Why So Slow? It’s Both Personal & Business

willard_master_2019_IMG_2043

This will be our master bedroom – someday.

The No. 1 complaint we get these days is from people who are impatiently waiting for a book or tool that we’re still working on. While we try to answer as many of these questions as possible, I thought it time to update our readers on why things seem slower than usual.

Printing Plant Woes
We use two printing plants, and both are experiencing difficulties. Our Tennessee plant has been purchased by new owners (a private equity firm) and they threw out the printing schedule for the first half of 2019. Our Michigan plant is dealing with a different challenge. Because of the closure of other printing plants, the Michigan plant has been slammed with work, slowing all the jobs.

We have been looking for alternatives, but finding the right quality at the right price takes time. Switching printing plants isn’t as easy as changing your underwear. It’s more like changing spouses (or so I hear).

Changing House
Both John and I are in the midst of selling our houses and moving to new digs. Lucy and I are getting our Ft. Mitchell home ready for sale and are working to make the apartment above the Lost Art Press storefront livable (or at least not completely like camping). So patching, painting, dealing with contractors, real estate agents and the like have slowed me and John significantly.

Other Family Stuff
I try not to let my personal life leak into the blog, but the last two years have been a trial. Taking care of my father until his death last February was part of it. But just as significant has been trying to settle his estate, sort out all his possessions and take care of my duties as the executor and a trustee of the trusts he set up. I spend a significant amount of time each week working with attorneys, bankers, tax accountants and money managers. The estate and trust do not represent a lot of money, but they are a huge black hole of time and energy. And I don’t see that black hole closing up soon.

So all this is to apologize. Projects that should be done (“Make a Chair from a Tree,” “The Anarchist’s Design Book” expansion and the other 21 active book projects in our queue) are moving at a slow pace. And things will be slow until John and I are settled in our new homes, the printing plants get their schedules evened out and the lawyers stop sending me emails every day asking for form 27B/6.

I suspect this blog entry will generate a host of comments along the lines of: “Any word on Andrew Lunn’s saw book….” and the like. My answer is going to be: Please re-read this entry.

I hope this helps explain why we’re behind schedule and allays any concerns that we are losing interest in the business. Nothing could be further from reality.

– Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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64 Responses to Why So Slow? It’s Both Personal & Business

  1. Elaine A Higgins says:

    Chris, thank you for the update. Those of us who admire your and John’s work, not to mention appreciate you for who you are as persons, will be here when you are ready to return to the work that you love. Take your time and take care of yourselves, your families, and your health. God speed and best wishes.

    Like

  2. ikustwood says:

    You have all my sympathy and comprehension. Best of luck. I will be there when you “come back”. Cheers.

    Like

  3. stumpynubs says:

    While it is important to build anticipation and to create an atmosphere where the community feels like they are part of the process, I learned long ago that it’s best to keep my yapper shut until the deed is done. Every time I discuss future plans with my audience, something changes or delays those plans and I’m forced to explain and re-explain the delays. It’s difficult to keep things under wraps until the last moment because when I get excited about something, I want to share it. But it burns me in the tukus more often than not, especially when I have to depend on the labor of others to meet that goal.

    Like

    • Tim Shearon says:

      It’s always odd/ironic to me that people who want to practice arts of patience and skill have so little patience. I suspect these are wise words . . .

      Like

  4. RIck Bowles says:

    Sorry for your loss, Chris.
    Peace
    Rick

    Like

  5. Peter says:

    Your “slow” is my light-speed meth-induced dream-state of productivity. I’m sorry you are deluged with crap that takes you away from what gives you (and all of us as readers/students) so much fulfillment.
    And… thanks again for the stool. It brings me daily joy and has developed wonderful use-scars at the bench side.

    Like

  6. Rob Hoffman says:

    But you have a spiral staircase! So life’s good.

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  7. Mike Sremba says:

    Family comes first. Everything else will fall into place.

    Like

  8. pathdoc75 says:

    Chris and John,
    You are both human, and have the same life responsibilities that we all have, in addition to those of your business and it’s inherent responsibilities to us, your customers and your readers. Patience is not a virtue that our current society possesses to any extent. I was taught patience at an early age by my master machinist, and long departed Father who possessed more patience than any person I have ever met in my 76 years.
    So take as long as you want to and is practical economically for you, as the quality of your books and tools is always worth the wait to me; even if it might be longer than you or we might like to have in an ideal world.
    Cheers,
    Michael O’Brien
    Valley Head, AL

    Like

  9. C.D. Cook says:

    The new digs look great! I discovered red painted flooring in my old home and am curious as to why they painted floors red. Any ideas?

