Chris Bagby

Chris Bagby, Owner & CEO A 1973 graduate of Georgia Tech, Chris co-founded Highland Woodworking in 1978 with Sharon Bagby. He originally provided custom millwork services before focusing mainly on marketing. His other interests include photography, tennis, snowboarding and thru-hiking backcountry trails, including the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. He's also a registered yoga teacher, and his oldest yoga student is 93 years old!

Feb 062017

Wood Works Sign
If you are within driving distance of Athens, Georgia, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this delightful woodworking exhibition that is open Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM thru Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville, GA.

CLICK HERE to see a photo gallery from the exhibition

Highland Woodworking is honored to be the presenting sponsor of Wood Works, a first-year exhibition that showcases a wide spectrum of woodworking with over 100 pieces by 35 southeastern artist craftsmen. Retired University of Georgia professor Abraham Tesser is the event’s curator.

CLICK HERE for additional info on the exhibition

A Statement from the Exhibit’s Curator, Abraham Tesser
Wood is a medium that has been appreciated by mankind since the discovery of fire and the first use of tools. We still use wood to make fires and tools, but along the way we have come to appreciate this medium in many different ways. And that is what the show is about: The appreciation of wood. I have tried to present you with a broad swath of wood objects that I hope will compel your interest and delight.

The Southeast has an abundance of talented artists working in wood. But what they love about the medium varies widely across artists. Many artists are attracted to the beauty in wood that is revealed as lumber is sliced from the tree. Often a slab of wood or a thin slice of veneer reveals a palette of colors or an interesting grain pattern; or, reflecting the irregular growth of the tree, an interesting overall shape. Several pieces in the show feature such beautiful lumber; several showcase the rare beauty of exotic veneers. Even tree branches that we are likely to ignore, discard or casually drop on the fire can be fashioned into beautiful, interesting and functional pieces of furniture. Some artists are concerned with preserving the environment and use reclaimed or salvaged wood. Age, weather and usage often give wood (and us!) a special character that enhances the interest value of pieces constructed from it.

Other artists are attracted to wood because of its properties as a medium. Not only is wood warm and beautiful, it is also relatively light, durable and easy to shape, sculpt or turn. What a wonderful material in which to express one’s own vision. And, those artistic visions in wood go from the functional to the whimsical to the purely esthetic. Artists differ in their favored approach to processing wood. There are turners, sculptors, and joiners. They work in solid wood and wood composites. Their work appeals to your brain and to your eye. And, if a piece has soft curves and is finely finished, it appeals to your hand; it is very difficult to resist running your hand over such a piece. (In this venue I hope that you will resist this urge!)

So this is the show. Pieces of wood that have been skillfully, artistically transformed into the objects before you. Have these objects engaged you, captured your interest, piqued your curiosity or perhaps even delighted you? To the extent that they have, our efforts have been successful.

CLICK HERE to see our other write-up of the event with reviews from local media organizations.

Sep 232014

We attended part of British woodworking teacher Graham Blackburn’s class titled “5 Favorite Hand Tool Appliances.” Graham made a convincing case that hand tools need not be used merely freehand. In fact with some simple preparation he demonstrated using hand tools to cut accurately without even using his eyes.

Some takeaways from the class:
1. Avoid measuring. Instead transfer dimensions directly from the workpieces that are to be fitted together.

2. Avoid cutting freehand. Example: use a one-bevel marking knife to scribe your cut line, then use the vertical wall of the cut line as a “fence” for your saw blade.

3. Take advantage of what your body can do best, e.g. place the workpiece vertically in your vise to make it easier to saw accurately; place 3 fingers on the saw handle so the index finger points in the direction of the cut; in general position yourself and your stance to your ergonomic advantage.

Graham considers the try square to be a woodworking jig, not an actual tool. (To him, a woodworking tool is something that cuts wood.)

His first 3 favorite “hand tool appliances” are the bench hook, shooting board, and winding sticks, all of which he strongly believes a woodworker should build for themselves, since after all, they are made out of wood. When told by someone in the audience that artisan wooden winding sticks were being offered for sale in the show’s marketplace for $95 a pair, he laughed and said “Isn’t America great!”

We moved on to sample another class before he named his final two favorite jigs. He does have a new book out that covers that and much more:
Jigs and Fixtures for the Hand Tool Woodworker

May 292013

Handworks woodworking show
Chris Bagby, owner of Highland Woodworking, flew from Atlanta to Cedar Rapids, Iowa last weekend to attend the first ever Handworks, a woodworking show that was all about hand tools. Below is his description of the event, and here is a link to an interesting photo tour of the Handworks show.

