The company that manufactures and mails our T-shirts and hats in California, Printful, has been running behind as a result of the pandemic. T-shirts are taking 23-28 business days to fulfill. Embroidered items, such as hats, are taking 18-22 business days to ship.
The company reports that its safety measures have cut its capacity in half, plus Printful has had difficulties getting the raw materials it needs to make shirts, hats and the rest.
So if you are waiting on a shirt or hat to arrive, we apologize. We hope things will return to normal soon, and we thank you in advance for your patience.
All of our other products – books, vests, chore coats and tools – are fulfilled by our Indiana warehouse. And we are not experiencing fulfillment or shipping delays there.
As always, if you have questions about or problems with an order, send an email to email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
At first glance, the workbench in “The Anarchist’s Workbench” appears to be almost identical to the bench I built in 2005, which has shown up in a number of magazines and books. It’s chunky, made from yellow pine and the workholding is a leg vise, planing stop and holdfasts.
Despite their similarities, the workbench plan in this book is a significant improvement. During the last 15 years I have found better ways to laminate the top using fewer clamps, easier ways to make the massive joints, plus layout tricks here and there that result in tighter joints all around. The top is thicker, heavier and creates less waste when using 2×12 dimensional lumber.
The workholding is far more effective. Thanks to improvements in vise manufacturing and a mature understanding of how these leg vises work, the vise is strong enough to hold boards without the help of a sliding deadman. There is no parallel guide, so you can work at the vise without stooping. The planing stop uses a metal tooth, made by a blacksmith, that holds your work with a lot less sliding. And the pattern of holdfast holes in the top – something that took me years to get right – ensures there will almost always be a hole right where you need one.
The fact that the bench is similar to my bench from 2005 is somewhat of a comfort to me. It means I wasn’t too far off the mark when I began my journey. And equally remarkable is that 15 years of building workbenches of all different forms, from Roman benches to a miniature one from Denmark, wasn’t able to shake my conviction that a simple timber-framed bench is ideal for many woodworkers.
In addition to the fully matured workbench design, this book also dives a little deeper into the past to explore the origins of this form. I first encountered this type of bench in a French book from about 1774, and at the time I couldn’t find much else written about it. Since then, libraries and museums have digitized their collections and opened them to the public. So we’ve been able to trace its origins back another 200 years and found evidence it emerged somewhere in the Low Countries or northern France in the 1500s. We also have little doubt there are more discoveries to be made.
And finally, the story of this bench is deeply intertwined with my own story as a woodworker, researcher, publisher and – of course – aesthetic anarchist.
That’s why we’ve decided to give away the content of this book to the world at large. When it is released later this summer, the electronic version of the book will be free to download, reproduce and give away to friends. You can excerpt chapters for your woodworking club. Print it all out, bind it and give it away as a gift. The only thing you cannot do is sell it or make money off of it in any way.
If you prefer a nicely bound book instead of an electronic copy, we sympathize. That’s what we prefer, too. So we plan to print some copies of this book for people who prefer it in that format. Those will cost money to manufacture (we don’t make low-quality crap here at Lost Art Press) so we won’t be able to give those away. But we will sell them – as always – at a fair price for a book that is printed in the United States, sewn, bound in fiber tape and covered in a durable hardback.
This book is the final chapter in the “anarchist” series – “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and now “The Anarchist’s Workbench.” And it is (I hope) my last book on workbenches. So it seemed fitting that to thank all the woodworkers who have supported me during this journey, this book should belong to everyone.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. If this goes well, John and I are discussing making the other two books in the anarchist series free to download. We don’t know when (or exactly how) we will make that decision. But it is on the table.
For two decades, Nancy Hiller has made a living by turning limitations into creative, lively and livable kitchens for her clients. Her new book, “Kitchen Think,” is an invitation to learn from both her completed kitchen designs (plus kitchens from a few others) and from the way she works in her Bloomington, Ind., workshop.
Unlike most kitchen design books, “Kitchen Think” is a woodworker’s guide to designing and furnishing the kitchen, from a down-to-the-studs renovation to refacing existing cabinets. And she shows you how it can be done without spending a fortune or adding significantly to your local landfill.
