Eckert Update

A couple of things jumped out at me from the latest email newsletter from Henry Eckert. (For those who are not familiar, Henry Eckert Fine Tools Australia are the resellers of Lie Nielsen handplanes and the like, and anyone who has been to a woodshow in Australia has either drooled over the collection of planes on offer, or avoided the stand like the plague knowing their wallet would otherwise explode with excitement!)

One is the latest offering from Lost Art Press (and the remarkable Chris Schwarz): Campaign Furniture. As Chris writes:

For almost 200 years, simple and sturdy pieces of campaign furniture were used by people all over the globe, and yet this remarkable furniture style is now almost unknown to most woodworkers and furniture designers.

“Campaign Furniture” seeks to restore this style to its proper place by introducing woodworkers to the simple lines, robust joinery and ingenious hardware that characterize campaign pieces. With more than 400 photos and drawings to explain the foundations of the style, the book provides plans for nine piece of classic campaign furniture, from the classic stackable chests of drawers to folding Roorkee chairs and collapsible bookcases.

In addition to all that, “Campaign Furniture” contains the first English-language translation of A.J.-Roubo’s 18th-century text on campaign pieces, plus original drawings of dozens of pieces of British campaign furniture culled from original copies of the Army & Navy stores catalogs.

Like all Lost Art Press books, “Campaign Furniture” is produced entirely in the United States. The book is in a 6” x 9” format and hardbound. The interior is full color and printed on paper that is heavy and coated with a matte finish for readability. The interior signatures are sewn for long-term durability.


The other is a tool care package with Camellia Oil, Tool Polish, and cloths etc to apply, and containers to store. While Silbergleit (Silver Glide) is great on cast iron tools, I hear Camellia oil is also exceptional, penetrating the surface microfissures to really protect against rust/corrosion.

Like “new car smell”, fresh “cast iron gleam” is both very impressive, and equally fleeting (if not a lot faster!), and although Silbergleit protects and lubricates, it is Camellia oil that places like Carbatec turn to, to keep the shop floor tools in new (and cast-iron fresh) condition.


Grandpa’s Workshop

It has taken some time since I first became aware of this book (through updates during it’s production given by Chris Schwarz on the Lost Art Press blog) for me to finally get around to purchasing a copy.  At last weekend’s Hand Tool event, I asked at the Henry Eckert stand if they had bought “Grandpa’s Workshop” along with the other Lost Art Press books and DVDs they had (and stock).  Unfortunately they hadn’t, but as soon as they got back after the event, it was on its way and sitting at my front door yesterday.

Grandpa's Workshop cover

Grandpa’s Workshop

It is a children’s story, but real-life experiences of the author is apparent in the text as well, the sights, sounds and emotions of being in and around the workshop of a grandfather or similar figure.

Some of the stories told by the Grandfather are pure fantasy, others very much about the stories the tools would tell of their own history, and stories of the history of the boy’s family and ancestors.  As I read the book to my daughter, I hold a hope that one day she will find herself brushing sawdust from her clothes, and remember her father, and grandfather did the same and to continue to pass on a love to being able to physically create through wielding simple tools and working with natural materials.

The illustrations create a very rich experience, obviously meaning a lot more to me than my young charge, but even so, being able to show that I too have tools very similar in shape and function to those depicted in the stories must add a dimension to the stories.  My tools may not have the same history as Pepere’s, but hopefully they will be passed down through the ages so that one day, they too will have many stories to tell.

Wooden Tools

It doesn’t matter when the story was originally written, the language originally used, the country it was set in – the workshop Pepere occupies is as familiar as the one so many of us also occupy, complete with corners of tools no longer required, in a cobweb and dust shroud, and the “couldcomeinhandys”

This may be a children’s story, but it is very much one that so many of us can intimately relate to, and if you are fortunate to have children or grandchildren that you can share this story with, your experience of the book would be so much richer.  But even if not, this children’s story is one we can all read, appreciate and enjoy.

Grandpa & ChildIs it just me, but does the boy look like a young Tintin?


Close Encounters of the Schwarz Kind

Chris Schwarz is down under this month, and although I wasn’t in a position to go on one of the courses on offer, there are a lucky few that are.

There is still the Shaker Wall Cabinet course with a few vacancies if anyone is interested.

220px_Wall_Cabinet_v2.110419-1There is also a Melbourne Hand Tool Event at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking, which will have Chris in attendance.  Unfortunately we don’t know when that is actually on – they forgot to put the dates in their newsletter, and their website hasn’t been updated since 2011!  If I hear a current date, will let you know (check the comments).

Chris is also hosting a seminar at Eley Community Centre on the 28th March, 6-9pm. Not sure if there is a cost involved.


The Schwarz is coming



Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking has managed to drag the Schwarz to our shores in 2013, to run a number of Master Classes.  These include The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, Hammer in Hand and Shaker Wall Cabinet.

The Schwarz

The Schwarz

Each course would be absolutely fascinating, and you’d learn a huge amount about handtools and techniques.  The cost for a 5 day course is $1760 (the first two), and the 2 day Shaker cabinet is $695.  Needless to say, I am SERIOUSLY tempted!

May the Schwarz be with you.

A really interesting perspective on elitism, language use, and the real craftsmen who make the objects of our desire, rather than wax lyrical about them, by Chris Schwarz.


