We have our first batch of 1:4 Dovetail Templates available for immediate shipment. They are $51 plus shipping. Made in Nicholasville, Ky., by Machine Time.
The 1:4 slope is my favorite. I use it for all my dovetail joints, both in hardwood and softwood. It’s bolder than the 1:6 and 1:8 slopes on our other template (also $51). All these slopes work just fine. It is a matter of aesthetics.
This tool is based on a version of it that was given to me by an Australian reader during my work in Melbourne in March 2013. I used the heck out of that tool; other makers saw it and made their own versions (which is totally alright with me).
Our version is simpler than the original. It is milled from a single block of steel (all the waste is recycled). And some of its components are a bit thinner, which I prefer.
Measurements and details about the tool are here. If the tool sells out, definitely get on the waiting list to be notified because we have another big batch on the way.
This lowback stick chair is made using a stash of old Honduras mahogany I have been sitting on since writing “Campaign Furniture.” The mahogany had been sitting for decades at Midwest Woodworking until they closed a few years back. This chair is made from one single board, so the color is consistent throughout all its parts.
This lowback design and my Gibson chair are the two most comfortable chairs I make. The chair offers excellent lumbar support for hours of sitting, relaxing or working. The seat is 16-3/4” off the floor. Overall, it is 28” tall, 28” wide and 22” deep.
The chair is finished with two coats of garnet shellac plus black wax. All the joints are assembled with hide glue and oak wedges so the chair can be easily repaired by future generations.
The chair’s design comes from “The Stick Chair Book” but with some small variations. The arm is made with five pieces (instead of four) to reduce wood-movement). Plus, this mahogany chair features hexagonal legs and old-style hands, which fits in with the wood and its deep scarlet finish.
The chair is $1,600 and is being sold via a random drawing. To enter, send an email to email@example.com before 3 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday, March 29. In the email, please use the subject line “March lowback” and include your name, shipping address and phone number (this is used for a trucking quote only). The winner will be contacted on Wednesday after the drawing closes.
On shipping: You can pick up the chair at our storefront, or I will deliver it for free within 100 miles of Cincinnati. Otherwise, I can ship it via common carrier to addresses in the continental U.S. This usually costs between $200 and $300, depending on where you live.
Registration has opened for Handworks 2023, which will be held Sept. 1-2 in Amana, Iowa. The event is free – registration helps the organizers determine the approximate attendance.
Handworks is – hands down – the best woodworking show I have ever attended, and I have attended hundreds of shows all over the world. Handworks is a true celebration of the craft, the tools we use and the people who practice it.
Even if you don’t buy a single nail or widget at the event, you will meet amazing people who share your interests. You will learn techniques from the exhibitors. And your faith in the future of woodworking will be restored.
Lost Art Press will be there – all of us. We will bring books, tools and will probably make some special edition something for the event. Check out who else will be there. It’s everyone in the hand tool world. And Roy Underhill is giving the keynote. And did I mention it’s free?
This show is not a money-making event for the organizers. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The booth fee for exhibitors is laughably minimal (like 1/20 of what we are usually asked to pay). No one shakes anyone down for money. So Magic Rag salesmen. No Router Bits that Fell off a Truck.
This is the good stuff.
Also, I recommend you make every effort to attend this Handworks because there might not be another. It is an enormous pain in the butt for the organizers to pull off. And every time they put on the show, they say: This might be the last. I believe them.
Why Iowa? Why not your backyard? The Amana Colonies are amazing. They are worth the trip even without Handworks. It’s a gorgeous setting with beer, good food and old buildings.
My daughter Katherine has posted a small batch of Soft Wax 2.0 in her store. (The lipstick maker’s switch crapped out, so she had to use a nacho cheese maker, which mixes smaller amounts…for reasons we fail to understand. Who doesn’t want to make 8 gallons of nacho cheese at a time?!)
We love this finish. I use on my chairs and casework; Megan uses it for chest innards. I adore it. Katherine cooks it up here in the machine room using the raw ingredients of yellow beeswax, raw linseed oil and a little bit of citrus solvent. She then packages it in a tough glass jar with a metal screw-top lid. She applies her hand-designed label to each lid, boxes up the jars and ships them in a durable cardboard mailer. The money she makes from wax helps her make ends meet at college. Instructions for the wax are below. You can watch a video of how to use the wax here.
Instructions for Soft Wax 2.0 Soft Wax 2.0 is a safe finish for bare wood that is incredibly easy to apply and imparts a beautiful low luster to the wood.
The finish is made by cooking raw linseed oil (from the flax plant) and combining it with cosmetics-grade beeswax and a small amount of a citrus-based solvent. The result is that this finish can be applied without special safety equipment, such as a respirator. The only safety caution is to dry the rags out flat you used to apply before throwing them away. (All linseed oil generates heat as it cures, and there is a small but real chance of the rags catching fire if they are bunched up while wet.)
Soft Wax 2.0 is an ideal finish for pieces that will be touched a lot, such as chairs, turned objects and spoons. The finish does not build a film, so the wood feels like wood – not plastic. Because of this, the wax does not provide a strong barrier against water or alcohol. If you use it on countertops or a kitchen table, you will need to touch it up every once in a while. (I have it on our kitchen countertops and love it.) Simply add a little more Soft Wax to a deteriorated finish and the repair is done – no stripping or additional chemicals needed.
Soft Wax 2.0 is not intended to be used over a film finish (such as lacquer, shellac or varnish). It is best used on bare wood. However, you can apply it over a porous finish, such as milk paint.
APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS (VERY IMPORTANT): Applying Soft Wax 2.0 is so easy if you follow the simple instructions. On bare wood, apply a thin coat of soft wax using a rag, applicator pad, 3M gray pad or steel wool. Allow the finish to soak in about 15 minutes. Then, with a clean rag or towel, wipe the entire surface until it feels dry. Do not leave any excess finish on the surface. If you do leave some behind, the wood will get gummy and sticky.
The finish will be dry enough to use in a couple hours. After a couple weeks, the oil will be fully cured. After that, you can add a second coat (or not). A second coat will add more sheen and a little more protection to the wood.
Soft Wax 2.0 is made in small batches in Covington, Kentucky. Each glass jar contains 8 oz. of soft wax, enough for about five chairs.
I’m working on a future money-losing project in my spare time: a nice letterpress card that helps readers convert fractions to both decimals and metric measurements. Sure, you can make these conversions on your phone, but I prefer to see all the data at once, especially when trying to decide what size drill bit I need for a tricky peg.
Plus, it’s a fun graphic design project for that part of my brain that doesn’t get as much use these days.
As part of my research, I bought a bunch of old promotional posters. The things that salespeople would hand out to customers when they came to call. But my favorite find is this 1972 small slide chart from the Slide Chart Corp.
As the U.S. geared up to switch to the metric system, these sorts of calculators were everywhere. This one was a sample, made to show how you could get it customized with your company’s logo.
The slide chart makes 19 different calculations, plus has a graph that shows the difference between Fahrenheit and Celcius. It’s almost useful. It converts inches and centimeters, which isn’t quite what woodworkers need (I’d prefer inches to millimeters).
But it’s fun to play with, and I’ll keep it at my desk.
The best part is the little slide window that converts horsepower to metric horsepower. Are metric horses stronger? Look for yourself.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I hope to have this letterpress card available for the holidays.