Coming Next Month: Crucible Tool


On Sept. 15, John Hoffman, Raney Nelson and I will launch Crucible Tool LLC, a woodworking tool manufacturing company that specializes in high-quality, domestically manufactured hand tools for building furniture.

Our first tool will be a holdfast. The second tool (and the next dozen or so tools) will be announced in the coming months.

The three of us decided to start Crucible almost a year ago and have been working during the last 11 months to design tools, purchase machinery and forge relationships with machinists, foundries and blacksmiths to produce components for Crucible.

Why start a tool company? As woodworkers, all three of us have been bursting with ideas for tools and improvements to traditional tools for many years. These ideas and designs have come from our years of working at the bench and studying historical models.

Our first tool, a holdfast, is a perfect example of this. I’ve been collecting, studying and using all manner of antique and new holdfasts in my work for the last 20 years. I’ve cataloged what works well and what doesn’t. And after many years I’ve settled on a set of characteristics that make (what we think is) the best-functioning  holdfast possible.


Manufacturing this tool has been a remarkable challenge in foundry work. But after five months of tests and trials with a patternmaker and a foundry (which has been in business since before the Civil War), we have our first production holdfasts in hand.

I know we’re being sketchy on details right now. I can assure you this is only a temporary condition.

crucible_square_logoOne of the foundations of Crucible is to provide an extended and continuous education on how to use these tools at the bench. We could write a book about all the ways to use a holdfast at the bench. And in the coming months we’ll be sharing these methods for free with everyone, whether you’re a customer or not.

How can you find out more? We’ll be having a launch party on Sept. 15 at the Lost Art Press storefront, 837 Willard St., Covington, KY 41017 – the night before Woodworking in America begins. We’ll have two of our new tools there for you to try out and purchase. We’ll also have a booth in the Marketplace at Woodworking in America and will launch the Crucible website that same day.

Oh, one more detail: One of the primary reasons we can start this new tool company (without any debt or investors) is because of you – loyal Lost Art Press customers. Your support has allowed us to grow our publishing business and extend our same manufacturing philosophy into the world of woodworking hand tools.

So thanks. And stay tuned.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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69 Responses to Coming Next Month: Crucible Tool

  1. Sergeant82d says:

    Wow. Once again, Chris, you have raised the bar for our expectations. Just when I think you couldn’t possibly do more, be busier… You go and start another company. My hat is off to you.


    I do have one quick question – will you be offering more than one size of holdfast? I use 1 inch diameter (Black Bear Forge) holdfasts in my big French bench, but the more ubiquitous 3/4 inch Gramercys everywhere else.

    Thanks again for all your anachronistic leadership in the Modern Woodworking Renaissance!

    • These will be for a true 1″-diameter hole. We have many reasons for making 1″-diameter holdfasts, including tradition, weight and function. We’ll soon make the case for why we prefer this size.

  2. richmondp says:

    Great news! I wish Crucible all the best. If it does well, I’ll do well, I am sure.

  3. Paul Smith says:

    That is excellent news. Ill have to order a holdfast for starters

  4. Congratulations, Chris, on finding another way to take money out of my wallet. 🙂 At least I know I can trust they will be quality tools, and likely tools we can’t find elsewhere. Curious. Are these new holdfasts cast, or forged? How will they stack up to, say, a Peter Ross hand forged holdfast?

    • raney says:

      I’m biased as sin, obviously, but functionally I think these are at least as good as Peter’s (I have both).

      I love the cast finish on these, but for me personally, NOTHING compares with hand-forged, and if I had the means I’d have he or Seth Gould hand forge everything in my house except maybe the toilet seats.

      Some things I buy cost-no-object, but some things I buy best-bang-for-the-buck. Take that for what it’s worth

  5. Exciting news! Just when I’m in the throws of putting holdfast at the top of my wish list. I curerntly have only one cheap one that is doing its job fairly well, but I want a pair of premium ones for my 21st Century bench constructed early when Bob Lang introduced it. Russel Pitner

  6. wurzelgummage says:

    How about a holdfast for framers to use ?