“The first requirement is simply to think,” Hiller writes, “where you are in life; what resources you have access to in terms of money, interesting materials, or time; the architectural style of your home and so forth.”
Yes, there are hundreds of pretty full-color photos of well-designed kitchens in this book, which are organized into 24 case studies throughout the book. They range from the sculptural (kitchens by Johnny Grey and Wharton Esherick) to kitchens of a more recognizable form.
But there’s also a heavy dose of practical instruction: how to build cabinets efficiently, how to make a basic kitchen island, how to build a wall-hung plate rack. Plus butt-saving advice that comes only from experience – like how to maximize space in inside corners, how to scribe cabinets and countertops into odd spaces and how to make sure you’ve left ample space for hardware.
All of this is built on a foundation of research into kitchens from the past. Hiller’s historical perspective on design might just change your mind about what makes a good kitchen. It doesn’t have to be walls of built-in cabinets. So what’s the alternative?
You just have to think.
The book is intended for:
• Woodworkers, whether professional or not, who would like to expand their minds on the question of kitchen design, the culture of remodeling, materials and techniques used in kitchens
• Homeowners with some woodworking and home-renovation skills who would like to remodel their own kitchen, including building their own cabinets
• Homeowners who want a deeper understanding of what goes into a thoughtful kitchen remodel done by professionals
• Homeowners and others (who may not own a home) looking for design inspiration and unconventional, non-consumerist ways of thinking about kitchen design and remodeling.
“Kitchen Think” is 8-1/2” x 11”, 368 pages and printed in full color on coated, 80# matte paper. It has a printed hardbound cover, coated in a durable matte laminate. The binding is sewn, and covered with a fiber-reinforced tape spine to last for generations. Like all Lost Art Press books, “Kitchen Think” is produced and printed entirely in the United States.
We don’t yet know which of our retailers will carry the book. We hope all of them will, but it’s their call entirely. When we have more information on where “Kitchen Think” will be available, we’ll be sure to mention it here.
About the Author Nancy R. Hiller is a cabinetmaker who specializes in period-style work for late 19th- through mid-20th-century interiors. Since 1995 she has operated NR Hiller Design, Inc., based in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, Old-House Interiors, Old-House Journal, and other periodicals. She is the author of four other books: “Making Things Work: Tales from a Cabinetmaker’s Life” (Lost Art Press), “English Arts & Crafts Furniture” (Popular Woodworking), “The Hoosier Cabinet in Kitchen History” (Indiana University Press), and “A Home of Her Own” (Indiana University Press). Plus she was the editor of “Historic Preservation in Indiana: Essays from the Field” (Indiana University Press).
While on a bicycling vacation in 1994, Laura Mays found herself at a village crossroads in remote County Galway, on Ireland’s western coast. Each of the first three corners housed a pub; the fourth, a large Victorian building. Intrigued by the architecture as well as the structure’s status as the odd one out, she stopped to look around.
She learned that the building had been a boys’ reform school – one of those infamous institutions where abuses of children, sequestered from public view and in the charge of authorities subject to scant oversight, were routine. After the place was decommissioned in the ‘70s, it became home to a woodworking school, Letterfrack, part of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The school employed instructors from England, most of them graduates of Parnham College, the renowned institution started by John Makepeace.
For Laura it was a moment of serendipity, a crossroads as figurative as it was literal.
Laura is the second of three children born to parents who were both professors of English; they met as students at Oxford in the 1960s. (They are now retired.) Shortly after her father earned his doctorate they moved to Ireland, where he taught at University College, Dublin. Laura arrived in 1967 and grew up in the suburbs with her two brothers. She remembers it as “very homogenous, white, Catholic,” though she’s quick to note “we were classed with the Anglo-Irish, who had been in Ireland for the previous few hundred years, ‘planted’ there by various English monarchs, and basically the oppressors, [e]ven though we had arrived very recently. I think also being gay made for a marked feeling of separation and difference.”
