Hermit’s Journal: Day 2


Late Friday John and I arrived home after six days of backbreaking but inspiring work at the French Oak Roubo Project put on by Benchcrafted and Bo Childs of Barnesville, Ga.

It was my last scheduled trip until an indeterminate ever. If you want to see photos from this fantastic week, check out this Instagram feed.

What’s on the docket for me next? First I need to finish this workbench for a customer. (Oh, and to the commenter who suggested I’m getting rich off selling my work, I suspect you don’t do this for a living. You are more than welcome to pay my water bill this month, which would be a huge help.)

After the bench gets finished, I will dive into Lost Art Press’s three most-active books.

  1. Finish editing “Woodworker: the Charles Hayward Years.” Only 350 more pages to go! The book is all designed. I’m the problem.
  2. Complete the edit of “Woodworking in Estonia.” The book is entirely designed and just needs a final comb-over. I’m the problem.
  3. Finish laying out “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” I’ve laid out 10 of the 21 chapters. I just have to finish the beast. Again: The problem is me.

Thanks go out to Suzanne the Saucy Indexer for picking up my slack on this blog and doing a fine job. As I can eschew shaving and basic hygiene for the next year or so, I think I’ll be able to rapidly get these books done and out the door.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
This entry was posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker, The Anarchist's Design Book, Woodworking in Estonia, Workbenches. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Hermit’s Journal: Day 2

  1. joshuawpierce says:

    Is the Estonian book a reprint of the classic text? Saw the original at a Uni library- good stuff, wish I’d been able to check out books there.

    • Nope. It is a new translation – done from the ground up. New scans of original illustrations. Crisp photos.

      • joshuawpierce says:

        Awesome. I guess that’s what I meant by reprint – that it was that book I was thinking of, not a reprint of the old translation. This is awesome, because I found the original translation quite lacking.

        • Yup. We are redoing it from the ground up because the original translation was more of a political document than a woodworking one.

          Plus, we are not stealing the information, which was the case with the first edition. Ants Viires and his family will receive royalties for years to come from us.

  2. James Russ says:

    How exactly does one commission work from the great and powerful Schwarz? Especially since you don’t have a public email any longer.

  3. duckfarmer27 says:

    Chris –

    I’m curious about the Estonian book also. Shortly after they regained their independence I got to spend a week there working with their military – probably the most interesting week I ever spent in uniform. Fascinating country and really nice people (the ethnic Estonians) – although a small country that has gotten abused down through history by larger neighbors. Have a painting of part of the old city hanging over my desk.

    Will be watching for that one.


  4. Paul Sidener says:


    I would love to help you pay the bills. All three of those books sound interesting. When they are done, I will do my part and buy them so your work won’t be in vain. You are not the problem, you are the solution to the problem.

    That bench looks awesome. Wish it were mine.

  5. Eric R says:

    Suzanne did an excellent job filling in.
    I hope to see more of her writing.

  6. jenohdit says:

    I read the comment asking how much your bench might cost (and estimating it at between $5-10,000, (Too low at the high end I’d say especially if delivery is factored in)) as referring to the purchaser not the maker when it suggested affluence might have edged out anarchy.

    I do this for a living and clients who can commission custom work are not universally but in general pretty affluent. I can only recall one in the past 30 years who I might describe as an anarchist (albeit an affluent one). The general consensus among the guys in the shop was that his free flowing cash came from drug dealing which (if correct) might actually make him more of a scofflaw or a miscreant than a proper anarchist.

    I’m certainly not saying there is anything wrong with affluence or commissioning things, which pays my water bills. Just that I think that comment might have been misread.

    And, curious people goin’ to curious. I’m sure I and the person who wrote that comment can’t be the only ones wondering what kind of prices a Schwarz original brings. Good old fashioned American propriety says we can’t discuss that kind of stuff though and most anarchists seem to agree not to ask. You should obviously ignore those kinds of questions anyway.

  7. mctoons555 says:

    Your new look a year from now might be interesting (Cousin It?) but I pity your family, especially the hygiene thing.

  8. Wesley Beal says:

    Heck, I’m curious what Schwarz originals cost. Given the time and investment, I’d hope the most I could afford would be a spoon or maybe a tool handle. Unfortunately I could probably afford a bit more than that (though not by much), as I find it difficult to believe this kind of work gets rewarded at what it’s actually worth.

