black finial

My family & I took a quick trip to visit friends in Maine. No class, no workshop, lecture, etc.  Just plain fun. Scattered about the self-proclaimed “house of chairs”  is a great mis-mash of ladderback chairs. When I began woodworking in 1978, I started with this book.

MACFAT cover

 

It showed how to make a “shaved” chair. Same format as a turned chair, but no turnings.

Here’s a turned Shaker chair -

shaker rocker

 

 

Many years later, I learned some about furniture history & found references to “plain matted chairs” and “turned matted chairs” – matted referring to the woven seats. (See American Furniture, 2008 for an article on shaved chairs – “Early American Shaved Post and Rung Chairs” by Alexander, Follansbee & Trent. )

Here’s a nice $15 version, from French Canada. Through mortises all over, rungs & slats. Probably birch. Posts rectangular, not square. Did they shrink that way, or were they rectangles to begin with? 

 

 

sq post 1b

sq post 1a

 

Rear posts shaved, not bent. 

 

sq popst side

sq post rear

 

Tool marks, sawing off the through tenon, hatchet marks from hewing the post. 

 

sq post tool marks

 

Small wooden pins secure the rungs in the post. Did not see wedges in the through tenons. Tool kit for a chair like this is pretty small, riving & hewing tools – drawkinfe, maybe a shaving horse? – tools for boring a couple of sizes of holes. what else? A knife? a chisel for the slat mortises…

 

sq posat thru t

 

Here’s an armchair – also shaved.  Big. the curved rear posts angle outwards. the arms meet the arris of this post…one front post has a nice sweep to it. I forget if the other does…

sq post armchair

It was a tight spot that had enough light…so I had to tilt to get the whole chair in this shot. 

sq post armchair overall

The side seat rungs and the arms both have this bowed shape…

sq post armchair overall rear above

Although the arms have been moved down in the rear stiles. 

sq post armchair mortise in rear

I couldn’t get high enough to really capture the shape of the rear stile… I’d guess these stiles are bent this time, not shaved. 

sq post armchair rear stile

The front stile, swept outwards. 

 

 

sq post armchair front post

 

You should see the cheese press. A masterwork of mortise-and-tenon joinery.  Next time I’ll empty it and shoot the whole thing. 

cheese press detail

 

cheese press detail 2

 

half a pair

half a pair

I have two joint stools to finish to go along with a table and joined form I am making. For the seven-foot long table top I opted for quartersawn white oak. So I made the tops of the stools and form from the same material. Yesterday I planed the board for the stool tops. I kept it at double-length to make handling it easier while I planed it flat and dressed the thickness. I decided to keep it that way while I ran the molding too.

 I trimmed it to width, then dressed both faces and trued up the edges. I then crosscut both ends and marked out the middle where I eventually would crosscut it in two.

 I marked out the 7/8” wide thumbnail molding spacing with a marking gauge along both long edges. Then I followed the steps I outlined in the joint stool book for making the molding; a rabbet plane (in this case, a filester) to begin to define the depth, then bevelling off the shape with smooth plane/jointer. I fiddled a little with a hollow plane like what Matt Bickford does; I had the rabbet, then I chamfered that, then ran the hollow a bit. It was just a bit shy of the right size, and was not perfectly fettled. So it served to further rough out the shape, but I still did the final definition with the smooth plane.

filester plane

filester filetster plane

hollow plane

hollow plane

 

shaping molding

shaping molding

I ran this molding along both edges, then did the two outside ends. Here, I marked the width with a knife and square, rather than a gauge. Then cut it apart and finished each seat with one more molding. Usually I do the end-grain moldings first, but in this case it was worth reversing that order.

quartersawn stock

quartersawn stock

The wood is amazing quality; clear, wide and perfectly quartersawn. Air dried. The next best thing to riven. I then finished shaping the seats, and bored one & fit it on the stool. Just like in the book…. http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

boring & pegging

boring & pegging

 Now, fresh on the success of “Riven Cedrela” I have the phrase “half-a-pair of joint stools” ringing in my head like “four-and-twenty blackbirds…” so stay tuned. It could be my first nursery rhyme. 