A quiet child, she spent her time reading, drawing and in art classes and has happy memories of swimming in the ocean every summer. When the time came to think about university, she settled on architecture. “I was one of those kids who was good at everything,” she explains. “Architecture school seemed like an all-around education.” (She suspects her father’s longstanding interest in the field and her older brother’s prior decision to pursue an architectural degree may have influenced her thinking.) It was five years of instruction, with heavy emphasis on historical perspective – “a fantastic basic design training,” she says. “But when it came to working as an architect, I disliked it intensely, [down to] the smell of the carpets in architects’ offices. I hated going out on site where all the guys were; they already hated architects, and here comes a young woman telling them to do stuff that is not as convenient for them. I found the disconnect between building and designing very off-putting – telling people to do stuff that I didn’t know how to do.”
After working in that field for a couple of years she decided it was time for a break. She spent a year in New York and six months in Japan, taking any job she could get to scrape by. On her return to Ireland she worked as assistant to a graphic designer – the job that allowed her to take the bicycling vacation at the start of this story.
Having found a woodworking school right in her path, she decided to apply. “I had an inkling that making things with my hands would be holistic and engaging,” she explains. “As an architecture student I had enjoyed the making of drawings, and thought about them more as finished products than as a means to an end (to a building).” She was accepted in 1996 and began her training that fall.
On the first morning of class students had to flatten the soles of their planes with glass and carborundum powder. “This is really serious,” Laura remembers thinking. “They were teaching us something that was going to be high quality. It was everything I had missed in architecture about making stuff – [here] the implications would be on you. You would see the continuum all the way through.” She completed a two-year program in design and manufacturing. “They were training us to work either for industry or for small-business owners making one-off furniture on spec.” The student culture was intense – “we were really, really keen, all of us,” she says – so much that they would secretly prop the workshop door ajar when they went home on Saturday night, so they could sneak in Sunday morning.
After graduating in 1997 she moved back in with her parents, who had relocated to a farm in County Wicklow, near Ireland’s central-eastern coast. She took over a couple of outbuildings to use as a furniture workshop but notes that despite her training, “quickly I realized how little I knew!” She subscribed to FineWoodworking and gleaned all she could from the pages.
Meanwhile, her friends were settling down and having children. They’d approach her about furniture for their houses. After making several large tables where families would gather happily for meals, she couldn’t help reflecting on her own situation as someone nearing 30 and living with her parents. As she puts it, “There was definitely something missing.”
It was during this period that she came across the books of James Krenov. “Something about the way he wrote I found very engaging,” she remembers. “He talked about failure.” Before that, everything she’d read seemed to be about the shiny, the perfect, the most efficient. He proposed a different approach. She looked at the back cover and saw the bio. “Teaches and lives in Fort Bragg, California.” She looked the place up on Google, a relatively new phenomenon at the time. Up came a website: College of the Redwoods. She sent a note by email. “Before I knew where I was,” she says, “I was on my way to Northern California to study at the school.” Would she hate it? She figured she could always go home.
As things turned out, she loved it. Following her graduation in 2003 she returned to Ireland, where she taught at Letterfrack for eight years. In her spare time she pursued a master’s in design through an online program of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, adding another credential to her résumé.
Laura may well have continued to teach at Letterfrack, had she not received a note from the College of the Redwoods in 2011 asking whether she’d be interested in applying for the position of director. Krenov had retired in 2002. Michael Burns, who’d held the position of director since the school’s founding in 1981, was about to do the same. She applied and got the job.
“When there isn’t a pandemic,” she observes wryly, she teaches 22 hours a week. An important part of her work is getting to know the students well enough to be able to help out when emotional, financial and other challenges arise. She also liaises with the part-time faculty (Jim Budlong, Greg Smith and Ejler Hjorth-Westh) and with shop manager Todd Sorenson; oversees the budget and admissions; and handles the school’s publicity and social media.
“I think it’s a really, really good program,” she comments, immediately deflecting the praise away from herself: “They set up a really good program in 1981 – deeply immersive, a 48-hour minimum week, six days a week, very intensive. Students learn a lot from each other…. We’re fully committed to passing on the craft as well as we can, really trying to help people understand the material. To see. To use all their senses to gather information and be responsive to what’s going on. I see it as a gift I am passing on. I was given that gift and I like to give it to others.”