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  10. Madeleine says:

    These things happen, sometimes all-at-once. You have the right perspective and the right priorities. Small startups face lots of issues like this, and they are impossible to avoid if they are to grow. It’ll get sorted. Regarding the estate of your father: I’ve been told by my friends, as well as my mother, that even the best-documented, most iron-clad estate plans can take some time to settle.

    I ain’t goin’ nowhere, and my barn ain’t on fire. As ikustwood says: I will be here when you come back.

    Like

  11. aashiv57 says:

    Thank you for all you do and who you are.

    Like

  12. Jon says:

    Watching my mother deal with the estate issues of her father (almost done now, we hope) has been enlightening. I’m sorry if anyone gives you grief over it; I’m sure at this time you have grief enough. The thing my mom said the other day really summed it up: “Not only is the paperwork awful, but every call from a lawyer is just another painful reminder that my dad is gone.”
    On a less depressing note, I’m excited to see a photo of the apartment above the store. As an old house junkie I’ve been curious as to what it looks like, and have been trying to balance that interest and curiosity with the thought of “Dude, this is his house and private domain, why should he share it with the internet?” So, I for one would love to see more photos of the renovation, but understand if that isn’t your thing!

    Like

  13. Richard Mahler says:

    While most of us understand why you want, and feel the need, to provide the explanations above, many of us have also been in that place: too many things need doing at once and none of them can be avoided. Slow may be a required frame of mind if you care to run a business well, and no one should question that where LAP is concerned. Building renovations are time-sucking. As a artist/graphic designer who both worked for and dealt with printing firms for 30 years, the issues are always legion and mind-sucking. Having been executor on three family estates in 12 years, there is a no more thankless and seemingly never-ending endeavor: they are an insult to what you already go through in the death of family and friends. Thanks for feeling the need to explain. We who live in an age of instant gratification really have little excuse for impatience. Nothing worthwhile is instantaneous. We get it. Or we should.

    Like

  14. rwyoung says:

    I am very attached to my underwear and so too, change is slow.

    Like

  15. Mitch Wilson says:

    Oh, man. Not form 27B/6! What a pain in the butt that one is!
    The ceiling fan pictured in the bedroom photo looks a lot like an old Hunter fan that I have (yeah, in our bedroom) that works solely off of a remote control. Same light fixture. If so, watch out since it is a dedicated remote, not a universal one. Keep those contacts on the reverse side of the rubber function buttons clean (use isopropyl alcohol) or they cease to function.
    Life is like a box of chocolate, you know. Take it slow.

    Like

  16. Donald Moore says:

    Understand completely. Wife and I handled an estate with a trust and there was always something popping up that took additional time and sometimes negotiations as there were 11 beneficiaries and it was directed by two executors and even with the best of intents there were differences of what to do and when. Also included was a move from California to New Mexico. Appreciate your abilities to write and do the woodworking you do and your enthusiasm. Way beyond my bodies ability to cooperate from mind to muscle. Thanks for who you are.

    DEM

    Like

  17. jpassacantando says:

    Thanks for the beautiful and honest writing, as always. From one of your loyal customer’s perspective, I say chill dude, it’s all cool. Lost Art Press’ productivity is epic. I am still working through Anarchist Design and making my chairs. I’m wielding my Thor hammer (you call it a lump hammer) and loving the shape of this new scraper. I’ve read through my copies of Jogge and Becksvoort but not made anything from all those amazing ideas yet. In other words, take your time dudes. You only need to go as fast as your expenses make you go but on the customer end you guys are pushing some amazing stuff out there. And maybe with a more chill pace we can still be getting killer ideas and books from you 25 years from now.

    Like

  18. Bill Morris says:

    Not to worry- the last thing I fear is your losing interest or motivation – I’ll buy them when available and receive them when they ship – y’all are one of the really reliable entities remaining 😊👏👏🙏

    Like

  19. Kapow says:

    I’ve been through similar before. I had to mothball some tasks that were less pressing (not necessarily less important) until there was space in my schedule. It worked out, and I’m sure it will for you too. Delegating helped.

    Like

  20. Niouniou says:

    Take your time, it’s the best solution to make good things!

    Like

  21. Anthony says:

    Peace be with you, this too shall pass.

