It was a wonderful weekend (March 18-20) of woodworking talk, seminars, and personal perspective by Christopher Schwarz, Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. If your Guild or some other type of organization has an opportunity, invite Schwarz — you and your colleagues will be treated to a wonderful woodworking time!
On Friday night (March 18) Schwarz talked about growing up in Arkansas; and working on the family farm to build a house using hand tools. Despite his early experiences with hand tools on the farm outside Hackett, Arkansas, Chris remains an avid student and advocate of traditional hand tool techniques. His two-hour talk set the stage for the rest of the weekend; I had read bits and pieces of his early years, but had never heard him tell his story in person. It is both fascinating, and captivating. I truly hope all my readers will get a chance to hear Schwarz tell his story.
The schedule for Saturday (March 19) and Sunday (March 20) was as follows:
- Hand Plane Essentials
- Sawing Essentials
- Dovetail Joinery
- Workbenches and Tool Chests
It would be impossible to cover the sessions in this space. I will limit my comments to a brief summary and my personal impressions.
In Hand Plane Essentials Schwarz told us we need only nine (9) hand planes. Nine. Of course, this does not include the moulding planes, which are a different story. He explained how joinery, bench, and moulding planes work. By the end of this session I decided that I truly, really, truly need a very basic set of moulding planes. As a result, I am searching…
The Sawing Essential session showed us how to use a saw to dimension stock, for final sizing of casework pieces, and fine cutting for precision joinery. We got to see first-hand the proper stance, the grip, and the body motions that will help us develop our skills quickly.
In the Dovetail Joinery session Schwarz discussed how to approach the dovetail joint, and the different ways to cut the joint depending on the project. He covered through dovetails, and half-blind dovetails, and the saws, chisels, mallets, and the marking and layout tools that help complete the joint.
In the session on Workbenches and Tool Chests I got a peek at the historical record of workbenches Schwarz has been sharing with his readers over the last several years; it included several plates I had never seen at the many sessions I have attended at various conferences. This is a fascinating topic, and still generates hot discussion on the woodworking forums. In the session on tool chests, he showed us photos of the wonderful Anarchist’s Tool Chest he will unveil in the near future; he designed it to hold his basic tool set – the forty tools “…required to build just about anything…” So, stand by, and wait for further details on this chest. You will love it!
Now some photos, courtesy of the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild.
Rob Young spent most of the weekend manning the video camera that projected the details of Schwarz at the workbench — the images were projected on huge screens throughout the Guild floor (Note: all photos courtesy Kansas City Woodworkers Guild). In the following photo you see Rob in a familiar position at work, while Schwarz uses a coping saw to remove some waste from a dovetail joint part:
In this next photo are Kevin Thomas and Schwarz. Kevin is the current President of the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild:
Kara Paris is the Training Director of the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild — she spent the entire weekend ensuring all attendees had signed in, and coordinating event happenings with other volunteer Guild members:
I feel lucky to have participated in this 2+ day event organized by the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild. All I can say to Kevin Thomas and the Guild is “THANK YOU!” for the opportunity to attend. The session content was terrific and, in my opinion, the time allotted to each session was just right as an introduction to the topic. I cannot help but think that the interest of other attendees was piqued sufficiently that many will follow through with several of the techniques so aptly demonstrated by Christopher Schwarz. The entire weekend was one I will remember for a long time. I, for one, am searching for a better crosscut saw, and for moulding planes.
I look forward to your Comments on this type of session. If you prefer, click on my signature below, if you wish to send me a message via my new Contact Page: