Hand Tool Intensives
with Chris Schwarz

Chris Schwarz is driving force behind the revolution (back) to handtools. Chris's journalism drives him to explore the  the history of hand tools and the best ways to use them. Chris pushes hand tools (and himself) to the limits in search of new techniques.

As editor of  the magazine Popular Woodworking and on his Lost Art Press blog - Chris is great at sharing his knowledge and experience. Here's your chance to learn from Chris in person.

Please read the following carefully:

  • Class decriptions and Tool Lists added 1/4/2011
  • These classes take place in the week leading up to the Wooden Boat Festival. This is Port Townsend's biggest event and there is intense pressure on accommodation. We have negotiated dormitory space at Fort Worden for this class and we'll be opening that up for reservations shortly. You'll be able to book accommodation for these classes and over the Festival weekend. Details soon.

Build a Sawbench

In a traditional woodworking shop, sawing was reserved for the most highly skilled cabinetmakers on the shop floor. Most anyone could use a plane or chisel, but it was the sawyers who transformed the timber into furniture with rips, crosscuts and joinery.
 
And though we now have accurate power equipment in our workshops, sawing by hand is still a tremendous skill that – when done properly – can save time and effort. That’s because handsawing can be done without jigs or guides and without regard to the angle of the cut or its bevel. In short, if you can see the line, you can cut the line with a handsaw.
 
Honing this simple skill allows you to easily cut compound angles, angled joinery and cuts that normally would take hours of jig-building and test-cutting on a table saw. And, as a bonus, learning basic sawing prepares your hand, eye and mind to cut any sort of dovetail joint you can imagine.
 
In my opinion, sawing is one of the most fundamental woodworking skills.
 
In this class, you’ll learn to use handsaws and backsaws to track a line like a bloodhound. With a series of special exercises, you will learn to make the three different classes of sawcuts: rough cutting for dimensioning stock, standard cutting for final sizing of casework pieces and fine cutting for precision joinery.
 
You’ll learn the proper stance, grip and body motions for accurate sawcuts and receive the instant feedback and corrections from an instructor that will make you develop your skills quickly. You will also build a basic sawbench – the most important workshop appliance for handsaws. By the end of the day, you will be able to crosscut and rip accurately with handsaws and backsaws and be ready for dovetail joinery.
 
During our time together we are going to build a sawbench – the single most important appliance needed for sawing with a handsaw and a ripsaw. The project is carefully calculated to teach you the fundamentals of sawing, plus many of the concepts of handwork that are often glossed over in texts, such as the importance of a board's "datum" surface and the relative unimportance of its "face" side.
 
I do encourage you to bring your own tools for this class, as learning on your own tools always trumps learning on someone else's. So without further ado, here are the tools necessary to complete the sawbench. Bring what you can, but don't worry if you don't have everything.
 
Marking and Measuring
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Marking knife
  • Try square or combination square (a 6" model is handiest)
  • Bird cage awl or brad awl
  • Dividers
  • Sliding bevel gauge
  • 1 or 2 cutting gauges (pin-style marking gauges are OK)
Saws
  • Handsaw (filed crosscut 7pt. or 8 pt.)
  • Carcase saw (filed crosscut)
  • Tenon saw (filed rip)
  • Flush-cut saw
  • Bench hook
  • Coping saw
Planes and Chisels
  • Block plane, smooth plane or jointer plane
  • 1/2" chisel
  • 1-1/2" paring chisel
  • Mallet
  • Router plane (such as the Stanley #71)
  • Large shoulder plane (optional)
Boring and Fastening
  • Eggbeater drill or small brace (7" to 8" sweep)
  • Brad points
  • 16 oz. claw hammer
  • Nail set
Miscellaneous
  • 1 large handscrew
  • Cabinet rasp
If you have any questions or concerns, send me an e-mail at chris.schwarz@fwmedia.com.
 
On the day we start class you will receive a complete packet of information including construction drawings, photos of the setups and tricks we will use, plus text that will guide you through the project so you won't become lost – and you'll be able to build a second sawbench with confidence when you return home.
 
Materials:
Our sawbench will be built using a single inexpensive white pine or Doug Fir 2x6 from a home center store. Look for the straightest and clearest board you can. Note that longer lengths will be clearer, so it might be worth a couple extra dollars to buy a 12' 2x6 instead of a 10' board. 

Purchase the driest 2x6 you can find. If the surface of the board feels cool to your touch (even slightly), it's too wet. If it feels heavier than the other boards you are examining, it's either filled with water, sap or both. Best to set it aside. If you prefer we will get some 2x6's in. Please add the Materials Charge to your registration.
 
Class size:             12 
Cost:                      $ 300
Materials Charge:  $25 (Optional)
 

September 5-6, 2011

 


Handplane Essentials: Gleaming Surfaces, Tight Joinery, Crisp Moulding

Unlocking the secrets of the handplane – the symbol of our craft – is one of the most important steps in becoming a well-rounded, red-blooded woodworker. Once you understand the sharpening, the setup and – most importantly – the ergonomics you will be able to master any handplane you pick up.
 
In this three-day class, we are going to take a deep dive into the world of handplanes. We are going to dissect them to discover what makes them tick. We are going to tune every one of their mechanisms until they are better than factory-perfect, and we are going to learn to use them to do things that do not seem possible (like banishing your power sander. Forever).
 
This class is not just about block planes or smoothing planes – those tools are great but they are only once piece of the equation. Instead, we are going to wrap our arms around the whole family of tools: bench planes, block planes, joinery planes and (yes) moulding planes.
 
While this might seem like entirely too much to take off in one bite, I think you will be surprised how learning the grip for one plane (such as the plow) can train you for another (such as the side bead). 
 
Also, we're going to put these new skills to use and build an English layout square. We'll refine the joints and surfaces with planes with your newfound skills.
 
There are about nine essential planes in a well-equipped shop. I encourage you to bring as many as you can. We'll be sharing tools, but it always helps to learn new skills on your own equipment.
 

The Tool List

The Nine Planes:
  • Fore, try, smoother
  • Router (large, like the No. 71)
  • Plow (the Lee Valley is a good choice)
  • Fillister (the Lee Valley skew fillister is a good choice)
  • Shoulder (many good choices here. I prefer the 1-1/4"-wide models) 
  • Block
  • Scraper plane (the No. 80 by Lee Valley or Stanley is my favorite form)
 
Marking and Measuring
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Marking knife
  • Try square or combination square (a 6" model is handiest)
  • Bird cage awl or brad awl
  • Dividers
  • Sliding bevel gauge
  • 1 or 2 cutting gauges (pin-style marking gauges are OK)
Saws
  • Carcase saw or dozuki (filed crosscut)
  • Tenon saw or ryoba
  • Coping saw, jeweler's saw or fine bowsaw
Rasps
  • Cabinet rasp, modeller's rasp, rattail rasp
Chisels
  • Bench chisels
  • Wide paring chisel, such as a 1-1/4"
  • Chisel mallet
Sharpening
  • Your sharpening setup (I prefer waterstones, 1,000, 4,000 and 8,000 grit)
  • Side-clamp honing guide
  • Oil to prevent rust
  • A water bottle to create rust (and wet your stones)
  • A means to flatten your stones (such a DMT duo-sharp -- coarse and x-coarse)
Miscellaneous
  • A small hammer to adjust your planes
  • Screwdrivers to adjust them
  • card scraper
  • brace and bits

Class size:             12
Cost:                      $450
Materials Charge:  TBD

September 7-9, 2011

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