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Thread: Neander Interview: Chris Schwarz

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX

    Neander Interview: Chris Schwarz

    1. Name (and nick names):

    Christopher Schwarz. AKA, The Schwarz -- thanks to Wood Talk Online.

    2. Age/DOB:

    43, born 1968

    3. Location (present and previous):

    Fort Mitchell, Ky. I was born in St. Louis and have lived in Texas, Kansas, New York, Arkansas, Illinois, South Carolina and Ohio.

    4. Tell us about your family:

    My wife, Lucy, is also a writer for a business newspaper. I have two children: Maddy (age 15) and Katy (age 10). Maddy is interested in boys and Katy is interested in woodworking. We'll see how that goes.

    My wife is also a cat rancher. We have four cats, but if I were dead, she'd probably have 6. Or 123.

    5. How do you earn a living, woodworking or other, any interesting previous occupations:

    I am now the editor of Lost Art Press LLC, a company we founded in 2007 to publish and sell books on hand-tool woodworking. I was an editor for Popular Woodworking between 1996 and 2011. I stepped down as editor on June 2011 to focus full-time on Lost Art Press.

    Before popular Woodworking, I ran a newspaper I founded with a partner named "The Kentucky Gazette." I've also worked as a magazine editor for "State Government News," an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, and a newspaper reported at "The Greenville News" in South Carolina.

    6. Equipment overview (hand tools and other):

    While I focus my energies on handwork, I have some good and simple machines. A Delta Unisaw and band saw. A Powermatic jointer and mortiser. A Grizzly drill press and planer.

    I have a good assortment of hand tools, though I sold of many of my excess tools to improve my shop. Some of my machines and hand tools are newish. Some are vintage.

    7. Describe your shop:

    It's a 15' x 25' walkout at the rear of our house. Thanks to my recent efforts it features a large north-facing window above my workbench, white oak floors, wainscoting and finished walls.

    I have fluorescent lighting, which I hate.

    My shop is my favorite room in the house and spend as much time there as I can get away with. Because most of the shop is below grade it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

    8. Tell us about the hand planes you own, and your favorite one(s) to use:

    Wow. That's hard -- like asking me which of my children I love more.

    My core set:
    My bench planes are a Stanley No. 5 and Lie-Nielsens Nos. 4 and 8.
    I have large and small router planes from Lie-Nielsen. Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane. Lie-Nielsen Large Shoulder plane and No. 60-1/2 block plane. D.L. Barrett & Sons plow. A Stanley No. 80.

    Clark & Williams (now Old Street) moulders -- half set of evens, plus some beaders and complex molders of random origin.

    My favorite plane? My Stanley No. 5 that was engraved with the symbol from the cover of "The Anarchist's Tool Chest."

    9. Your favorite chisels:

    I have Lie-Nielsen bench chisels and Ray Iles mortisers. Both brands are great. My favorite chisel is an old Buck Bros. 1-1/4" socket chisel.

    10. Your favorite handsaw(s):

    My Andrew Lunn dovetail saw is the only tool I never let other people use.

    11. Do you use western tools or Japanese? Why do you prefer the ones you use:

    I am very comfortable using both and think the distinctions between the traditions are mostly meaningless and are marketing noise.

    12. Do you have a woodworking home page:

    13. Do you have any influences in your work? Certain styles or designers you follow/prefer:

    Graham Blackburn and Roy Underhill were my early influences -- there was no one else out there when I was growing up in Arkansas. After I discovered Charles Hayward, it was like someone finally turned on the lights in my head.

    So thank you, Don McConnell, for introducing me to Hayward.

    14. Do you have any ancestors who were woodworkers that served as inspiration:

    My grandfather and uncle were hard-core hobby woodworkers. I grew up around their shops and their work. My father was an amateur carpenter, home designer and furniture-maker.

    When I was a kid, one of my most vivid memories was of him when he was confined to bed for a bad back. While in bed, he built and finished -- finished! -- a table. That is where I get my crazy gene.

    15. What is your favorite neander project, or part of a project, you have ever done and why:

    The three projects from "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker." All done by hand from start to finish.

    While I was building these projects my daughter Katy helped me. It was then I realized that she might also have the blood of a builder. Cross your fingers for me.

    16. Do you believe there is any spiritual dimension to woodworking with hand tools:

    This might offend. If so, I'm sorry. Woodworking is my religion. It is the only time I find true peace and harmony. It is the only thing that unites my head, hands and heart.

    17. How much of your work is done by hand tools. Do you use whatever is best
    for the job or do you use hand tools even when they are less efficient:

    For the most part, I use machines to process the rough stock. Then I do most of the joinery by hand -- except mortises. I hate doing mortises by hand unless I have to because they are angled or compound.

    18. What is your single most favorite tool, and why:

    My Lie-Nielsen 60-1/2 block plane. It is beyond perfection. Easy to use. And has survived an immense amount of abuse. The paint is wearing off. The iron is getting short. It bears the marks of my hands and my work. And it is still good for another couple generations.

    19. If you were a hand tool what would you be and why:

    A jointer plane. I like truth.

    20. We have to know, what’s your favorite ice cream:

    Mint chocolate chip from Graeter's ice cream in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Chris Schwarz
    York, Arkansas, Illinois, South Carolina and Ohio.
    Last edited by Zahid Naqvi; 06-27-2011 at 2:45 AM.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX
    I am sure a lot of folks will enjoy reading this. I see that Chris still retains some of his humor post separation from PWW.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    Any time I see Chris Schwarz referred to as "The Schwarz" I can't help but think of the movie Spaceballs and the classic line "May the Schwarz be with you..." Good stuff - nice inteview!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Blog Entries
    "Ludicrous Speed!" Great read Zahid. Thanks.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

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