    Like

  22. Al says:

    I’ve been through remodels like yours myself, it’s always worth it in the end. Also have lost loved ones. Think of it like this: Your dad trusted you to write the final chapter of his life, (its just the editors and publishers that are a pain to deal with 😉 ) . On the subject of the delay/business side of things, I, as a customer, appreciate your honesty. Its a big part of what sets LAP apart from everyone else. I consider you and the lap staff friends, which is odd to say the least. (We’ve never met, probably won’t, and I pay you for stuff. ). So take it all one thing at a time and try not to stress. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Like

  23. johncashman73 says:

    What on earth are you apologizing for. We have new stuff to read on the blog oretty much every day. Books are coming out faster than I could have imagined. And I love the game show — you know, the one where you keep saying you are caught up on lump hammers. It’s like that Funniest Home Videos show, where a toddler chases a cat. You know it’s coming, but it’s still funny.

    Its all good. From here, youre doing great.

    Like

  24. Good luck, Chris — but there was one line in there that terrified me. A private equity firm buying one of the presses? Is gutting and liquidation at hand for that outfit?

    Like

    • You never know. We hope for the best.

      Like

      • Here’s hoping with you. But unless the private equity firm was Berkshire Hathaway, I wouldn’t be optimistic. You know how private equity buyouts work as well as anyone, though, so there’s nothing I can say that you don’t already know. But the fact that they threw out the printing schedule speaks volumes as to their regard for their customers.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Doug Cahail says:

    good things are worth the wait. sorry to hear about father. know what you are going thru as we are into my mom’s estate. good luck.

    Like

  26. Jeff says:

    There was never a worry or impatience over here. I can only read so fast too. 😂. Best of luck. Take care. Slowing down is good.

    Like

  27. thospenner says:

    I am late to the table, but I need to tell you (as well as THANK YOU) that the Family you have built up around Lost Art Press has kept me sane over the past few months. That others think and feel the way I do, that you are surviving, NO, Prospering! while swimming against the current of materialistic consumerism (books and tools do not count, just like time spent walking my dogs is not subtracted from the hours of my life) grants me peace and gives me hope that right thinking and thoughtful consideration of those around you does indeed make for a better life. I’m not saying easier, richer, happier, those are all transient things and we suffer trying to hold on to them, but that living by the golden rule (and possibly the golden mean) is the way to live in grace.

    That you take the time and have the courage to simply tell us how things stand, publicly, just makes me smile and nod in agreement. Lately email has been a source of tension for me and seeing another post from Lost Art Press is like a breath of fresh air, I wait to read them so that I can savour the content, even if it is a subject I have NO interest in(very rare), I will read it because I know that it will have been carefully crafted and worth my time.

    Thanks for the update as well, I am a Baltimoron man and boy, was a professional woodworker 25 years ago and now getting back into it from a green/hand work angle only to find out that I had the patron saint of chairmaking living blocks away from me and now she is gone. I eagerly await the Lost Art Press edition of her book, but there is plenty for me to do until it comes, and I’m confident it will be a wonderful object on its own, not rushed, not shortchanged, just right.

    You bring a lot of joy to me, and from the comments above, many others as well, take comfort in that when things get “hectic” and you feel like you might be spinning wheels, there are plenty of us out here ready to get out and push (literally and metaphorically)!

    Tom

    Like

  28. I imagine others would join me in saying I’d easily wait twice as long to get the quality of product that Lost Art Press and Crucible Tool produce. It is a rarity in today’s marketplace.

    Like

  29. JerryS says:

    As a person coming to grips with a sister dying of cancer, a not so recent move (but still not fully unpacked), and raising 2 young kids, I see absolutely no reason for you to feel the need to apologize. The impact the people at Lost Art Press have on the woodworking community is felt worldwide. We are here on this planet to “be excellent to each other”. You and your family always come first. You represent that to me in many ways. All at LAP, I appreciate you.

    Like

  30. flyandgrain says:

    If you guys speed up much more and offer even more products I’m going to go broke.

    Like

  31. Pascal Teste says:

    Wow! It is hard for me to believe that some people are complaining about LAP. Don’t they have other tools to work with or other books to read while waiting for the beautiful products and excellent books that LAP/Crucible offers?
    LAP is a blessing for woodworkers. Please take all the time you need. You are well worth the wait.
    Respectfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Jim Ashley says:

    Chris – to this individual typing this, no apology is needed. I know full well the time it takes to deal with being trustee and executor (we lost my folks during the course of 2017), selling their house, etc. My sincere condolences. I wish you guys the best in ironing out the printing issues, your moves, and all else. In the meantime, I look forward to my copy of Roubo’s Plates book arriving.

