A Redneck Woodworker, Minus the Accent


Photo by Narayan Nayar

A few years ago, a new neighbor stopped me while I was on a run.

“Hey, I know you. You’re Christopher Schwarz,” he said. “What are you doing here, visiting?”

No, I told him, I live here. Then he looked confused.

“I thought you lived in New England, what with the way you write, look and talk,” he said. And that’s when I looked confused.

Despite 11 years of writing blogs and 21 years of writing for woodworking magazines, I’m always amused by people who think they know me but have it mostly wrong. So to mark the launch of my personal website for my furniture work (check it out here), I offer you this concise summation of me.

Though I was born in St. Louis, Mo., I grew up in Arkansas on Wildcat Mountain and did all the things that redneck kids do: fishing every day after school, hunting, hiking, camping, blowing stuff up (we made our own napalm) and cruising in souped-up crappy cars. If I had my way, every meal would feature a combination of the following foods: grits, barbecue, brisket, fried chicken, biscuits, sausage gravy, cornbread, greens, smoked ham and anything from the other allied Southern cuisines – Cajun, Creole or lowcountry.

I don’t have an accent; my three sisters do. But I am Southern to the marrow and have spent the majority of my life below the Mason-Dixon line. I am comfortable with Southern politeness (false as it may be), Southern insecurities and our hyperbole.

I attended segregated public schools. The mascot for my high school was a morbidly obese Confederate soldier; our school song was “Dixie.” I refused to sing it at pep rallies or convocations and, like most Southerners I know, am disgusted by our shameful history of racism and slavery.

I left the South to attend college outside Chicago, thinking I’d find a more enlightened place. I was wrong, and the day after graduation I moved to Greenville, S.C. I don’t fit in up North.

I’m a redneck. I have a master’s degree, but I lack the Southern accent. I drive a pickup truck, but it’s a Toyota. I love the South, but I am at odds with the backward ideas sometimes peddled down here.

That’s about all there is to say about me, except for the things I’ve built, and the things I’ve written. And that (clearly, see above) I hate to have my photo taken.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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35 Responses to A Redneck Woodworker, Minus the Accent

  1. Now I understand why you live in Kentucky instead of Ohio.


  2. Patrick Davis says:

    Got UUUUUUUU. Love ❤️ UUUUU!!!!!!!!!

    Sent from my iPad



  3. jfthomas70 says:

    I am a redneck also, Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, I do have an accent.
    Your New Site is great and very tasteful.


  4. zowtiak says:

    Gotta watch out for those new neighbors!
    -New Neighbor


  5. Great work. To the point. Black and white enhances the detail and the pieces are set up in such a way that you have to keep on scrolling to the bottom of the page.

    Like so many other of us, who hate having our picture taken, it’s not that you don’t look good in one – it just has to be caught in familiar and comfortable surroundings being occupied by something other than the camera lens. Managed perfectly right there at the bench.

    Good luck on your new site – I bet it’s something people have been missing for a while. But you would be the one to know of course.

    PS: You sure there’s not a hint of viking blood cruising your veins? The simplistic no BS approach (as always) suggests there is.


  6. Great website Chris – thats gone straight on my favourites page. Thanks.


  7. sugardoc says:

    You’re genuine. That’s very clear in your writings. You are one of the few living people I think I know something about that I still want to meet. I’d guess people often find you are much larger than the box they prepared for you and the best of those are delighted at their miscalculation.


  8. bobbarnettpe says:

    Hold my beer, you ain’ta gona believe how fast I can cut this dovetail.


  9. Sorry you may have been raised in the South, but all your attitudes say you are a hipster and are ashamed of your Southron heritage….
    J Whitaker born and raised in Dixie, proud of my flag and those that fought for it.


  10. Josh Cook says:

    I too am a southerner without an accent (except when it benefits me). Born to two Florida crackers and raised in Mississippi, I REALLY should have one. I guess I was a rule follower when it came to pronunciations and book learnin back then, I’m not sure what happened…

    Cool website, although I’m kind of disappointed the dustpan didn’t make it.


  11. RustedTinMan says:

    Well read,.. well spoken,..
    and,…. I hate to have my photo taken too!

    New Site looks awesome! As always best of luck with your endeavors.


  12. turdfighter says:

    Grits, the food of Kings.


  13. I always wondered where your Arkansas accent was. Great new website, You missed visiting instructor at The Kansas City Woodworker’s Guild.


  14. matthewbosnick says:

    ‘Such is the duality of the Southern thing’– Drive-By Truckers


  15. Quercus Robur says:

    As a non-US guy, I couldn’t care less for the northern/southern thing, y’all slur words to my ears 🙂 Great website, and a great example of good B/W photography, that is used for a purpose and not as a gimmick: bringing out the shape/form/flow.
    In phones it may look a bit restricted – just a single column of full-width images, without response to taps. Perhaps you should consider “spicing-up” that mobile template a bit.



  16. Possibly on our bedroom floor with all bathroom things. I may have put them in her bedroom though 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


  17. So if you hit reply by mistake you leave a comment. That was supposed to go to my Mum! Nice website though!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


  18. Picking nits: on your about page, you list “The Joinery & Cabinet Maker”, with the extra ‘y’.


  19. Jason Davis says:

    The accent is why I moved back north.


  20. p3t3rp says:

    Have you seen The Bitter Southerner? Really interesting southern journalism that occasionally grapples with the issues of identity you’ve raised here. http://bittersoutherner.com/


  21. Your writing always seemed to suggest you were a kindred spirit. I could have written basically the same bio, right down to the Toyota truck (a grandpa owned ’85), confederate high school mascot, and being the only sibling without an accent. I’m no social butterfly on either side of the Mason-Dixon though, so I can’t say whether Ill make it back to the south (I left after college). Having recently driven down to Cincinnati though I can see how you may have found a great middle ground in the area – and there was some great architecture compared to where I grew up in Texas!


  22. Brian Brazil says:

    Can you “turn on” a southern accent? I don’t normally have a Rhode Island accent, but I can turn on the swamp yankee if I have to.


    • Derek Long says:

      I married a swamp yankee princess and when she turns on the accent, look out. I’ve lived in the east, the west, the north and the south. Chris is no New Englander.


  23. Elizabeth says:

    My husband and I were born and raised in Tennessee, and we have no discernible southern accent. We live on the west coast now, and unless my husband is giving his colleagues a lesson in southern speak or we’re feeding people TN style bbq, no one would ever guess we’re from the south. Maybe one day we’ll find our way back there to be closer to family, friends, and good, southern style cooking. Until then, we’ll enjoy the reprieve from the awful summer weather. Btw, love your personal site and furniture work.


  24. I have read your books, your blog and seen your work in magazines. To see the entire body of work in one place is quite simply inspiring.


  25. jayedcoins says:

    The new site looks great, nice work.

    And hooray for June 13 birthdays (though I’m 17 years younger, not to rub it in or anything).


  26. davidhickspc says:

    born in St. Louis, you gotta be all right.


  27. There are also some red necks to the north, but we say “aboot” with our accent. We also say we’re sorry a lot.


  28. ikustwood says:

    Well… I like you even more and feel lucky to have met you in person at the LN event. Thank you so much for the dédicace . Love what you wrote . Inspiring .



  29. tjwojcik says:

    I love the photo. I still like B&W. Can you say Zone System? Heh. Great web site too. Don’t care about accents, I key on the trueness of the writings. Yours ring true to me.



  30. Mike says:

    Accents are in the ear of the beholder. To this Chicago boy you have do have a slight southern accent. Sorry you did not find us more elightened.


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