Not Going Quietly

pine_stool_IMG_2608

Instead of reveling in my dotage, today I assembled this staked stool.

Maybe I’m just a crappy writer, or people read yesterday’s blog entry while half in the bag. Either way, I was surprised by many people’s reaction to my leaving Popular Woodworking Magazine. That was not an obituary. Or a retirement notice.

I am in no way slowing down my writing, research, building, traveling or publishing. I will continue to blog here almost every day. All the material I once generated for my blog at Popular Woodworking will be posted here instead. The Anarchist’s Gift Guide will continue here every November.

I write about 1,000 to 2,000 words a day – it’s a force of habit. And that stuff – whether you consider it BS or fertilizer – has to go somewhere.

The only difference going forward is that I plan to take on woodworking topics that I avoided in the past to avoid offending or embarrassing my corporate employer and its advertisers. I have little regard for the sneaky way we are manipulated to buy woodworking stuff on social media. Advertising is one thing. Sponsored content is fine as long as it’s disclosed according to the law (and there is a law; here’s a common-sense guide). But for the most part, thousands of dollars are spread around every day to attract you to shiny objects without you being told the relationship between the corporate sponsor and the social media star.

I’ll be honest: Among the problems facing our world today, this social media legerdemain is small potatoes. And it’s certainly not my lone crusade. I’m far more interested in getting people to pick up the tools and build stuff. But when I see this sort of chicanery in the future, I’m gonna mention it.

For example, we have all been choking on the coverage of the latest Craftsman tools event, which was a junket designed to get editors and writers to ooh and ahh over some unproven tools. (I hope they provided all the attendees with Craftsman-brand kneepads.) Craftsman has a lot of bridges to mend with me and other woodworkers. So I recommend you check out the tools in person before buying them. Or better yet, let some other early adopters take the bullet for you.

Let the games begin.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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64 Responses to Not Going Quietly

  1. Jeremy says:

    Wow! hot out of the gate.

  2. ctdahle says:

    I thought you were perfectly clear, but from reading SOME comments in response to a number of blog posts, I get the feeling that some people think Lost Art Press is a subsidiary of your former employer. I don’t know if people just read too fast, or if they just don’t pay attention to what they are reading, but I think that sometimes, some readers of blog posts struggle with reading comprehension.

  3. johncashman73 says:

    I thought you were quite clear that you would be just as busy as ever — I’m not sure it’s humanly possible for you to be busier. You just won’t be doing your business at PWW.

    I think your response to my comment made me think I conveyed my sentiments poorly. On the one hand, your blog and magazine writing at PWW was important to me, and there’s a bit of sadness at seeing that go away. On the other hand, everything does eventually end, and change can be exciting.

    I didn’t realize Craftsman was having events. They have had no relevance for me for a very long time. And unless they are willing to reimburse me for the several pairs of underpants I ruined while using one of their radial arm saws, I will have nothing further to do with them.

  4. Richard Mahler says:

    Expose sleight of hand wherever you see it, Christopher! The internet is a revolution in information as well as disinformation. Never has the bromide that ‘a sucker is born every minute’ been truer. Whether it is goods or news, in the social media age we had better hone our skills to know what we are seeing and reading! In tools as with everything else, it must never be ‘does it look good’ and ‘is it cheap’ but ‘who made it’, ‘how was it made’ and ‘who has used it and has an opinion you will trust’. Too many things in this world are now made to last long enough for you to buy them and bring them home. If it has a guarantee date (especially a short one) then that is about how long it will last (the marketer is not stupid, so why should you be). If you think you are safe by buying the most expensive item out there, think again – I see the exact same items listed at prices that vary by 80% or more. Do your homework or you lose.

  5. mike says:

    I think a lot of people assumed PWW was still your primary gig, even though you were “merely” a PWW free lancer/contract worker for a number of years.

    I know you don’t like reading this, but the magazine has absolutely gone to shit. It is sad. But frankly, at this point, you risked tarnishing your own reputation by associating further with PWW. “The PWW Chris Schwarz Blog, sponsored by Lee Valley today, Grizzly tomorrow, Varathane next year….”

  6. Joshua Allen says:

    Digging the new stool.

    I hope that came across correctly.