I haven’t written here in a while. It’s a long story, another time perhaps. Meanwhile, I’m knocked out with something just under the flu. One thing on my to-be-done list has been  learning how to convert JPEGs to PDFs, not for woodworking, but for the many books Rose has written.

But I practiced on Felebien first. So as a thank-you to all the blog readers here for their patience while I was busy bungling the latest tool sale, I’m posting the Felebien stuff I have here. The PDF here is the chapter on joiner’s work, from a reprint of the 1699 edition. Felebien’s first edition was 1676, i.e. pre-Moxon.

So while you’re waiting for Chris to finish up on the Roubo volume, now you can reach back to an earlier time in Paris, and see what Moxon was copying some of his stuff from…

plate 30

Felebien PDF

Now, somewhere I have some attempts at translation done for Alexander & I almost 15 years ago. Paula Marcoux (now the Magnificent Leaven http://www.themagnificentleaven.com/The_Magnificent_Leaven/WELCOME.html ) took a whack at it for us… so here is a “warts n’ all” translation. this is done as a Word document, I have had enough, so I’m not converting it to anything. Have fun.

Felibien w edits accepted

I have done some woodworking lately, just no time right now to write about it. some raking light to catch your eye….

carved box

 

I saw this out of the corner of my eye today, and thought, “birds’ eye maple need not apply”

 

birds' eye maple need not apply

I updated the tools, added a few that I ran out of time for the other night…. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/tools-for-sale-january/

 

Ready – 

gbh 2

 

Set…

ready set

 

Go…

goneTools for sale here:  

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/tools-for-sale-january/

 

This note from Craig D touches on just why we used a joint stool as the project in our introduction to 17th-century joinery book…you only need a short section of a log. Many find it daunting to go out & secure a large oak log. But Craig says he used an “urban” white oak that had already been cut to firewood lengths. Here’s his note & stool:

 

Hi Peter – I thoroughly enjoyed the Joint Stool book and used the information to build this stool from an urban white oak that had been cut into long firewood logs. Quite enjoyable and very informative.

Thanks to you and Jennie for writing the book and your blog.

Craig

top pegged

Perfect. Thanks, Craig.

 

BK-MAJSFAT-2T small

If you still need a copy, get it here: http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

 

We could all use a hit of positive news – and I got some from Scott Landis in my inbox this morning. Scott you might remember as the author of the Taunton Press book on Workbenches (yes, there were workbenches before C. Schwarz!) – I met Scott when he, Alexander & I were all students in a class Curtis Buchanan taught on making a bow-back Windsor chair in 1987 at Country Workshops.

Nowadays Scott is the president of Green Wood, an organization that trains (mostly, but not only) young people in places like Honduras and Peru to make sustainable wooden products from rain forests. Curtis Buchanan, Brian Boggs and other craftsmen have made trips down there to begin training folks in these woodcrafts, starting back in 1993.

GW.yearend2012.13daa8a48c65d GW.yearend2012.21fb3776e0eda

 

 

GW.yearend2012.3cfc013

“The photo … shows Curtis at work in El Carbón in the mid-1990s. And the middle photo shows some of the new furniture that is being made today by young artisans whom Curtis and Brian have never met. In fact, GreenWood has not visited this community for at least five years, and we have not conducted a training workshop there in nearly twice that long. These are the fruits of seeds we planted two decades ago in what could best be described as hardpan clay. El Carbón is beset by every manner of hardship—from crushing poverty and natural disaster (Hurricane Mitch) to massive hydroelectric development and the pervasive violence that plagues the whole country. This vulnerable Pech village illustrates the simple but enduring truth that, even under the most challenging conditions, good ideas will eventually take root. If that’s not sustainable development, what is?”

