I just spent a week back at the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts  http://www.heartwoodschool.com/ – after being a student there in 1984, I finally returned to teach a small class in making the carved boxes. What a treat! Run all these years by Will & Michele Beemer – Heartwood is a great place. Woodsy, small-scale, friendly and exciting all at once. They have done a great job with this school – it was such a thrill to be there and see how it has developed. When I was first there, I was as green as the wood; but by now I know my way around woodworking schools, and this one gets very high marks. In many ways, it reminds me of my friends Drew & Louise Langsner’s Country Workshops. Both schools are a husband & wife endeavor, very homey (although Will & Michele commute about a mile to work – one of the nicest commutes I have ever taken), and both have a community of supporters and involved participants. I know I will be back before another 30 years. Hopefully next year. Lots of pictures & captions. I wish I had shot the surrounding Berkshire hills…but was sorta busy. 

 

heartwood 2

Heartwood school building

heartwood

from the framing yard

wood storage

some wood storage

splitting

splitting w wedges

brett hewing

Brett hewing

shop view

inside the shop

planing in shop

planing and

planing

more planing

ed carv ing

carving

carving

carving

v tool

V-tool

student carving scroll

carving in progress

A few things set this box class apart from previous ones – because there were only 4 students, we made larger-sized boxes. More like ordinary period ones; about 20-22″ long, 6″ high, 12″+ front to back. And we made tills. Added some fumbling & headache – but they really add a lot to the finished box. 

till notches

notches for till side and bottom

4 hands till

even with 4 hands, it can fall down during test fit

till parts

till side & bottom in test fit, till lid being prepped

box w bottom & till

assembled box, w till & bottom – next is lid

Heartwood’s lunches are legendary – thanks to Michele’s hard work. 

lunch 1

lunch w will

no wonder Will is so happy

lunch 2

lunch 3

Scattered throughout the shop are mementos from previous classes, and apprenticeship grads – going back quite a ways…

student gifts

student gits 2

And projects from specialty timber-framing classes – here’s an example of how to scribe and cut a post to sit on stone. Look at that fit. Will says “now it’s Art”

scribing

scribing fit

 

we didn’t get to it, but there’s a pizza oven. Need I say more? (the frame is a class-project; fitting square timbers to round, round-t0-round, etc – like a sampler)

pizza oven & shelter

pizza oven

 

I didn’t shoot enough the last day; we had lots to do, fitting the wooden hinges, making lids and so on. I wish I had shot some of the local landscape as well. I always joke about those of us from eastern Massachusetts, and how we never go to western Massachusetts (& vice-versa, mostly) – ask my sister who lives in Springfield. But I was thrilled to be there, and reconnect to Will & Michele. BUT…the very next day when I got home, it was off to a perfect fall day at low tide. 

 

sea

box 2013 finished

 

Before I tell you all about last week’s class out at Heartwood, (a great time. what til you see it) =  I have a bit of stuff to run down about next year’s classes. First off, two new places. Three new places I mean. All begin with vowels. 

Alphabetically, Alaska comes first. I think I won’t drive to this one. Late April, just a  tiny bit early for migration, but there should still be lots of stuff to see. Oh, & we’ll make some boxes, but from boards, not logs. Might do a one-day spoon class there too…

http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/peter-follansbee-is-coming-to-alaska/

Another in the series of classes in places that begin with vowels, England. http://www.newenglishworkshop.co.uk/

Seems I’m there for 2 weeks, teaching the log-to-box version twice. Once in Somerset, once in Warwickshire. WOW. These classes are part of an I-don’t-know-how-many ring circus. Me, Chris Schwarz, Roy Underhill, Jeff Miller, Tom Fidgen – mostly all at the same time. I know Chris & I are on the same schedule – I got lost eventually trying to map it all out. I haven’t been to England since 2005 – can’t wait. Somerset – where they carved stuff like this:

somerset chair detail

Somerset wainscot chair, detail

The last vowel destination for now is also a new one for me, Marc Adams (Indiana) – so the only venue in the lower 48 where we’ll do the carved box from a log in 2015. They’re working on the schedule now, I’m there in late Oct, the 19th-23rd. http://www.marcadams.com/ 

There’ll be more of the usual places; Lie-Nielsen, Roy’s, Bob Van Dyke’s – I hope to be at home some too. And I’m working on more new places too. I’ll post more of it soon so we can get 2015 sorted. As always, thanks to the students who put aside time, money etc to come out to these classes. It makes it possible for me to have fun for a living. 