  7. Ethan Sincox says:

    And I thought yesterday’s post on reamers was good!

    Oh yes! I’m going to like the new and improved LAP…

  8. John says:

    I thought you were perfectly clear. Some people can’t read, maybe that’s comprehension.
    Craftsman, I have used one of their radial arm saws for ~50 years, it was a great saw. Did try running the dado head on it once!!! I will never buy one of their drills or “skill” saws, bad experiences. I do look forward to your future writings. Oh, where’s my Lump Hammer for that endorsement? 🙂

  9. I was sad to read Sears is closing 48 more stores. I boaugh my first dovetail saw there, they have the best utility knife with a blade changing system that is ingenious, and their coping saws are still solid.

  10. Thomas Nail says:

    So, the Rumors of Your Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated? Good. Presently, I can’t think of any one voice I’d want to hear more of on the subject of Woodworking. Cheers!

  11. hgordon4 says:

    I thought you were perfectly clear yesterday.
    Craftsman is just a brand – now owned by Stanley Black & Decker. Still sold at Sears. But now also sold at Big Blue.
    Schwarz Unshackled — this should be great! :>)

  12. jayedcoins says:

    I thought the post was crystal clear. People are funny.

    I detect that Chris Williams’ recent visit imparted some serious influences on these new builds of the staked high stool for the book updates? From the photos you posted when he was in town, the wedged stretchers jumped out at me as somewhat unusual (in a very good way), and of course you’re doing that here.

    Anyhow, the updates to the book will rule. Looking forward to it.

    • My earliest Welsh chairs from 2003 and 2004 has wedged stretchers. I have simply been returning to where I began with these chairs and stools. Chris and I have been in parallel orbits for years without knowing it.

      • jayedcoins says:

        Very neat. I like the look and intend to try it someday soon. I especially like that it makes boring the stretcher mortises in the legs a no-brainer in terms of depth!

  13. rons54 says:

    I am looking forward to seeing the unvarnished Schwarz.

  14. Salko Safic says:

    I didn’t know that Meghan Fitzpatrick was fired, I think that was a huge mistake on their part and just as great a loss. I too feel as some have also mentioned that the magazine has dropped in quality. Even I who isn’t a quality writer of any sort produced better issues than they have lately. You’re timing to pull out is perfect and LAP is a business worth the investment.

  15. Loxmyth says:

    I know what you mean about writing as a habit. I’m not organized enough to maintain a blog (so far), but as you may have noticed I have an overcompensated writer’s block; once I get moving there’s risk of it turning into an extended essay.

    I should probably shut up now, after saying that I thought your intent was quite clear: to continue doing what you love doing, just with a slight shift of venue and focus. Works for me; life is change.

  16. ajgodet says:

    Haha…kneepads. I like this new direction!

  17. Claudio Chuaqui says:

    Nice stool! Are the wedges oriented cross grain to avoid spitting the seat or just for looks? Keep on writing and making!

  18. Chris steps up to bat and points at the outfield wall. Bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded…

  19. simon says:

    Sitting here in the UK, yes that place committing the most epic piece of self harm that is Brexit, unfolding like a slow motion car crash, we don’t really seem to have much in the way of native publications or blogs here, with the notable exceptions of Paul Sellers, whose blog led me here and the very down to earth Richard McGuire. This blog and LAP have been a breath of fresh air and long may both continue.
    I subscribed to popular woodworking for a couple of your projects and a chair design from Caleb James and to be homest not much else, I was pretty dismayed by the change to the website and was going to quiz you sometime about it when the chance came up. I was also rather surprised by the rapid editorial staff turnover and had assumed that the reason was that freelancing for LAP and working at the store was simply far more congenial. It obviously is and Meghan and Brendan’s contributions are always a good read. I was also pretty hacked off when the digital subscription started to be distributed via Zinio which is pretty poor. I had by then already decided not to renew my sub for a third year and your news makes it less likely that i will miss much.
    So good luck to you and your freinds and fellow contributors, I look forward to reading more blogs and more books in the future.