For what seemed like was going to be a fairly small event, the crowd waiting outside the Amana Colony’s “Festhalle” barn was quite large and enthusiastic. And here we were out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, on a Memorial Day weekend.

The crowd’s enthusiasm was a testament to the revival of interest in hand tool woodworking. (As Roy Underhill likes to call it, “Woodworking beyond the Norm.”)

The event was organized by the owners of Benchcrafted, a specialty manufacturer of fine workbench vises. Jameel Abraham is the technical wizard of the operation, and his brother Father John Abraham leads the business end of the enterprise.

The event’s venue was a very large old barn. Large as barns go, but not all that large by woodworking show standards. The crowd quickly filled the aisles between 3 rows of vendors and it became a challenge just to turn sideways. Demonstrations were underway at every exhibitor stand. The Lie-Nielsen Toolworks exhibit occupied all the space on an elevated stage on one end of the barn. Lee Valley and Veritas anchored the other end of the barn.

Between were a couple dozen exhibits staffed mostly by, well, woodworkers who had turned their interest to tool making. Also on hand was the Lost Art Press, who unveiled their newest book title, By Hand and Eye, written by Geo. R. Walker and Jim Tolpin.

For 2 days I made the rounds, getting reacquainted with several vendors with whom Highland Woodworking has been doing business over the years, as well as meeting quite a few new people whom I’d not met before. Among them were a number of Highland customers who all seemed to have pleasant stories to tell about shopping with us online or otherwise over the years. And there were several vendors whose wares I am very interested in and hope to add to our product line soon.

It was my first time to chat for a while with Robin Lee, President of Lee Valley Tools of Canada. I have always had a fondness for this company. They started in 1978, the same year that Sharon and I founded Highland Hardware. I especially admire Rob’s father Leonard Lee, whom I consider to be a modern-day Renaissance Man. Leonard pretty much retired from Lee Valley years ago, but at age 87 is still going strong with various activities. (Oops, Leonard just called to tell me that he is, ahem, 74, not 87. I am happy to stand corrected!)

I also enjoyed meeting Joel Moskowitz, owner of Tools for Working Wood in New York, another competitor of ours. Joel manufactures the Gramercy line of woodworking tools. Although I tried, I was not able to talk him into selling me a hundred of his unique bench holdfasts for us to sell.

H. O. Studley tool chest

On Saturday morning a standing-room-only crowd watched and listened as Chris Schwarz and Don Williams presented an excellent slideshow about the extraordinary tool chest of Henry O. Studley, an organ and piano maker who lived from 1838-1925. Both the chest itself and the array of tools it contains are spellbinding. The chest is made of mahogany, rosewood, walnut, ebony, and mother of pearl. Tools and chest together are reckoned to be worth “in the low 7 figures.” Lost Art Press will be publishing a book about the chest in the near future. By the way we sell a poster depicting the tool chest at the Highland Woodworking website.

It’s not known whether Handworks will become an annual event. Someone said they plan to repeat every two years, which seems to me like a good plan. I’m not sure the old barn will hold all the attendance that’s likely to show up in 2015 though. This was truly a unique event, far more down-to-earth than any other woodworking show I’ve ever attended.

— Chris Bagby

May 152013

35yearsON A BRIGHT SPRING MORNING in the spring of 1978, Chris and Sharon Bagby opened the doors at Highland Hardware for the first time. Now 35 years later, they’re still in business operating the store that grew to become Highland Woodworking as we know it today. It’s been a long journey that could not have been accomplished without the support of countless thousands of loyal customers, many of whom have shopped here almost from the beginning.

Throughout these 35 years there have been many exciting additions and changes, but one thing has always remained the same and is our mission to deliver fine tools to your door.

Here is a timeline history of some milestone events that have happened over the past 35 years!

May 15th, 1978: Owners Chris and Sharon Bagby open Highland Hardware at 1034 North Highland Ave (across the street from its current location), an ordinary hardware store in Midtown Atlanta.

1980: The company begins to offer a weekend seminar program in their basement, bringing in woodworking masters like Tage Frid, Sam Maloof, and Roy Underhill.

1984: The store moves to a larger retail space across the street at 1045 North Highland Ave (and its current home today). The seminar program  moves to a warehouse located behind.

1992: Our product-oriented newsletter, Wood News, merges with our woodworking tool catalog, and comes out 2-3 times per year as a physical publication. Our catalog is still published to this day, which you can subscribe to receive by mail HERE.

