Pre-publication Orders for ‘Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley’


At 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 1, we will begin taking pre-publication orders for the long-awaited book “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley” by Don Williams with photographs by Narayan Nayar.

The book will be $49 with free shipping for domestic customers if ordered before May 13, 2015. That is the day the book will be released and shipped.

Also, the first 1,000 orders will receive a commemorative full-color postcard that’s perfect for pinning up in your shop. The front of the postcard will show the tool chest in all its glory; the rear face will have a short biography of Studley and note that you were one of the first 1,000 people to purchase “Virtuoso.”

The book is being released at the same time as the opening of the exhibit of the Studley tool cabinet and workbench in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on May 15-17. Information and tickets are available here.

Those who order the book before its release date will have the option of either getting it shipped to them (arriving after Handworks) or picking it up at Handworks, which runs May 15-16 in Amana, Iowa. If you plan to pick up your book at Handworks, please read the following paragraph with care. It is important.

You will need to pick up your book at the Lost Art Press booth in the Festhalle Barn in Amana, Iowa. While we will be selling copies of “Virtuoso” at the exhibit, the sales staff there will not have access to the list of people who pre-ordered the book. So to repeat (using slightly different words): You will pick up your pre-ordered book at Handworks.

So we recommend you come to Handworks first, pick up your book and then take it to the exhibit where you can get it signed by the people involved in the project.

Pre-ordering the book and picking it up in Amana will guarantee that you get your book there. We can bring only so many books to Handworks.

So spread the word to your woodworking friends: Studley is coming.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley | 18 Comments

The ‘Calvin Cobb’ Chapter-Spot Contest Winners Are…

CC-stamp_IMG_9440Thanks to everyone who entered the “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker” chapter-spot contest. Some of your (wrong) answers were really funny – so I had a lot of fun going through the responses.

Two photos, numbers 7 and 24, flummoxed everyone. A few of you were close on 24 with “chisel” … but not close enough (I’m a tough grader – just ask any of my former students). No one really came close on 7, a vacuum-tube tester.



The correct answer on 24 is “carving gouge.”

It was a close finish for first place and second place…particularly because the first-place winner declined to answer 36, 37 and 38. But it didn’t hurt him in the end.

Even with skipping three of them, Stumpy Nubs had the most correct answers (30).

Congratulations, James! You win an autographed copy of Roy Underhill’s “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker (A Novel with Measured Drawings),” a Lost Art Press Logo T-shirt in your choice of color and size (from available stock) and an autographed Roubo Bookstand in Walnut, made by Roy Underhill.

The second-place finisher (28 correct) is Sawdustandwoodchips, who wins an autographed copy of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker (A Novel with Measured Drawings)” and a Lost Art Press Logo T-shirt in his (I think “his” … but I don’t actually know) choice of color and size (from available stock).

For third place, there was a tie. So I resorted to giving “pluses” for hyper-correct answers to each of the entrants with 23 correct responses. Matt Rae got five pluses; lblack2x4 got four pluses…but lost one for “Rabone folding rule…because it’s a Zig-Zag.) So, Matt Rae gets an autographed copy of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker (A Novel with Measured Drawings),” and lblack2x4 gets a Lost Art Press Logo T-shirt (choice of color and size from available stock).

CC01I have no doubt you will disagree with my grading methods – students always did. (But I beg you: Don’t have your parents call me to complain.)

If one (or more) person gave the exact correct response, answers that were vague did not get full marks (e.g. No. 1 is the exposure counter on a Robot 1 camera, which several people identified correctly, so “camera dial” alone did not make the grade).

Winners, please send your mailing address and T-shirt choice (where applicable) to: I’ll get them off to Roy and Christopher Schwarz immediately.

And remember: You’re all winners, just for playing (do you think kids really believe that?).

