The Other Roubo Bookstand


No doubt many of you are familiar with the famous one-piece bookstand from plate 331 of Roubo’s “With All Precision Possible” popularized by Roy Underhill. This past week, we decided to build a nice bookstand for the shop copy of the incredible deluxe edition of the Roubo text on furniture, and while looking at the same illustration found a second bookstand on the same plate that seemed a more fitting design for the hefty tome.

Using some mystery wood that I picked up at the final closing of Midwest Woodworking (I believe it’s a rosewood, or possibly Pao Ferro) I built a slightly redesigned version of the bookstand illustrated in the Roubo text. I’ll be making a measured drawing for the blog in the next few days for those who might be interested in making their own but I wanted to share a short video Chris and I shot that shows off the details of the piece.

Stay tuned for more details on building one of these bookstands – it can be easily scaled to any size of book and I think it’s a rather poetic build for those of you who might have one of the deluxe editions already (or maybe a good reason to buy a copy!). There’s some fun chisel work, careful joinery and simple shaping, which all lend themselves to make a bibliophilic piece of kit. I had a blast making it, and look forward to building more for my bookworm friends and clients.

Brendan Gaffney

Roubo Bookstand from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.



Posted in Roubo Translation, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Lost Art Press at the Lie-Nielsen Open House


John, the quieter half of Lost Art Press, will represent us at the Lie-Nielsen Open House this weekend in Warren, Maine. Look for the Lost Art Press flag – it’s dark blue with a white compass on it. You’ll find John nearby.

Please do stop by and say hello. Though John is the less visible half of this company, it wouldn’t exist without him. He’s the guy who makes sure you receive your books and – with the help of Meghan Bates – fixes problems when shipping goes awry. He’s also the guy who makes sure everyone gets paid, from vendors to authors.

Without John’s backbone, I’d probably still be working at a magazine somewhere.

Also, several Lost Art Press authors will be demonstrating at the Lie-Nielsen event:

  • Peter Follansbee of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree”
  • Joshua Klein of “Hands Employed Aright”
  • Matt Bickford of “Mouldings in Practice”

The event is definitely one of the highlights of the year (unless you are a lobster).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Designing an Armbow


One of the parts of my next armchair that I’ve struggled with is the shape of the armbow. On my most recent chair, I used a maple arm that was cold-bend hardwood. It’s a sleek look, but I decided that it was too complex for “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”

So I decided to go back to the first stick chairs I built in 2003 and use a three-piece armbow. This form of arm is chunkier, but you don’t need to bend anything, and it can be really strong if you orient the grain so it follows the curve of the arm.

The armbow is 7/8” thick and 2” wide for the most part. Then it swells to 2-3/8” at the hands. Well, swells isn’t the right word. I began expanding the radius of the outside of the arm along the front 4”. How did I do this? French curves.


Then I used a second french curve to make the front edge of the armbow.

This was not all one flash of inspiration. This was four iterations. Draw it on paper. Cut it out in 5mm underlayment plywood. Stare at it until I hate it. Repeat.

I kept doing this until I didn’t hate it.

Then I cut out the arms in some air-dried locust (thanks Brendan!).

Tomorrow it’s back to working on the seat.

— Christopher Schwarz


Posted in The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Open Day This Saturday (July 14)


The Lost Art Press storefront will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this coming Saturday. While Megan Fitzpatrick will be gorging herself on lobster and Downeast Cider, Brendan Gaffney and I will be working dutifully in the shop.

Brendan is finishing up a massive bookstand that will hold our Deluxe “Roubo on Furniture” book – we’ll be posting a video this week on the book and the bookstand, which is from a plan in Roubo. (No, it’s not the one that Roy Underhill has made famous.)

I’ll be building a chair (duh) that I hope will make it into the expanded edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”

We’ll have blemished books for sale (cash only), plus our complete line of new and unblemished books (all major credit cards accepted). Come check out our newest titles: “Welsh Stick Chairs,” “Cut & Dried” and “Slojd in Wood.”

We also have our new Lost Art Press bandanas in stock at the storefront. These are quite nice.

If you are looking for other reasons to visit Covington and Cincinnati, may we recommend:

Looking for a place to eat? Get Saturday brunch at Main Street Tavern, Coppin’s or Otto’s and then walk to our storefront.

As always, we are there to answer questions about woodworking, demonstrate woodworking techniques and drink coffee. Hope to see you there.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Trestle Tables in Ohio Coming Up


Trestle tables seem to always find a use.

