4 Workbench Classes, 3 Continents

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I’ll never know the pain of childbearing, but I think I know the next-closest thing: bench building. That why I include a full bottle of ibuprofen on the list of tools needed for my bench-building classes.

Students think I’m kidding about the pills, but by mid-week they are hitting my personal bottle of painkillers like a candy bowl at the front desk of a Mars bar factory.

For 2015, I am offering four bench-building classes on three continents: Australia, North America and England. I don’t know how many more of bench classes I have in me, so take that as fair warning. Here are details:

Build a Roubo Workbench at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking, Feb. 23-27, 2015

The owner of the Melbourne, Australia, school scored a load of sweet yellow pine benchtops that are already glued up. We’re going to transform these into some fantastic French-style workbenches with the traditional joint: a sliding dovetail and through-tenon at each corner.

As always, you can add your own vises to build the bench of your dreams. That’s one of the huge advantages of the open architecture of the French format.

For this Australia class I’ll also bring a stomach pump in addition to my painkillers. Aussies drink like Germans.

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Knockdown Nicholson at The Woodworker’s Club in Rockville, Md., May 4-8, 2015

Knockdown Nicholson at The New English Workshop, July 20-24, 2015

The knockdown Nicholson workbench is a new design this year (check out details here). I’ve made many Nicholson-style workbenches, but this one is by far the best, easiest to build and knocks down in less than five minutes.

This bench is suited for anyone who doesn’t have a dedicated shop space, or who might need to move their bench on occasion. However, even if you don’t fit in those categories, this bench offers no downsides. Unlike other knockdown benches I’ve worked on, this one has no compromises. It is as solid as a French bench.

The version we’re building has no screw-feed vises, but you can bring whatever you like and we’ll add them to your bench. A leg vises would be ideal for the face vise position. I personally wouldn’t add a tail vise to this bench – I work just fine without one – but this bench can accept several tail vises as well.

While I am very much looking forward to returning to Royal Leamington Spa and Warwickshire College for this course, I am not sure how the local pubs feel about our triumphant return.

Build a French Bench at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Aug. 10-14, 2015
Using sweet, sweet ash from Horizon Wood Products, we’ll be building full-on Roubo-style workbenches in the well-equipped shop at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. And we will most certainly have a pizza-eating contest that week, courtesy of Frank Pepe’s.

As mentioned above, you can add whatever vises you like to this bench.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. There is one more workbench class scheduled for 2015: The French Oak Roubo Project. While that class is full, get on the waiting list if you want to do it. Spots may yet open up.

Posted in Woodworking Classes, Workbenches | 14 Comments

How to Stack and Preserve Wood, Plate 4

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Although the wood which one chooses has by itself all the required qualities, it is still necessary to watch out for its preservation. Since wood for woodworking should not be used except very dry, it is of the final consequence to woodworkers to always be well provisioned with wood of all types, which they keep and dry in their yard before using them.

They should also take care that their yard not be placed too low, nor planted with grass, because the falling and gathering of leaves will prevent the run off of water, which could ruin the wood pile coverings and also the base of a woodpile.

The terrain occupied by the woodpiles should be higher than the rest of the yard, so that water does not collect there. It must be well set up and leveled, after which you put on top some pieces of wood side A, which we call chantier [or beam/timber spacers] which has a length the same as the width of the pile – ordinarily 4 feet, although sometimes they make them wider. You make them the greatest thickness possible, so that they make the pile taller with the most possible spaces between the boards.

You put the spacers distant from each other about 3 feet. Their topsides should be squared and straight, after which you pile the wood on top, after having taken the precaution of putting the worst planks on the lowest level to save the better woods from ground moisture.

— Translation from the forthcoming “Roubo on Furniture.” Colored plate by Suzanne Ellison.

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

Coming Tuesday: Lost Art Press Sweatshirts

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On Tuesday we will begin selling our first-ever sweatshirt: A 100-percent cotton American Apparel zip hooded sweatshirt that features a hand-drawn logo by artist Joshua Minnich. The sweatshirt will be available in small, medium, large, XL and 2XL. The cost will be $45.

Though this seems a small thing – selling a sweatshirt – this product represents almost seven weeks of work for John and me. I had the easy part – working with the artist on the logo. Since August, John has been trying to reconfigure our supply chain for apparel so it’s like our supply chain for our books.

John got us very close to the source and cut out several layers of people who do nothing but pass on expenses. As a result, this sweatshirt will be $45 – a very good price for a quality American-made sweatshirt – instead of $65.

It’s the same strategy we use to ensure our books are competitive.

With any luck, we will be able to lower prices on our hats and T-shirts in the near future, thanks to John’s diligent work.

I’m wearing one of the prototype sweatshirts right now. The logo is fantastic; I like the way the zipper passes right through the compass. And the sweatshirt is as soft as the thigh of emu.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I know these questions will come up: I’m afraid these are the only sizes available to us from the factory. And we are still not able to sell apparel internationally; we hope that day will come.

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Posted in Products We Sell | 16 Comments

Now Available: Transcripts of ‘The Naked Woodworker’

NW_wrap4_1024x1024Thanks to a solid month of volunteer work, there are now complete transcripts of “The Naked Woodworker” available for Lost Art Press customers.

These transcripts are ideal for woodworkers with impaired hearing or who simply want to check the dimensions from the videos before they make a cut. The transcripts are in three documents: Two documents for the video on tools. And one document for the video on building a sawbench and workbench.

If you already purchased the DVD or video from Lost Art Press, you were sent an e-mail this morning notifying you that the product has been updated and that you can download the new version (so check your e-mail). The new version contains a folder with the transcripts.

And all new customers will automatically receive the transcripts with every order.

If you purchased “The Naked Woodworker” from one of our retailers, send us a note and we will send you the transcripts via e-mail.

Transcribing a technical video takes a lot of time. So please thank Suzanne Ellison for creating the transcription and Mike Siemsen for proofing it. This was weeks of 100-percent volunteer work to assist one reader. And every customer will benefit as a result.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Naked Woodworker DVD | 8 Comments

‘Calvin Cobb’ – The Final Flurry of Proofing

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This evening, Christopher sat on his couch, I sat on his floor (so as to better commune with the cats), and we scrutinized the printer proofs of “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!”

Chris uploaded the handful of corrections just minutes ago, and it’s now officially out of our control and will soon be on press.

Most exciting for me was seeing the dust jacket in 3D. Yeah, I knew what it looked like, wrote the flap copy for it and have read over it – carefully – numerous times. But that’s not the same as seeing it printed, cut and folded into the shape of a book.

Now, there’s nothing left to do but wait (about 5-6 weeks).

I hate waiting.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Posted in Books in the Works, Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! | 21 Comments

Book of Plates: The Final, Furry Proofing

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The designer and I finished up proofing “l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” on Tuesday and today are washing our hands of the project.

We probably should wash our hands twice after what Wally the cat was doing on the proofs. While it looks like he’s examining the pages for typos, I can assure you that is not what is going down.

Today the final proofs for “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” arrive. It’s like Christmas.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation | 6 Comments

The History of Wood, Part 23

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