Below, you’ll find the key to all 38 of the chapter spots images, as provided by Roy:

1 Exposure Counter, Robot 1 camera
2 IBM Punch Card,
3 Audel’s Carpenters and Builders Guide, vol 3,
4 RCA console Radio, ca 1939
5 Shutter Speed Dial, Robot 1 camera
6 Stanley #6 Bench Plane
7 Vacuum Tube Tester, ca 1948
8 Bell Systems Pay Telephone Dial
9 Steel Zig-Zag Rule
10 Toledo Scale (drugstore model)
11 Exposure Guide, Robot 1 camera
12 Focus Ring, Robot 1 camera
13 Folding Rule
14 Exposure Counter, Robot 1 camera
15 Wurlitzer Juke Box, 1946
16 Wurlitzer Juke Box, 1941
17 Auger Bit, 17/16 inch
18 Try Square
19 Zig-Zag Rule
20 Tuning Dial, Atwater Kent Radio, ca. 1921
21 Adding Machine
22 Wurlitzer Juke Box, 1946
23 Adding Machine, Remington
24 Carving Gouge
25 Coin Slot, Bell Systems Pay Phone
26 Gearing Tables, Barnes #3 ? Screw Cutting Lathe
27 Steel Folding Rule
28 F-Stop (Iris diaphragm) Setting, Robot 1 Camera
29 Stanley Rule & Level # 29 Transitional Plane
30 Langdon Patent, Millers Falls Miter Box
31 Zig-Zag Rule
32 Post Office Box Window
33 Stamp Vending Machine
34 Two Plow Plane Irons
35 Stanley Rule & Level # 35 Transitional Plane
36 Adding Machine, Remington
37 Stanley Rule & Level # 37 Transitional Plane
38 Two Steel Number Stamps

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 7 Comments

‘Chairmaker’s Notebook’ Ships Tuesday


About 10 pallets of Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook” arrived in our Indiana warehouse this afternoon and will ship out tomorrow.

If you ordered the book from us, you probably received an e-mail notification today that the book shipped. Our store software automatically sends that e-mail when we print your shipping label. Once the book hits the mail stream (probably tomorrow), it should take three to seven business days to arrive, depending where you live (Hawaii and Alaska might take longer).

I drove to our warehouse today and picked up some copies of the book for me, Peter and the other people involved in the project, including copy editor Megan Fitzpatrick, designer Linda Watts and indexer Suzanne Ellison.

The printer did an outstanding job on all aspects of this book, from the binding to the dust jacket. I think you will be pleased.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in Chairmaker's Notebook | 9 Comments

A Noble Fortitude


It is easy to labor so long as we are encouraged by cheers and waving of hats, but to toil on and on, with only the silent approval of one’s own heart, requires a noble fortitude which the hero alone possesses.

George Houghton

The Hub – November 1, 1875

Photo: Carpenters’ Union Float for 1948 Armistice Day Parade – Porterville, CA.

—Jeff Burks

Posted in Historical Images | 7 Comments

The Apprentice and His Tools


Now I have the glue on these boards and am ready to drive some brads in and can’t find my hammer. “John, have you got my hammer? I do wish you would try and get some tools of your own; I don’t mind lending mine, but it is such a nuisance and inconvenience to me and takes up a lot of my time.”

“You first started by asking my permission to take them, now you say nothing but come and help yourself; you take them and never think of returning them unless I ask for them, and when I do get them they are in bad order: You borrow my planes, wood bits, chisels, oilstone, and even my pencil. Can’t you scrape up a pencil some place? What are you doing with my inch chisel? You have one of your own; why don’t you use that?”

“I tried to use it, Mr. Martin, but it is too dull and I knew yours would be sharp.”

“John, if you want to learn the trade you must learn to keep your tools in order. You can’t do work without tools, and you can’t do it with dull tools. If you are going to learn this trade you’d better start in at once and buy some. Get a few at a time, what you need most, and be sure and get nothing but the best.”

“Didn’t you tell me you took a piece of calico to a hop last Saturday night and it cost you three bucks? If you had put those three dollars in tools, don’t you think they would do more good and leave you something to show for it? Some fine morning you will wake up and find you are obliged to look for work in another shop; then you will wish you had given more of your attention to your trade and tools, and not so much of your time to calico and money for hops.”

“Journeymen are not obliged to, and do not care to, lend tools to any person, and less so to apprentices because they do not understand how to take proper care of them. When I was an apprentice, I took great pleasure in new tools when I knew they were my own, and they gave me a kind of ambition to care and work with them.”

