Forum Update 9/26


Good morning! Another weekend over and another busy week is upon us. No matter how crazy life is, make sure to take some time to read the forum and see what your fellow woodworkers are up to. Remember, if you have a question about our products, procedures in our books or anything related to Lost Art Press, the fastest way to get an answer is our forum. Check it out here.

No. 7 Adjustment Issues
Kendall took apart his Lie-Nielsen No. 7. to sharpen the blade but now that he is putting it back together he cannot get the blade to adjust below the sole. He is looking for any help on what he may be doing wrong. Let’s see if we can prevent him from having to make a call into Lie-Nielsen. Help him here.

Handworks 2017
Does anyone who has attended Handworks have a recommendation for a place to stay? Steve is ready to get his plans together and is looking for input.

Spare Bedroom Workshop
Mark and his girlfriend have found a house that they love and want to buy but there is no garage or basement to use as a workshop. Mark is looking for feedback from anyone who has used a spare bedroom as a shop before. Did it work out? How was the noise? Was dust all over the house?

Crucible Dividers
Jason likes the pictures of the Crucible dividers but wants to get to the point and find out how they work. If you have a pair, let him know what you think.

Hot Hide Glue Gelling Quickly
Josh has had success with hot hide glue on small pieces but has had no success with it when trying to glue up a panel. Every time he finds he is unable to close the joint. He is wondering if anyone would be able to help with why this is occurring.


Staked Chair
Travis has made a pair of staked chairs from “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and they turned out great. (Photo at top and to right.) The beveled edges are a great touch!

Meghan Bates

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Collapsible Bookshelves


A collapsible bookshelf modeled after a teak original.

This is an excerpt from “Campaign Furniture” by Christopher Schwarz.

Bookshelves that fold at or disassemble are common items among surviving pieces of campaign furniture. These ingenious units were generally pretty small. After all, it’s not as if you were traveling overseas with a Carnegie library, and books of the 19th century were usually compact items.

How small? A typical campaign shelf unit is 3′ wide, 2′ high and 8″ to 10″ deep. That’s not a lot of shelf space.

Many of these shelving units were designed to sit on top of another piece of furniture, such as a campaign chest or desktop. Or they were intended to hang on the wall, which was especially handy during a sea voyage.

Common Types of Portable Shelves


Screwed together. The metal uprights screw together with the shelves to produce a fairly sturdy set of shelves.

The most common type of portable shelf isn’t one you’d expect to see in a book on woodworking because it’s mostly metal. These shelves are tubular metal uprights that screw together with two, or usually three, wooden shelves between.

These shelves look spindly but are robust enough for the job.

A less-common variant on these shelves replaces the metal with wooden uprights – usually turned spindles – that screw together with the wooden shelves to produce the finished piece.

Another type of shelving unit is a folding book rack. The simplest form of book rack has a at shelf with two “bookends” that fold flat while traveling. These simple racks are not exclusive to the campaign style; you’ll find variants during every furniture period where books were common.

The ends of the three boards are mitered and hinged. Sometimes the ends have handles so you can lift and move the loaded rack.

There are more complex mechanical book racks that also expand in length as well as having folding ends. These usually require some tricky hardware to make them function well, so I decided not to build one for this book.


For hanging. These large folding shelves were designed to hang on the wall. Note that the barrels of the hinges on the uprights are equidistant from both the top and bottom of the case. This detail allows the unit to fold flat.

The third common type of collapsible shelving unit folds like an accordion. You usually remove a center shelf (or two), and the uprights fold in on themselves, turning your shelf unit into a flat pile of lumber. The first time you see it in action, it’s actually a little bewildering. But it is quite cool.

This type of shelf unit requires no special hardware – just a small pile of butt hinges. And there is almost no real joinery to speak of. So it’s an ideal project for the woodworker without access to a forge or a metal shop.

These accordion-style shelves came in several dierent sizes and configurations that were embellished or plain. Some versions were designed to hang on a wall; others sat on top of a chest or desk.


