Update: Hand Tool Immersion Class


I’d like to say “thank you” to all the woodworkers who have donated tools, money and offers of assistance for the Hand Tool Immersion class for new woodworkers being held at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking this fall.

The class filled up in 45 minutes. Marc encouraged me to hold a second one, but I’m afraid I am too tied up with <insert insane list of items here> to even consider it. The good news is that we are already planning additional deeply discount classes for new woodworkers for 2016. Details to come when they are available.


As to the tools y’all have sent, we now have an official imperial crapload of them in my sunroom. In fact, I think we’ll have all 18 students covered. We just have to first figure out exactly what each student needs to complete his or her toolkit.

By the way, if you are a student in this class, you should receive instructions in May on getting your toolkit sorted. So stay tuned on that front.

As to offers of food, teaching assistance and cheerleading, I want to say “yes” to all of the generous offers. I just need to talk over what is possible with Marc next month while I’m at the school. It’s his school, his facility and his insurance. So it’s really his call as to whether you can bring your flea circus to help flatten chisel backs.

The other update for this class (and the similar one in England) is that I’ve started building the tool chest we’ll all be building during these classes. I’ll be shooting photos and will have a manual for the students with drawings etc. This manual will allow me to take naps during the class, perhaps even to skip a couple days of the class to hit the Oaken Barrel for a bender. Who knows?

The wood for the chest is some sweet 4/4 white pine I recently scored. The stuff almost planes itself.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking Classes | 19 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 47


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Contest: Photo Fun with Calvin Cobb

CalvinCobb_Jacket6If you’ve read “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” by Roy Underhill perhaps you’ve noticed the numbered “chapter spots” – the little images at the beginning of each chapter.

(If you haven’t yet read it, well, you should! It’s variously funny, poignant, thought-provoking and, of course, quintessentially Underhill-ian.)

Here’s the back story on those chapter spots: Christopher Schwarz and I were in Pittsboro, N.C., at The Woodwright’s School when Roy started hunting down vintage things with numbers on them, camera in hand. I tried to keep up with him, jotting down everything at which he pointed the lens. But who can keep up with Roy?! Not me.

Saturday, though, I got a list from Roy of all the items – so we thought we’d have a fun little contest with them.

In the comments, in order from 1-38, post your best guesses as to what each item is in the chapter spots (pictured in order below). The contest runs through 11:59 p.m., March 28 (this Saturday). That way, I have the weekend to go through them.

Whomever gets the most correct (or is the first to get them all correct) wins an autographed copy of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!”, a Lost Art Press T-shirt (your choice of available offerings and sizes) and an autographed Roubo bookstand from Roy.

The person with the second most correct wins an autographed copy of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” and a Lost Art Press T-shirt.

Third prize is your choice of an autographed book or a Lost Art Press T-shirt.

And if there’s a tie for win, place or show, I can probably shake another set of applicable prizes out of the powers that be.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 29 Comments

Ants Viires (1918-2015)


Ants Viires, the pioneering Estonian ethnographer and author of “Woodworking in Estonia,” died on March 18, according to friends and family.

At the time of his death, Lost Art Press was actively preparing an all-new translation of the landmark “Woodworking in Estonia,” which Roy Underhill listed in 2011 as one of his three favorite woodworking books. The surviving family fully supports our translation effort, and we expect to release the book by the end of 2015.

“Woodworking in Estonia” is one of the most detailed studies ever written about an active hand-tool culture. It really is like stepping back into the 17th or 18th century. Viires dedicated his life to recording this vanishing Baltic culture and recording their tools, processes and products.=

Oddly, “Woodworking in Estonia” was first translated into English in the 1960s by the Israel Program for Scientific Translations and – even odder – was published by the U.S. Science Foundation as a typewritten text with low-quality images.

Viires disavowed this edition, saying it was unauthorized.

Nevertheless, this weird little book is how most of us encountered “Woodworking in Estonia” and became fans of it. About two years ago, we encountered an Estonian woodworking in Toronto who put us in touch with the Viires family and we all agreed to embark on a completely new translation.


Since that first 1960s edition, Viires had updated the text in “Woodworking in Estonia.” And the Estonian publisher, Kirjastus Ilo, reissued the book with gorgeous and crisp drawings and photos.

We hired a translator who was familiar with Viires’s work to handle the new edition, and he turned in his final translation about the same day that Viires died. The book is now in the hands of Peter Follansbee, who will comb through the text to ensure it is technically correct. And then we will design it to look very much like Viires’s 2006 edition of the book, with all the sharp drawings and photos – and with the full support of the Viires family and the Estonian publisher.

In other words, this will be the first authorized English translation of this book, its sales will support the Viires family and English-speaking woodworkers will finally be able to fully experience this amazing woodworking book.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking in Estonia | 22 Comments

The Amateur Carpenter


The Amateur Carpenter

In my opinion every professional man should keep a chest of carpenters’ tools in his barn or shop, and busy himself at odd hours with them in constructing the varied articles that are always needed about the house. There is a great deal of pleasure in feeling your own independence of other trades, and more especially of the carpenter.

Every now and then your wife will want a bracket put up in some corner or other, and with your new, bright saw and glittering hammer you can put up one upon which she can hang a cast-iron horse-blanket lambrequin, with inflexible water lilies sewed in it.
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Posted in Historical Images | 4 Comments

The Making of a Cabinetmaker – Part I



I took kindly to woodworking. In fact, I was brought up in the woods until I was seven years of age. During these first seven years of my life I saw my father only occasionally, for he was a cabinetmaker by trade and worked in a smart little town about sixty miles distant from our forest farm and came home after intervals of about six weeks to remain with us but a day or two. When I was about seven years old my mother died and the remainder of the family father took with him to the town where he worked.

I went to school, but had a chance to run in and out of the shop as I pleased, and just about as the child learns to speak his mother’s language by sights and sounds long before it is sent to school, so I learned a great deal about cabinetmaking long before I took any tools in my hand to actually learn the trade.
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Posted in Historical Images | 9 Comments

More texture!

Chris’s recent post about texture reminded me of this Japanese bowl that I have:


The bowl is extremely light in weight, which leads me to think that it is made from kiri (Royal Paulownia, Paulownia tomentosa). The finish is urushi, and I believe that it is tamenuri, which is “natural” urushi, without any dyes or pigments added.

The bowl is turned, and the surface texture is very rough, with substantial tear-out and other “defects.”

A view of the inside reveals what looks to have been an all-out assault with a scraper.


Here’s a close-up of an area with a lot of tear-out:


I find the bowl interesting, in that it appears as if its primary purpose is to highlight the limitations of our tools. The only place where the bowl deviates from that purpose is in its base, which is turned perfectly flat and smooth, like any other bowl.

– Steve Schafer

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments