I don’t give names to my pieces of furniture. I have nothing against people who do, but it’s just not my thing. But sometimes a piece of furniture reminds me of someone as I’m building it. When I look at this backstool I can think only of Joe Kent Wagg.
For three years I attended a Lutheran school that was populated by a volatile mix of smart kids, token charity cases and trouble-makers. In fourth grade, our resident bully was Joe, who was older, bigger and had questionable dental hygiene.
I was the kid with a bowl haircut, glasses and a smart mouth, so naturally Joe had it in for me on the playground. Thanks to Joe I learned a lot about scuffling, chewing dirt and hiding in the bushes – all valuable skills in the corporate world.
While Joe ruled recess, he struggled in school. He would get out of his seat several times a day and sprint around the classroom. Eventually the teacher brought a roll of duct tape to class and adhered him to his chair by wrapping his midsection to the chair’s back.
This did not stop him. Partially mummified, he would tip backward in his chair all day, a clear violation of school rules.
So the teacher taped him to a chair that with casters on the feet. When Joe tipped back, he would fall on the floor like a crippled turtle unable to get upright.
We were commanded to ignore him, and Joe was left on the floor for what seemed like hours.
I think it was that day that I started to have a problem with authority.
Here’s your chance to buy a completely finished and fitted Anarchist’s Tool Chest that is chock full of premium hand tools (more than $8,300 worth) – and help a great woodworking school in the process.
Here’s the story: Last summer I taught my first class in England for the New English Workshop, which was held at the shops at Warwickshire College. As a way to give back to the next generation of woodworkers, Paul Mayon and Derek Jones of New English Workshop completed and finished the tool chest I built (very nicely, I might add). Then a bunch of generous toolmakers donated a load of premium hand tools to put in the chest.
On March 28, 2015, the chest and its contents will be auctioned off by David Stanley Auctions and all proceeds will be donated to Warwickshire College, which offers an excellent furniture program. You do not need to be in England to bid on the chest – David Stanley accepts internet bids and can ship the chest if need be. Check the David Stanley auction site for details.
The chest is finished exactly like the one in the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” including the sliding trays and black-over-red paint job. The chest is signed by me and all the students who participated in the class.
The list of tools is nothing short of amazing. Here’s a list of the tools, who donated then and the value in English dollars. Check it:
Ashley Isles MKII bevel edge cabinetmakers chisels x 6, donated by Workshop Heaven, £133
Aurio Rasps x 3, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £252
Bad Axe Sash Saw 14” 12ppi Hybrid, donated by Bad Axe Tool Works, £186
Blum Tool Company #5 ½ Mesquite Jack Plane, donated by Blum Tool Company, £210
David Barron 9-1/2” lignum vitae smoothing plane, donated by David Barron, £175
Classic Bow saw 400mm Turbo Cut, donated by anonymous, £56
Chris Pye carving chisels set of 11, donated by Classic Hand Tools, £290
Clifton #4-1/2 Heavy Smoothing Plane, Donated by Clico, £310
Czeck Edge Kerf Kadet II Marking Knife, donated by Czeck Edge, £35
Karl Holtey #10 Mitre Plane, donated by Karl Holtey, £2,000
Jeff Hamilton 5” Lignum Vitae marking gauge, donated by Jeff Hamilton, £65
Veritas 10” Sliding Bevel, donated by Lee Valley Tools, £39
Lee Valley 12” Dividers, donated by Lee Valley, £18
Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200
Lee Valley set 5 parallel tip screwdrivers, donated by Lee Valley, £30
Veritas Small Plough Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £200
Veritas Router Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £170
Veritas Low Angle jack Plane, donated by Lee Valley, £295
Pax 1776 10” Dovetail Saw 20tpi with pear handle, donated by Peter Sefton, £120
Philly Planes Coffin Smoother, English Box, Donated by Philly Planes, £215
Sterling Tool Works Saddle Tail, donated by Sterling Tool Works LLC, £70
Rob Stoakley Japanese panel gauge, donated by Rob Stoakley, £150
This week we have made a lot of changes to how we make and ship the things we sell.
