Origin Stories

LAP_logo_stickerThis weekend I’m at Fine Woodworking LIVE and, to be honest, it’s a tad weird. After being in the other camp for 22 years, it’s disconcerting. I feel like I’m crashing their party.

It’s all in my head. Everyone here is as sweet as milk, and I’m sure it will go fine. (Unless the FWW staff tells me I was brought on to be Christian Becksvoort’s manicurist and astrologer during the event.)

The drive today through Upstate New York was stunning – I got to see Spring occur in reverse. And it reminded me of a fateful drive I took on the same highway 13 years ago when John and I were starting this yet-to-be-named publishing company.

We were racking our brains for a good name for the company. I’m averse to naming things after me. I don’t have a big enough ego to shoulder that load. So “Hoffman & Schwarz Ltd.” was right out. Plus, it sounded like a German audio equipment company.

One of the other contenders was “Tried & True Press” (this was before Tried & True finishing products – I hope). It’s a good name, but I was taught to avoid clichés like the plague.

Another: “Said & Done Publications.” I like this one, but it didn’t have any connection to woodworking. If you’d like to have it, it’s yours.

“Straightedge Publishing.” The problem with this name was it could also be the parent company of a skateboarding magazine. Or a publisher of books for people who don’t consume alcohol or drugs.

And then there was “Sawset Redemption LLC.” (OK, I’m lying and I’ve had two beers.)

In any case, 13 years ago I remember muttering to myself during that long drive when “Lost Art Press” just popped out of my mouth. Nervous that I would forget it, I grabbed a pen and a business card and wrote the name down while using my steering wheel as a desk. This is illegal to do in 36 states, FYI.

So. Good day.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. If you are at Fine Woodworking LIVE, please do stop by and say hello. I’ll be the guy in the Prism Conference Room scraping Steve Latta’s corns.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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15 Responses to Origin Stories

  1. tpobrienjr says:

    If your company had been located in Texas, it could have been named “The Runaway Scrape”. But I think you chose well.

  2. antinonymous says:

    The name you chose for your company, Lost Art Press, is a very good one, and poignantly appropriate since you have resurrected projects and unearthed historical research into the almost lost history of woodworking crafts, tools, methods, and traditions, going even back into Roman times. I have your book on the Estonian woodworking tools and tradition that I particularly enjoy in that regard, since I have Baltic ancestral roots myself. In fact I liked it so much that I also sent an additional gift volume of it to a Finnish friend. I suppose you intended to take that direction with your business from the beginning, but it was a brave risk to hope there would be a sufficient market for it. I wish you great and continuous success!

  3. johncashman73 says:

    I like the idea of watching spring in reverse. We almost have leaves up here — it’s very exciting. And your traveling back through your publishing history plucked a chord for me.

    It made me look back at woodworking magazine history in reverse. Going from LAP, to your other camp, to Fine Woodworking. I watched it all as it unfolded — my first WWing magazine was FWW # 6, right after they got started in the 70s. There was nothing (almost) else at the time. Of all of the magazines started in the early 1930s, Deltagram, Popular Homecraft, Home Craftsman, EAIA’s Chronicle, only the Chronicle had survived. It makes me happy that The Chronicle is in such good hands with Megan.

    Fine Woodworking opened the floodgates. Woodworker’s Journal followed soon after, with a multitude of others. Woodsmith, Pacific Woodworker, Today’s Woodworker, American Woodworker, Woodwork: A Magazine For All Woodworkers (still perhaps the best), and many, many more. Magazines focused on carving, turning, whittling. So, so many.

    Just as most of the previous generation had died in the 1960s, almost all of those magazines are gone now. But Lost Art Press has plugged many of those holes. Everything goes in cycles, and It’s been enjoyable to watch the woodworking publishing world turn. I can’t wait to see what comes farther down the road. I’m pretty positive you’ll be on your wheel, cranking it around.

  4. Richard Jones says:

    ‘Fine Woodworking LIVE’ is a bit far away for me to drop in … sorry.

    But, funnily enough, when I was living in Houston between 1993 and 2003 prior to moving back to the UK I, at first, and for about four or five years, called my business ‘The Lost Art of Furniture’. Eventually, I realised I didn’t like it, thought it was a bit anonymous, and changed the name to ‘Richard Jones Furniture’ on the basis that I thought it was important for clients to be able to connect the business with the designer and maker. Not sure I was right, but that’s the name I still trade under, although the nature of my work has changed significantly over the last twenty five or so years. Richard.

  5. boclocks says:

    Anarchist’s Press has a nice ring to it….

  6. Not woodworking related, but if you’ve never made the drive by way of I88/I86, you’re really missing out. It’s about 30 miles longer than I90, but at the distance you’re going, that’s basically a rounding error. 88/86 is also very lightly used compared to 90, and I think it’s a prettier drive.

    If you’ve never done it by way of I80/I84, I’d encourage you to keep it that way.

    Have fun at FWW live, and thanks for the glimpse into LAP’s origins!

  7. ctrega says:

    Just don’t put on a Fine Woodworking t-shirt.
    That would look very strange.

  8. John Sunnygard says:

    Experiencing the other side is a growth experience, we just cannot predict how. A good thing. Lost Art Press, I hope, due to you and your writers’ efforts is tongue in cheek as you keep the craft alive. Thank you, and a good journey!

  9. rwyoung says:

    You could do worse than Christian Becksvoort’s manicurist and astrologer.

    Probably have.

  10. Steve Baisden says:

    I rather like Hoffman and Schwarz Ltd. It sounds like a high end haberdashery in London or a surviving maker of wooden molding planes.
    However I’m glad you are what you are: a great place to learn and read about woodworking.
    Best of luck.

  11. Daniel Williamson says:

    Figuring out what your business name…what will become your identity and something you’re married to…is a much more challenging process than it would appear to folks who haven’t had to go through that. There’s so much meaning that can go into it. Can’t remember how many ideas my partners and I went through before we settled on our name. It helps when you have a clear vision of what your company is and then go from there. Add it to the list of decisions a business owner has to make. And for the record, I love the name you settled on. Cheers!

  12. Gregory Medis says:

    I’m at FineWoodworkinglive and saw you briefly tonight chatting with Vic Tesolin after Chris Becksvoort’s talk. I was ordering the one inch Wood Owl drill bit which I need to install the one inch diameter hold fast I just ordered from Lost Art. I was not quick enough to make a funny comment about a possible conspiracy. Thanks for all your wisdom. You have helped me a ton. See ya tomorrow.

  13. David says:

    Great story! Hope you saved that hand written note. Doesn’t spoon carver and pole lathe turner Darrick Sanderson live up that way? Maybe you should stop by. Very nice guy and crazy talented. Follansbee would know.

  14. Greg says:

    Anxiously awaiting “Make a Chair From a Tree”….any updates?

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