A Personal Note About Crucible Tool




I’ve been reviewing tools and machinery for 20 years now, both in Popular Woodworking Magazine and on my various blogs. But that long career of reviewing equipment ended in January of this year.

When it became obvious that John Hoffman, Raney Nelson and I were going to start Crucible Tool, I told editor Megan Fitzpatrick that I could not write any more Tool Test entries for the magazine or for the website. It simply isn’t fair, by any stretch, for me to both make tools and criticize tools made by other makers.

As a result, you aren’t going to see any more reviews from me (Yay! Or Boo! Take your pick). I’ll still have my opinions about toolmaking, and I’ll still be happy to share my ideas for what a proper woodworking tool should do. But I’ll no longer praise or condemn makers by name.

I know that some of you are also wondering what this tool company means for Lost Art Press. Will we publish fewer books? Will I outsource the editing to other people?

The answer to both is “no.” We will continue to publish four titles a year (five if we can manage it). I will continue to be the person who edits every word of every book to make sure things make sense and flow smoothly. What will be different (and it has been for a couple years), is that I have found people I trust to help with page layout, indexing and copy editing (finding the last typos).

When we started Lost Art Press, I did all of those functions so we could save money and keep our prices reasonable.

So Lost Art Press isn’t changing one iota because of the birth of Crucible Tool.

A few other people have asked what the h#$& kind of hubris-flavored Kool-Aid I’m drinking to think that I could work as a toolmaker. I could attempt to answer that question, but I prefer to let the tools we’re designing and making to answer that question.

Finally, one more personal detail I’d like to mention. We’re going to remain a fairly small company, I’m sure. Though Lost Art Press ships more than 30,000 books a year, we are still just two people with laptops. Crucible is not intended to become a company that sets out to make the complete core set of hand tools (such as Veritas or Lie-Nielsen Toolworks).

We think there are a lot of tools that need to be made that aren’t currently on the market. Manufacturing those tools will keep us busy for at least the next five years and probably beyond. We probably will have to hire employees eventually and we might grow more than I anticipate. But our core philosophy is not to steal market share away from anyone. We think there’s a lot of room for other toolmakers to supply the needs of woodworkers.

And now we’re going to test that theory.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Several of you have asked for details about our launch event on Sept. 15. We will have hours and an RSVP system set up in the next week or so. So thanks for your patience.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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30 Responses to A Personal Note About Crucible Tool

  1. ballisticman says:

    You can do both. If we as your loyal readers feel you are overstepping we will let you know.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Joshua Allen says:

    I have been looking for a new source of crucibles.

  3. jpassacantando says:

    This is exciting news. I am ready to “add to cart!”

  4. Here’s hoping you make a cutting gauge that brings the tool into the 21st century. I just bought a brand new one and am pretty disappointed.

  5. abtuser says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that you’d create the team you’ve got to create tools. You’re all quite handy, and Raney in particular already manufactures planes at Daed. Plus, he has experience with exploded views.

  6. Ruben "Rube" Villanueva says:

    Congrats! I hope everything on the tool making front works out for you. I can’t wait to see what you guys will have to offer.

  7. martybacke says:

    I fully expected that this is how you would behave and would have been disappointed to read otherwise. However, as a consumer of your tool recommendations I’m saddened by the loss of your powerful voice in our community. I don’t see anyone with your trusted authority stepping in anytime soon. Oh well, change is always with us.

    • My sentiments exactly, could not have said it better.

    • Thanks Marty,

      I hope that someone else will pick up the baton.

    • hgordon4 says:

      I agree as well.
      I’d add that while I respect steering clear of potential conflict of interest, given that your plan is to make tools that are not presently on the market it wouldn’t necessarily be a conflict of interest to review tools of a type that you aren’t making. Just a thought.
      Your recommendations have always been very valuable.

  8. leeboyz86 says:

    I say “Nay” to the naysayers. I can’t understand how anyone could see this new tool manufacturing venture as something negative. I will, however, miss your tool reviews and recommendations though. A lot of my purchases over the past few years have been based on your words of wisdom and experience.

  9. jbgcr says:

    Perhaps there’s enough iron in the crucible to make some hardware as well – cranked chest hinges.

  10. fatfrogdecoys says:

    I am encouraged as a wood carver and wood worker with your next step as an entrepreneur. Your commitment to the hand tool user and enthusiast is plain and evident.
    Or in the vernacular of the day, bring it!

  11. karlfife says:

    Hopefully Chris will review other tool reviewers.

  12. Wow, really looking forward to seeing what Crucible produces. Is this going to be a boutique tool thing, i.e. way out of my price range? I sure hope not.

  13. This is great news, congratulations!

    I retire from the Navy at the end of 2017. Any chance you are going to be hiring for your tool company? That would be my dream job!!

    • tsstahl says:

      “…retire from the Navy…”
      Depends. Can you accept any payment other than coffee and beer? 😉

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  14. Quercus Robur says:

    Hardware also, by any chance?

  15. skilledno says:

    This is a lot of effort to go to so you can get more of those clamps you liked 🙂

    Good luck.

  16. Dan Zehner says:

    If you ever need some design engineering help with Crucible projects, I’d be more than happy to help. Best of luck in your endeavors!

  17. waltamb says:

    Dear Chris, John & Raney,

    Congratulation on the Launch of Crucible Tools.

    I applaud you on this and look forward to one day getting my hands on the tools for review for The WoodWorking Collective and use at my bench.

    I have extensive experience in Sales and Marketing of tools going way back to before the launch of many of the 40 year old publications out there on woodworking.

    If the task of maintaining the Sales, Marketing and even product fulfilment become burdensom, let me know as That is easy for me.

    Best Regards,

    Walter Ambrosch


  18. Derek Long says:

    More Makers = Good Thing

  19. wortheffort says:

    Why do I think that the other motivation for organizing a group to help production is also the realization that researching, designing, critiquing, refining designs, marketing, and inventory control but not actual tool production can occasionally accommodate another interest of yours… beer.

    Balanced life…

  20. Any chance at also manufacturing cut nails and nice slotted screws?

  21. woodewe says:

    Nothing like a challenge! Best of luck in threading your way through the offerings from all the tool purveyors; are there really tools to be made that we need (not just want) that are not already on the market? Just today I got an offer for a $600+ dowelling jig to do joints that perhaps could be done with loose tenons.
    Your imagination and ingenuity of your team will be tested and I for one are rooting (with $$) for your success.

    • People asked us if anyone needed another woodworking book after 338 years of them being published in English. We thought so.

      So I hope we are right about our approach to tools with Crucible.

  22. gblogswild says:


    I have ideas for tools not made anymore that SHOULD be made. One day when you’re up and running you will magically know to ask me what they are. Hint: they might include a few reproduction parts because there are some useful tools that last forever even when their accessories don’t, and a few useful things originally painted red and black (and nigh impossible to find now), and and maybe a stuffed animal holdfast.

  23. Ethics…. I salute and applaud you! Bravo

  24. amosswogger says:

    Please make me these two tools: 1) a square larger than a Starret combo square but a little smaller than a framing square (not out of aluminum or wood, aluminum is too soft and wood moves), and 2) a decent coping saw.

    I will be expecting these shortly.

    Thank you,
    Amos Swogger

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