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/

I have a funny job. 8 months out of the year, I answer questions as I work in the shop. You tend to hear some of them over & over again. And again. I’m going to answer some of them here from time to time. Here’s the first one. 

How did I get started in this kind of woodworking, hand tools, green wood?

It’s not a simple answer like “I served an apprenticeship” or anything along those lines. When I was younger, I inherited from my father a tablesaw, drill press, router, jointer, lathe, etc. – all electric. All 1950s & early ‘60s vintage. I tried to learn something of how to use them. Fumbled around a bit, until I saw a 1978 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. In it were two articles that somehow struck me just right. One was an excerpt from Make a Chair from a Tree, by (then) John Alexander. The other was an article by Drew Langsner about cleaving wood from a log. I ordered Alexander’s book and tracked down a copy of Drew’s then-new book Country Woodcraft (Rodale Press, 1978)

Country Woodcraft (1978)

That was the beginning of my real woodworking education. Two years later, I went down to Marshall, N.C. for my first-ever visit to Country Workshops, the school run by Drew and his wife Louise. I was not a stellar student that year by any stretch of the imagination. The wood was not the only “green” thing around, let’s leave it at that.

Readers of this blog know the relationship that eventually came about between Alexander & I – its importance I have already written about. But the same is true of Drew’s impact on my career. I see him as the unsung hero of green woodworking…for over 30 years he’s been teaching class after class and studying & exploring numerous aspects of woodcraft.

Drew Langsner teaching riving

I went back to Drew & Louise’s place many times between about 1985 and and 1994. My first class there was in a barn shared with the animals. I seem to remember Alexander standing on a hay bale to write on a blackboard. Over the years the facility grew and improved through a strong commitment on the Langsners’ part.

Drew’s Country Woodcraft is a neat book, I dug out my copy last week to look it over. Many things in there I never made; I have no use thus far for a Spike-tooth A-harrow, nor a drag. But this might be the first place I saw a spring pole lathe…and I certainly first saw spoon carving in this book.

Wille Sundqvist hewing a bowl at Country Workshops

The Logbuilder’s Handbook chronicles how they built their log house. I have the book, read it cover-to-cover, but never did any hewing of timbers. I aim to tackle some hewing this winter.

A Logbuilder’s Handbook

After my first trip in 1980, I shook a few demons for a couple of years before I returned in 1985 to try my hand at timber framing in oak. There I met Daniel O’Hagan from Pennsylvania, who became a great influence on me as well. From then on, I remember waiting each winter for the Country Workshops newsletter/catalog to come in the mail , so I could see what classes were being offered & start making plans for the summer’s trip to N.C.

log building at Country Workshops

I went again & again. Timber framing a few times, Windsor chairs with Curtis Buchanan, basketry, spoon carving with both Jogge & Wille Sundqvist, coopering with Drew..

coopering students, maybe 1989 or so

cooperage

woodenware, early 1990s

For a while I tried each class they offered just about. Drew went on to write many books and articles, – his Green Woodworking is a great book and the Chairmaker’s Workshop is a very detailed exploration into how Drew makes several styles of chairs that have been the focal point of Country Workshops, starting with Alexander’s first class there in 1979.

I spent the summer of 1988 living and working with Drew & Louise. What an experience. The years kept going by. Making great quality tools available became another focus for Drew and Country Workshops, as they started to import blacksmith-made hatchets, gouges, etc. Similarly, there was a series of woodcraft videos, one on spoons & bowls by Jogge Sundqvist, then Drew’s first woodworking teacher Ruedi Kohler, the Swiss cooper. They did another excellent one about Bengt Lidstrom making hewn bowls in Sweden. All well worth having.

By 1994, I got a job. That was great in some ways, my museum work has been another very exciting chapter in my work, but it also changed my travel inclinations for about 10 years. In that time, my travels were about research, studying oak furniture, lecturing, etc. So no time really for woodworking classes. I kept in touch with Drew & Louise through the mail, then email…always with an eye on what was happening down there.

I finally made it back there when the twins were just toddlers, and have been several times in the past 6 years or so.

the new barn

A couple of years ago, I was a student in Jogge Sundqvist’s class, and wrote about that here: http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/one-of-the-most-exciting-classes-ive-been-to/

 

It’s great to be back, and I am really looking forward to August 2013 when I will again teach how to rive, plane and carve oak to make a 17th-century box. If you have been to Langsner’s you don’t need me to tell you about it, if you haven’t – here’s your chance. Don’t miss out. Take my class, take a chairmaking class, spoons & bowls, or any of the others. Just get there. Here’s the website http://countryworkshops.org/ sign up for the newsletter, sign up for their catalog/class listings. Get on the mailing list so it comes to your house, just like the old days.

Drew Langsner

Here’s Drew’s website, http://drewlangsner.com/ you can see the sort of wooden ware he’s interested in making lately. To me, it harks back to his days as a sculpture/art student. And while you’re at it, here once again is the link to Louise’s blog about her cooking & gardening. I know I point to this stuff a lot, but we have some new readers here. So bear with me. http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/

I really can’t state strongly enough just how important Drew’s work has been to mine. Getting to know Drew and Louise has been one of the best parts of my adult life. I can say without reservation, without them, I would not be where I am today. No bones about it. They literally made me feel a part of their family, and have been so generous over the years. See you in N.C.

Trent sent a note tonight about a joined chest with 2 drawers coming up for sale soon in New York. 

It’s an old favorite of mine, made in Braintree, Massachusetts between 1650-1700. Look:

braintree chest w drawers

Here’s the link to the auction – http://www.doylenewyork.com/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=12AM02+++313+&refno=++907166

 

In an article of agreement in connection with William Savell, Sr.’s 1669 will, the sons of William Savell, Sr. agree that the widow, Sarah (Mullins Gannett) Savell shall have “…her whole estate returned to her that she brought to Our ffather for her own use & to dispose of forever with a chest with drawers & a Cubbert…”  

the distinction here is “chest with drawers” – plural. Most of this group had a single drawer below the chest compartment. 

Back when I was doing the legwork research chasing these chests down, I saw two examples that had 2 drawers instead of the more typical single drawer. One of those is now in the Chipstone collection in Milwaukee, WI. This might be the other one, or now a third. I did see a piece of 20th-century homemade furniture that incorporated two drawers from one of these. That piece descended in the Hayward family from old Braintree. 

The article from years ago is:

Peter Follansbee and John Alexander, “Seventeenth-Century Joinery from Braintree, Massachusetts: the Savell Shop Tradition” in American Furniture, ed., Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 1996) pp. 81-104

You can look it up on Chipstone’s website, but often you don’t get all the pictures there – http://www.chipstone.org/framesetAFintro.html

Fun stuff. 


[i].) for the will and inventory for William Savell Sr. see Suffolk County Registry of Probate (SCRP) #501, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston. 

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