Lost Art Press

At my first newspaper job, I hated the 2 p.m. mail call. That was when Reese Fant would separate all the day’s mail into the black cubbyholes for the reporters. More days than not, I received a postcard.

The postcards were from a retired high-school English teacher, and just about every day she had some withering comment to make about my grammar, word choice, style (or lack of it).

I hated those postcards at first.

I think you know where this story is going, but I think you’re wrong. The natural story arc is for me to recognize the importance of word precision and embrace the subtleties and nuances of the English language and become an evangelist for its proper use.

Truth is, I hated those postcards at first, and within a couple years I came to absolutely loathe them. In fact, I actively rejected my fine Northwestern University-honed journalism…

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H.O. Studley Tool Chest

I was sure I had posted about the Studley tool chest in the past, so sorry if this isn’t new (but a search of the site didn’t turn anything up!)

Henry Studley was a piano maker from the late 1800s (1838-1925), who is still famous today, not so much for his pianos and organs, but for the magnificent tool chest he made that houses over 300 tools in a 40″x20″ case (closed).

Photo from Fine Woodworking Magazine

There is a poster that sell of the Studley case, and I had it on my iPhone as a screen saver for a long time (although the details are a little hard to see!)  What the poster does not reveal is the magnificent details of drawers and hinged sections, sliding shelves within the drawers etc.

Thanks to IS for linking me to a video by the New Yankee Workshop, we can get to see the real detail that a static photo hides.

And for those particularly interested, Lost Art Press (aka Chris Schwarz and co) are coming out with a book in 2013 specifically about the chest.

Anyone prepared to draw the unit in Sketchup?!

The Blogosphere

It may seem strange, even rude, but I rarely read blogs, despite having been involved in writing this one for so long.

There are a couple of reasons for that. One is time. A huge one is time. So what does it mean that I’ve actually been reading a couple recently, and will in all likelihood expand that portfolio as I discover what so many of you out there already know- the amazing richness of the woodworking blogosphere (and the wider blogosphere as a whole)? Do I have more time now?

On the contrary – I am now so short of time, that I am failing to keep up with everything, and that includes writing my own blog. It takes time, every one of the entries on this blog took a decent amount of time to write, to research, to do the work that is being written about, and without having that time to spend, I find I have a few minutes to read the works of others.

The other reason I haven’t gotten into the habit of reading other blogs, is when I started there were only a few out there, if not only two- Marc “The Wood Whisperer”, and Matt’s Basement Workshop. Yeah- this blog as been around that long. I’d given up reading forums- too much irrelevent crap being spouted by people only interested in getting their post counts up, or starting flame wars or whatever. Certainly not enough woodworking was happening.

I read an interesting snippet from a blog this morning “It’s funny how the English words ‘Experiment,’ ‘Experience,’ and ‘Expert’ both have a common root in the Latin, Expertus, which means ‘to Try.’ ”
That little pearl of wisdom comes from James Watriss’ blog, which in turn I discovered from a blog I have recently been following regularly by Christopher Schwarz. The Schwarzenegger of traditional woodworking. “May the Schwarz be with you” as the T Shirt says. The blog being Lost Art Press

Of course the Navy has another opinion of Experts: An ‘ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure. You cannot assume all those who claim to be an expert are, after all, when you ‘Assume’ something, you make an ‘Ass’ out of ‘U’ and ‘Me’. (Ass U Me)

That reminds me of IT helpdesks, who regularly tag incoming jobs as PEBKACs (problem exists between keyboard and chair) and by the spoken descriptor that this person has an ‘eye dee one zero tee’ problem…. Aka they are an I.D.1.0.T. Anyway, I digress.

Another recent article by James is this one on design Design Elements – Make sure they get the joke, again, getting to the bottom of the philosophy of what we do, rather than being about doing what we do.

I did get out to the shed for an hour or so this last week. And managed in that small window of time to shoot a new video. It is pretty bad – I am SO out of practice. And time-poor to do a better job. But I did it anyway in the hopes I can use it to reinvigorate myself to make some more. So that’ll be available in the next few days, along with something I have been working on, on the iPad- a Keynote (aka Apple’s equivalent to PowerPoint on the Mac) presentation detailing the start of a new project I am working on in the shed. So it isn’t all doom and gloom- there is still content for the blog coming. Just not a consistently as I’d like!


No, I still haven’t made a workbench, and it is an issue that is really weighing on me, as I know just how much more functional the workshop could be with one.

I have collected so many different plans and ideas for what I want to do with one, but am missing the key ingredients – the hardware, and materials (and we won’t mention not having time!)  I am still tempted to try to make a workbench while on the Hall Table course over at Ideal Tools!

‘They’ do say to start with the hardware, and build your bench around that – seems reasonable.  I am still rather impressed with the Benchcrafted vices – despite not having a retailer in Oz (yet).  I still need to find a supply of good (but cheap) timber for the bench.  And that runs smack into my lack of knowledge of what timber should be priced at, and what is a good deal etc.  (Hmm, I see another article coming on)


All this has been bought on by a link that Roy gave me (on the links page) to Workbench Design. Lots of really good looking benches. Oh, and getting to play with the portable, contractors Walko Bench from Ideal Tools that is in my workshop at the moment, and how functional having a bench really is.

Professional set 2008

Still need to get this book from Chris Schwarz – Dvd6

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