New Stickers Coming Next Week

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We will have three new sticker designs for sale next week. All three will be available through my daughter Madeline’s etsy store. The 100-percent vinyl stickers are $7 per set, and she ships overseas.

The three designs are, as usual, based on random stuff that has been floating through my head while working at the bench.

The first sticker, “Rest for the Weary,” features a silhouette of a Welsh stick chair from St Fagans that I built last year. It’s surrounded in a wreath made from (of course) oak branches. The wreath design is from an 1825 labor celebration held when the Erie Canal opened the connection between the Hudson River with the Great Lakes. (Thanks to Suzo for digging this up.)

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The second sticker, “Wey Make Iney Thin Are Heit Cant B Made,” is the triumphant claim on chairmaker Chester Cornett’s handmade sign at his shop. We made a copy of this sign, which we love, for our shop. This sticker was designed by Brendan Gaffney as a button we give to students and fellow chairmakers.

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The third sticker, “#NeverSponsored,” was inspired by the Jars family in Yakima, Wash. We use the hashtag #neversponsored on our posts that involve discussions of tools. The Jars family took the brilliant step of writing that hashtag on some masking tape and covering the brand names of the tools in their shop.

So we made a sticker to make that easier. We’ll be applying this sticker to some of our tools from companies with annoying social media presences.

My daughter sells these stickers to help make ends meet while working her first job on the Connecticut coast. She has recently discovered the folly of electrical baseboard heaters during a New England winter.

As soon as the stickers are available for purchase, we’ll post a note here on the blog.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Tool Sale on Saturday

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Megan Fitzpatrick is selling off some of her tools this Saturday during our Lost Art Press open day – plus one of my old tool chests that I used before building the “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.”

And I have a bunch of tools and books to sell as well.

During the last five weeks, I’ve been cleaning out the basement of our current house to get ready to move to Covington, Ky., above the storefront. And I have found all sorts of tools I forgot I even owned.

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A lot of it is premium modern stuff that I bought to review while at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Some of the tools are things I haven’t been able to let go of (until now) including a couple high-end plow planes (one from Kyle Barrett and one from Jim Leamy).

Everything will be priced to move – previous customers at our tool sales can attest that prices are more than fair. And if there’s anything left, I’ll offer it up here on the blog.

All sales are cash or check.

The doors open right at 10 a.m. No early birds. Anyone who shows up early will be sent to Bean Haus for coffee.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

‘The Essential Woodworker’ is Back in Stock

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Robert Wearing’s “The Essential Woodworker” is back in stock in the Lost Art Press online store. We went out of stock last year after a surprising rush of sales on the title.

“The Essential Woodworker” was the second book we published, and it is still one of the first books I recommend to people who want to learn to work with hand tools.

While there are lots of good books that show how to buy the tools and set them up, “The Essential Woodworker” is fantastic because it shows you how the whole system works. Using handsaws, planes and chisels in your work is not just swapping things out for your table saw and sander.

The processes and the order of operations are fundamentally different – especially layout. Once you know when to plane, when to cut joints and when to assemble, then handwork becomes much more efficient. The book is a quick read – mostly hand-drawn illustrations – but it will change the way you think about hand work.

If you haven’t checked out this book, it’s just $29 and available now in our store.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Read this great profile of Robert Wearing by Kara Gebhart Uhl.

Posted in The Essential Woodworker, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

The Storefront is Open this Weekend

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The Lost Art Press storefront in Covington, Ky., will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday for all your book-browsing, woodworking-question needs.

We have our entire line of books on display, and they can be purchased with cash, check or credit card. We’re also available to answer questions, demonstrate woodworking techniques and even teach you a skill or two. Kids and pets are always welcome.

We have lots of projects ongoing in the shop. Megan is finishing a tool chest. Brendan will be finishing a five-legged staked chair. And I’m deep in a huge campaign chest commission.

If you need some sweetener to get your family to come along, we have one word for you: brunch.

Saturday Brunch in Covington

LAP_sign_IMG_0823We are surrounded by some of the best brunch places in the city. Here’s a quick list of our favorites.

Ottos’s. Getting in for brunch at Otto’s is tough on Sundays. Not so much on Saturdays. The lemon ricotta pancakes are amazing, as is the breakfast casserole.

Commonwealth Bistro. We recommend the chilaquiles and the red flannel hash.

Main Street Tavern. As we are furniture makers and writers, we love the bargain brunch at Main Street. Really, everything is great. The waffles are fantastic. The hash special is always good. My personal favorite is the biscuit sandwich with fried chicken.

Libby’s Southern Comfort. This place just opened. We tried it for lunch and we cannot wait to try brunch.