 

Rather than me trying to write about it, just follow the link and see for yourselves. If you are signed up for the newsletters from Green Wood, then you’re onto it. If not, now’s the time to see what these folks are up to. There’s a button where you can donate $$ via paypal. It came at the right time for me. Some of Alexander’s extra tools might make it down there, who knows…

http://www.greenwoodglobal.org/dev/

 

 

 

 

Even before the Joint Stool book came out, and certainly since then, the number one question I get is where can I get a hatchet for joinery? What do I need, etc.

If you can stand some more about hewing hatchets, here goes. Last time I discussed a few ideas about how to use both single-bevel and double-bevel hatchets for joiner’s work. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/new-to-me-hans-karlsson-hatchet/

 

While it’s true you can make either work, the single-bevel hatchet is ideally suited for hewing stock prior to planing it.  Joseph Moxon’s  Mechanick Exercises (1683) wrote:

“its use is to Hew the Irregularities off such pieces of Stuff which maybe sooner Hewn than Sawn. When the Edge is downwards, and the Handle towards you, the right side of its Edge must be Ground to a Bevil…”

Here’s my everyday hewing hatchet.

 

Fuchs hatchet

Fuchs hatchet

I was a bit vague last time about its configuration, and Robin Wood chimed in, helping to clarify some stuff. The back of the hatchet I often have called the “flat back” but it ain’t that at all. So I shot some views illustrating how it’s shaped. Think of it as a very large, very shallow, in-cannel gouge. Here is a straightedge held along cutting edge on the “back” i.e. the side w no bevel:

straightedge on hatchet's "back"

straightedge on hatchet’s “back”

The benefit of this shape is readily apparent when you try to use one that is NOT shaped like this. Then the tool digs into the wood, and here it scoops the chips out. I next put the straightedge perpendicular to the cutting edge, to show relief in that direction as well. Some of this is the shape of the tool, some is exacerbated by honing:

the other way

the other way

I have another hatchet, same maker, JFR Fuchs, Cannstat, Germany, c. early 1930s. This one has a cranked eye, to keep your knuckles safe when hewing. This leans the handle away from the plane of action, without having to make a bent handle. I use this one particularly when hewing wide panels. Here the back of the hatchet is sitting flat on the board, and the handle is lifted off:

the "other" Fuchs hatchet

the “other” Fuchs hatchet

The shape of the back of the head is about the same as the previous.

OTEHR FUCHS W STRAIGHTEDGE

OTHER FUCHS OTHER STRAIGHTEDGE

BUT – you ain’t gonna find one of these hatchets in the wild. I doubt it anyway. Nobody gets rid of them. Mostly. When I recently discussed these tools with Drew Langsner, he said “probably the best hatchets ever made” or words to that effect. A strong & un-provable statement, but it gets the point across that these are mighty fine tools.

One type of hatchet you will find readily in the UK and US is the so-called Kent pattern hatchets. (A hairy-handed gent, who ran amok in Kent…)  This one weighs about 3 1/2 lbs, about the same as the Fuchs…

Kent hatchet

Kent hatchet

Similar shape:

Kent w straightedge

Kent w straightedge

 

KENT W STRAIGHTEDGE

Nice thing about these hatchets – you can find them. They aren’t expensive. They can work. and they are reversible for lefties. Knock the handle out, and put one in from the other end. Often the cutting edge is straight. I prefer a curve to the cutting edge. So do others, I didn’t do the alteration on this one.

Here’s an earlier post about some of the same tools:

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/the-hatchet/

I bought a new hatchet a  few weeks ago….this lightweight model from Hans Karlsson. In the US, Hans’ tools come from Country Workshops, the school where I am sometimes student, sometimes instructor. see www.countryworkshops.org

Hans Karlsson hatchet

Hans Karlsson hatchet

I used it some just to test it out. I bought it as a spoon-and-bowl-carving axe. It’s quite nice for that. Karlsson’s tools are extremely well-made. Drew Langsner tells me it weighs 24 1/2 oz, and is 15″ long overall. Blade length is about 4 1/2″.

