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..

It quickly became apparent that we needed to hustle if we were to get anywhere in this class. Roy found a way to speed things up.

I once had a t-shirt I got at an Arlo Guthrie concert that read “we know it’s stupid, that’s why we’re here.” goodness only knows what it meant, but a similar notion must have run through the minds of these students -a very good-natured group of would-be joiners who came down to Roy Underhill’s school to attempt to make a joined chest in a week. 10 students means 10 chests. each chest with about 25 pieces of riven oak in it. Plus extras in case something goes wrong…

more oak 2

Roy & I dreamed up this idiotic course, “let’s make a joined chest in a week!” And we booked it & it filled up. well, it became a reality (of sorts) and on the first day, these students split, crosscut, & rived out over 200 piece of oak for said chests. That’s a lot of oak. Here’s the beginning of just one small pile of parts:

growing piles of oak

 

We tried to sort and count them as we went, but it was doomed.

more oak

 

We need over 70 panels; about 8″ wide by 12-14″ long. SEVENTY!

panels

We scurried back to the woods to get more of this amazingly straight-grained oak. what a tree!

cross cut 2

I don’t know who this is, but he was not alone.

creature

Thankfully, we found that with proper supervision, it only took Kat a short while to bust out all the oak. it’s not that hard, really.

it's not that hard really

 

Next, they plane all the long rails, layout the joinery, chop mortises, plow grooves & cut tenons.

PF fore plane

PF fore plane

Our friend Martha is studying local ceramic history for some degree or other. She sent this note the other day. Me, I’m a vegetarian. But I do use a fore plane from time to time, so in the interest of tool-use, I will post it here…

 

“I was reading in an 1851 New England Farmer journal (as they frequently preach against the evils of lead glaze there). There was a sausage recipe submitted by “a subscriber” who makes sausage meat by freezing it, then “I take a fore plane, set rank, and plane it to shavings” Apparently the meat needs very little chopping after that.  It wouldn’t hurt the blade, only add some grease- rust prevention through sausage! Yikes! They didn’t actually leave a name so you don’t really know if it’s by a man or woman, but they put the recipe in the “Ladies Department.”  What exactly is a “fore plane” ? 

Martha”

So – we all use Moxon’s description to understand this tool:

It is called the Fore Plain because it is used before you come to work either with the Smooth Plane, or with the Joynter. The edge of its Iron is not ground upon the straight, as the Smooth Plane, and the Joynter are, but rises with a Convex-Arch in the middle of it; for its Office being to prepare the Stuff for either the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, Workmen set the edge of it Ranker than the edge either of the Smoothing Plane or the Joynter; and should the Iron of the Plane be ground to a straight edge, and it be set never so little Ranker on one end of the edge than the other, the Ranker end would (bearing as then upon a point) in working, dig Gutters on Surface of the Stuff; but this Iron (being ground to a Convex- Arch) though it should be set a little Ranker on one end of its edge than on the other, would not make Gutters on the Surface of the Stuff, but (at the most) little hollow dawks on the Stuff, and that more or less, according as the Plane is ground more or less Arching.  Nor is it the Office of this Plane to smooth the Stuff, but only (as I said) to prepare it, that is, to take off the irregular Risings, whether on the sides, or in the middle, and therefore it is set somewhat Ranker, that it may take the irregularities the sooner off the Stuff, that the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, may afterwards the easier work it Try. The manner of Trying shall be taught, when I come to Treat of the use of the Rule. 

 

The reason I haven’t posted about furniture is because I’m not making any lately…and without photographs, this blog is going nowhere.

so I have been sifting through some old and not-so-old photos and thought we could just have a random-thoughts sort of post. Like Rick does http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/a-cinnabon-in-omaha-2/ 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

God said to Abraham, Kill me a son…

“Abe said, Man, you must be puttin’ me on.” An overmantel in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Time to give another nod. Maureen’s felted stuff is getting going. She’s added new bits, stop by & get yourself some knitted and/or felted goods. More coming soon she says. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

Felted wool bowl or nest, green bowl, Waldorf inspired toy, Easter decoration

Thinking about turner’s work, for the upcoming visit to MESDA this week. Here’s a few rather rough photos of one of 2 examples of great turned chairs from either Wales, or the west of England, late 16th/early 17th century.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Look at the detail of the back – all those horizontal connecting bits had “free” (sometimes called “captured”) rings. How can they be captured & free?

welsh chair 12

Imagine how good this photo below would be if it were in focus. This chair, badly restored in its bottom half, and another from the same workshop are at Cothele, a National Trust house in Cornwall. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele/?p=1356297446549  – if youwant to see their mate in America, go to Harvard University’s commencement. They have one they used to use for the Prez to sit in at commencement.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s a simple version, this I shot up in Yorkshire years ago. It might be all-shaved, might have some few turnings. It would be nice to learn more about this chair and its kind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

If you want to see carvings, get some raking light. MFA, Boston.

