Thank You ‘Book of Plates’


Whether or not you purchase “l’Art du Menuisier: The Book of Plates” makes no difference to me personally. I have my copy, and it is making my woodworking life more interesting.

Today I finished up the first edit of the final bit of our forthcoming translation of A.J. Roubo’s writings on furniture and tools. (Don’t get too excited, it still has to travel a long way to arrive at the end of the goose – look for it in early summer.)

Today was devoted to plate 265, which describes “Autre Secretarie mobile Pupitre, et Petite Table a Ecrie.” AKA, an incredible unfolding, mechanical secretarie that I am hopelessly in love with. It is one part simple Creole-style side table, one part Transformer and two parts Jere Osgood’s Shell Desk.

As I edited the translated text, the words alone weren’t clear as to how the desk’s pigeonhole section pivots up. I had some detail drawings, but those weren’t enough to make the mechanism clear. Only when I opened “The Book of Plates” and took in the entire plate in full size did the scales fall from eyes. I immediately “got it” – like a Zen koan.


After that, the editing was a snap. I knew how the desk worked and could build it myself. My copy of “The Book of Plates” just paid for itself.

By the way, reader response to “The Book of Plates” has been incredibly positive (custom wooden box issues aside). It was a financial gamble that just might pay off. You can still get one before Christmas if you order it by Dec. 19 – all books are now shipping Priority mail, which will arrive in three business days.

Though it’s only 3:30 p.m., finishing plate 265 (and the other 87 plates) calls for a beer.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 4 Comments

Let’s Purge Our Tools Together


Because of the traveling and writing I do, I end up with tools I do not want or need. It makes me a little nuts.

Some of this is people who give me excess tools and say: “Find a needy student who could use this.” Others are tools that I purchase to write reviews, or because I need a tool while on the road, or to help someone out of a jam.

Many of these tools I’ll be giving away to students at my Hand Tool Immersion class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in 2015. But some of these tools are too specialized or exotic to put in the hands of a newbie.

And so I’m going to sell them off here on the blog starting tomorrow. I’ll post the mechanism for purchasing the tools tomorrow. Please do not e-mail me asking for a list of tools I’ll be selling (I don’t have time for that) or special treatment (that will only annoy me). Prices will be more than fair.

In the meantime, think about any excess tools that you own that could be doing good work in the hands of another woodworker. Whenever I visit tool collectors who have racks of user-grade tools, all I can think of is the unused potential gathering dust before me. To be sure, rare and oddball stuff is better off in a collection. But garden-variety bench planes should be on a bench somewhere (in my opinion).

If you want to purge your tools, consider selling them on one of the swap-n-sell areas on the woodworking discussion forums. Or there’s always eBay.

Once you pare your tools down to a good, basic set, you will find that taking care of your tools is easier because you have fewer. You will have a little extra money for wood, glue and finishing supplies. And the tools you sold will have a new home where they are used and appreciated.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Products We Sell | 28 Comments

Lost Art Press Now Ships Priority Mail


All Lost Art Press books now ship via USPS Priority Mail, which arrives anywhere in the United States in one to three business days.

From a practical standpoint, this means you can order Lost Art Press books up until Dec. 19 and  be confident they will show up by Christmas.

Until today, we have shipped book orders via Media Mail, a less-expensive shipping method for books that is supposed to take eight business days for delivery. During the last seven years and 100,000 packages, we have seen slower and slower delivery times (up to 15 business days) for Media Mail and seen more lost and damaged packages.

So today we switched to priority mail for books and have raised some rates (but not all) by $1. Shirts and hats will, as always, will continue to be shipped by first-class mail or priority mail, whichever is less expensive for you.

In 2015 we will offer other shipping options and have opened negotiations with other shipping services. Our goal is to get your order to you as quickly as possible without damage or excess expense.