Instead of finishing up the 2019-2020 academic year with 23 students in the shop, Laura had to shut down classes on March 20. The plan: switch to teaching online. “But it’s so antithetical to everything about the program that it really didn’t work very well,” she concedes – not that this will come as a surprise to anyone who has been attempting to teach or study woodworking this spring. While it’s true that students would ordinarily have been working on projects more independently by that point in their training, she and her students have missed the camaraderie and celebrations that customarily mark the end of the school year. Some students found garages or other spaces to work in; another finished up her coursework with a paper outlining how she would start a furniture business in South Africa, her homeland. Things will be different in the fall, with changes designed to enable social distancing. Instead of a 17-week class for 23 students, there will be a six-week class for ten students, with a plan to hold more frequent classes of smaller size and shorter duration.
Still, Laura has her work cut out for her. Not only does she have the usual complement of administrative work she faces every summer (the Krenov School is a program of Mendocino College); she’s also collaborating with Deirdre Visser on a book about women in woodworking. (They started the project with a third collaborator, Phoebe Kuo, who understandably found the pressure of juggling the book with her workload as a second-year MFA student in Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art overwhelming.) Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking grew out of a discussion with Deirdre, curator of the arts at the California Institute of Integral Studies, when she was a student at the College of the Redwoods in 2015-2016. The basic premise is to show that despite the relative invisibility of women in the field – at least, until the past few years – women have been building with wood for as long as woodworking has existed; examples in the theoretical section of the book go back as far as 4,000 BCE but become more widespread in the Middle Ages. The book also includes profiles of contemporary women in woodworking and illustrates the diverse ways in which women are making their impression on the field. The book is under contract with Routledge; although it’s not yet scheduled for publication, it may appear as soon as summer 2022.
Related to the book, they organized a show of work by 43 makers that ran from October 2019 through January 2020 at Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood.
With Rebecca Yaffe, Laura is also mother to a daughter, Thea, who was born in 2012. “She’s amazing,” Laura says. “Very strong-headed. Smart. She’s emotionally more intelligent than I am, for sure!” Laura and Rebecca met when both were students at the College of the Redwoods and moved to Ireland together. They shared a workshop there when Laura was teaching at Letterfrack and returned to Fort Bragg together, but have since split up. It’s an amicable split; they co-parent, each taking Thea half-time. “Being a parent is like ‘all the things,’ says Laura. “Too hard to explain! It’s great and it’s boring and it’s tedious and it’s wonderful. It’s planning all the time. It helps me; it’s made me more organized.”
You can see more of Laura’s work at her Instagram account.
My grandmother, my father’s mom, died last July 4 at the age of 94. She was so intelligent. She attended Miami University (Ohio) at a time when many women did not, and studied business. Although she worked in accounting-like jobs for a little while, she married a farmer and spent her life working “on the farm’s books” (as she would say) and preparing meals for her family of six and the farmhands. She spent hours in the kitchen. (I often wondered if she longed for more.) They lived in an old farmhouse and my dad remembers as a child their kitchen remodel (the end result was a beautiful early-1960s kitchen, impressive for where they lived). But in the middle of the remodel, the factory where the cabinets were being built caught on fire. My dad remembers my grandpa telling my grandma that the remodel would be delayed for months. My grandma had already spent weeks cooking without a kitchen, washing dishes in the bathtub for her family and farmhands. I can’t imagine the work. My dad said it was one of the few times as a child that he remembers seeing my grandmother cry.
Kitchens are important.
I grew up on acreage, north of Cincinnati, surrounded by an ever-growing suburbia. My friends who lived in subdivisions seemed to all have one of three kitchen layouts, depending on the builder who built their home. I know many people who still live in these houses, and although most have remodeled their kitchens, they still look similar to one another — just updated versions of three basic layouts and styles.
Now I live in Fort Thomas, Ky., filled with houses built between 1890 and the 1950s, with a good amount of newer ones thrown in from tear-downs and folks selling off parts of their lots. I admit to being a bit jealous of some of my Fort Thomas friends’ kitchen remodels — everything is so bright! so clean! — but still, so many seem to be similar to one another. (HGTV’s influence is immense.)