1995: The building is renovated to add 8,000 square feet to the store, which includes a brand new seminar/classroom space, a larger shipping/receiving area including a loading dock, a larger back office space, and additional floor space for retail sales.

1996: Highland Hardware launches into the World Wide Web at

2005: Wood News begins as a monthly email newsletter with tools, tips, and monthly features highlighting woodworkers from around the world. Subscribe to Wood News HERE.

2006: Highland Hardware becomes Highland Woodworking. Still under the same ownership and still offering the same great service, we wanted to present a truer reflection of the nature of our tool offering and our position in the woodworking industry.

2013 (Present Day): Chris and Sharon are still involved in the everyday operation of our store and with a highly knowledgeable staff we are continuing to deliver fine, quality tools to your door.

As always, with passing years comes even more additions and  technology. We invite you to continue checking out all of our new and exciting offerings by continuing to follow our Blog, like us on Facebook, tweet us at Twitter, hang out with us on Google+, or pin your favorite tips and tools on Pinterest.

From the entire Highland Woodworking family, we thank you for your continued support!


Chris Bagby, Owner


Feb 042012


Saturday, Feb. 4 is the final day of Highland’s Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at our store in midtown Atlanta. Here are some photos taken on Friday of the exquisite hand tools being demonstrated that you can try out for yourself today. Come on in. ADMISSION IS FREE!

Exquisite Brese hand planes

Exquisite Brese hand planes

Brese bench planes

Brese bench planes

Lie-NIelsen bench planes

Lie-NIelsen bench planes

Lie-Nielsen shoulder planes

Lie-Nielsen shoulder planes

Lie-Nielsen planes

Lie-Nielsen specialty planes

Lie-Nielsen block planes

Lie-Nielsen block planes

Lie-Nielsen dovetail and tenon saws

Lie-Nielsen dovetail and tenon saws

Lie-Nielsen card scrapers

Lie-Nielsen card scrapers

Feb 032012


Here are some scenes from our highly educational Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event taken during the day on Friday, Feb. 3. This free event is open till 6 PM Friday and continues on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Ted Dishner from Lie-Nielsen

Ted Dishner from Lie-Nielsen (far right) talking tools

Lie-Nielsen Bench Planes

Lots of exquisite hand planes

Lie-Nielsen tools

and lots more awesome Lie-Nielsen tools

Tim Lovett from Lie-Nielsen Tools

Tim Lovett from Lie-Nielsen Tools making shavings

Chris Black demonstrating new tools

Chris Black demonstrating new tools

Ron Brese of Brese Tools

Ron Brese of Brese Tools showing one of his exquisite planes

Bob Zajicek from Czeck Edge Tools

Bob Zajicek demonstating some of his Czeck Edge Tools

Jan 052012


Several of our Wood News contributors sent us their New Year’s Resolutions. As inspiration (or entertainment) for the rest of us, here are 4 of the ones submitted.

(Feel free to contribute your own Woodworking New Year’s Resolutions under “Comments” below.)




1. Get better at sharpening… Merely slicing paper or shaving hair from my arm is not good enough. I want to sharpen an edge that will split molecules. A plane blade that will go through a drop of water and produce hydrogen and oxygen is my goal.

2. No inventor, I hope to at least be a modifier and create the perfect woodworking apron. I should probably also resolve to fulfill my resolutions, since this was one of my goals last year, too.

3. Either find a convenient and easy way to get glue out of my pants and shirts or be less messy when doing glue-ups. Removing the dried glue is probably a more realistic goal.

4. Re-read all of Alan Noel’s columns… I have to get better at finishing.

5. New Years resolutions should be oriented toward “self improvement.” However I want new tools. I’ll figure out how to reconcile this soon.


1. I have been working slowly on building a replica of a Gibson Les Paul guitar for quite a bit longer than is truly needed. I resolve to have it in playing shape by the end of March 2012, at the latest. (EEEK!!)

2. My workshop is a double-car garage, but it’s still large enough to complete decent sized projects. The problem is it was originally more a storage garage. Recently I’ve installed a shed and added some flooring in my attic, to aid in increasing floor space in my shop. I will completely re-organize my shop space, and tools, so I can more easily do my woodworking. (I might even find space for a full-sized workbench.)

3. I have four projects I drew up on paper in the first quarter of 2011. An entertainment center, a cool lamp, a router table and some book cases. I made a small bit of progress on one of the four, but really should have finished all four of the projects. I will have all finished before our 2012 Lie-Nielsen Event season begins in August. (Since our 2011 season ends in May, I’ll at least have a couple of months, even if I’m sluggish starting in the early part of 2012.)

