Registration for the Crucible Tool Event Opens Monday


We will open registration for the Crucible Tool launch event at 9 a.m. (EST) Monday (Aug. 22). We can accommodate only 100 attendees at the event because of fire codes, so don’t dally if you want to attend.

We’ll have both of our new tools there for you to examine, use (and buy, if you like). Plus T-shirts and maybe a beer or two. The event will be held at the Lost Art Press storefront, 837 Willard St., Covington, KY 41011. The event will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.

If you can’t make it to the event, we’ll have a booth at the Marketplace at Woodworking in America during the following two days.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Crucible Tool, Uncategorized | 11 Comments




This is an excerpt from “The Essential Woodworker” by Robert Wearing.

Shelves can be fixtures, often helping to strengthen the carcase, or they can be adjustable. The former will be considered first. The simple or stopped housing joint (Fig 293), has no strength, being all end grain glueing, however it does prevent the shelf from warping. The stronger dovetail housing or tapered dovetail housing is not a basic skill. The best method for the beginner is to tenon the shelves into the sides. Through tenons are particularly suited to the coarser grained woods, oak, ash, elm and chestnut, but not to the finer mahoganies and similar woods.

Fig 294 shows a bad example of tenoning. The very wide mortices cut across so many fibres that the component is severely weakened. Unfortunately examples of this are common. The joint at Fig 295 is both constructionally more sound and aesthetically more pleasing. Fig 296 shows the most effective form of this joint, which combines a housing with the tenons. The front corner should be stopped to conceal the joint. At the rear the joint may or may not be stopped, according to preference and the construction chosen.



Fig 297 shows a common variation where the shelf is set back from the carcase front. This also permits a moulding on the shelf edge when the carcase itself is plain. It is essential where a door is fitted inside the carcase or when sliding glass doors are used. The gauging for this is very simply arranged. A block is produced (Fig 298) of a thickness the same as the set-in. This is slipped over the marking gauge. The shelf is gauged with the block and the carcase sides without it.

When tenons are brought through, giving a very strong carcase, they are generally wedged (Fig 299). Fig 300 shows how the wedges are mass produced from a small block, sawn to the tenon thickness. Make the cuts with a fine saw then saw off the entire strip. Making them individually by paring with a chisel is time-wasting and can be dangerous. Note that sawcuts are made for the wedges, which are not driven in at the ends of the mortice in the manner of the joiner. The mortice is opened out slightly to accept the wedges.


There are many methods of supporting adjustable and removable shelves including quite a number of commercial systems. One of the simplest is Fig 301. However this does not prevent the shelf from sliding when in use. This defect is remedied by glueing a small strip to the rear edge of the shelf to t into a gap behind the bearer (Fig 302). In a backless carcase a similar strip is needed at the front (Fig 303). This has the further advantage that thinner material may be used for the shelf while retaining the appearance of thickness. Moulding may be required on this thickened edge.

For better quality work a more sophisticated method is recommended. Fig 304 shows notches cut into the under face of the shelf, to accept turned supporting studs (Fig 305). These are usually 13mm (1/2in.) diameter with a 6mm (1/4in.) peg. Rosewood or a similar exotic wood is generally chosen.



It is worth making a metal drilling strip for adjustable shelves (Fig 306). It will always come in useful again. Carefully mark the top then screw the strip in place. Drill all the holes using an electric drill with a depth stop. Insert two metal or wooden pegs next to the screws to locate the strip, remove the screws and drill the remaining two holes.

There are a number of other shelving variations which the beginner may find of practical value, for example, when displaying china plates on a dresser. For this purpose a groove is worked (Fig 307), which may be anything from 6mm (1/4in.) to 25mm (1in.) in width. Alternatively a small beading can be glued in (Fig 308). Open-backed shelves can be fitted with a lipping to keep books or other items in place (Fig 309). A deep shelf may be fitted with an adjustable stop (Fig 310) in order to keep small books lined up on the front edge.

Meghan Bates

Posted in The Essential Woodworker | 7 Comments

Raney’s Take on Crucible’s Manufacturing


Raney Nelson, the denizen of the Crucible Lab, wrote an article on his blog about the manufacturing side of Crucible Tool and why it took a Haas CNC mill to get us started.

Check it out here.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Crucible Tool, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Second Roman Workbench Begins


While I call this bench a Roman model, perhaps I should call it a Holy Roman Empire workbench. It comes from a 1505 drawing in a Nuremberg codex, which discusses tools, weapons, clever doorways, instruments of torture and a love potion.

The workbench, as drawn in in 1505, is the same Roman form you’ll find in frescoes and stone carvings from the early part of the Roman Empire. The only difference is that this 1505 bench has been equipped with a lot of advanced workholding thanks to Martin Loffelholz, the author of the codex.


I’m trying to replicate the bench as close as I can to the codex’s drawings. The top is a single slab of oak from Will Myers and Lesley Caudle in North Carolina. The legs are massive tapered things that are staked into the underside of the top. The twin-screw vise will be made from wooden components (that I am making). The metal components for the wagon vise are being made by blacksmith Peter Ross. The wooden screw for the wagon vise is from Lake Erie Toolworks.

This week I got a good start on prepping the benchtop and the legs. This red oak is pretty green – I haven’t put a moisture meter on it, but my guess is that the components are somewhere about 30 percent moisture content (MC). Despite this, the top and legs are fairly stable. The slab for the benchtop (4-1/2” x 17” x 84”) was pretty flat so I dressed it on both faces in an hour. The long edges – also rough – took about 45 minutes to dress and true with a jack plane.


The legs are massive 6” x 6” posts, and I got those squared up and cut to rough size this morning before breakfast. I still need to taper them, which I’m going to do with a band saw and a jointer plane.