First: All books now ship via FedEx’s SmartPost service. SmartPost uses FedEx to move our books across the country, and a local USPS carrier to take it the last leg to your door. The service is reliable, the packages are tracked and you can expect delivery in 5-7 days from when your order ships. We switched to SmartPost because USPS’s Media Mail service collapsed last fall during the holiday shipping season.
Second: We now offer international shipping to many countries on books and apparel. To be honest, shipping books internationally is crazy-expensive. You will be better off buying our books from one of our international retailers. However, sending apparel across the globe is actually quite reasonable. And that’s because….
Third: We have changed how we make T-shirts and hats. Until now we made T-shirts and hats in large batches that sat in John’s office until you ordered one. We had to print about 100 to 200 shirts at a time, and we usually lost our own shirts on the deal.
We now use a fulfillment service in California to print and ship our U.S.-made shirts and U.S.-made hats worldwide. The shirts are the same (American Apparel), as are the hats (Bayside). The print quality is better than we were getting in Indiana. They are in a wider range of sizes – XS to 3XL. And the packaging is fantastic.
So now when you order a shirt or hat from a store, our fulfillment service prints the shirt or embroiders the hat and sends it to you, anywhere in the world.
We will soon be able to offer many of our old T-shirt designs (and additional new ones) very easily with this service. So you should soon be able to get the shirt you always wanted.
Incidentally, we make these shirts and hats for fun, not for profit. We make almost nothing on apparel. So on that note, I’m headed back to editing some books.
After an unholy amount of work by John, we are now offering international shipping to Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for all of our products.
Three things to keep in mind:
International shipping is expensive. It will always always be more economical for you to purchase books through our fine international sellers. We are using FedEx as our carrier. The rate you pay is what it costs. It is crazy expensive and there is nothing we can do about it (and still stay in business).
There will be a learning curve for us. International shipping is complex for a small business. We have tried to automate things as much as possible, but there will be bumps in the road for us and customers. Please be patient with us.
The best bet for international customers is to order T-shirts only. The shipping fees are fairly reasonable for shirts. Sending books overseas is nutty expensive.
So if you are international, check out the store. Most importantly, check out the T-shirts.
There are many reasons to use hide glue for furniture, and today I was reminded of one of them – hide glue sticks to itself.
This morning I assembled the uppercarriage of this wacky backstool and hit a serious snag. One of the spindles simply would not descend into its mortise enough. So I hit the assembly with a mallet. Then a heavier mallet. Then a hammer.
It would not budge. So I had to pull off the crest rail and remove the frozen spindle. It was locked in to the point that I had to saw it off and drill out the tenon. As always, I make extra spindles in case disaster strikes.
So while I prepped the new spindle, the hide glue on the other tenons and the mortises of the crest rail gelled and set up.
Had I used yellow glue, I would have been cornholed. I would have had to scrape the tenons clean and do something about the glue in the crest rail (I probably would have used a backup crest rail). Or switched to epoxy or any other number of more involved solutions.
But because it was hide glue, I relaxed as I did the repair.
Once the new spindle fit nicely, I reactivated the hide glue on the chair parts by painting on some slightly thinned hot hide glue. The spindle went in perfectly. The crest went on level. And then I finally exhaled.
Tomorrow I’m going to paint this backstool. It sits very nicely. Then I’m going to drink a bunch of beer and film me sitting in it to show you how stable it is.
The things I do for you readers.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. A couple weekends ago I did a two-day demonstration to the Alabama Woodworker’s Guild and, of course, I talked about hide glue. During a lull in my monologue I (jokingly) asked the club members if they wanted to hear my plan for dealing with ISIS.
Some wiseacre in the back piped up, “I’ll bet your plan involves hide glue.”