small chest

It’s been about 6 months that I’ve been “out on my own” (I think Roy Underhill called it “free at last”) but I still haven’t really settled into a woodworking routine like I once had…Today, I picked up where I left off over a year and a half ago – finishing a small joined chest I made for Roy’s show in 2013…  http://video.pbs.org/video/2365021510/ and http://video.pbs.org/video/2365079634/

I’ve only had it kicking around for I don’t know how long, and it took all of an hour to finish it off. Needed to drive four nails, trim the floor boards, and set one hinge.

trimming floor boards

hinges

inside chest

 

How stupid that I left it so long! It’s been on the blog in pieces a number of times, I even took it back to Roy’s this past summer, where it was the model for our week-long chest class. Now – it’s done. I copied its proportions from some English examples, it’s quite small. 30″ w x 20″ h x 17″ d. A mixture of sawn and riven oak, with pine floor boards and rear panel. No decoration other than the bevels around the panels. Paneled lid, interior till. It’s for sale if anyone’s interested; send an email if you’d like to talk about it. $2,000 plus shipping. or pick it up. 

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I finished this carved rail for the upcoming wainscot chair – started this carving as a museum demonstration at Historic New England in early December – at least it’s not waiting around 18 months. I’m working now on getting that chair moving along steadily; doing some joinery on it tomorrow. The panel is mostly carved, that should be done tomorrow too. 

carved rail 

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Updated the teaching schedule – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/  a couple of additions,

a hewn bowl class at Lie-Nielsen in late August, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/71

a splitting & riving class with Plymouth CRAFT in May in Plymouth Massachusetts; http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards

and we’re adding a 2nd 3-day class at Roy’s (it’s not posted yet) the first one sold out so quickly that we figured let’s add one…so mid-June in Pittsboro, NC. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/spoon-carving-w-peter-f/

Here’s some bowl shots from the other day. 

hewn bowl

hewn catalpa & birch

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While on the subject of classes – I was talking to the fellow who’s lining up the oak for the joined chest class at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking – this is oak like you won’t believe. If you’ve seen the posts I’ve done recently about the extra-wide oak – same source. Wow. This class is maybe half-full, or nearly so. A time commitment, but a project that will really be something. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/one-of-next-years-projects-a-carved-chest-w-drawers-at-cvsww/

panels

 

http://schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html

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Maureen is still willing to mail stuff in time – https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

not oak

well, I never really was a true monoculture anyway. But close. Mostly oak, lots of white pine, ash. some maple (mostly turned), but there’s even mention in the back pages of this blog of Spanish cedar, East Indian Rosewood, Atlantic white cedar – and the spoons are a range of woods that never include oak. That’s where you’ll see me use cherry and apple – not in furniture.

walnut bolt

But my recent foray further into walnut is really out of this world, for me anyway. Riven, radial, high moisture content. Now I have run the gamut with this wood, from my first experience with that awful kiln-dried randomly sawn lousy stock, to air-dried straight-grained clear stuff – now to the true beast – riven radial stuff. Wow. Hewing it is so much fun I almost just chopped it all up just for the thrill. It’s going to be a joined stool, which I need like a hole in the head – but the book needs joined work that’s not oak. And…the walnut was a gift. Thanks, Michael D.

hewing walnut

Here are the stool parts, planed. Why 5 aprons & only 3 stretchers? Because I had just a little bit of extra wood. This way, I’ll make the aprons. If all goes well, apron #5 will get chopped down to a stretcher. Something goes haywire, I make #5 an apron & return to the wood pile to hopefully scrounge a stretcher. Timid, I know. But I don’t usually have riven walnut around. This is New England, not the mid-west. 

walnut joined stool parts

Part 3 of the “what happened to my monoculture” is really out of this world – this wood was like nothing I have ever seen. I got a sampling of it in the mail – to test it for a carving class. 11 1/2” wide quartersawn stuff – with over 360 growth rings!

200 to 300 yrs

300 yr mark

Alaskan yellow cedar – is not a cedar and might be from British Columbia…but it is yellow. http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/softwoods/alaskan-yellow-cedar/

I just could not wrap my head around the growth rate of this tree. Turns out as I read more about it, the tree grows for upwards of 1,000-1,500 years. That’s old. It’s a tree that has been in decline for 100 years, dying off due to climate change. Seems it’s so warm these days that the trees are freezing – sounds like Stephen Foster wrote the story of it. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/research/climate-change/yellow-cedar/yellow-cedar_and_climate_change.pdf