    One that will hold an 8″ piece of timber on a 6″ horse.

  7. leeboyz86 says:

    Waiting patiently, but excitedly, to become a proud owner of Crucible tools

  8. nateharold says:

    3/4″? I’m about to drill holes in my bench top. If your not ready to share details, I will wait.

  9. azezo1 says:

    I feel like this is one of those gag posts.

    • I was thinking the same thing.

    • raney says:

      Man, the guy writes me one obituary, and no one ever believes him again.

      Having spent at least a couple thousand hours over the last year working on it, I can assure you this is not a joke.

      • toolnut says:

        Dead men tell no lies?

      • Well in that case I am astonished that, with everything else CS has going on, he found time for this. I have to meet this guy one day.

        • Hey Chuck,

          After ceasing my teaching, I had plenty of time to do this. I also now have a reliable stable of designers, indexers and copy editors to assist with Lost Art Press books (so I don’t have to do all of that my myself. Though I still edit every book we publish).

          So I do work seven days a week, about 10-12 hours a day. But that’s a fairly relaxed pace when it’s doing something that I honestly and truly love.

  10. Exciting news. I can’t imagine I won’t purchase something from Crucible in the future. I’ve been nothing but impressed by what I’ve bought from Lost Art Press in the past several years.

  11. skywalker011 says:

    Very, very cool. I’m excited!

  12. woodewe says:

    Congratulations and the best with the new business line. I am anxiously awaiting the next tool. Wit the name “Crucible” will the tools be primarily made of cast metal?
    The photo looks like they are sand cast – the rougher than an as forged surface should hold a lot better in the bench top hole

    • raney says:

      Tools will use any number of different processes. We pick a tool, and work out what we think is the best possible design, and only then do we look at process. Casting, machining, forging, or fabricating – whatever does the job correctly. If we can’t manage the process the way we want, it gets filed for a time when we can.

  13. Dave Jeske says:

    Congratulations on the new baby! It is exciting to have a new toolmaker in the hand tool world. Looking forward to WIA and seeing everyone.

  14. toolnut says:

    Congrats on the new company!
    You guys may need a bouncer for the release party. With your popularity and all the people in town for WIA, LAP HQ is going to be a very popular destination.

  15. Very exciting! Congratulations and thank you for bringing more to the community!

  16. charlie says:

    Will there be Crucible t-shirts?

  17. Craig Biggs says:

    forge relationships, punny! I need two for my new bench, good luck!

  18. Craig Biggs says:

    ” forge” relationships, punny! I will get two for my new knockdown bench.

  19. stevevoigt says:

    Congratulations and good luck to all of you. Now I know what Raney’s been doing with that new CNC gear…

  20. calebjamesplanemaker says:

    Wow, honestly surprised but I couldn’t be more excited. Awesome. 👍🏼


    • charlie says:

      I think I know what will be on the Anarchists gift guide this year!

      • Charlie,

        I discontinued writing tool reviews in January because of this new venture. I’m not sure PWM will want me to write a gift guide this year because I am also a tool maker.

  21. Square&True says:

    Congrats Guys!! Best of luck to you, I have no doubt that you’ll do great. I look forward to following your progress.

  22. jhtash says:

    Have you ever thought of buying the Wetzler clamp company? It would be great to have them available again.

  23. abtuser says:

    May the forge be with you.

  24. erikhinkston says:

    A natural progression for you all, not many with your expertise, knowledge, historical awareness and anarchist mindset. I predict a fantastic following of which I will be always waiting for the next offering as I do now with LAP. The Crucible is Crucial!

  25. F an A, don’t y’all get enough of my hard earned cash as it is?! I swear, my wife is going to think I’m hanging out at Larry Flynt’s if I spend anymore money in Covington, KY

  26. bpholcombe says:

    Congratulations on the new business. The holdfast alone is quite a sight to behold, I’m sure you guys have some awesome stuff in the works.

  27. tmsbmx says:

    This is awesome can’t wait. And congratulations!!!!