A few more shots of it:

blade length & curvature

blade length & curvature

The handle on this one is ash, some are listed in the Country Workshops’ site as birch. Hardwood either way I guess. This one has a tooled surface, along the idea of some of the Wetterlings and Gransfors Bruks axes. It’s not a hand-made handle of course…but not smooth.  Here’s the text Drew wrote about it for the Country Workshops brochure

“The axe (head with handle) was designed by Wille Sundqvist. Overall length is about 14-inches. Bevels are symmetrical and flat; there no need to touch up the inner bevel. The balance is excellent and it has a lively feel during use.”

Note that the bevels on this axe are flat, unlike the Gransfors Bruks axes, which have slightly convex bevels. This axe really is ready to go when you unwrap it.

hatchet eye

hatchet eye

new hatchet from Country Workshops

new hatchet from Country Workshops

The hatchet is listed at $172.25 in the Country Workshops brochure…write to Drew if you need one. It’s a fine tool…

Now – going back to the most-common axe question I get – where does one get a single-bevel hatchet like the one I use in joinery work? Answser – I don’t know. Many tell me GB makes one, but I have only seen their single-bevel axe listed as a heavy, (about 7 lbs.) tool. As far as I know, their hatchets for hewing are double-bevels. Oxhead makes one, I have never tried it. I am dis-inlcined.
BUT – you can hew flat surfaces with a double-bevel axe/hatchet. The single-bevel tool is better, but the double-bevel will work. Here’s a video Chris Schwarz shot of me showing a few options, a large Wetterlings I got from Lie-Nielsen, another older Hans Karlsson, my standard German one, and a modified one by Alexander. (along with plodding old-timey music!)

Here’s Chris’ post about it, with comments. http://blog.lostartpress.com/2012/07/23/peter-follansbee-on-hatchets/

UPDATE – Ha! Shows you what I know. Highland Hardware lists a Gransfors Bruks broad axe, righty & lefty, that weigh 3lbs, cutting edge 7″ – very similar to what my favorite axe is. The GB axe is over $300. So you have to mean it…  here’s the #s from Highland Gransfors Bruks # 4823. Model 1900

In the book Make A Joint Stool from a Tree, Alexander and I included a sampling of period stools illustrated to show some of what we were studying when we embarked on our joinery explorations.

New England Joint stool

(If you’ve just got here & have missed the book, go here http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm )

Readers of the blog know that I try to regularly include period examples, for a couple of reasons. One is the basic premise that the study of period artifacts is essential to learning how to make this stuff. I’ve been very fortunate in having access to many collections for study. Along those lines, I know it’s not practical for everyone to get to see these objects in detail, curators, collectors, etc just don’t have the time and resources available to accommodate everyone who wants to crawl around their furniture. So I try to let you see some of it here.

Some collectors and collections (most maybe) distinguish between American and English furniture – and either focus on one or the other. Me, I like them both. The sheer numbers of surviving English pieces makes it much more interesting than sampling American pieces. In the book we show some New England stools as well as some from old England.

Here’s a photo of two joined forms sent to me last week by Bob Trent who often searches auction listings on line…this one’s from Bonham’s. (to be able to zoom on the photo, go to their website: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20404/lot/288/

joined forms, central stretcher

These are interesting because of their central stretcher, instead of the usual arrangement all around the frame. This central stretcher has never been seen on any known American stools or forms, not even on tables. I like this framing though. It is easier to sit at, I did it for my kitchen table. On the forms from Bonham’s auction, the joiner made the framing simple by planing the side stretchers to the same thickness as the stiles. This means the center stretcher’s shoulder-to-shoulder dimension is the same as that of the long aprons. On my kitchen table I foolishly didn’t do it that way, and had to do a test-fit to get the length of the center stretcher. Learn by mistakes, next form I did this way I equalized the side stretchers and stiles and got on quite well.

kitchen table

So this is another variation on joined stools and forms, After you’ve read the book and made your first stools, then you can do # 2 with a central stretcher. Send your photos of your stools here & I will put them on the blog…

See Chris Schwarz’ blog of a week ago or so to see some other variations on joined stools… 

http://blog.lostartpress.com/2012/11/06/other-kinds-of-joint-stools/

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