You Can Call Him ‘Roy Jr.’


I wish I had thought of this Halloween costume for my kids when they were helpless. These days it’s a struggle to get my 18-year-old daughter to wear a handlebar moustache.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Leo, who is dressed today as Roy Underhill.

And it looks like Roy approves of the costume.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, Personal Favorites | 4 Comments

‘Cool.’ A Story by the Saucy Indexer

Chris had been studying A.-J. Roubo’s writings for years, but lately there was something strange about the three volumes. He couldn’t put his finger on it; sometimes he thought he heard voices near the books. It was creepy and unsettling and he had avoided the books for several days. His fascination overrode any unease he felt and soon he was back on the couch poring over all those cool plates of tools and furniture. The tiny voices he heard had to be his imagination.

“Cool,” he exclaimed as got to the series of plates showing 18th-century coaches. “These are so cool!” He heard a murmur coming from the book. “No, it’s just my imagination.” As he turned a few more pages and said a few more “cools,” the murmuring grew louder. It seemed to be coming from the plates showing chairs. Chris leaned close to the book and was astonished to hear a heated conversation.

“How many times can a human say ‘cool’ in the space of one hour?”

“He could try ‘remarkable,’ ‘wonderful’ or ‘extraordinary.’ We only get ‘cool!’”

“He is the ass of a Jacques!”

“I think it is said that he is Jacques’ ass.”

Chris flipped quickly to the plates featuring chairs. “What? These plates shouldn’t be side-by-side!”

Roubo Complates1_cool

He was met with pages of complaints about his overuse of “cool.”

“But you are cool, so very cool. I can’t help myself,” he tried to explain. The chairs, and some of the other furniture, were not listening.

“We can’t take it anymore!” they shouted back. “We want out!”

“You want out?” Chris roared back. “I have been protecting you – admiring you – and you want out AND you call me an ass of a Jacques?! I’ll give you out!”

And with that he held the book upside down and shook it. There was a cacophony of shrieks as the tiny furniture fell from the book.

Falling chairs

Coming to his senses, Chris stopped shaking the book and exclaimed, “What have I done? Have I ruined them? I’ll put them back and everything will be all right.” He put the book down and looking at the floor saw none of the tiny chairs or tables. “Where are they? They were there. They yelled at me and called me the ass of a Jacques. It was real, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?” He stood stunned not able to comprehend what had happened. Chris ran from the room.

“That was fun. We haven’t been out of the book in decades!”

“He has the head like a block.”

A while later and back in the book….

Roubo Complates1_mixed

— Suzanne Ellison

Editor’s note: You can order “The Book of Plates” in our store now.

Posted in Personal Favorites, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 8 Comments

New in the Store: ‘Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!’

CalvinCobb_Jacket6Roy Underhill’s woodworking novel – “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” – is now available for pre-publication ordering in the Lost Art Press store. The book will begin shipping on Nov. 10, and we are offering free shipping on all orders placed before Nov. 29, 2014.

The hardbound book is $29. The ePub version is $14. You can purchase both the hardbound version and the ePub for $36. If you order the ePub, you will receive your download immediately (in other words, you can begin reading the book today).

Go here to order the book. Or read on for more information on this unusual woodworking book.

What is That?
The first time I heard Roy had written a woodworking novel was when I visited his school in Pittsboro, N.C. Stuck to the corkboard above the school’s coffeemaker was a book cover that looked like something from the 1930s. The cover featured a redhead holding a handsaw, plus a dude holding a handplane and an armload of cash.

“What’s that?” I asked Roy.

“That’s the cover to my novel,” he replied.

Now Roy has a reputation for practical jokery. So rather than swallowing that piece of stink bait I just said something like, “Uhh….”

During the next few years of working with Roy, the topic of his novel came up several times, and I eventually asked him, “Is that real?”

He said it was, and that he even had a manuscript to prove it. Under a little duress, he found a battered, marked-up copy in his office. He explained that he had spent several years writing and polishing “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” but had set it aside when he didn’t get much interest from the big publishers.

I asked if I could borrow the manuscript. And that was what launched this multi-year project.

I know it’s a bit crazy to publish a woodworking novel with measured drawings. But this book is a jewel – well-written, fast-paced and simply funny. And with lots of juicy woodworking parts (and, yes, measured drawings for four projects). You can read the book’s plot description in our store, so I won’t repeat it here.