 

raking light

 

 

 

This house (torn down 1890s)  is reputed to have been William Savell’s in Braintree. His 1669 will mentions, “house, shop, etc” – if that’s the shop on the right, I hope there’s windows in the back wall…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s a “road-kill frog” hinge…1630s in Derbyshire.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“We’ll see summer come again…gonna happen every time…we’ll see summer by & by.”

(I’ll miss being at Drew’s this summer, but you can go – http://countryworkshops.org/ )

CW 4

 

well, this is stupid, but how much time am I going to spend doing this over & over? The blog wants to flip this photo (the one w paint below) on its side…might be why it’s never been here before. (HA! Joke’s on me – I had given up, wrote that sentence – added it one more time. It came in right side up & brought another with it. So you get 2 for 1, right side up) The first one’s from Marhamchurch Antiques – http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/current-stock/all/

carved panel

carved panel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, I gotta finish my lecture for Friday. Then look at flight & bus schedules…

 

 

This now-out-of-print book is for completists only, it’s from an exhibition at the Heritage (MA) Museum – back in the mid-1990s. Our friends Rob Tarule & Ted Curtin made the furniture and the period room installation. After the exhibit closed, the room came to a local living history museum where it was installed as an accent piece in the gift shop for about 18 years.

Cullity book

Brian Cullity’s book has a couple of shots of period houses that were the partial inspiration for the paint scheme, this frame’s most obvious feature:

polka dots

 

Now that they are ready to tear into the building my shop was in, I got wind last week that the room was headed for the dumpster – so when that happens there’s only one thing to do. Go see Michael. As in Michael Burrey, local restoration carpentry guru, and the quiet, behind-the-scenes figure in the popular blog Blue Oak – http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/

You folks have read the Blue Oak for a while – and most of those guys used to work at the museum. One by one they shifted over to MLB Restorations. They put ‘em up, they take ‘em down. Michael worked on the original installation, doing plaster work and other duties, then took it down the first time, then put it up at Plimoth, and now he & I started taking it down this past weekend. I got some shots of what he was doing, but from time to time he needed me to put down the camera & lift, heave & shift.

This shot shows the frame with its polka-dot ceiling; I had already removed the pine paneling on the facing wall. It has several runs of ogee-molded decoration; and ship-lapped joints.

period room still up

 

You start where it ended, taking off the ceiling boards. Here’s Michael gently prying to test how they were fitted.

 

start at the top

 

He ran around & numbered each board first…

ceiling boards in place

 

Then I removed nails & screws (it’s a gift-shop installation – not necessarily period-correct, remember) – and stashed the boards out of the way.

ceiling boards

 

Then down came the red oak joists.

joists down

 

These got numbered and stashed as well.

 

 

roman #s

stashed

This was about the end of my camera work – here you see the end view of the summer beam; about 12″ tall, x I forget what thick. Godawful heavy is what it is. MLB estimated 600 lbs. So at this point, we set up staging to pry the summer up, then shifted it onto blocking on the staging. Then quit for the day. Took the frame down around the staging/summer beam elephant in the middle of the room. And waited for help.

summer end view

 

This AM Michael, Justin and Rick & I started bit by bit easing the summer beam down onto blocking. No photos, I had a short shift because I bugged out to take the kids to the MFA & left the MLB/Blue Oak-ers to finish the task. We’ll see what happened.

The room is 18′ x 20′, would be a great addition to some enthusiast’s home. If someone’s interested, I can put them in touch with MLB. Then we can figure out how it goes back together.

Michael says these rescue demo jobs always have a desperate last-minute feature to them. As it happened, this one tied me up so I mostly missed a great winter storm. I would have loved to sit by the window & carve spoons again, but there’ll be other times, & this frame is now safe from the dumpster. Meanwhile I bumped into this hermit thrush right outside the shop on the 2nd morning – picking around the snowbank.

 

hermit thrush

 

* the title to this post alludes to some moronic American movie that I fortunately never saw; but could not avoid the tagline after hearing it repeated endlessly. It’s applicable here, Michael gets calls whenever there’s an old frame that needs restoration, rescue or just plain ol’ examination. Remember this wood shop?

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/the-cats-out-of-the-bag-that-old-joiners-shop-you-saw-here-this-fall/

http://blog.lostartpress.com/2013/05/18/a-visit-to-the-sampson-joinery-shop-in-duxbury-mass/

That was Michael

Preservation specialist Michael Burrey looks around an 18th century craftsman’s shop recently discovered on the grounds of the Berrybrook School in Duxbury.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,177 other followers