I did some more work on the box with drawer that I started the other day. First of all, this is as close as I get to having drawings to work from…and shortly after I begin, these are out the window. 

as close as I come

 

Today I had to finish cutting the housings for the till, and then bore the pilot holes for nailing the box together. These nails are the real thing, i.e. handmade nails. Rectangular in cross-section. Thin, wedge-shaped. Makes boring pilot holes tricky. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/for-some-work-cut-nails-dont-cut-it/

the real thing

One of the great things about oak is that it splits so well. One of the drawbacks of oak is that it splits so well. Here, I used a tapered reamer to open up the pilot holes. I wedged it back & forth more than reaming it around & around. Have to be very careful here, it’s easy to break out the wood beyond the holes. 

wedge em open

 

I have sometimes hit on the idea of installing the gimmals/snipebill hinges into the rear board before assembling the box. Makes it easy to get at them, and reduces the chance that you knock the box apart while setting the hinges.  (for more on these hinges, see http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/ )

the real thing pt 2

hinges

I didn’t get a lot further than this – I assembled the rear-to-sides, then temporarily tacked the front board in place so I can measure for the till parts.

http---makeagif.com--media-9-18-2014-76jcPp

Then I cleaned up & went home. Won’t get back to this til the 29th or so. Off to Heartwood School this weekend for next week’s class in box-making. Here’s the test-fit, with some Atlantic White Cedar that will be the till side. 

got this far

 

 

 

trimming scraps

 

I have a collection of bits & pieces of oak that I have carved over the years. One is a panel 7″ x 24″ – I wrote about this design way back when = http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/incised-wgouges-versus-v-tool/

When I started planning for my next spate of joinery projects, it seemed logical to warm up with something simple, a carved box. I’m off next week to teach a class in fact; so the timing was perfect. But then I dug through some oak I have stashed, and found the carved panel above; begging to be a box with a drawer. This is something I’ve never made, and have wanted to build for some time. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/i-had-been-wanting-to-see-this-box-for-years/

box with drawer, Thomas Dennis, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706

 

So right away, I’ve made it more complicated than originally intended. Mine will follow the format of the Thomas Dennis box; but different decorative details. When I briefly studied the the original, I didn’t record all the pertinent details of construction. So I have to make some stuff up – I learned on another project recently that when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make mistakes. 

I gathered up some wood, carved new sides to go with the existing front.  

 

 

carved bits blog

Usually on a box, the carcass is fitted together, then the bottom nailed up to the lower edge of the carcass. In this case, the front is the same height as the side and rear. So I planed a rabbet in the inside face of the front board, for the box bottom to fit into. 

rabbet in front

Can’t have a box with this much pizzaz and not have a till, so I sawed & chiseled trenches for the till. Bored a hole for the till lid. 

till trenches

till bits

The front of the box is only 7″ high, but the sides and rear boards are 11 1/2″ high. On account of the drawer. The sides are glued up from narrower stock; as they were on the original. But the rear board I used a solid piece of 12″ riven oak – from this log http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/i-dont-have-time-for-this/

In this shot, I was fine-tuning the rabbets with a shoulder plane. I was going pretty quickly it seems. 

quickly trim rabbets

 

Then I plowed a groove in the rear board to further capture the bottom. This is one of the conjectural construction pieces – I didn’t handle the original box to see how the box bottom really fits. 

 

plowing

It’s a lot of fun being back at the task of joinery…and photography. 

old & new

When I left Plimoth Plantation in June, I wrote that I would be pursuing other aspects of woodworking beyond 17th-century joined oak furniture. But I also laid out that I wasn’t giving up the oak stuff, just adding to it. Bowls, spoons, baskets, weirdo boxes (coming soon) and more…

test only a test

And I have had the best summer ever, picking away at aspects of woodworking both old and new to me…but now it’s time to bring back to the blog some joined oak furniture, carved all over.

I dug my “real” workbench out of storage, and some tools and borrowed a work-space from my friend Ted Curtin – who thankfully almost never makes joined furniture anymore, (he’s a school teacher now – that’s good, because he’s better than me at oak stuff!)

Today I shuffled some stuff around, and will start in soon on shooting carved boxes, chests and more for an upcoming book on joinery.