  20. Bob Diehl says:

    Could not agree with you more. Pop woodworking mag has gone another direction. My subscription will lapse. People buy too many gizmos that aren’t needed or could be made for only a few dollars. I say good for you, you have done the right thing I

  21. marvthompson says:

    You go boy. I think I’m going to like this version of C.S. even more. We have a saying in my world concerning concerning the (full moon) masses of humanity; “They are not all locked up.” Carry on, please.

  22. Dan says:

    FWIW, the thing that finally convinced me to go from “guy with interest in how woodworking works” to “terrible amateur woodworker” was you saying, I believe on the Woodwright’s Shop, that an Anarchist’s Tool Chest full of hand tools was enough to get by for years as a woodworker. Until then, I thought doing anything at all would require maybe $10,000 worth of machinery and more space than I owned, not to mention the everlasting pursuit of the latest and shiniest stuff. So thanks for consistently embracing simplicity, and if this change means you can do more of that, or do it better, huzzah!

  23. Roy Schack says:

    I’m excited, Chris. As it is. Splinters and all.

  24. Fred nitchie says:

    Well said, I hate Madison Ave.

  25. Roland Stewart Chapman says:

    Don’t know if that stool and my bum would be compatible , be a bit like the fakir’s bed of nails , with only three nails

    • Jeff Faulk says:

      The protruding tenons are shaved flush with the seat once the glue holding the wedges sets.

      • Roland Stewart Chapman says:

        Chiseled off ? How do you avoid marring the seat ? Ive just sawed off proud box joints using one of those , you beauty , flexible , Japanese flush cutting saws , man what a mess . Next time they’ll be cut to size before I assemble . I really like this blog and always look forward to reading it .

        • “Shaved” in this instance means “planed.” Not chiseled.

        • jayedcoins says:

          I’ll add that in the case that you saddled the seat and couldn’t plane the leg tenons flush, you would use a gouge with a shallow sweep and pare the tenon back that way — scrape and sand to even it out.

        • jenohdit says:

          Cut a hole in a thin piece of cardboard so the part to be cut off sticks through, saw, remove cardboard, then chisel to finish. A crank neck chisel lets you cut in towards the part to be flushed all the way around which can make it easier to avoid tear out, but it isn’t necessary. Sharp is though. If you are careful you can just do it with the saw. I remove the handle, lay the blade against the flat surface and take it slow. A card scraper, sanding block, or both to finish. One of those plane thingies will do it too. If doing box joints just make sure to push in the right direction so you don’t knock chunks off of the pins.

  26. daniel samson says:

    I was very thankful for the proactive explanation to head off crazy rumors later. I felt everything was very clear and I was and am excited. Change can be frightening but one thing I have learned is to think about and remember what I know about someone who is making a big change. Often, as in this case, any perceived fear becomes anticipation of great things to come. I absolutely love this and cannot wait to glean knowledge from your blog unfettered.

  27. Jim O'Dell says:

    Some people just get a little excited. I’m happy to see this side of you. The reason I have enjoyed your writing is because you tend to write your mind. I tend to speak mine so I can respect that.

  28. Ernest Avey says:

    Yesterday I read your blog and I am clapping for you. you have come a long was and for the most part I agree with you that madison ave have taken the woodworker for a ride. I let my subscriptions to most of my woodworking mags. come to an end because I can only build book cases, cabinets, and tables so many ways. After looking at the projects for 20+ years they all appear to be just the same old stuff rehashed. I than you for bring the hand tool woodworking back into the mainstream, I know it was not just you but I got to see it first hand in your booth at woodworking in america Several years and you assisted me in working over an Idea for my bench I was going to build, Which came out just great. But what you showed me is that you do not need a shop full of power tools to be able to enjoy woodworking. Just keep it sharp and true. And once again a great move on your part.

  29. Chris says:

    Chris, your writing is what really inspired me to get rid of shiny stuff and go back to hand tools, even make my own hand tools (or refurbish), and its saved me a lot of money. I appreciate your hard work and learning how to do things the way our forefathers did. I do however enjoy my big machines to process stock! There’s only so much time in the day….

  30. toolnut says:

    You’d think after all these years I’d figure out that drinking a hot beverage (after dinner tea this time) while reading your posts can be hazardous. (The Craftsman-brand knee pads comment did it.)