The original. This is the original version of these shelves in teak. I altered the top profile slightly, but otherwise mine is quite similar. (Courtesy of Christopher Clarke Antiques)

The shelves I built for this book are based on a unit I admired in one of the Christopher Clarke Antiques catalogs. The original was made from teak; mine is mahogany. While the only joinery in the whole project is cutting two dados, you will become quite an expert at installing butt hinges. It takes 12 hinges to get the whole thing to work. And installing the hinges precisely makes the shelf unit sturdier and makes it collapse more smoothly.

Meghan Bates


Posted in Campaign Furniture | 5 Comments

‘Stanley Catalogue No. 34’ Has Arrived


For the most part, facsimile editions of historical books don’t do much for me. The printing is muddy. The paper is a measly notch above groundwood (aka newsprint). And the binding is weak. The cover, however, always looks nice so as to trick you into buying the poor manufacturing job within.

If you’ve ever bought a facsimile of Thomas Chippendale’s famous book, then you know what I’m talking about. Some companies do a good job with facsimiles; most do not.

stanley_catalogue_cover_webSo when we decided to reprint the “Stanley Catalogue No. 34,” we wanted to reproduce the look and feel of the original and make some manufacturing improvements, such as a sewn binding, to ensure our version could outlast floods, dogs and babies.

Our first shipment of “Stanley Catalogue No. 34” arrived smack dab in the middle of Woodworking in America, and I haven’t had much time to look at it. (I had one in the car that I was examining at stoplights; that’s how nuts it has been here.)

So I’m happy to report that this book has exceeded every expectation I had for it. The prepress people managed to make plates that mimicked the original’s crisp drawings and text. The black are black. The screens are real screens – not some moire mess.

Our warehouse is getting an assembly line together during the next week to ship out all the pre-publication orders. So if you placed an order for one, it will be on its way soon.

Stanley Catalogue No. 34” is $25, which includes shipping in the United States and Canada. Many of our retailers have decided to carry the book, including Lee Valley Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Henry Eckert in Australia, Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn and Classic Hand Tools in the UK. Check out our international ordering page for links.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Stanley Catalogue No. 34, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Crucible Tool is Now Open for Business


You can now visit, and read up on our holdfasts, our new dividers and why we started this company. I’ll be adding a lot more blog entries in the coming week, including:

  1. How to retrofit a benchtop to use 1”-diameter holdfast holes.
  2. How to carefully ream holdfast holes for a sweet fit with the tool’s shaft.
  3. A tour of Chris Erhart Foundry, where our holdfasts are poured.
  4. An update on the next batch of dividers.

Note that we are not taking backorders for the dividers. To prevent us from getting into a bad situation that plagues many young businesses, we have decided to sell only what we have in stock. No backorders. No waiting lists.

When we have stock, we will announce in advance when the dividers will go up on the site so everyone has a fair shot. And we think we’ll soon have enough to keep them in continuous stock.

We have plenty of holdfasts and T-shirts in stock.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Crucible Tool, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Crucible Tool Update & Dividers


Teaching and exhibiting at Woodworking in America – and launching a tool company – proved to be an around-the-clock yack-fest. As a result, we are just now putting the finishing touches on the Crucible Tool website and will almost certainly launch it this week.

The other news is that we announced our second tool: 6” dividers that are being made on our Haas CNC mill in Raney Nelson’s Indiana shop. We had a handful of dividers to sell at the opening event and sold out of them. Raney is cranking up production shortly so that we have stock on them in the next few weeks.


Thanks to the foundry, we have a fair number of holdfasts to sell on the site when it launches (priced at $130, which includes domestic shipping), plus T-shirts ($25, including domestic shipping).

We’ll have lots more details about the dividers on the Crucible site, but the short version is this:

They are based on early 20th-century blacksmith-made dividers and can be adjusted precisely with one hand. But instead of securing the divider’s hinge with a peened pin, we have designed a mechanism that can be adjusted with a No. 10 spanner drive bit (included) so you can adjust the hinge’s friction when it becomes loose through normal use.


The dividers are made using O1 steel and are machined and hand-finished in our Indiana workshop. The price is $120, which includes domestic shipping.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Crucible Tool, Uncategorized | 41 Comments

The WIA Hangover Forum Update


Happy Monday! (Editor’s note: She wrote this on Monday; I was lax in getting it posted.) Hopefully everyone has recovered from Woodworking in America (or has stopped scouring Instagram for the most recent updates like I was) and is ready for a regular week of reading the forum and working. Remember, if you have a question about our products, procedures in our books or anything related to Lost Art Press, the fastest way to get an answer is our forum. Check it out here.