Between travels that is…

I greatly appreciate the notes & emails, etc that I get from readers, students and more. It’s nice to hear that my work inspires some folks to go shave wood. Woodworking has saved many a man’s life (woman’s too…) – and I am glad that my work sometimes gives others a nudge. Likewise, when I hear these things, it inspires me to keep posting my stuff here – someone might get something from it. Co-inspiration.

I’m very late as usual with this post. I owe some of you answers; and had promised to show your stuff to the blog readers. Keep ‘em coming, I like to show this stuff you folks are making. That way, someone else might be inspired to have a go at it. How hard can it be?

In absolutely no particular order – here’s a stool-in-progress from Jason Estes of Iowa. Look at his details; nice chamfers; and square “turned” decoration. Great work, Jason.

Jason Estes Iowa

 

Jason had a question about seats = it’s probably too late now (sorry Jason)  – but for next time here goes.

“If two boards are used for a seat, are they fastened to each other in any way, or just to the aprons or stiles?”

Alexander & I did them just butted up against each other in the book, but in period work, usually they are glued edge-to-edge, sometimes with registration pins between them. I have seen chest lids done with splines in grooved edges of mating boards. No tongue & groove in chest lids, table tops, etc –  they are used in chest bottoms, however.

When I make a wainscot chair seat, I usually edge glue two narrow riven boards together. sometimes w 5/16″ pins between them; maybe 2 in the whole seat.

“If I elect to go with a single board of quartersawn oak, it will likely be kiln-dried – does that require any accommodation, or can it go on like a tree-wet board?”

Nope – if it’s well-quartersawn, it should behave perfectly well.

 

Sean Fitzgerald (I think I got that right) of parts unknown made a joined & chamfered dish rack…why didn’t I make one of these? Here’s a case I often talk about – my work is 17th-century reproduction, but you can adapt these construction and decoration ideas in new formats; designs, etc – the mortise & tenon is timeless, as is oak.

sean fitzgerald chamfered dish rack

 

Here’s a bunch from Matthew LeBlanc – we finally met this past July up in Maine. We had corresponded many times, then finally connected. Matt’s made a slew of stuff – great going. For a teacher to have students like these, I’m a lucky person.

Matt stretched out his stool, made it wider side-to-side. Poplar & sawn oak. If you have no green wood, don’t let that stop you!

 

Matthew Leblanc stool_edited-1

 

Matt also made one of Jennie Alexander’s post & rung chairs – or maybe it’s from Drew Langsner’s book. either way, all the same gene pool. Nice chair. Looks like red oak to me.

 

Matthew leblanc JA chair

 

And then he sent along this trestle table w carved stretcher. & these were a while ago – I bet he’s kept on going. Nice work, Matt.

matthew leBlanc table

Here’s Matthew making a pile of shavings while we were at Lie-Nielsen this summer..

This fall I’ll be teaching a class at Heartwood in making one of my carved oak boxes; and this might be the best shot yet at this class. The class size is small, about 6 students. As of right now, we are short of that number – we could use a couple more, so you could sign up and get in on a chance to delve into this subject in greater-than-usual detail. The class is Sept 22-26. The fall is my favorite time of year… 

We’ll be riving, carving and assembling boxes such as this:

carved box 2011

carved box 2011

 

Maybe this is the class to finally fit a till inside their box!

till

till

 

The setting is out of this world – I often get asked “when are you teaching in Massachusetts?” and this is my one-and-only right now. But it’s not eastern-MA with its congestion, noise, strip-mall mentality; this is bucolic western, far-western Massachusetts. It’s at the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts in Washington, Massachusetts. Those of us out in eastern MA have to look Washington up, because  we’ve never heard of it. It’s that nice. It’s all uphill for me, Washington in in the Berkshires, near the highest point of I-90 east of South Dakota. I live on the Jones River, about 15 feet above sea level.

I was a student in a timber-framing class there in 1984 – Will Beemer dug out a photo to prove it. Bottom center, head down, arms up. skinny, scruffy me. 

PF at Heartwood

Here’s more about the school – it’s quite a place.

http://www.heartwoodschool.com/index.html

Here’s the photo tour of the place: 

https://plus.google.com/photos/104180060919131710792/albums/5964402473095440321?banner=pwa

Fall in the Berkshires – I’m bringing my binoculars too. Come join us.

 

 

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