you ordered “The Book of Plates” during our free shipping offer, your book will be in the mail very soon.

If you plan to order the book through one of our retailers, such as Lee Valley Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Classic Hand Tools UK, Highland Woodworking or Henry Eckert, keep an eye on their web sites. Their orders were shipped on Friday.

If you haven’t ordered “The Book of Plates” there is still time for Christmas, though it will be a squeaker. The book is $100 plus $9 shipping and handling. The book is heavy (more than 8 lbs.), oversized and shipped in a custom box.

Oh and the above illustration of Cato the Roubo crow was made by Suzanne Ellison, our researcher, indexer and contributing editor. The elements of the collage come from “The Book of Plates” (except the crow).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 6 Comments

Beading Planes from Caleb James


Fair warning: If you read this blog entry you might end up with a dog that has decorative details.

If you build furniture of a traditional sort, you should consider owning some beading planes. While beading planes are (in general) quite common, furniture makers use the less-common small ones – usually 1/8”, 3/16” and 1/4”. These planes add shadow lines to traditional work that are sometimes lost on the modern eye.

The margin between backboards or bottom boards, for example, is much nicer if beaded. And any flat expanse is best broken up with a bead when you have drawer fronts and door fronts that are flush to their face frames.

Heck, bead those face frames while you are at it.


I couldn’t imagine building furniture without them. Beading planes are faster than a router or scratch stock and leave a beautiful, ready-to-finish surface without sanding.

The challenge, however, is finding beading planes that are a notch above firewood. This summer I hit several tool emporiums and inspected at least 100 beading planes that were sized for furniture. None was worth buying.

So if you can’t find vintage beading planes, you need to find someone who will make them for you. Phil Edwards at Philly Planes is one excellent source. And you might be able to talk Matt Bickford into making you some. Old Street Tool still isn’t taking orders.


So please take a look at the work by Caleb James, a chairmaker, planemaker and excellent craftsman in Greenville, S.C. I met Caleb in person for the first time in the spring, used his planes and placed an order for two beading planes to round out my set – a 1/8” and a 1/4”.

I’ve had the 1/4” plane for a while, and the 1/8” came today.

They are outstanding. Beyond outstanding, really.

One of the nice details on Caleb's planes is the chamfer on the escapement. This makes it easy to press the iron against the blind side of the mortise.

One of the nice details on Caleb’s planes is the chamfer on the escapement. This makes it easy to press the iron against the blind side of the mortise.

Caleb isn’t taking orders for planes right now as he is clearing out a well-deserved backlog. But bookmark his site and watch for when he opens ordering again. Then pounce.

When your beading planes arrive, you’ll want to put a bead on everything. Even your dog.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Handplanes, Personal Favorites | 16 Comments

‘The Book of Mine’


Suzanne Ellison – artist, indexer, researcher and butt-kicker – made this for my office. It’s constructed using tools from Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier” plus a crow. There is no crow in Roubo to my knowledge.

Suzanne calls this crow “Cato.” Yes, after Cato Fong.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 9 Comments

‘Book of Plates:’ Free Shipping Extended 2 Days


This is not a marketing stunt. Historically we offer free domestic shipping on all pre-publication orders until the day the title ships. And due to a busy bindery, “The Book of Plates” will ship to us on Friday, two days behind schedule.

So free shipping on “The Book of Plates” now ends at midnight EST Nov. 21, 2014.

The good news is that our warehouse is planning a dedicated assembly line to fulfill all of the pre-publication orders as soon as the book is delivered there. So everyone should get their book in plenty of time before Christmas.

Today I took possession of the only advance copy of “The Book of Plates” now that our box vendor has measured the final product and is busy making 2,500 custom boxes for the book.

In my total glee, I prepared a 10-minute tour of the book, which you can watch below. In it I show the different parts of the book and explain some of the challenges in bringing it to press.

I am quite pleased with the printing job. The resolution is outstanding and the paper is sweet. I think you will get many hours, days or weeks of pleasure pondering these plates or using the images to amplify the text.

In fact, that’s what I plan to do tonight.

— Christopher Schwarz

The three Roubo volumes we have produced so far – for scale. On the top, the standard "To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry." In the middle is "The Book of Plates." And on the bottom is the deluxe edition of "Roubo on Marquetry."

The three Roubo volumes we have produced so far – for scale. On the top, the standard “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry.” In the middle is “The Book of Plates.” And on the bottom is the deluxe edition of “Roubo on Marquetry.”

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 9 Comments