“Try and keep yourself and your bench tidy. You have had that old, dirty, torn apron on until it can stand up alone. A clean apron don’t cost much, and your bench looks like a pawnshop window. When you lay anything on it you have to get a search warrant to find it; learn to be neat. Don’t forget what I said about saving your money and getting a few tools.”

Mr. Martin

American Machinist – October 2, 1902

—Jeff Burks

Posted in Historical Images | 16 Comments

The $2 Steambox


One of my goals of the “Furniture of Necessity” is to encourage people to build things that look complex but are actually simple once you know the trick. Think: compound joinery without a single numeral or calculation. Or, in today’s case, make curved parts using raw materials from the grocery store.

Steam-bending wood is fun and easy. And I own a steambox, a steam generator and all the clamps and forms that make it a snap. But that’s a lot of money and effort if you want to make one steamed part, such as a simple crest rail for a chair or backstool.

When I first learned to make Shaker boxes from John Wilson more than a decade ago, we boiled the parts in a steel planter box that was heated by a hot plate. That works pretty well, though you have to monitor the temperature to keep it boiling.


Another way to bend wood without fussing over the temperature is to use my mother’s recipe for beef brisket.

She would seal the brisket in a roasting pan covered in foil and cook it in the oven until the meat fell apart on your fork.

So I went to the grocery on Friday and picked up a bundle of firewood ($3.99) and a roasting pan ($2). The firewood is all split stuff that is 14” to 16” long and air-dried. My bundle of wood had oak, ash, poplar and sappy walnut. All the stock was about 30 percent moisture content – plenty dry enough to use for this operation.


I managed to get three crest rails from a split of oak and planed them all four-square. I  preheated the oven to 450° F. Then I filled my aluminum roasting pan with hot water, put the oak in and sealed the pan with two layers of aluminum foil. I cut a small 1/2” slit in the top and roasted the oak in the oven for 75 minutes. Then I took it to my bending form.


My bending form is made from a stack of 3/4” MDF that’s glued together. The easiest way to bend a 3/4” crest rail is using the help of a bench vise. I clamped half the form to the jaw of my vise and the other half to the bench.


I dropped the oak between the two parts of the form and cranked the vise closed. Simple. I then put two bar clamps across the form and removed it from the vise. In two days I’ll take the clamps off and I’ll have another crest rail for my next chair.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 25 Comments

You are Like a Dog that Pees on the Rug


The following is not a petition for affirmation. It is merely a reminder to myself not to order so many books at press time.

Though I loved journalism school, it didn’t love me. During my first two years, both my academic adviser and news writing instructor recommended I transfer to a school that was better suited to my odd writing style.

“You are like a big puppy that pees on the rug all the time,” said David Nelson, my newswriting instructor. “I don’t know what to do with you.”

The vice principal at my high school would have agreed with Nelson.

“You have got to stop wearing that bathrobe to school,” he told me one spring day.

So today I am officially tempering my enthusiasm for my next book, “Furniture of Necessity.” I have about half the projects built for the book, and they are slowly being integrated into our daily lives on Greenbriar Avenue.

Three-legged backstools sit at the ends of our dining table, and I steer every guest in our house to sit on them (we’re up to about 20 pair of buttocks now). Some visitors are clearly fearful that it is a trick.

My first 14th-century trestle table has become a portable work table and has been out in the yard, in the sunroom and set up in the living room for a number of dinners. But a couple visitors have asked why the table is missing legs. Or why it has too many legs. Or they have just asked what the heck it is.

I love these pieces, perhaps more than any other pieces I’ve built in recent memory. But the outside world isn’t sure. The three-legged chairs and table trestles are particularly off-putting. As one woodworker recently told me: “It looks like you’re just trying to save a little wood by having one less leg.”


I seek out and appreciate this sort of honest response. It shapes the way I will explain these pieces in the book and, more importantly, tells me I need to show you more examples here on the blog. The problem is that in the last five years I have looked at hundreds of images of aumbries, trestle tables, backstools, medieval worktables and staked pieces of all sorts. They don’t look weird to me anymore.

But deep down, I know they’re difficult pieces. Just like I knew it was strange to write about stabbings at adult bookstores (suggested headline: “Ouch! Wrong Hole!”). Plus, terrycloth bathrobes are odd attire at high school pep rallies.

So write a birdhouse book, you idiot.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 33 Comments