Errata: Staked Low Stool in ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’


While building the Staked Low Stool this weekend during a class, I discovered a significant keystroke error in my text. I also noticed an inconsistency between the cutting list and the text.

So yesterday I rebuilt the stool to confirm there weren’t other errors (there weren’t).

Here are the two known errors:

  1. On page 92, the correct resultant angle for the stool is 21°, not 11°.
  2. On page 99, the correct size of the legs is 1-1/2” x 1-1/2”, not 1-3/4” x 1-3/4”.

We will include an errata sheet inside every copy of the expanded “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” That sheet will also include a url for downloading a corrected chapter. The chapter will be updated electronically for customers who purchased the pdf.

Posted in Corrections, The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized

Technical Updates to Our PDFs

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This week we pushed out updates to almost all of our books that are available via pdf. So…

No. 1: Please don’t worry, the emails aren’t a scam. They are indeed from us.

No. 2: What changed? This is a technical update – we didn’t change the editorial content. Instead, we added Bookmarks and interior navigation links to make the pdfs easier to use. When you open the pdf, you can click on the icon that looks like a bookmark on the left side of the screen and you’ll see all the chapters listed there. Click on a bookmark and you’ll jump to that point in the text.

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We also added interior links from each book’s Table of Contents. Go to the Table of Contents in any of the new pdfs. Click on the chapter you want to read. You will go there.

We also added the image of the book’s cover to the pdf (if it was missing). This is a cosmetic change.

No. 3: Why did you do this? To make the pdfs easier to use for you and us.

No. 4: I bet you added DRM or other sneaky stuff to watch me in the shower. No, we did not. We just made the pdfs easier to use. We also reset the counter for your downloads. So if you had reached your limit, it’s now reset to zero.

No. 5: What if I didn’t get an email for a pdf I own? Chances are that the notice was sent to an email you aren’t using now. You can log into your account at our store and you’ll see all your downloads that are available. If that doesn’t work, you can send a note to

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

The Inspiring Conclusion of ‘Welsh Stick Chairs’


Editor’s note: It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment that John Brown became a personal hero. Was it when I first saw his chairs? When I read his early columns for Good Woodworking? Or was it when I read his book “Welsh Stick Chairs?”

During the weekend, Toronto carpenter Marc Stonestreet mentioned how inspired he was by the conclusion to “Welsh Stick Chairs.” He even insisted that his wife read it. Of course, I went back and read it again as a result. I’ll never forget the line about asparagus.

If you have ever wondered if John Brown’s writings are for you, this short chapter is likely the answer.

— Christopher Schwarz


WSC_1000_cover_IMG_6705We are approaching the de-Industrial Revolution, or New Age. Empires disintegrate. Nations re-emerge. We must look back and see how it was done before, not to copy, but to learn. Some of us hope that Wales will again become a Nation. We must look at our history, and each of us in our way pluck something from it and revive it. How did my forefathers go about their life? What equipment did they possess? What was the spirit of the making? I have no doubt the word ecology was as strange to them as it was to me a few years ago (what is the Welsh for ecology?). They preserved their environment because they didn’t have the monster tools to wreck it. No flails for them, they laid their hedges. Now I have the knowledge they didn’t have and I try to preserve my environment. Science is destructive, it has wrecked the land, but only those old fundamentals, agriculture and handicrafts, can restore it.

We have come full circle. Good quality goods can be made as cheaply by hand as in a factory. The ‘March of Time’ has overtaken the tycoons. The costs of production, rent, rates, wages, holiday pay, maternity pay, insurances, and above all capital plant, have soared. The craftsman with small workshop, some good tools and a woodstove can compete. The industrialist’s answer is to make nastier and cheaper goods, with less labour and more automation. People are beginning to despair about the rubbish; they want better and are willing to pay for better.

We are entering the age of the craftsman, where skills will be what matters. An age when the man who can grow asparagus will be more important than the man who can spell asparagus.

You may think that this is a long way from the Welsh stick chair, but I have plenty of time to think about things. I live in a beautiful place, I work at some­ thing I love, I make enough money to live, and my demands on the world’s resources are very meagre. What is so unusual about this idyllic circumstance is that there is plenty of room for more to join.

— John Brown, “Welsh Stick Chairs

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Back in Stock: ‘The Solution at Hand’ and ‘With the Grain’


Quick note: We have replenished our inventory of Robert Wearing’s “The Solution at Hand” and Christian Becksvoort’s “With the Grain.” Both are now available in our online store and will soon be available again through our retailers.

WTG_case1_IMG_5583“The Solution at Hand” hand was our sleeper hit of 2019. We love Wearing’s writing, but we weren’t sure how people would react to a book comprised entirely of his jigs for handwork (you sold the sucker out in record time). And “With the Grain” is now in its fifth printing with us. That book has been a huge hit with people who are interested in getting into woodworking and want to learn about trees and how they work.

In other news: Our fingers are crossed that “The Anarchist’s Design Book” will ship from the printer this week. There’s still time to get a free pdf of the book if you order it before this new edition ships out.

After the book ships, it will cost $12.25 more to purchase both the hardbound book and the pdf. Long-time customers know that this is the only discount we offer on our books.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Can You Explain Why a Board Twists?


Today I was working on the layout for “Honest Labour” and had to revisit the 1936 volume of The Woodworker magazines. I stumbled on this delightful and ingenious way to explain and demonstrate how wood twists as it dries. Read the original text below and check out the illustration.