Is it Abnormal for a Brace to be Out of True?
Saul has a brace where the angle of the chuck to the crank arm is less than 90°. When using it, it causes the brace to oscillate. He wants to know if this is something common and if it is something fixable. Have you had a similar issue? Was it worth fixing? 

Sea Chest / Pirate Chest Plans
Adam wants to build a 1700s -tyle wooden chest similar to those used to transport goods on ships. He is looking for a source for plans or instructions. If you have any insight on where he could find some, let him know here.

Planing End Grain?
Stephan is puzzled by his recent planing experience and is curious to see if it is normal. He has an 8/4 x 14″ x 72″ ash slab that he is making into a bench. When planing the end grain he found that his smoother left the best finish if he planed radially, not simply across the end. He wants to know if this is a technique that other people use or if he and his ash are just weird. Comment here before he starts to think it is just him.

Scandinavian Planes
Anybody know of a source for vintage planes from Sweden or Norway? Michael is on the hunt. He knows they are difficult to find but would love some help if anybody has some to offer.

A Novice’s Campaign
Over 200 hours and two years later Todd completed an incredible campaign secretary. (picture at top) His daughter is crazy lucky to be able to call it her own. This is a beautiful piece and well worth the time! Congrats!


Yet Another Workbench Newbie…
Also a shout out to Mark for finishing his workbench. I love the excitement when people finish their first couple builds and this is a great example. It looks awesome. Here’s to years of new builds coming from this one.

Meghan Bates

Posted in Campaign Furniture, Forum, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Smoke-painted Furniture

Blanket chest with smoke paint over a while base.

Blanket chest with smoke paint over a white base. 

Soot was one of the earliest materials used by humans to decorate their surroudings. In the late 18th century and well into the 19th century smoke painting was a decorative technique used on furniture. It was cheap and the smoke could be manipulated into a variety of patterns, from waves of haze to leopard-like spots. If you are looking for a different and easy-to-use decorative technique give it a try.


On this blanket chest the smoke has been smudged and softened before a clear finish was applied. Smoke painting the drawer front inside the chest is an unusual feature.

Small dome-top chest, ca. 1830.

Small dome-top chest, ca. 1830.

White and yellow were the most common background colors used. This dome-top chest with a bright yellow background has the addition of a snappy red trim.

Chest crom Snow Hill, early 19th century.

Chest from Snow Hill, late 18th or early 19th century.

The Snow Hill chest is the oldest piece I found and it looks as though a graining tool was used to manipulate the smoke.


This upright chest from New England is dated early to mid-19th century. The painter used the smoke in a controlled manner to achieve a very regular pattern. I would guess that the “smoke trails” were smudged to soften the edges and increase the coverage of smoke.

Although not as common as the white and yellow backgrounds there are pieces with other background colors and they are especially valued by collectors of smoke-painted furniture.


A nice blue with a simple pattern and a racy red veering toward leopard spots.

Chests and boxes were not the only furniture given the smoke paint treatment. In the piece below only the table top of a drop-leaf table was smoke-painted.


If you want to try smoke painting make several sample boards first to practice the technique and determine the kind of pattern you prefer. Smoke painting is not a difficult process but it does involve using an open flame so there are several precautions. These are same precautions you would used when working with any flammable material.

It is best to work outside with another adult, avoid windy conditions and paper-covered surfaces. Have a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby. The tools you will need are a candle and a palette knife or other flat tool. The palette knife is held at the tip of the candle flame to create a sooty smoke.

Apply a basecoat of milk paint to the surface. Use enough coats to get the depth of color you prefer. While the basecoat is still damp light the candle and use the palette knife to get a sooty flame. Hold the still-damp painted surface above the sooty smoke and move it around to create your pattern (this is where the second adult come in). If desired, once the smoke is on the surface use your fingers, a brush or other tool to smudge the soot. After smoking (the furniture, not you) let the piece dry. Apply shellac or other clear finish you normally use.

The gallery below has a several more examples of smoke-painted boxes, chests and a small wall box.

Suzanne Ellison


Posted in Techniques | 17 Comments