  31. Matthew Holbrook says:

    Chris:

    First, I see you put a lot of thought into whether or not to stay at Popular Woodworking magazine. I can see you that it was not an easy decision but I respect you for the way you thought through what is important to you that is teaching the craft as compared to what is not important to your that is what type of advertisements is magazine She’s Fit to Carey

    Thank you for the hard work you are doing with Lost Art press. Thank you for the excellent woodworking literature coming out of Lost Art press. Thank you for being willing to teach classes in the past at the Woodwright’s School. Thank you for writing all those articles in PW on work benches, use of hand planes and selection of specialized hand tools. It is because you have done all this that I am a better woodworker and have more confidence in taking on more complex projects in my shop. I am also at this time able to build a few pieces on the side to sell outside of my regular job

    Keep up the good work

  32. Jars Family says:

    Oh hell yes! Preach brother!

  33. KEVIN HEDIN says:

    I think I understood your previous post…

    …but you should have provided a trigger warning before mentioning craftsman woodworking tools 🙂

    …I bought a jack plane that was machined so poorly that, at full retraction, the iron was still more than 3/8″ below the sole! Never again.

    …Okay…deep breaths…

  34. freonguy says:

    Chris:
    Keep on doing what you are doing. I, and countless others appreciate it. I honestly believe you are a good part of the reason for the resurgence of hand tools. Bravo.
    The only bad thing I can say, is your influence by bringing to light old tools of yesteryear: the price goes up due to the ‘Schwarz effect’. That, sir, is a complement.
    I look forward to your future endeavours.

  35. craig regan says:

    You should rent a sound stage for your next tool release event. Just add a studio audience with waving cell phones and Crucible Tools has arrived!

  36. David Traugot says:

    Your independent voice is of the greatest value to us. It goes along with your skill, knowledge, experience, and love of the work. Blessings on your new path!

  37. Steve Jones says:

    That’s nice and all, but where are the lump hammers? Oh, and enjoy your retirement!

  38. mcdara says:

    Hey, I DO read very carefully, and I’m pretty sure you said you were planning to change your gender and start you own magazine.

  39. Anthony says:

    I am very pleased with your decision to leave the mag. I am looking forward to your insights in the future. I will still subscribe to the mag.

  40. Kevin says:

    I appreciate your effort to clarify.

    As for me, my Craftsman days are long gone. They became the last resort tool that was once a great home staple. Sad, but not surprising.

  41. Dave says:

    Speaking of the staked stool (pictured above)…. How tall is that particular example? Would it work as tall as 31″. Thinking of making 4 barstools and your design is atypical for that genre but I like em. Plus something about a barstool with a tilted seat just seems a little mean but that’s me.

    • brendangaffney says:

      It won’t be nearly that tilted when the legs are cut to length. This one is 24″ tall. Never built one taller I’m afraid.

  42. What? Next you’re going tp tell me that the American Woodshop is an infomercial for Woodcraft. haha

  43. davelehardt says:

    Hold on, I need to get more popcorn. This is gonna be good!

  44. Edward Hopkins says:

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dying light, in this instance, being a metaphor for corporate chicanery.)

  45. Cameron says:

    Chris, Don’t hide behind this anti-commercialism façade. We all know that you’re just another a corporate shill for the antique tool and staked furniture conglomerates. Almost as bad as that Underhill guy.

  46. rgreen says:

    Play on Chris!
    …I love hearing the Pied Piper play…..:)

  47. holtdoa says:

    I wonder if some of the comments were more about the realization that Popular Woodworking is now officially not the magazine we once liked. It’s been obvious for more than a few issues that reading the magazine was not worth the effort.At one time it sat in my, ahem, reading room until is was read cover to cover, many parts more than once. Lately it sits in there until it is clear that I’ve read the article or two that have any merit to me and i put it away with the rest unread.

  48. Mark Baker says:

    Wish this vertigo was a thing of the past so I could ring you on my rounds in the forests here . Until than ,I’m safely reading and trying to recoup my former skills lost to a Funnel Cloud [it wasn’t fun] . Keep me readin g and safe until than . Aloha

  49. Marvin Keith says:

    Raise that black flag, and ready the cannons my captain.

  50. Steve Funk says:

    Good luck on your next venture. Love your writing style and your furniture. Keep it up and I am sure I will be able to find you.

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