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington. Breakfast and brunch at Coppin’s are a real treat for us. I could eat the Benedict with goetta and spinach every day.

Hope to see you Saturday. We are located at 837 Willard St., Covington, Ky., 41011.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

This & That and There Be Cats

Manicules or indexes.

Here are a few images that have been sitting in the “misfits and miscellaneous” drawer of my digital files.

Dog bone lifts are perfectly fine, but why not take a hint from a sailor’s sea chest and liven up the lifts on your tool chest? Fashion the cleat in the form of a lady’s hand, carve symbols on the cleat and add a knotted becket. Quaffing a tot of rum is optional.

Constantin Brancusi.

Constantin Brancusi returned to using wood for his sculptures in the mid-1910s when he was in his mid-to-late thirties. He salvaged huge oak beams from demolition companies in Paris. I happen to like Brancusi, but I sure some woodworkers look at the photo and think “that could have been used for workbenches!”.

‘Bottega di mio padre’ by Bruno da Osimo, 1937, imuseiofficinecreative.it.

Bruno da Osimo paid tribute to his father, a carpenter, with this xylograph of his father’s shop.

Raffaele da Brescia, 1507, Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Siena, Italy.

This detail is from a Choir’s desk and is a masterpiece of marquetry work. An imperious tabby cat is framed by columns lined up like soldiers and an archway that recalls the sun. The artist did not forget the cat’s whiskers, a most important detail.

From ‘The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents’ by Edward Topsel, 1658. From Duke University Libraries on Internet Archive

Topsel (or Topsell) used woodblock illustrations from earlier works by Swiss physician Konrad Gesner. The book repeats many fanciful ideas about cats and other animals, but I think the figure of the cat is spot on. And this phrase, “The tongue of a Cat is very attractive and forcible like a file…” is certainly true.

Photo by Stephani Diani, New York Times, 8 July 2017.

Lynn Ahrens pointed out this folk art cat as one of her favorite things in her New York apartment. The reason: it reminded her of her late cat Alfie. I can sympathize with her as I am currently cat-less. Cat figures are fairly common in folk art collections and they always bring a smile. The head may be too big or the tail inordinately long, but they are all unmistakably cats.

Now for something that is just wrong, wrong, wrong. While researching information on Biedermeier chairs this popped up.

Chair socks.

Do you have a problem with your chairs scratching the floor or making too much noise? Put some chair socks on them! You can choose from five patterns and be matchy-matchy with your cat. Is this a portent of the coming apocalypse?

Suzanne Ellison

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A Fiasco in Waiting

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I just completed this staked armchair this morning and it will go out to a customer tomorrow (I hope).

When I designed this chair for the revised edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” the goal was to make a staked armchair that was decently good-looking but as easy as possible for a new chairmaker to build.

As a result, many of the details of the chair are based on what sort of material is available to every woodworker. For example: The crest rail – sometimes called the “comb” — is cut from 8/4 solid material. I think it looks quite good as-is, but my typical instinct is to make combs from something thicker or to steam-bend them. But 8/4 material is simple to come by. In fact, the entire chair is built from one board of 8/4 oak and seven dowels.

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Yes, the sticks start out as dowels that have been selected for dead-straight grain. Again, dowels are not my first choice when designing a chair, but using them removes a barrier faced by many beginning chairmakers. Beginners might not have access to a shavehorse, lathe with a steadyrest or even rived material. The dowels are scraped and shaved so they have a little entasis, but yeah, they’re dowels.

I’ve now built a bunch of these chairs and have (I hope) made almost all the common mistakes this design presents. So I’m ready to teach classes on how to build it (the first class is in March) and complete the chapter on this chair for “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”

I’m also ready to push this design in a different direction. My sketchbook is clogged with details related to this chair that I have put off as I refined this single form. My next stick chair will be in black walnut and have significant changes to the armbow, doubler, stick arrangement and crest rail. I hope it’s not a complete fiasco. If it is or it’s not, you’ll find out here.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Posted in The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized | 22 Comments

The Carpenter Song

University of Maryland Digital Collections.

This song is dated 1873-1900 and was taught in kindergartens associated with the International Kindergarten Union.

We have the lyrics but not the score. Is anyone familiar with the song? Although the records show the song was taught in the United States the origin may have been Germany (where the kindergarten movement started).

The hands at the top indicate the possibility of hand movements to go along with the progression of the song (as in Itsy-Bitsy Spider or Here’s the Church-Here’s the Steeple-Open the Doors and See All the People).

Any help would be appreciated!

Suzanne Ellison

Posted in Historical Images | 23 Comments