4. Lastly, and of course not least, I will continue to work on both my written and spoken words to hopefully better share woodworking thoughts in my articles and at our Lie-Nielsen events. I suppose this resolution will only be measurable by those who either read my articles or attend our events, so I’ll be looking to all of you for input at the end of next year.


1. I will find some good classes to go to. Highland offers a wonderful range of woodworking classes with the added advantage (for me) of no air travel, and no hotel bills since I can come back to my own house every night. In addition, I plan to look into the John Campbell Folk School just over the Georgia line in North Carolina. They offer a wonderful range of classes from a weekend to a full week on a wide variety of subjects from kaleidoscopes to quilting to calligraphy. I kinda like the fly rod stuff. Room and board are included in their fees and you stay in a dorm on site and eat family style in the dining room. To be fair, for lunch Highland points you to the saloon next door where you can eat family style with your class and quite often the instructor too.

2. I will clean the filters in my dust collectors. I looked up at the ambient air cleaner in the ceiling of the shop the other day and it must have a pound of dust in it. The filter is two inches thick and it costs upwards of thirty bucks when you buy a new one. Sure would hate to ruin it.

3. I am moving out all the plywood and pegboard that I have in the shop. I do not like plywood and I do not like things made with plywood. I had some plywood imported from Russia one time and it smelled like a wet dog whenever you cut it. Pegboard is a project killer for me. I am going to stick with real wood and concentrate on “fine” woodworking (whatever that is).

4. I will finish my sculptured rocker, the one on display at Highland. I want to rock in that bad boy and I want the right side to match the left side when I finish it.

5. I want to turn a hollow vessel. It is one of the many gaps in my turning skill set and I just think it is something I need to do well before I can rightfully call myself a woodturner.

6. Add the skew to that. Still working on that boy.

7. I plan on cleaning the shop very well at least one time this year. I will get down on my hands and knees with the shop vac and clean every square foot of the floor. I also think it may be time to throw away all those cut-offs I have been saving for heaven knows what. They tend to build up over the years, especially since I really hate to throw wood away.

8. Clamps are all over the floor. I have no good place to store them and it would be a real joy to have them in one place easily and quickly accessible to a project. I may do a cart or I may try to clean off a wall somewhere and build a wall rack.

9. My son laughs at me all the time for the roll top desk which has been about 85% finished for the last 15 years. Perhaps this is the year. Course he claims it is such a tradition seeing it there unfinished, he would really miss it if it got finished and moved up to the house. Oh yeah, there is a tilt back rolling desk chair which is only partially refinished. And the new mahogany writing table. Oh, and the oak barrister’s bookcase. The second cherry Shaker candle stand. The walnut school house clock. Plus about twenty bowls. Better be a long year.

10. I’m going to fix the work table behind the table saw. Right now, it is about four inches higher than the table saw, so if I want to use it as support when I push a board through the saw, it is too tall. (Really helpful if I ever have another piece of plywood in the shop.) Plus right now it has all those bowls and the clock on top of it in the way. I plan to clean it off, level it up and then mark the legs for cutting to the saw height. Same way you level a chair.

11. And last, I want to learn to make my own custom moldings. I find the subject fascinating, both for the detail involved, the lack of noise and dust, and the universality of the methods used. It appears that virtually any molding can be made entirely by hand and with a few of the right tools, it is achievable by most of we amateurs. Go look at “Big Pink” (don’t ask) on the blog Course he sells the tools also.

12. Oh yes, I want to learn the bass guitar. I find myself picking out the bass line in any song and in another life if I could choose, I would like to be able to sing bass in a Southern Gospel Quartet. Here’s what I mean: Whenever I find myself playing a little air guitar, it is always the bass line. I’ll never be able to sing it, maybe I can learn to play it.


1. Make a shop stool. I find that I am always moving my shop stool from one end of my shop to the other. This a minor inconvenience, however, it tends to break the rhythm of my work to stop and retrieve the stool.

2. Attend the annual AAW turning symposium in San Jose, CA and South West Association of Woodturners symposium in Waco, TX. I have found that national and regional symposia tend to be very inspirational. They offer a fantastic opportunity to learn from experienced turners. It is also a great way to meet and talk with turners from all over the world.

3. Successfully complete the management of the Central Texas Woodturners Association’s gallery exhibit at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The Austin airport is well known for its support of local business, restaurants, musicians and artists. I am very excited about this opportunity to display some of the works from central Texas wood turners. The exhibit is scheduled for the Spring of 2012.

4. Take a blacksmith class in hopes of better understanding how metals are worked into tools.