If I had to guess, the kitchen of our 1910 home was remodeled in the late 1990s/early 2000s. I have never known what to do with it, but I have delighted in small discoveries (like finally figuring out what the little painted-over door is on the outside wall of our pantry — ice delivery!). A kitchen from a big-box store would just be an updated version of what we have now (and what we have now doesn’t feel right in the space). I’ve always assumed a custom kitchen would be completely out of our price range. Turns out, I’ve never really, truly, thought about it.
After finishing my copy edit of Nancy Hiller’s new book, I now understand the aptness of its title, “Kitchen Think.” Nancy’s book teaches you how to think about kitchens in a way I never have. Nancy explains how to create a beautiful, functional space from a large-picture perspective while also addressing the smaller details few books on kitchens do. Concerns we have that are now answered: Uneven ceilings, walls and floors, and how to scribe to fit. Dealing with a kitchen that has very little wall space (three of our four walls are taken up by a wide opening to the dining room, a pantry door, a back door and two large windows). Much-better storage ideas (that don’t cost a fortune, they’re just common sense) that are different from most box-store kitchens I’ve seen. And on, and on, and on.
And then there are the case studies, filled with pictures of kitchens that excite me in a way that would make child-me cringe (but as a 41-year-old mother who is spending a lot of time at home these days due to the pandemic cooking* and cleaning for her family of five, a beautiful, functional kitchen excites me greatly). *I use the word “cooking” lightly here as my husband is the much-better and more-frequent cook.
This book is wide-ranging in its audience, gorgeous and refreshing. I was 1-1/2 days later than promised turning my copy edits in, mostly because I kept stopping to read sections out loud to my husband who at one point finally asked me to stop. “You don’t have to sell me on it,” he said. “I know I will like it.”
A toothed iron planing stop is my primary form of workholding on the benchtop. When embedded in a 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” x 12” block of wood that moves up and down, I can plane up most faces and edges of boards without a vise.
The teeth are central to the function of the planing stop. You want it to bite into the end grain of your boards, and usually I smack each board from behind to sink the teeth into the wood. The teeth prevent twisted boards from rocking on the benchtop, allowing you to plane out the wind. Also, when planing wide boards on edge on the benchtop, the teeth prevent the board from tipping over.
I love the teeth.
Whenever I show photos of my stops, I hear cries of “you’ll cut yourself.” Maybe I will cut myself someday, but I haven’t yet. If I do, I’ll bandage my anatomy and get back to work. And I’ll keep the stop.
It’s no more dangerous than having a sharp chisel or awl on the benchtop.
“Oh but you’re pushing your hands toward the sharp object,” I hear. “That’s insane!”
You mean like pushing your work into a spinning sawblade or cutterhead?
Bottom line: You have to be aware of your surroundings when you use sharp tools. There are lots of ways to hold your work – vises, dogs, gravity, buttocks and even the metal planing stop, which Jennie Alexander derided as the “toothy critter.”
If you are unsure about the teeth, another option is to make the movable block but omit the toothy critter. This works fine (I worked this way for a couple years). But I think the teeth are an upgrade.
This particular stop is on my new workbench for the forthcoming “The Anarchist’s Workbench” book. It is made by blacksmith Tom Latane, a talented smith and woodworker in Pepin, Wisc. Tom and I have worked together before. Back in the early 2000s he made some laminated old-school chisels for me, like the ones shown in Moxon.
I first saw this planing stop on Derek Olson’s workbench and it made me insane with envy (you win this round, Derek). It is the prettiest planing stop I’ve ever seen. It works great and is easy to install. Tom even barbs the shaft of the planing stop so it bites hard into its hole.
If you are thinking of building a new workbench, I highly recommend Tom’s work.
The title of this post reminds me of my magazine-cover writing days. From the higher-ups: “Use numbers!” “Use exclamation points!” “Use the word ‘free!'” If only it were in neon yellow. But it gets the point across, which is simply this: We’ve added four new excerpts to some of our more-recent titles.
In the excerpt for “Making Things Work: Tales from a Cabinetmaker’s Life (Second Edition” by Nancy Hiller, you’ll find the Table of Contents and Chapter 1: The English Years, which includes “Living the Dream,” “The Accidental Cabinetmaker, I,” and “The Accidental Cabinetmaker, II: On the Brink.” I tried to paraphrase these selections but it’s Nancy and you can’t paraphrase Nancy. It’s 27 pages of intimate, funny, intelligent writing, perfect to read with this morning’s coffee.
