Chris vs. the Volcano


I leave for Naples, Italy, in the morning to research Roman workbenches, which is a shocking sentence to write.

When I wrote my first book on workbenches, I had never seen an ancient French workbook in person. I’d never used a leg vise. And I had about 238 other unanswered questions as I pieced together my first Roubo workbench.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of workbenches all over the world, and I’ve learned an important lesson: There ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. Getting your hands on a thing is worth 1,000 images or translated texts.

Before starting Lost Art Press, jetting off to Europe to look at old paintings, sculptures, woodworking and a volcano was a laughable idea. But thanks to the company John and I have built during the last 10 years, this trip was an easy call.

We couldn’t have done this without your support. I know that a lot of you buy all our books, regardless of whether you are deeply interested in the topic or not. That sort of customer loyalty is the reason we can take chances with projects that may or may not produce results.

I know that many of you are wondering why the heck we are dabbling in these benches that look like they are for slaughtering pigs (and yet you buy the books anyway). I can now assure you that this particular adventure is a rich and untapped vein of craft knowledge that has been right in front of our faces for a couple centuries.

I have a big pile of paper on my desk that is filled with stuff I have to translate, build and put to use on this topic. But first, I have a date with a volcano.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I won’t be blogging much during the next week. Meghan, Kara and Suzanne have all offered to pitch in during my absence. So enjoy a profound absence of squirrel metaphors during the next eight days.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to Chris vs. the Volcano

  1. Rachael Boyd says:

    hey have a blast.

  2. Have a great trip Chris. And Im still working on the Berea connection, It may just work! I’ll keep you informed.

  3. Everyone with any interest in history should visit Pompeii. Except when Vesuvius goes off of course.

  4. Chris!! I’m going to be in Italy too! With a group of high school students, and I’m not sure which day we’re going to Pompeii, and you’re obviously going to be busy, but damn, it would be cool to grab a biere con tu there (that’s probably a mix of Italian and Latin, I’m tired). If it’s at all possible, let me know how I can get in touch with you. doyouseewhathappenslarry at geemail
    Either way, have a great time–such a cool site.

  5. Mark Baker says:

    Aloha Chris , while at the volcano , bring home some pumices to use for ‘sanding as the ancients ‘wood’ have to their fine wooden works !

  6. 52woodbutcher says:

    Bon voyage, Chris! Very much looking forward to your research after you come home.

  7. mcdara says:

    Was that “a couple of centuries” or a couple of millennia?

  8. hgordon4 says:

    Buon viaggio!

  9. bsrlee says:

    I hope you are going to look at more preserved Roman wooden objects such as the inlaid/marquety stool, the baby rocker, the oldest chest with drawer (that I am aware of), the large collection of aumbry sized frame and panel cabinets that have been found & preserved as plaster casts, the beds and couches……stuff. OK the first couple are probably at Herulaneum, the casts are in Pompeii IIRC. Stuff!

  10. Dan Zehner says:

    Have a great trip Chris! You deserve it! Thanks for all the hard work you do. Looking forward to my nest LAP book purchase.

    I’ll miss the squirrel metaphors!

  11. If you’ll come in north of Italy let me know, I may organize a quick woodworker meeting… with legs under a table, of course. Ciao, Leo.

  12. SSteve says:

    Watch out for lava squids. 🔥🦑

  13. jayedcoins says:

    “But first, I have a date with a volcano.”

    Make sure you use protection.

  14. charlie says:

    O.K., your off the hook for blogging…. but don’t forget your friends on Facebook, lnstagram, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Viber, WeChat, Weibo, and of course… YouTube.

    We’ll all be “following”

  15. Hi Chris,

    don’t know, if you are visting Athens on your trip, but they have (in the Acropolis mueseum) a nice bed from Pompeji, conserved in the volcano ashes. That might fit your interest in furniture of neccessity and volcanos 😉 I can send you a photo, if you like.

    Greetings from Germany

  16. Alex says:

    If you have time you should also stop by ostia antica. Its another city of ruins but this one is near the fiumicino airport in Rome. Also make sure you eat some real mozzarella cheese. Naples is the only place in the world you can get it.

    I actualy grew up in naples. If there is anything i can do to help please let me know.

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