But allow me to answer a few questions that people have asked me about this book.

Will I learn any woodworking techniques?
Maybe? There are a few good descriptions of work in the novel, but the point of the book isn’t to help you cut a better tenon. It’s to entertain you and perhaps think a bit differently about your world.

Is it appropriate for kids?
Let’s just say that I’m not the best parent. I would let my 13-year-old read this book – no problem. I’d say it’s PG-13 for mild language and adult situations. It’s not “Dick & Jane,” nor is it “50 Shades of Wood.” I’d also say that if you are easily offended by stuff on television, then Lost Art Press books and this blog are not written for you.

Measured drawings, really?
Really. They are key to the plot. Really.

Roy writes fiction?
Yes, and very well. And to make sure this book has all the polish of novel from a major publisher, we hired Megan Fitzpatrick, a veritable fiction maven, to edit Roy’s book. We are all very proud of the result.

So if you like a good story, like Roy’s show or just like redheads riding motorcycles, we think you’ll enjoy “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!

And now I have to think of something crazier to do than publishing a woodworking novel….

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 26 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 26


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Tool Donations for the Baby Anarchists


Thanks to everyone who has sent tools and money for the 18 new hand-tool woodworkers I’ll be teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking next year.

Your tax-deductible donations have already paid for five (almost six) of the students. And the donated tools are piling up on my workbench in the sunroom. I haven’t counted everything yet (and I still have three boxes to open today). But I can say that we are set on mallets and coping saws – more on that point at a future date.

If you haven’t heard about this heavily discounted course that I’m teaching in the United States and England in 2015, go here. If you are interested in donating tools or money to the effort, you can read about that here.

I have had a lot of questions about the class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in particular because it has not opened for registration yet. Registration for the general public begins on Dec. 1. If you wish to read the course description and get information on registering, fill out the contact form here and opt in for the school’s newsletter. They’ll send you the 2015 schedule and registration information.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking Classes | 8 Comments

Why I Want ‘The Book of Plates’

Whenever woodworkers come to my house, two things happen. We drink beer and we gaze longingly at my 18th-century copies of A.-J. Roubo’s ‘l’Art du Menuisier.”

I assure you that we keep the beer far away from the books.

I’ve owned many copies of Roubo, from the trade paperbacks all the way up to this beautiful first edition. And it is the detail and size of these original plates that grab your eye and cause you to press your face to the page.

“Why did he draw that tool in that way?” is a common question.

With many old woodworking books, the answer is, “He didn’t draw it that way. Some illustrator did.” But in this case, Roubo himself drew most all of the plates. Nothing is unintentional – I can say this because I know many of these plates by heart and have been editing our upcoming translation, which will be published next year.

With “The Book of Plates,” we wanted to capture that same experience of examining the 18th-century original by giving you the plates at the same size they were drawn in the 1700s. We wanted to offer the extreme detail from the original. Oh, and the paper is the nicest stuff available.

To give you a feel for that experience, I made this short video tour of two plates in the book – one on trying planes and one on measuring tools. The book shown in the video is my first edition – “The Book of Plates” is still on press. I apologize in advance for how many times I say “cool.” I recommend you turn that quirk of mine into a drinking game.

We are now accepting pre-publication orders for “The Book of Plates.” Order soon to ensure delivery by Christmas. The book ships starting Nov. 20, 2014.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 10 Comments

How to Saw/Why you Should Follow David Savage


“I teach people to see using a motorbike analogy. ‘Imagine you are riding a nice powerful bike, the sun is shining and you are driving along this winding country lane your partner is on the back and you are going quite quick but safe. You approach a series of shallow S-bends you flick the bike left and right with no conscious movement of your body. Sawing down a line is like that.’ Hold that saw handle light like a child’s hand, don’t rush the stroke, don’t press down, just do it. Watch yourself uncritically, your body will adjust your stance to achieve your goal if you allow it. The moment we get tense, the second we seek to control, it goes to hell. Like raising a child.”

— David Savage

David’s e-mail newsletter is one of the things I most look forward to in the morning. As a writer, David is willing to take risks and go places I wouldn’t dare. As a woodworker, he kicks all of our butts. Sign up for his newsletter by going to his home page at Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a box where you can sign up. Highly recommended.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites, Saws | 8 Comments