The excerpt of Robert Wearing’s “The Solution at Hand” includes the Contents, Editor’s Note, Introduction and Chapter 1: Holding Devices. Try out Robert Wearing’s Planing Grip System or Bench Holdfast or Sticking Board. Read about them, build them –– everything you need to do is included (in fact, Chapter 1 includes 34 detailed illustrations).
We’ve also included an excerpt of “Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown” by Christopher Williams. In addition to the Table of Contents, Preface by Nick Gibbs, Editor’s Note and Chapter 2: Introduction to Wales, we also included three columns from Chapter 5: John Brown, in his Own Words, so that you can get a feel for both Christopher’s words, and John’s. Plus you get to see several of Molly Brown’s gorgeous linocut illustrations.
And finally, we created an excerpt of “Honest Labour: The Charles H. Hayward Years, 1936-1966.” It includes the Table of Contents, From the Publisher and “Charles Hayward Looks Back to the Seamy Side,” a three-part interview series with Charles Hayward, written by Antony Talbot, then editor of Working Wood, in Spring 1980. The excerpt also includes nine columns from 1962, which is one of my favorite chapters (it’s a perk that comes with being the one who makes the excerpts).
This is the fifth printing of the book, which means there are about 15,000 copies in circulation. By publishing standards, that’s a sad failure. But for me, I couldn’t be happier.
As a young writer, I aspired to work for a major metropolitan newspaper with 500,000 people reading my stuff every day. Then, as a working journalist, I grew tired of documenting the failures and successes of others. I wanted to be the one to fail. And here I am, failing every dang day and somehow still eating (thanks for the cookies this week, Megan).
These books in the “anarchist” series – the tool chest book, the design book and the forthcoming workbench book – are as much about making furniture as they are about making a life outside the normal corporate structure.
And as a bonus, the stuff I write doesn’t end up lining the Birdcages of America. Right? It doesn’t, does it?
While writing “The Anarchist’s Workbench,” I unearthed a lot of new historical images, and I reviewed images that had been bugging me for years.
One of the buggers is shown here.
Dr. Johann Georg Krünitz’s “Ökonomische Encyklopädie” (or “Economic Encyclopedia,” a 242-volume work published between 1773-1858) illustrated three interesting workbenches in a 1781 volume – about the time of A.J. Roubo. But obviously with more schnitzel and less brie.
The Krünitz bench shown here has everything. A planing stop and crochet (which are on the right end of the benchtop, suggesting this image was copied from an earlier source). A removable twin-screw vise. A holdfast with a doe’s foot. Plus two tool racks.
But what has kept me bewildered for months now is the structure on the left side of the bench. It looks like a drawer without a bottom. It is figure F, but I don’t have the original key to the illustration.
I can’t recall ever seeing anything like this on another historical workbench. If you have any thoughts (other than “bacon drying rack”), let me know in the comments.
We are putting the finishing touches on Nancy Hiller’s “Kitchen Think” book this week. It should go to press late this week or early next. We just have to make some copy editing changes from Kara Gebhart Uhl and tweak a drawing.
We will open up pre-publication orders soon. The book will be hardbound, 8.5” x 11”, printed on coated, matte paper and 368 pages long. Full color throughout. And thanks to our long-time relationship with our printing plant in Tennessee, we can sell this book for $38 (that’s about $6 less than I thought it would be).
The content is, of course, great. And we’ll be writing more about it soon. The book is a great mix of practical how-to, hard-won lessons on kitchen design and lots of inspiring examples from Nancy and a few other woodworkers.
If you ordered a linocut print made by Molly Brown for “Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown,” I have good news. Molly has made all the prints, and they are on their way to the United States now. As soon as they land here, we’ll ship them out. Thanks for your patience. And Molly deserves a gold star. She finished these prints at the height of her pregnancy and while taking care of a newborn.
Katherine’s last batch of soft wax sold out so quickly that she was inspired to make another batch. They are available in her store now.