For Marilyn – Crabs or Grabs


Marilyn of She Works Wood fame asked for a video that shows how the crab lock (aka grab lock) works. So here it is. This lock was made for this tool chest by blacksmith Peter Ross. Unlike many commercial crab locks from the 20th century, this one operates super smooth.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest | 6 Comments

Simple Type of Indian Home Cot


ONE of our Indian readers sends us particulars for the making of a simple home cot, which we think will be of general interest.

The cot consists of a skeleton framework supported by four legs, the overall height being 18 ins. The length of the cot is 5 ft. 6 ins., the width 3 ft. 6 ins. The mattress is made by weaving a good strong tape mesh as suggested in the top right corner of the plan drawing. The method of jointing the side and end rails of the cot to the legs is somewhat unusual and, if the maker is not familiar with the joint, he is advised to make a rough model of one corner before proceeding with his work. Fig. 1 shows a plan of the cot as seen from above. Fig. 2 is the front elevation, showing on the right a turned leg as suggested by our Indian contributor, whilst on the left we show a square tapered leg having a foot which is suitable for those makers who have no lathe. The wood used for construction of the article is generally teakwood, but there is no reason why such wood as ash, beech or birch should not be used. Fig. 3 gives an end elevation.

The following is a list of the wood required: Four legs, 1 ft. 7 ins. by 3 ins. by 3 ins.; two long bars, 5 ft. 7 ins by 3 ins. by 1-1/2 ins. and two end bars 3 ft. 7 ins. by 3-1/2 ins. by 1-1/2 ins. An arch has been allowed in the length of the bars, but they should finish in width and thickness to the sizes given.

At Fig. 4 we show a sketch of the cross and end bar mortised into the leg, and it will be seen that a turned hardwood peg fits into a suitably provided hole and locks the tenons, which are dry jointed (not glued) in position.

The head of this turned peg forms an ornament or finish at the top of the leg and it should of course fit tightly in position so as to prevent the youngster from pulling it out. Fig. 5 gives a sketch of the end and cross bars in their relative positions when they are apart from the leg. At Fig. 6 is given a sketch of the end bar and cross bar when the cot is fixed in position, but in this illustration the leg is purposely left out of the drawing for a clear representation. Fig. 7 shows the joints of the leg portion when the part of the leg above the line (A, Fig. 4) is sawn off. The hardwood peg is shown at Fig. 8. The above methods of illustrating the joint have been chosen because the interlacing of so many dotted lines in the ordinary sketch makes it next to impossible for a worker who is not familiar with the joint to follow an ordinary drawing.

If beech, birch or ash is used it may be stained either mahogany or walnut colour, after which it may be given a coat of brush polish and when this is hard the work may be wax polished. If the cot is made in teak wood it may be finished as above, but without staining.

We are indebted to Mr. S. V. Ramesad, of Beswada, India, for the above particulars. (600)

— from The Woodworker magazine, May 1925

Posted in Campaign Furniture, Furniture of Necessity | 10 Comments

‘By Hand & Eye’ the Holiday Special

You’ve read the book. Now see the movie.

Animator Andrea Love and Jim Tolpin, one of the authors of “By Hand & Eye,” have produced a charming stop-motion video that explains the pre-industrial design process explored in the book. If you like the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials from the 1970s (“Year Without a Santa Claus” and “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”) you’ll dig this video.

In it, Jim’s puppet explains how to design a stepstool using the size of your body, basic proportions and a little humor (I love the Vitruvian Dog).

It’s a great little film that Andrea and Jim have been working on for a long time. Enjoy!

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in By Hand & Eye | 30 Comments

He Thumbs a Book of Photographs and Says,


“Fast modern contemporary furniture, I want no part of it. People wanting to express themselves, it’s just simply crap. That’s what’s causing all the ills of our society, individualism with nothing to express. You tear your guts out to express yourself and it ends up in frustration and a terrible environment…. (Wood is) a gift we should treasure and use in the most logical and beautiful way, and personal expression is quite illegitimate. It’s an arrogant conceit, and we have too much conceit in our society.”

— George Nakashima interviewed by John Kelsey for the January/February 1979 issue of Fine Woodworking (Issue No. 14).

Posted in Personal Favorites | 16 Comments

Psst, Need a Tool Roll?


Head over to my blog at Popular Woodworking to read a review of the tool rolls from Jason Thigpen of Texas Heritage Woodworks

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 3 Comments

What’s Wrong with this Picture?


If you aren’t sure, the people at should be able to sort you out with the help of slotted, unplated steel screws. (Mine are in the mail.)

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 18 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 42


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