Sorry for all the blog entries today. We’ll leave you alone tomorrow. Just a quick note to say that “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is back in stock and is shipping immediately. If you are ordering one for Christmas, best to order sooner rather than later.
We’ve had several complaints that Katherine’s Soft Wax 2.0 sells out so fast. We apologize. She is still in college and has only so much time to devote to wax-making. This time, she has made a double batch, so perhaps they won’t sell out quickly. You can order yours from her etsy store.
Shown above is Penny Turkey (also known as Nickle Chicken), who is perched on one of my Jennie chairs. She loves this chair but hates its maker (me).
Notes on the finish: This is the finish I use on my chairs. Katherine cooks it up here in the machine room using a waterless process. She then packages it in a tough glass jar with a metal screw-top lid. She applies her hand-designed label to each lid, boxes up the jars and ships them in a durable cardboard mailer. The money she makes from wax helps her make ends meet at college. Instructions for the wax are below.
Instructions for Soft Wax 2.0
Soft Wax 2.0 is a safe finish for bare wood that is incredibly easy to apply and imparts a beautiful low luster to the wood.
The finish is made by cooking raw, organic linseed oil (from the flax plant) and combining it with cosmetics-grade beeswax and a small amount of a citrus-based solvent. The result is that this finish can be applied without special safety equipment, such as a respirator. The only safety caution is to dry the rags out flat you used to apply before throwing them away. (All linseed oil generates heat as it cures, and there is a small but real chance of the rags catching fire if they are bunched up while wet.)
Soft Wax 2.0 is an ideal finish for pieces that will be touched a lot, such as chairs, turned objects and spoons. The finish does not build a film, so the wood feels like wood – not plastic. Because of this, the wax does not provide a strong barrier against water or alcohol. If you use it on countertops or a kitchen table, you will need to touch it up every once in a while. Simply add a little more Soft Wax to a deteriorated finish and the repair is done – no stripping or additional chemicals needed.
Soft Wax 2.0 is not intended to be used over a film finish (such as lacquer, shellac or varnish). It is best used on bare wood. However, you can apply it over a porous finish, such as milk paint.
APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS (VERY IMPORTANT): Applying Soft Wax 2.0 is so easy if you follow the simple instructions. On bare wood, apply a thin coat of soft wax using a rag, applicator pad, 3M gray pad or steel wool. Allow the finish to soak in about 15 minutes. Then, with a clean rag or towel, wipe the entire surface until it feels dry. Do not leave any excess finish on the surface. If you do leave some behind, the wood will get gummy and sticky.
The finish will be dry enough to use in a couple hours. After a couple weeks, the oil will be fully cured. After that, you can add a second coat (or not). A second coat will add more sheen and a little more protection to the wood.
Soft Wax 2.0 is made in small batches in Kentucky using a waterless process. Each glass jar contains 8 oz. of soft wax, enough for at least two chairs.
I promised a short film that demonstrates how our new Crucible Sliding Bevel Functions. So here it is below.
Our machine shop in Kentucky has begun milling the parts for the first big production run for this tool. We still hope a batch will be ready for Christmas, but we can’t make any promises.
At the very least, you can stop by the store on Dec. 11 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and play with it yourself during our Open Day.
— Christopher Schwarz
Honestly, I thought this moviefilm was almost funny when I made it. But it’s not. As always, if you are dissatisfied with your blog subscription, simply write to us for a full refund.
(And yes, I know it should be “Occupational Safety & Health” – it’s a nod to our British friends who endure Health & Safety over there).
Ever since I started selling stick chairs, potential customers have asked: “I like the look of your chairs, but are they comfortable?”
My canned response has been: “Compared to a La-Z-Boy, no. But compared to typical wooden chairs, yes, they are fairly comfortable.”
Last weekend I experienced a forced, painful and radical reassessment of my work.
For Thanksgiving, we went to St. Louis (city of my birth) to celebrate with my extended family. Because I lost my mom and dad recently, I’ve tried to strengthen ties to the family members still standing.
We stayed in an Airbnb downtown that was packed with factory-made Forest Chairs (what most people call Windsors). They looked nice and had some saddling to the seats. But after sitting in them for five minutes, I was in mortal agony. My back and my tailbone screamed in two-bone harmony. In my body’s defense, I added a pillow for lumbar support, which helped my back. But my poor coccyx might never be the same. It might not even be triangular anymore….
During the long weekend, I ended up sitting in a variety of factory-made hoop-back Forest Chairs. Each time, I was amazed at how awful they were. In fact, I think I stood during most of our four days out of town — just to avoid sitting in those chairs.
When I came home, I realized that I have been spoiled for a long time. The chairs I make and the chairs made by other woodworkers (Forest and stick chairs alike) are an entirely different universe compared to the factory-made stuff. For years I’ve been fretting over how comfortable my chairs are compared to those made by Peter Galbert and other chairmakers (and I always will fret). But I had forgotten just how low the bar is for comfort when it comes to wooden chairs.
So if you have been wondering how comfortable wooden chairs are that have been made with care by an individual, I have a new answer for you.
First, I’ll whip out my flattened coccyx (no, I won’t). Then I’ll say: For the love of corn — yes, they are far, far more comfortable.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Sales pitch: I cover in detail how I make my chairs comfortable in “The Stick Chair Book.” I don’t have any secrets (except the shape of my coccyx).