I hope by the weekend to be boring mortises for the legs and still be hernia-free.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Reclusive Reading – Forum Update 8/15


Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you are ready to face the week. I know my husband and I spent the whole weekend hiding from the world and being as anti-social as possible. It was wonderful. As far as I am concerned, you have to do that every now and then. And what better way to continue my recluse ways this morning than to hide in my office and read the forum? Remember, if you have a question about our products, procedures in our books or anything related to Lost Art Press, the fastest way to get an answer is our forum. Check it out here.

Drawboring vs. Screws for a Simple Shed
Daniel is building a shed but hasn’t decided how to secure the mortise and tenon joints. He had planned to drawbore them but is now considering construction wood screws. What would you do? Would drawboring be overkill?

Making Winding Sticks but the Wood Cupped Along the Length
Scott was making winding sticks out of quartersawn white oak but after cutting they have a bow in them. It is about 1/4” over the 34” length. He wants to know if there is any chance that they will relax back into straight or if it is a deal-breaker for the winding sticks to have a slight bow in them. Help him out here.

Bench in a Day and Other Stuff
After seeing all of the questions about whether wood needed to be dry to build a bench and how families got by “back in the day” before there was time to dry wood properly, Adam decided to build a bench in a day with what he had laying around. Photos (one is at the top of the page) and his description of the project are here.

Cambered Jointer Plane Iron
Jason has been digging into the archives of Popular Woodworking and the idea of using a cambered jointer plane iron caught his attention. He is curious as to how this works and what those who use one think. Have any information that can help him decide if this might be for him?

ADB Bookshelf – But Bigger and with a Lid
Last but not least, the completed build that caught my eye this week was Michael’s take on the ADB bookshelf. (above) He was able to use the feedback he got on the forum last week, so thanks to those who lent a hand. Looks great Michael! There are closer shots of his project here.

Meghan Bates

Posted in Forum | 2 Comments

John Hoffman, the Backbone of Crucible Tool


John at our warehouse in Indianapolis.

While Raney Nelson and I could gin up some pretty good tools and get them made, we’d quickly become overwhelmed by all the other parts of the tool-making business – warehousing, fulfillment, returns, customer service, accounting, taxes, permits, fees and any computer file that ends with a .xls.

If you’ve ever run your own full-time business, then you know that you needs someone who is willing to do the supremely un-sexy parts of running a real business. At Lost Art Press, that has always been John Hoffman, who is my 50-percent partner in the company and – honest – like an older brother to me.

What he does is thankless. When someone receives a poster with a bent corner (curse you, posters), it’s John and his sidekick Meghan Bates, who fix things. When we get an erroneous letter from some taxing authority, John cleans it up. When our warehouse pickers forget how to read, John is the one who knocks heads and keeps their error rate in check.


So when we started Crucible Tool, a huge concern was this: Would John want to do this all again and be the Crucible Tool Donkey? Lucky for me and Raney, John was just as enthusiastic. John rightly pointed out that he had already built a fulfillment, customer service and accounting system that could be copied (almost) verbatim for Crucible. We could use our same warehouse, same shipping backend software, same web interface.

John was in. And that was when Raney and I had simultaneous involuntary colon relaxation episodes.

So when we start shipping holdfasts (and a second tool to be announced soon), you can expect the same high level of shipping fulfillment and service when something goes sideways.

You might get a chance to meet John in the coming year. John has volunteered to hit the road on behalf of Crucible Tool and travel to a fair number of Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events to demonstrate the tools (and sell them).


That will allow Raney and me to focus on designing and making the tools, plus educating customers on our website.

I could just end this entry here, but I’d like to add something personal that will explain why John has always been one of my closest friends during the last 13 or 14 years.

John and I met in person at an Indianapolis woodworking show years ago. And after a series of phone calls, we ended up taking a chair class together in Cobden, Ontario. Before heading out to Cobden we spent a day or two in Ottawa to check out some museums.

Somehow we ended up in some French cafe, drinking coffee, eating croissants and talking about woodworking. I’m sure I was yammering about something when John stood up and helped an elderly woman who was struggling to pull her coat on. Then he pivoted and sat down again like nothing had happened. No big deal.

That was the first indicator (for me) that John was someone who always did the right thing and didn’t make a big fuss about it.

Since that first trip, John and I have traveled all over the United States and Europe together. We’ve built a good publishing company during the last nine years. And we’re now ready to build another company with Crucible.

I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather do this with. And though the backend of any business doesn’t make for interesting blogs on a daily basis, I think it’s important to let you know that that if I’m the mouth of Crucible, Raney is the brain and John is all the bones and guts that ensure we stay in business for many years to come.

– Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Crucible Tool, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

The Softer, Stranger Side of Schwarz


This week I’m the guest on a podcast that is less about woodworking and more about life in general. “A Life Well Designed” is a website, blog and podcast that are aimed at simply making your life better, saner and perhaps more successful.

I was interviewed by the founder of the site, Jonathan Pritchard, who is also a woodworker and a mentalist. While we touched on the topics of craft throughout the hour-long chat, it’s more about the “why” behind what I do, both in the shop and for Lost Art Press.

I’m not used to talking about these things, so I sound like a bit of an dolt. But I do say a cussword by accident, so it’s definitely worth listening to for that. Jonathan teased out a lot of personal information (my father was a Yeti; my mother was an elite duckpin bowler) and I can honestly say that I had a great time chatting about oddball things.

If you’d like to listen in, the direct link to the podcast is here.

There are lots of other cool podcasts at the site that cover a wide range of interesting topics. Check them out here. I have.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites, Uncategorized | 10 Comments