Another Free Chapter and More Free Psychoses


You can now download a free pdf of my Staked Armchair project if you have purchased a copy of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” This download is given on the honor system. If you already own this book, no harm will come to you by clicking the link below.

If, however, you have not purchased “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” you will suffer a curse that involves an Aldabra tortoise with multiple felony convictions.

Here’s the link:

ADB Staked Armchair

The design for this chair is regulated by the lumber industry. When I design a piece of furniture from scratch, such as this chair, I look carefully at the materials available to the workaday woodworker. For example, asking you to buy 12/4 spalted sapele for the crest is a bit silly. This chair can be built with one chunk of 8/4 red oak and some 5/8” dowels from the home center. Nothing fancy.

In short, I try to design my pieces around common lumber sizes so that the design can be built in both Los Angeles and Baltimore without too much fuss.

For many years, I wished that I didn’t impose restrictions like this on myself. What if I designed a project based on my desires alone, and I could use whatever crazy materials I wanted? I tried that approach for a while and it was uninspiring. For some reason, I prefer to work within strict limitations of what wood species are available, what lumber sizes are common and how few operations/tools are required.

This is my sport. And projects like this bring me a little satisfaction.


The wood for this chair is less than $50 – way less than $50 if you are frugal. You don’t need a drawknife, steambox, shavehorse, froe or hatchet to make this chair. Instead, you need mostly furniture-making tools plus a scorp and travisher to saddle the seat. The wood is from any lumberyard. You can build it with hand tools. But if you have a band saw you’ll find the work goes faster.

It sits remarkably well for an all-wood chair. I’ve had these chairs sitting around the shop for the last several months and lots of people have sat in them and offered feedback. The No. 1 comment: I didn’t expect this chair to be this comfortable.

The trick is the geometry, of course, plus knowing your way around the lumbar region of the human body. The armbow is designed to support the lumbar (a fact that surprises most sitters) with the crest rail hovering slightly above the curve of your shoulders.

The seat is lightly saddled to avoid casting your buttocks like a Jell-O salad. And the “hands” of the armbow are set back from where you would expect them on an armchair by a couple inches. This small change affects how your forearms interact with the chair – for the better in my opinion.

So if you’ve ever wanted to build a Welsh stick chair, this chair is an excellent introduction to the form. If you are into Windsors, this chair has a few lessons, but you are going to need some more estrogen to get the job done with the feminine baluster turnings (this is only my opinion; many people of sound mind love Windsor chairs).

So download the chapter – at the peril of the highly disturbed tortoise if you don’t own “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” And think it over. Chairs aren’t so hard. Even I can build them, and I’m just a journalist who grew up in Arkansas.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Anyone who complains about typos will also get a visit from the tortoise.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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36 Responses to Another Free Chapter and More Free Psychoses

  1. My copy is on my library shelf,.. no need to send the Aldabra tortoise. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing the link!


  2. bloksav says:

    I haven’t got the book so I won’t download the chapter. 🙂
    Your chair looks a lot like Brian Eve’s “Viking Throne” with the exception of the higher back.

    I think it is admirable approach to impose that sort of restrictions on the work that you mentions.



  3. Now I want to meet this tortise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loxmyth says:

    Re working with common lumber sizes: constraints are often a springboard for creativity, forcing us to consider less obvious ways to get the job done. That’s true in every field.


  5. ikustwood says:

    Thank you so much for such generosity. Your company makes the Difference. This chair shall be my first one ever. Cheers


  6. ikustwood says:

    To all of you out there;

    Let’s say i don’t know (as a matter of fact… i don’t know for real) what kind of scorp or travisher to acquire… Any suggestions ? Thank you !


    • jayedcoins says:

      The thing about scorps and travishers is that you just really do not find old ones, at least not in my neck of the woods. Fortunately, there are a lot of people in the chairmaking community that have filled this void with tools that come shipped to your doorstep ready to work right out of the box in many cases.

      For scorps, Barr Tools and Ray Iles make them new. I have the Ray Iles pretty much solely because it is retailed by TFWW, who I’ve bought from before and trust. It’s a great tool and I’ve been happy to use it.

      For travishers, you have a few more options.

      Largely thanks to the work of Claire Minihan, there’s been a little rebirth in the making of these tools it seems. You can look up Claire’s website and buy an absolutely beautiful tool from her. She also sells a DVD on how to make your own. And if you want to split the difference, you can get her DVD and order a ready-to-work blade from her so that you can work the wooden body and not have to fuss with the metalworking.

      Elia Bizzarri makes travishers in Claire’s model, and on his website he even credits her quality design and links to purchasing her DVD. It seems the difference between Elia’s and Claire’s is that Elia makes his from walnut and thus they are a bit more affordable than Claire’s… but anyone would have to admit, Claire’s work in exotic woods is remarkable. I will admit, I went with the more affordable choice and have been a happy user of Elia’s travisher on a couple of seats now. Someday, I’d like one or two more travishers with different radii, and I’ll save my pennies and get something very cool from Claire.

      Lastly, the aforementioned Ray Iles also offers a travisher, also available from TFWW. I can’t say much about it. I decided against it because the travishers I had used before I bought my own were more in the Minihan-style, so it was what I was comfortable with, and the Iles tool has a very different looking design with different ergonomics.

      Oh, if you’re anywhere near Michigan and have the urge to try making your own, John Wilson in Charlotte, MI does a class a couple times per year on making your own. I took the class and while it was fun, I admit it was a bit frustrating for me personally. It was the first time I worked in a class full of people, and to be sure everyone was very nice and helpful, but I still felt a little self-conscious working in a group of more experienced folks and my work suffered. That said, I made a nice travisher iron, and while I could salvage the body, I have a lot more confidence that I could start fresh on my own and make a really nice body working at home at my own pace.