    A blogger I follow has made the argument that woodworkers – new woodworkers especially – should buy a new, quality plane (a Lie-Nielsen, as an example) rather than work with an old Stanley No. 5 or 4 or whatever.

    The argument is sound: by using a high end new tool, people will better learn how the tool is supposed to work. I accept the argument in part: as soon as possible people should have at least one new, quality plane. I enjoy the idea of keeping the old tools in service, doing what they were made to do, too much to want to only have new quality stuff.

    Brings me back around to my point: maybe there’s a case to be made also for owning at least one thing, be it a bench or saw-bench or whatever, made very well. Owning such a thing would I think educate me a lot.

    So yeah, I’m curious. I’m not getting out my checkbook tonight though – just something I’ll think about.

    And there’s no reason why you, Chris, should feel like sharing such information here. Whatever you said, the haters would either attack it for being too much or too little. Even without the haters, the discussion overall would just be too distracting.

    • tsstahl says:

      An anecdote is not data, but for me personally the argument that beginners should run out and buy a high quality plane falls flat. As a beginner, I lucked into a Lie-Nielsen #7 for $350 from someone down on their luck and exiting the craft. I had that thing nearly 2 years and used it whenever I thought I could. Problem was, my thinking and the planing were nowhere near the quality of the tool. I sold it for $350 and didn’t look back. Then I got the Wearing book from LAP (http://lostartpress.com/products/the-essential-woodworker). Click.

      I now have a quality low angle smoother from Veritas and Stanley 5, 7 and 8 bench planes and mostly know how to use them. 🙂

      • Wesley Beal says:

        I can see your point. To me, it’s an interesting argument. I’d rather encourage new people to take up woodworking by suggesting affordable options such as vintage tools. I do though see a point, after someone has started to spend some money on things already, in encouraging them to try out a quality new tool. I still haven’t fully taken this advice myself. I have a nice new Lie-Nielsen Shoulder Plane, but my bench planes are all vintage. I do wonder what it would be like to work with a Lie-Nielsen (or similar quality) No. 5. I wonder what it would teach me.

        Another valuable lesson that would be lost on someone who *only* went with new tools, would be the immersive learning experience you get about how the tool works when you have to clean up and check each and every part.

  9. toolnut says:

    “…I can eschew shaving and basic hygiene for the next year or so… ”
    You’re really taking this hermit thing to heart.
    Bench looks great.

    • saucyindexer says:

      I reminded Chris of the harm he might do if he walked around his neighborhood both naked and filthy, of the trauma to all the little animals. He yielded snd said he would at least wear pants…no word yet on at least bi-weekly baths.

  10. pfollansbee says:

    thanks for the update on the books. You keep saying “I’m the problem” – but that’s at your end. It shouldn’t be a problem at our end – patience is all that’s required. In the old days, we’d never know what books a publisher is working on until they were just about ready for sale. Take your time, once they’re done, they’ll be done a long time.

  11. ctregan says:

    Quick reply to “Affluent Tool chest comment” from the author.
    Not really concerned with your personal finances, nor what your client is paying you to build a bench (I am sure it is worth every penny). I was inquiring on the cost participants might pay to get in on this project like this. Some quick math in my head concluded one might need to be “affluent” woodworker to attend.
    The first FORP was a great historical project and logical conclusion to your scholarly research. My fear is at some point, these benches will become a source of bragging rights for those with impeccable tool collections. It is also a bit ironic that in the Lost Art forums, you promote using wood that is available locally for building a bench, yet, here you are using lumber imported from an international purveyor of luxury goods? I use a Sargent hand plane and a bench of doug fir. Some day I will graduate to a fancier bench but this is fine.
    Thanks for sharing the FORP experience with your readers. If my comment sounded negative, it was probably more envy, than hate; Barnesville looked like a great place to be last week. Enjoy your much deserved bench time.

  12. samdesocio says:

    Any word on when Hayward will be available for sale? Should this be something I put on my Christmas list?

  13. tsstahl says:

    The hole for the plane stop looks more like a parking block. Beast of a bench for sure. Are you going to put teeth on the top of the stop?

  14. Tim Raleigh says:

    Hopefully with your return, we have not seen the end of Saucy Indexer?

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