We’re hopefully using this for the box class I’m teaching in Alaska next spring. Thanks to the guys up there for sending it down…

carvings

It carves very well, planes to a beautiful finish, except for some tearout difficulties. I’m mesmerized by it. Density is a bit softer than the black walnut; specific gravity is .42,  as compared to the walnut at .51. I did much of the carving without the mallet. Once all the V-tool outlining was done, I used hand pressure for a great deal of this design.

detail

spandrel

panel full view

 

But I have been working up some oak stock recently to replenish what I have used. I only have about 6 or 8 more of this crazy-wide oak panels to prep…the offset handle on this hatchet is especially useful when working wide stuff. this one’s 14” wide. That’s knuckle-scraping wide if you’re not careful.

oak

 

Couple of spoons left, the bowls, etc. The wainscot chair video too – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-december-2014/

over at Plymouth Craft – if you’re thinking of the spoon class, it’s about half-full now. So don’t delay…  http://plymouthcraft.org/  (3PM – Eastern time, that website is having a problem. We’ll get on it, or it will fix itself miraculously…) 

 

bretstuhl 3

I guess I am throwing in the towel – and admitting that I use walnut. I used to often joke that I was a mono-culture – all oak. I’ve made enough full-fledged pieces in walnut by now, and several incidental small bits so I guess it’s part of my bag. This chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking back in Jul/Aug 1981. I used black walnut with hickory heartwood legs. Oak cleats housed in sliding dovetails underneath the seat; these receive wedged round tenons at the tops of the legs. All the chair needs now is two small wedges to secure the through tenons from the backboard where it fits through the seat & cleats. The carvings I based on Dutch work from the 17th century; stuck with what I know, I guess. so the chair is a hybrid for sure. 

I had made one of these chairs years ago, and had always wanted to try another. So this was the year to go ahead and make a non-English chair. I’ll shoot it for real in a day or so…

there’s more mono-culture-breaking to come…one wood in particular you won’t believe is on my bench. I’ve never seen anything like it. Next week. 

bretstuhl 2

bretstuhl side view

 

There’s a few spoons left, some bowls and one panel. I hope to have more in a couple weeks. 

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/late-november-spoons-bowls-for-sale/

 

My kids complain when we draw together, they say all I draw is patterns & designs. (Here’s them painting; I can’t find them drawing right now…)

kids painting

 

I’ve been doing some drawings lately. It’s somewhat new for me to draw before I build something, usually I make it first, then I draw it… 

I’m finishing up a few projects, which means it’s time to start the next ones…I’m real good at starting them…it’s easy. I always have more ideas than time. A further challenge is when one thing leads to another, and a project comes up out of nowhere, and jumps the queue. I’m right now struggling to keep that from happening. I’m losing that struggle. But that’s OK.

brittany

I had a visit from Chris Pinnell from Montreal recently, and we were talking about joinery in New France. I had remembered some photos sent to me from a reader, and dug out pictures of joined work from Brittany. [It was Maurice Pommier, author of Grandpa’s Workshop – here’s my original post from a few years back –   http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/bretagne-joinery-an-english-book-stand/ and the book is here http://lostartpress.com/products/grandpas-workshop  ]

 

Afterwards, I went back & started drawing this carving over & over. I’ve probably drawn five versions of it since yesterday. I plan on carving it just to get it out of my system, so I can get on with the other stuff I really should be doing.

bowdoin chair panel

One of the projects I have to do next is a wainscot chair. For this project, I’ll be using some of that really wide riven oak I just got in. The panel is 14” wide x 16 3/4” high. I decided I’d draw this design a few times before picking up the tools, that way I know the shapes I’m after. Those size panels don’t grow on trees, you know. This is slightly different from my usual approach. Typically, with this Ipswich/Devon stuff I carve my own versions of the panels…it’s easy enough to make them up using various elements from existing patterns. This time, I’m trying to copy the existing chair …)

dennis wainscot panel no grid

Dennis wainscot panel

 

 

I’ve drawn it about 3 times, including one that’s half the panel, full size. I won’t lay out a grid on the panel, but I will work from the scaled full size drawing. I want it to have irregularities in it, and those are easy to get. 

 

One last drawing – this thing jumped in front others, should be done this week. A bretstuhl – in walnut. Here’s the carving design I made up for the shaped back board to this chair. the chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking in the early 1980s, from Switzerland. The carving designs I adapted from Dutch work of the 17th century. 

bretstuhl stabelle

No sooner did I mention making a wainscot chair, than I got an email from Lie-Nielsen’s youtube channel – they’ve posted a preview of the new DVD, (as well as a couple of others)

here’s the chair one – you can order it from them, or I have a few left as well. But from them, you can get the disc and all that other good stuff too.

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

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..

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