2018 has been a busy year so far. Teaching (and the traveling that goes with it), plus trying to work a regular job has kept me in almost constant motion.

My next stop is in Bellbrook, Ohio, at Little Miami Handworks July 18-22. We will be building a knockdown trestle table that I came up with a few years back. There are still a few openings for this class. If you are free that week come join us! Dwight Bartlett, headmaster of the school, has has put together one heck of a facility.

little miami

— Will Myers

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

‘Hands Employed Aright’ Indeed

I’ve read Joshua Klein’s new book “Hands Employed Aright” at least five times to complete the index and also for pleasure. It is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.

To say that Jonathan Fisher, the subject of the book, was an industrious man is an understatement. He was at various and overlapping times: artist, author, builder (of house, barn, workshop), clockmaker, cooper, furniture maker, hat maker, linguist, lock maker, pipe (of the drainage type) maker, surveyor, toolmaker and turner. Oh, I know there are several more I left out. He did all this as the husband of Dolly, the father of nine children and the Congregationalist minister for his frontier community of Blue Hill, Maine. Fisher was also, as were many men of his time, a prolific diarist.

The primary materials available to Joshua included a huge volume of diary entries, Fisher’s house, letters, publications, artwork, furniture and tools held in several collections  in Maine. Such an abundance of primary materials, although welcome, can be daunting for a researcher. What to cull and what to keep? What patterns emerge? Details that might be fascinating or endearing to the researcher may not advance the themes intended for the final manuscript.

For five years Joshua Klein dove in and swam with Fisher. He read the letters and the diaries, studied the furniture, tools and other items (some of which remain to be identified). He consulted with Don Williams and other experts. He tried to absorb how Fisher combined the strength of his mind and faith with his oftentimes weak body, yet skillful hands, to produce such a prodigious output.

Along the way Joshua was able to solve a few puzzles. Using old photographs taken prior to the destruction of the Fisher barn he figured out that some of the bits and pieces were one of Fisher’s lathes. And in his shop-based research – a chapter worth the price of admission – Joshua demystifies the odd mouse-shaped totes on many of Fisher’s planes. He explores working on a low workbench and learned several new approaches to his own woodworking.

You do not have to be a woodworker to enjoy this book. It is also a social and economic history of life on the American frontier. It is a continuation of the story that began with James Rosier’s account of the European discovery of Maine in 1605 (when Maine was part of the then vast colony of Virginia). The illustrations of Fisher’s artwork and designs and photographers of his home and furniture are plentiful and stellar.

Joshua Klein’s abilities as a researcher shine in this book. He has distilled a tremendous amount of information and observation into a cogent history of the life and talents of the fascinating Jonathan Fisher. Joshua also acknowledges the research is not over and very generously ends his book with a detailed catalog of all of Fisher’s furniture (including pieces attributed to him) and tools for potential use by others.

Joshua used a quote by Jonathan Fisher as the title for his book. I think “Hands Employed Aright” is an apt description of Joshua’s work, too.

Suzanne Ellison

The images used in the collage: top row is a portion of ‘A morning view of Blue Hill’ by Fisher, Farnsworth Art Museum. 2nd row (left & middle) coopering plans, Fisher’s diary, both from the Jonathan Fisher Memorial; clock face, Farnsworth Art Museum. 3rd row (middle) detail from Fisher’s 1825 self portrait, Blue Hill Congregational Church; back saw, desk and bookcase, slat-back chair and fore plane are from the Farnsworth Art Museum. 4th row (middle) chest for tool storage and wooden screw, Farnsworth Art Museum; painting of the barn and workshop (top left), woodblock print and shaving horse (right) all by Fisher in the collection of the Jonathan Fisher Memorial; the yellow house (bottom left) is the Fisher home. Bottom row is the top of Fisher’s low workbench, Jonathan Fisher Memorial.


Posted in Hands Employed Aright | 2 Comments

Stick Chairs of the World, Unite!


I’ve long been obsessed with Welsh stick chairs. But if you’ve known me for more than 5 minutes, you know I’m going to prod the historical record to see what else might be lurking in the dim corners of early homes.

Stick chairs can be found in many cultures. In fact, every culture that researcher Suzanne Ellison and I start investigating has some variant of this chair.

This is no surprise. A stick chair is a logical answer to the question: How do you build a chair quickly with few tools and few materials?


For this blog entry, I pulled some of the photos we’ve collected from Western Europe. What I love about these examples is how the same idea is interpreted slightly differently. Some of these are – to my eye – sublime (even if they are intended for night soil).

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Design Book, Welsh Stick Chairs by John Brown | 6 Comments