  28. Eric R says:

    Lie Nielsen and Veritas… have been warned…….

  29. That is a great news indeed. A question though… How will it be for overseas customers? Can we hope to get a hand on those tools, either from Lost Art Press shop or international retailers (like the books)? Or should I begin to consider immigration to the US?

  30. Vincent Tai says:

    Can’t wait to see a new wave in the tool industry. On another note, is Raney going to continue his plane making as extensively as he has been, or will it be tied into crucible, or will nothing affect those infills being born?

    • raney says:

      No real changes to Daed Toolworks (or LAP) because of this. I expect to make probably 30% or so fewer planes in an average year, but the companies are all essentially independent.

  31. Great news. Best of luck on your new venture.

  32. cdcook82 says:

    Congratulations! This is excellent new! Not sure if you want suggestions but a line of quality, domestically manufactured C-clamps and F-clamps in the amateur woodworker price range would be awesome.

  33. fitz says:

    If only you could bottle and sell your secret sauce for getting so much done. I’d pay a great deal for that. And congratulations on the imminent birth of the new baby.

  34. I am excited for this. I know that the quality will be excellent.

  35. I don’t know if the picture is of the finished product, but I like the textured surface! It will increase the holding characteristics of the hold down. Very Kool!

  36. Love the texturing on it. Extra holding power! Very Kool!

  37. Please, any hint on prices.

  38. mrogen says:

    Wow, that came out of left field, at least for me. Unfortunately my priorities have been how to design, build, spend as little as possible, as I’m living on SSDI, a ramp. Yes, being a Person with ALS or PAL, unfortunately I’m losing the use of my legs these days so I’ve no choice about the ramp. I’m relying on friends to do this for me as I’m, not so strong these days. The ramp is for getting in and out of my house so I can actually use my motorized wheelchair when it arrives. It tops out at 6.5 MPH which is faster than you may think. Plus the only bar in South Salem NY, is about 3/4 of a mile away, well within the chairs capabilities.
    As always I will continue to support you guys, Chris and John for your gift to all of us of LAP. I would like to personally thank you for the many books that helped educate me and more importantly help me get through many tough days. As for Crucible, you, John and Raney (congrats), and will of course get my money regardless if I’m able to do any woodworking as my situation changes, and it will. My only wish was that I lived closer so I could see you and John again, and meet Raney. We have more in common and are more alike than you’d ever suspect Mr Nelson.
    I would also like to thank Raney and Chris for the amazing gift that you sent me. Regardless of the backstory, which I don’t want to know, it was an extremely generous gesture despite what evils are attached to the tool. I love using it.
    Well I need some energy to get my books, tools and other items ready for Josh The Hyperkitten Clarke, who is coming over Tuesday for a talk, maybe a beer and mostly to take the tools I can no longer use and sell them for me. He’s been over several times but this is different. Not the end of woodworking for me but these tools have represented the kind of stuff I wanted to build and that seems less likely as each day passes. Maybe I could come up with a way for individuals to buy or bid on a couple special items I have, to raise Awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) of which I have and which has changed my life and my wife and sons, in ways that are difficult for the average person to imagine. And as I write this I hope that no one, ever has to navigate the continuous roller coaster ride through HELL that my family and I still endure on a daily basis.

    Chris I’m sorry about using you as a Soapbox for issues that are mine. I think I will email this to you so you can decide if you want to post it or not. Please don’t worry about how I’ll feel if you decide not to post it. I understand and accept your decision.
    But don’t forget that I do know where you live and work. And I’m from Brooklyn and know where the bodies are buried.




  39. +1 on the Millers Falls bench dogs.

    But, what I would really love is a toothed, metal planing stop.

  40. +1 on the Millers Falls bench stop.
    But, what I really want is a toothed, metal planning stop:

  41. Dennis Heyza says:

    I’d love to see someone make good old fashioned center bits.

  42. Will I need a ticket for the night before event?

    • David,

      If you registered for the event, then you are all set. If you didn’t register, than I’m afraid we are already at the legal limit for attendees (according to the fire marshal).

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