Open-Source Woodworking


I get asked regularly for permission to use my plans and writings for the following things:

  1. The basis for a woodworking class.
  2. The foundation for a presentation to a woodworking club.
  3. To make a commercial product to sell – a Roorkee chair, workbench or campaign chest, for example.

My answer to these questions is always: absolutely. Everything I publish is free for you to use for classes, in your club or even to make a commercial piece of woodworking to sell.

In fact, the only thing I object to is when someone violates my copyright by reproducing an entire book or DVD then reselling it as their own work or giving it away on a torrent site. That’s just theft. (It’s uncommon in the woodworking business, but it happens.)

To be honest, little that I do (or any other woodworking author, for that matter) is original. My work is inspired by old books, new books, old work and new. If my work inspires you to teach others about it, I’m happy. If it makes you want to share it with your club, ditto. And if it helps you make something you can sell, that’s great, too.

So please, take these ideas. Use them to inspire others to pick up the tools and build.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to Open-Source Woodworking

  1. mitechie says:

    I have to say seeing my first love (open source) mixed in with my second (woodworking) makes my day.

    • sean3047 says:

      Just logged in to say the same thing (not quite sure I’d call Open-Source my first love, but I’ve been a strong advocate for over fifteen years). Brought a special smile to my face to see Chris word the title in this way.

      Previously whenever I’ve seen people refer to Open-Source woodworking, it’s in reference to CNC machined plywood projects, which has it’s place, but just isn’t what I consider to be ‘woodworking’. Open-Source can apply to all sorts of things, not just code and the latest technology.

    • shopsweeper says:

      Open Source was not my first love. But my first love, Nina, did have a fairly liberal use policy. I found out that a lot of other users were interfacing with her without my knowledge or permission…

      In any case, Thank you, Chris, for the open policy. May those who flatter you by imitation always advance the work in one aspect or another.

  2. tsstahl says:

    Done. Just saved that Pwood cover pic for use in my maniacal wallpaper.

    Seriously, I offer you a hearty thank you for the gifts.

  3. Paul Smith says:

    That is a beautiful book cabinet!

  4. brentpmed says:

    Very cool! I appreciate your generosity with knowledge, woodworking style and plans. It would have been easy to argue that something like the Roorkee chair, in the style you present, is uniquely your adaptation. That you are not only willing, but encouraging people to use your style and plans is remarkable. Thank you. The campaign book chest turned out beautifully. I couldn’t help but notice the Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia; I found a couple of those several years ago and had so much fun reading them that I eventually acquired the complete set. Now I have the perfect example of a cabinet to put them in!

  5. Bob Jones says:

    Nice message, but it is not enough to satisfy the cheapskates that think all knowledge should be free. They are wrong. Knowledge is power and very valuable. People who need all free knowledge can keep building pinterest projects with 2×4’s. I spend a lot on good books and they are worth every penny. Everything need not be free online. Man, that sounds preachy.

  6. Awesome post Chris. I greatly admire your spirit and just wish more had the same attitude. I think everyone benefits, the givers and the takers.

  7. toolnut says:

    Creepy janitor?

  8. [clap, clap, clap, clap, clap….]
    [standing ovation]
    Have a nice day,

  9. durbien says:

    I’ve been curious about this – are the LAP “reprints” all public domain? Or were there complicated rights discussions that had to happen before some made it to market? I know you add significant new work to the historical text/translations, does that put what LAP does into a different category re: copyrights?

    • Every project is different.

      The only book of ours that has material entirely in the public domain is “Doormaking and Window-making.” Everything else was done with permission and with money (Robert Wearing, Maurice Pommier, for example).

      Other books use material in the public domain (“Art of Joinery,” “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker”) but add copyrighted material.

      The majority of our books are entirely copyrighted because they are all new material (“By Hand & Eye,” “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and – yes – “To Make as Perfectly as Possible”).

      If you have a question about a specific title, send me an e-mail.

  10. Quercus Robur says:

    Like code: open source is also (usually) higher quality.

  11. drjohn1963 says:

    To give credit where it is due Chris… you make some old not-original stuff very accessible with your straight forward writing style. I always look forward to your next post/book/article.

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