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Authenti-CITY awards: Covington’s Lost Art Press a mecca for those who study old-school woodworking

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of five stories naming winners of the 2022 Authenti-CITY awards given by the City of Covington to mark National Economic Development Week.

Publisher Chris Schwarz and editor Megan Fitzpatrick at Lost Art Press. (Photo from City of Covington)

Mention “Lost Art Press” to any old-school woodworker around the world and don’t be surprised when they genuflect.

When it comes to hand tools, joinery techniques, philosophical meanderings about wood, and soul-enriching ways to build a workbench or “stick” chair, the folks at Lost Art evoke the religious fervor and following of the pope, Buddha, or the Daila Lama.

“Fitz” poses with some of the Covington publisher’s titles behind her. Handles of the self-designed Crucible lump hammers can be seen at left. (Photo from City of Covington)

Publisher Chris Schwarz has written 14 books. He teaches around the world. He designs tools. And he preaches and philosophizes – not in a “I know more than you” tone but in a “here’s something cool to think about” way.

And editor Megan Fitzpatrick – aka “Fitz” – is known as the “Queen of Dovetails” for her deft touch and precision with those tiny-toothed saws. She has decades of experience, in writing, editing, teaching and sawing. When she announces a new class, sometimes it takes about 25 seconds for the spots to fill up.

Why is Lost Art Press – located in an off-the-beaten-path building at West 9th and Willard – considered a mecca that puts Covington on the map for the hand-tool woodworking crowd?

• It publishes sewn-binding, hardback woodworking books – the kind it’s a privilege to hold in your hand, with over 50 titles at last count – to book-sellers as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. (It also returns half the profits to the authors and occasionally has book signings on site.)

• It’s where Schwarz designs his own line of Crucible tools (such as a lump hammer, iron holdfasts, and bevel monkey).

• It’s the site of periodic woodworking classes (build a Dutch tool chest, a dovetailed shaker tray, or an American Welsch stick chair).

• It’s a busy woodworking shop (you can stand on the sidewalk and watch the shavings fly and mortise and tenons fit snugly) where employees build prototypes, test out plans, and build custom furniture on spec.

• Its staff publishes a blog with more than 5,000 entries dating to 2007. (Headlines range from “Drying Faults in Lumber” to “Tips on Tenon Cutters” to “Gluebeard” to “Frequently Asked Questions About American Anarchism” – the last post a tribute to Schwarz’s trilogy that includes “The Anarchist’s Workbench.”)

• It’s a library of sorts, with one wall of an internal room filled with shelves that contain – essentially – the history of woodworking dating back to the 17th Century.

• It sells apparel and gifts, including videos; a bandana, ball cap, hoodie, and chore coat; and an Edwin Skull Chair poster, c. 1865. The website is the best place to order.

• And parked outside is an authentic Japanese mini-truck, used to pick up lumber.

Finally, we love how – when those international visitors come calling – Schwarz and Fitz send them out to Covington at large to eat, drink, and shop.

Schwarz accepts the Authenti-CITY Award on Monday from Mayor Joe Meyer at Covington Yard. (Photo from City of Covington)

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The first-annual Authenti-CITY awards were unveiled by Covington’s fun and irreverent Economic Development team in 2021 to celebrate National Economic Development Week in an off-the-wall way.

There were no rules and no criteria – just staffers getting together after hours (maybe over a few drinks, maybe not) and debating fiercely about what businesses, places, events, people and organizations most “kept it real” in The Cov. The fervor had to do with this: Narrowing down the massive list (because, you know, Covington is such a cool place).

City of Covington

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