  7. mike says:

    Any thought of publishing the new chapters as a stand alone book? Not sure if the math works out for you but I would be willing to pay $25 or so for a bound version of the new chapters.


    • If the numbers work out, we might offer a POD version of the additional chapters. A version that was printed offset and sewn (like our regular books) would be a sizable investment. We’ll run the numbers when the time comes.


  8. jayedcoins says:

    Can we compromise on double bobbin turnings? 😀


  9. Johnathan says:

    Requesting clarity… possibly risking the wrath of the tortoise..! Page 8 of the PDF, page 31 as listed next to Chapter 11 header, under “Drill & Ream the Leg Mortises, you mention in the second paragraph to make a sample tenon from a 5/8″ dowel. Given the holes are first drilled with a 5/8″ bit, and then reamed larger, don’t you mean make a sample leg? I’ve read through this section a couple times, and am really hoping I’m just missing something. Also, the next page shows a picture with a sample tenon with what looks like leg stock, using a 5/8” tenon cutter. Please forgive me Old Man of the River…

    On a side note, this is great reading having just finished Welsh Stick Chairs for the first time! Compliments it well, and a joy to read. I’m also eagerly awaiting opening my copy of the Book of Plates that arrived with it, which I am saving as my present from my wife for my birthday next week (I can’t be the only one here who buys my own presents for my wife from LAP). It’s a hefty book, and I’m thrilled to have been able to still get a copy-


    • Johnathan,

      The tortoise is grateful for corrections of a factual nature.

      It should read: “make a sample tenon from a 1-1/4″-diameter dowel.” Using a dowel is better than a sample leg because the legs are tapered, which makes sighting the angles accurately impossible. And the photo on the following page is indeed a dowel. An 1-1/4″ dowel.

      Sorry for the error. And good catch!



  10. Justin says:

    Are you still planning a late 2018 release of an updated version of the book?

    Also I am a huge fan of the karmic justice on this blog. We already know that locks are for honest people and so are little blue links with specific instructions. I have yet to purchase the book, so for me the link stays blue.

    People should really evaluate their life over one simple question. Would I still be honest and be good if I knew that no one including a god, a cop, a parent were watching? If the answer is no, well maybe you should rethink your life. Also, you should probably run for office.


  11. Chris says:

    Any chance someone can recommend a book, or resource regarding the properties of various species of wood?

    I live in a small town on an island in the PNW, and many of the species discussed in the ADB for staked furniture are not available to me, or if they are, not economically so.

    even red oak is very expensive, Souther Yellow Pine is an unknown, no one has poplar. Home Centre lumber here casehardened, unstable, knotty, and otherwise terrible balsam or white pine.

    I do have access to an abundance of cheap yellow cedar, red alder, second growth douglas fir (which is a bear to hand plane) and can usually get maple for an ok price.

    Any advise or recommendations greatly appreciated.


  12. Chris Quinn says:

    Chris, I’ve seen you mention the book “Human Dimension and Interior Space” in several blog entries and comments, but I wonder, with your reference here to this chair’s lumbar and shoulder support, whether you’ve ever considered customizing the chairs you make to the size of the people sitting in them. I’m 8 inches taller than my wife with really long legs, so does it make sense to try to size a chair to each of us? Or have you found that averaging things out works well enough? A kitchen table with multiple sizes of chairs would look silly, no doubt, but what might it mean for comfort?


  13. DR_Woodshop says:

    Chris – Thanks for this. I have the lumber for two already on hand. Now I will have one with an arm bow and one without.

    On a related note, you list this one like there has been another updated chapter to the ADB. Did I happen to miss that? I don’t appear to have another PDF downloaded in my woodworking folder, so I suspect if you did I missed it. I recall a PDF of the stool at one point and perhaps that was it or were there multiples that I have been too daft to notice?


    • DR_Woodshop says:

      My apologies, I was able to find this myself. For some reason a search on the “Anarchist Design Book” turned up the article on the Staked High Stool but not the one with the new chapter. Searching for “Staked High Stool,” however, resulted in the post with the PDF download.

      Thanks for both!


  14. jpassacantando says:

    What an amazing deal! Anarchist Design Book is already my top woodworking book, followed closely by The Soul of a Tree and A Cabinet Maker’s Notebook (and now Savage’s book [just based on the PDF] is going to squeeze in there somewhere between second and fourth). But wait, there’s more! We keep getting these chapters as Schwarz is adding new chapters and innovations. And the build is all based on tools we have and wood you don’t have to fight an Amazonian tribe to get.

    I remember watching Norm Abrams. I’d think, cool, I want to build that. And then I’d think, “Oh crap, I don’t have a three-phase shaper…” Chris limits himself to what we proletarian woodworkers can easily get and afford. If everyone designed like this, well, capitalism would be toast. Oh, maybe that’s why he calls himself an anarchist.


  15. Roland Stewart Chapman says:

    How can I get this book in Australia ? I love the taste and teaser I have seen


  16. jenohdit says:

    Uhmmmm… didn’t you mean to write “typo’s?”


  17. Bills yard says:

    Thank you thank you thank you, the good people at Lost Art Press.


  18. Typos? Isn’t that what you have Megan for?


  19. kaisaerpren says:

    hi; I really want to look at that chapter… but I am concerned about your threat of tortoises. you could unleash one on me today and I would never know when or where it would show up… years from now, they always look like they are going somewhere, now I know! Also talking about limitations… someone once told me that setting limitations will set you free. I honestly thought that he was nuts at the time.. but have since learned that there is wisdom there.
    be well

    Liked by 1 person

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