So if you have been eying “The Book of Plates” or “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” but thought it was too late to order, think again.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Products We Sell | 11 Comments

The Just Reward of Labor


  1. The proper, legitimate, and just reward of labor.
  2. Security of person and property.
  3. The greatest practicable amount of freedom to each individual.
  4. Economy in the production and uses of wealth.
  5. To open the way for each individual to the possession of land, and all other natural wealth.
  6. To make the interests of all to co-operate with and assist each other, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other.
  7. To withdraw the elements of discord, of war, of distrust and repulsion, and to establish a prevailing spirit of peace, order, and social sympathy.

— Josiah Warren, “Equitable Commerce,” 1852

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest | 18 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 32


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The Aumbry Makes the Cover


The aumbry from the upcoming “Furniture of Necessity” book is featured on the cover of the February 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, which will mail to subscribers later this month.

My article discusses the history of the aumbry and how to build it. The book version will be much expanded and more detailed, as I’ll have about 10 times the space. Still – I think it’s a good magazine article; even beginners will be able to tackle the project with the magazine article.

I have to thank Editor Megan Fitzpatrick personally for taking a gamble on this project. Few people have ever heard of an aumbry, and fewer people would tell you they love Gothic furniture. I think the stuff is the cat’s meow. It’s fun to build and uses simple geometry and basic tools to design and construct.

I was allowed to read over the entire February issue before it went to press and was quite impressed (perhaps a bit professionally jealous). There’s a fantastic myth-busting article on teak oil, an excellent piece on making your own copper hardware with simple tools and Peter Follansbee shows you how to build his cool Chinese firewood carrier.

If you don’t subscribe, or if you have let your subscription lapse, this is the time to rectify that. Megan is steering the magazine to explore areas outside the traditional Shaker, Arts & Crafts and Period styles (though those will always be part of the magazine’s fabric). Look for some Japanese, Mid-century Modern and Ruhlmann stuff in forthcoming issues.

OK, back to the shop. I’ve got another project to build for Popular Woodworking.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Furniture of Necessity | 18 Comments

450 Scans Later, Peter Galbert’s ‘Chairmaker’s Notebook’ Emerges


Peter Galbert’s upcoming book on chairmaking began more than two years ago with a short afternoon chat in Berea, Ky. It started as a DVD project with some plans. Then it was a booklet. Next, a book with photos and drawings. And finally, a massive opus on green-wood chairmaking with more than 450 hand-drawn illustrations by Peter himself.

Peter, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, has drawn out the process of chairmaking in such incredible detail that I think you could build a chair even if you never read a word of the book.

And while I say there are 450 drawings, that is a gross underestimation. There are 450 sheet of drawings (plus a couple dozen on the way). Many of these sheets contain as many as six individual illustrations.

Many of these illustrations were drawn four or five times over as Peter refined the look of the illustrations. As I scanned every one of these illustrations during the last five days, I was in awe of the scope of his work.

It is the Roubo of green chairmaking, and I do not say that lightly.


I’ve been making chairs for more than 10 years, and I am blown away by the clarity of Peter’s methods, his metaphors and his ability to explain complex problems with only a few sentences and a perfect drawing.

I hope to rise to the challenge of presenting this material. We are now on our second full round of scanning the drawings. All 450 illustrations have been processed and cleaned up in Photoshop individually.

As I type this, Linda Watts, the designer, is laying out the book in an 8-1/2” x 11” format so it has an open feel with plenty of white space to frame Peter’s illustrations.


We’ve decided to call this book “Chairmaker’s Notebook” because it has the look and feel of a technical sketchbook. It appears casual and airy, but is filled with big ideas.

When will it be ready? We hope to send it to the printer in January with a release in late February or early March. We have no information on pricing. But I do have one tantalizing detail to share. One of Peter’s friends is a bookbinder and plans to offer a hand-bound version of “Chairmaker’s Notebook.”

I know that many of you have been waiting a long time for this book. We are close, and it will be worth the wait.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Books in the Works, Chairmaker's Notebook by Peter Galbert | 27 Comments