    Like

  33. Alex A. says:

    Life is more important that work. While many of us often seem impatient it is only a sign of how much we admire your work.

    Like

  34. joelcarp says:

    Hi, You folks run a unique business that produces special, high quality stuff (tools, books, periodical) in a culture that is working to maintain an important part of the history of woodworking and craftsmanship. Doing so in the 21st century is challenging, but some of us, obviously along with you guys, think it’s worth the struggle to

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  35. joelcarp says:

    From: Joel Carp > Date: May 14, 2019 at 1:49:17 PM CDT > To: Lost Art Press > Subject: Re: [New post] Why So Slow? It’s Both Personal & Business

    > OOPS…hit the send button too soon…sorry. > Hi, You folks run a unique business that produces special, high quality stuff (tools, books, periodical) in a culture that is working to maintain an important part of the history of woodworking and craftsmanship. Doing so in the 21st century is challenging, but some of us, obviously along with you guys, think it’s worth the struggle to do so. The art book-like quality of your printed stuff is truly a joy to hold and read. The anger, frustration and impatience of some with the absence of enough hammers to buy at a point in time will just require then to suck it up! Keep up the great work you’re doing. Also hopefully, the rocky personal stuff you are dealing with will all smooth out over time. Joel Carp > > Sent from my iPad > >>

    Like

  36. Joe says:

    Here’s hoping your life stops resembling “Brazil” so much in the near future. Can’t do anything without the 27B/6.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Mike Cunda says:

    Just keep sawing away at it. It’s a long rip cut of responsibilities. You all turn out great work.

    Like

  38. jonathan Berndt says:

    Sincerely sorry about the loss of your father.

    Like

  39. Tyler Anderson says:

    Does this mean that the birdhouse book won’t be done next moth? I was really hopeful it would be.

    Like

  40. Dan says:

    You might give some thought to whether there’s any reasonable characterization of your pace as “slow.” As you’ve emphasized, the worst thing a small business can do is overextend itself (well, pocketing employment tax withholding is worse by far, but let’s stick with general principles). Seems to me you’ve been cranking lump hammers and scrapers like crazy, and your publishing schedule is pretty impressive compared to any other small press I’ve ever heard of.

    You’re doing remarkable things, and you’re doing them remarkably well. Maybe Some Guy on the Internet thinks you should be doing more of them, and faster, but…

    Like

    • Thanks Dan,

      We publish four titles a year (on average) and we are struggling to get Nos. 2 and 3 to the finish line. We are definitely running behind our usual pace. People have commented – so I definitely felt the need to respond. Thanks for the kind word!

      Like

  41. wardtw says:

    Always better to have too much than too little to do. LAP does a great job. I will sit on my thoughts of when I can purchase a lump hammer or Arno burnisher for now!!

    Like

  42. Eriam JH says:

    Love the Brazil reference.

    Like

  43. Andy Boro says:

    Settling an estate and the associated lawyers, accountants and then the real estate selling is a job in itself.
    The only saving grace is that it will eventually finish (hopefully before it drives you crazy).

    The new Master bedroom looks like it was spared the Disco ball and ever present purple glitter from the night club days!

    People will hopefully understand the delay due to all the circumstances.

    I always enjoy my Lost Art books so don’t despair.

    Andy

    Like

  44. David says:

    1) I for one have been awe/dumbstruck by your productivity since the days you were ‘only’ putting out two top quality magazines, feeding a blog, starting a press, initiating the rumpus of marvels that was WIA and generally pulling out the bottom soup can in what has continued to be a remarkable and needed avalanche of hand toolery. All while honing a sophomoric/Arkansan patois of ribaldry that would give Rabelais a run for his money.

    2) I am behinder in reading your burgeoning catalog of new classics than you are in producing them. And deliciously looking forward to catching up over time.

    Thanks for all the passion wit and energy you throw at these projects and, now, what was that about a slowdown? Hadn’t noticed. Keep going, and the glimpses we get if your dad in various anecdotes suggest a wonderful and complex individual… feel free to tell us more if, and when, you feel like it.

    David

    Like

  45. kaunfried says:

    Lost Art Press books are always worth the wait.

    Like

  46. antinonymous says:

    Never mind, we’ll just go get it from the Big Box Store…oh, wait….

    Like

  47. Steve S says:

    So would it be possible to order a red lump handle…………..:):)

    I know, I know…………

    Like

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