— Christopher Schwarz 

Every woodworker knows that a certain shrinkage in wood is inevitable, and most know (to their cost) that a board will sometimes twist. Probably the majority connect the two phenomena, and say that a board twists because it shrinks. But this is only a half truth. It is true that the twisting would not take place if the wood did not shrink, but it is quite possible for a board to shrink without twisting. In fact, every well-seasoned board does so. Shrinkage has to be accepted as inevitable, and the fact that a board has remained flat goes to prove that the shrinkage can take place without twisting.

To revert to our subject, however, assuming that a board has twisted, that is become hollow, who can explain why this has taken place? An excellent practical demonstration of what happens is shown in the accompanying photographs. First a piece of paper about 6″ wide and 2′ long is folded up across its width in a series of folds, rather like a fan. The whole thing is then opened out at one side so that a circle is formed (like a double fan) as in Fig. 1, and the joining edges are glued together.

Across the face of this a series of lines is drawn with a brush and black ink. The lines at A are meant to represent the cuts that would be made in a log to produce plain (flatsawn) oak. That at B is a solid square of timber, whilst the C boards represent figured boards (quartersawn) cut radially from the centre.

Now shrinkage takes place around the annual rings, and it is obvious that if a log were never converted it would have to split, because the shrinkage would mean that the length of its circumference was becoming less. In the demonstration it is assumed that the splits have taken place at the two sides, and consequently two cuts are made at these two points. The spring of the folded paper will cause the whole to assume the shape shown in Fig. 2, and this is precisely the shape a split log would assume.

The originally straight lines of the conversion of the plain (flatsawn) boards A are now all curved, the square at B has shrunk badly at one side, whereas the figured (quartersawn) boards, C, remain straight. Thus we can see why plain oak is so much more liable to twist than figured oak, and why the boards always twist with their edges away from the heart. Thus in a twisted board it is always safe to say that the rounded side is the heart side. Furthermore, by an examination of the end grain is is always possible to say which is the heart side, and which way it is liable to twist if at all.

Posted in Honest Labour, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Coming Soon: ‘Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown’


After more than four years of work, we are completing work on our latest book called “Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown” by Christopher Williams. It will be available for pre-publication ordering next week.

The book’s title of “Good Work” was an expression John Brown used to describe a noble act or thing. He once mused he wanted to create a “Good Work” seal that could be applied to truly beautiful and handmade goods – like the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval.

“Good Work” is the kind of woodworking book I live for. It’s not about offering you plans, jigs or techniques per se. Its aim instead is to challenge the way you look at woodworking through the lens of one of its most important 20th century figures. And though this appears to be a book on chairmaking, it’s much more. Anyone who is interested in handwork, vernacular furniture, workshop philosophy or iconoclastic characters will enjoy “Good Work.”


Photo by John Harries

Author Chris Williams spent about a decade with John Brown in Wales, building Welsh chairs and pushing this vernacular form further and further. This book recounts their work together, from the first day that Chris nervously called John Brown until the day his mentor died in 2008.

Alongside that fascinating story of loyalty, hard work and eventual grief, “Good Work” offers essays from the people directly involved in John Brown’s life as a chairmaker. Nick Gibbs, his editor from Good Woodworking magazine; Anne Sears, John Brown’s second wife; David Sears, his nephew; and Matty Sears, one of his sons who is now a toolmaker, all offer their views of John Brown and his work.

“Good Work” also allows John Brown (sometimes called JB) to speak for himself. We purchased the rights to reprint 20 of the man’s best columns from Good Woodworking, the ones that inspired devotion, provoked anger or caused people to change their lives.

Chris then proceeds to show you how he and JB built chairs during the later years together. These methods are different than what John Brown showed in his book “Welsh Stick Chairs.” And Chris goes into detail that hasn’t been published before. Chris covers the particular tools that JB preferred and gives you more than enough information to build a beautiful Welsh stick chair. But, just to be clear, there are no dimensioned plans included in this book.

To honor his mentor’s wishes, Chris instead shows you how to build a chair the way John Brown showed him to build a chair. Yes, there are dimensions. Techniques are clearly and cleverly explained. But there are some things left for you to work out – things that will make your chair your own – not just a copy.


The 208-page full-color book is also filled with historical photographs (many never published before) and beautiful linocut illustrations by Molly Brown, one of JB’s daughters. The book is printed on heavy coated paper with a matte finish to make it easy to read. The book’s pages are sewn, glued and taped – then covered in heavy boards and cotton cloth – to create a book that will last for generations. And the whole package is wrapped in a durable tear-resistant laminated dust jacket, which features linocut illustrations by Molly Brown. The entire book is produced and printed in the United States.

Next week we will open pre-publication ordering. Those who place an order before the book is printed will receive a free pdf download of the book at checkout.

We expect the book to retail for about $47 – we are still doing some math because this was an expensive, years-long projects with lots of participants. It should be available in late March.

On a personal note, this book checks off one of the “to do” items on my long list of life goals. I, Chris and everyone involved in the book have poured our hearts into the effort. And I think it will show.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. As always, we don’t know which of our retailers will carry “Good Work.” That is their decision. We hope that all of them will.

Posted in John Brown Book, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Back In Stock: Chore Coats and ‘Roubo on Furniture’


We’ve restocked on our Cincinnati-made chore coats. As of this moment, we have plenty of every size except Large. We’re working with our stitcher, Sew Valley, to restock the Large size and build up inventory on all of our sizes.

This is the best time of year for the chore coat. I just emptied the pockets of sawdust from mine and went to dinner with Lucy at Ripple down the street from us.

We also have received a new shipment of “With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture.” This title was only briefly out of stock.

Other news: Both the expanded edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and “The Solution at Hand” are projected to ship the week of Jan. 21. Apologies for all the out-of-stock books. Last year was our biggest year ever by every measure. We’re having to increase our press runs in many cases and keep a closer watch on inventory.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments