Well, last week you saw what one student did with my carving lessons, (http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/this-makes-teaching-more-fun/ ) and now I have taught two more classes of carving in the past 2 months; I thought it might be helpful to show some period work here. All oak of course.

There’s a lot of new readers showing up, so I might do some review of stuff that’s gone before. I started by looking at photos that are already loaded into the blog’s till…it’s always nice to review, you might see something you missed before.

This one’s England, marked out with compasses to outline the framing; the panel is most likely freehand around a vertical centerline.

 

 

cupboard door, oak

cupboard door, oak

Some basic geometry behind this design, also England, probably the Lakes District, dated 1691.

carved panel nail holes lakes 2

 

Another carving from the same piece of furniture.

torn-up moldings on cupboard door panel, 1691

Some of my favorite English stuff, this is a pew carving from Totnes, Devon. Early 17th-c.

 

carved panel, Totnes pews

 

An old favorite from Braintree, Massachusetts – a panel from a cupboard. About 9″ x 12″.

door panel, attributed to William Savell, Sr.

door panel, attributed to William Savell, Sr.

This one a chest panel from the son of above; this time John Savell, c. 1660-1689.

 

panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s

panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s

Now, some of my own favorites – might help the new carvers with ideas.

crossed S-scroll pattern

crossed S-scroll pattern

box front, red oak

box front, red oak

carving detail

carving detail

PF carving strapwork

reproduction 17th-century furniture

carving “sunflower” chest panel

box b detail carving

 

The DVDs on carving are available from Lie-Nielsen…for more info on them and the joint stool book, see this page:

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

 

 

 

 

 

Well. I opened my email tonight & found one from Geoff Chapman, one of last year’s students in the carved box class I did at Roy’s place. This sort of thing makes all that driving worth while.  

We’ll start with an earlier note from Geoff, about some boxes he finished after taking the class.

“I  took the carved box class from you last year at Roy’s, and loved it.  I am the guy who wanted to get your help doing a strap work panel instead of finishing my box.  By the time Christmas came I’d made a bunch of them for my kids, and threw in some designs from a celtic cross, from an ancient icon of an angel, and a couple panels from designs from the Book of Kells (photo enclosed).  I have studied the Book of Kells a good bit, and also wanted to try a panel from the famous “8 Circle Cross” illustration (another photo enclosed) which I framed with draw bored joinery – you taught me how in the carved chest dvd..    I lurk around your blog often, and love the work you do.  I am about to try my hand at a carved chest, and have watched your dvd twice.  A friend took down an oak this winter that was 42″ wide in the lower trunk, 150 years old, straight trunk for the first 30 feet.  He gave me the trunk, so I split it accd to your instructions, got it down into 16ths, hauled it home in 2.5′ and 4′ ft lengths, did some preliminary milling to get the pieces ready for the chest and the rest of it – a lot! – is stacked, drying, and awaiting another run of boxes or maybe another chest.  

 

All of that is to say, Peter, that you have opened a wonderful door for me in carving and especially in 17th century green woodworking, and I am grateful.  I don’t do this for a living (I would starve!); I am a pastor of a very busy church here in Pittsburgh, and a full time dad and grampa.  Woodworking has been a 20 year hobby for me, a great balance to my life, and one that has taken a new and wonderful direction since I started carving and working with green oak early last year.  

 

Thanks again.  What you do matters to people like me!”

 

 

geoff's panel & frame

 

geoff's boxes

Then tonight’s really knocked me out – here’s his note & photos. 

“Peter,

 Well, I went after a three-panel carved chest using your DVD.  I took a couple vacation weeks in July to get it moving, then managed to get it completed this week.  It’s 20″ deep, 30″ high, 40″ wide (or close to that), all Q’sawn or rived oak from the tree trunk I got in January, except a pine floor and till parts.  No glue (never done anything close to that before!), but drawbored.  I copied the wainscot chest you have copied, and added a paneled top.  I love the design, and the way it came out.  Will finish it w linseed oil and turpentine in a couple of weeks.

 I was full of questions along the way, like ‘How dry does the wood need to be?” and “Why don’t you have to worry about wood movement in a pine floor if you drive the final board in?” and at least 30 others – but I muddled my way through.   Today I received a copy of your “Joint Stool” book and flipped through it.  I would have been wise to have read it before taking on the chest!  But most things seemed to work out well enough and I learned a ton from the DVD, the joiner’s notes that came with it, and from going back repeatedly to your posts on your blog – and then when I still had worries – just thinking it through and doing what seemed to make sense.  

 One of my other constant questions was “How exact do I need to be?”  Your repeated encouragement to pay attention to the things that matter and relax about a lot of the other stuff gave me permission to do the same.  I remember when I first heard you say, “The eye is very forgiving.”  So is this style of woodworking!  Drawboring is forgiving, for example.  I know where all the mistakes are on the chest, but no one else has noticed them yet and no one has pulled it out to look at the back or turned it over to look at the bottom.  Yet the result of the whole effort has a real beauty and strength that will last.  So, thanks for your attitude.  I will almost certainly do another one, and my kids are all eager to have me do one for them…

 I also had a thought on the small chest you did and took to Roy’s to film for a show (I look forward to seeing that!).  I was astounded at the amount of work that went into making my own first chest, and I thought over and again, “There’s no way I could do this in a week long class, even without the carving or the paneled top…”  Depending, perhaps on the readiness of the stock – and the pins (shaving 71 of them for my chest took a long time!! – don’t ask why it is an odd number ;-)  ).  But a small chest in a week!  Would be quite a challenge for me, especially if we were planing every piece to finished size.  I will look forward to seeing the episode w. Roy and whether you offer a class.

Anyway, the project was a genuine joy, and a further step along a wonderful path in woodworking.  I want to thank you again for what you are doing and what you put within reach of people like me. “

 

 

geoff's chest 1

 

geoff's chest 2

 

geoff's chest lid

 

Geoff – nice going. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words, and for your outstanding work. Thanks for sending it along & letting me post it here. 

well, not really today, but I have been at the museum for 20 years. I moved my tools down there in April 1994…and since then have concentrated pretty much entirely on 17th-century style English and New England furniture. I love doing it, the stuff is great & there is a lot to learn still…formerly I made ladderback chairs, baskets, Windsor chairs and other “green woodworking” stuff. I set almost all that aside, except for the spoons (done mostly at home) and an occasional basket.

But in recent years, I have had a pull to make other furniture…the catch is at the museum, except in the off-season, I can’t have a bunch of non-17th-c furniture sitting around distracting attention. A further complication is that there is no shop at home. Here’s one reason why:

IMG_0139

There are restrictions about what we can build so close to the river. I have never pursued whether or not we can get permission – because I haven’t the time nor money to build anyway…and that’s not even mentioning the need for more room in the house with 2 growing-nearly-8-yr olds.

But these nagging furniture ideas keep coming up, a while back there was an exhibit at Winterthur of Pennsylvania furniture that had lots of stuff I liked. I sort of incorporated some of that into my tool box…but the paint was 17th-c English patterns.

I can't believe how long this takes

I can’t believe how long this takes

The variety bug has gotten stronger in recent months. A trip to Drew & Louise’s certainly helped it along. I always am drawn to this chair of Drew’s – my all-time favorite of his.

drew's lowback chair

I started one a few winters back, but botched the reaming of the leg mortises in the seat. Might be salvageable…

En route home from Drew’s, I stopped to see Curtis Buchanan…that didn’t stem any tide either.

There’s 4 of us in the household, and we have 4 chairs around the kitchen table.  It’s a small kitchen. Forget this trumped-up photo, it doesn’t really look this neat & tidy. We tuck 2 chairs where this stool is…and one at each end. 

kitched table overall b

Three of them are old windsors of mine, from the early 1990s. A bowback sidechair, a sackback armchair, and a continuous armchair. So chair # 4? Something like my wainscot chair is pure stupid for use at the table, when you actually have to use the table for other stuff between meals. Godawful heavy. So that’s out. I have one more windsor, but it’s a high back comback armchair. It’s in the way, so it sits here at my desk. I had a sort of oversized ladderback chair, and everyone here hated it. so the 4th person to the table always got stuck with it & complained. A Boston-style leather chair (see the photo)  is comfortable to me, but heavy – and the others don’t like it much. I have a large turned armchair in ash, hickory bark seat. Great chair, literally; but we need another side chair, not another armchair.

Then, a hickory log showed up at work. I thought, “it will bend” – so I decided to try another windsor. I used to really like the fanback sidechair, and I didn’t have one. I think they went to some grandchildren when my mother died. I forget. So I searched around the house & shop for my notes from before 1994. Found some paper patterns, seat shapes, etc for the fanback. but not the whole set.

Got to the shop, and remembered that I had tucked some windsor seat templates behind a bookcase in 1994. The bookcase in this most cluttered section of the shop:

gotta deal with this corner at some point

gotta deal with this corner at some point

I thought the stuff I wanted was in the corner, so I moved the bundle of rushes, and cleared some room, held my breath & tugged. Out came several plywood (I think you heard me right) templates based on designs Curtis gave me many years ago. Maybe 4 or 5 different chairs. The 7 spindle fanback was one of them. Great. All the angles recorded, spindle & post length. 

fanback seat template

fanback seat template

One night after work, I quickly split and shaved a batch of rough spindles. A breeze down memory lane, working at a shaving horse. Nothing better than good hickory. 

shaving hickory

shaving hickory

Now I have hickory for the spindles, comb, and rear posts. Just gotta shave, turn & otherwise get it together. i’ll figure out the legs & stretchers, but for the seat? I knew there was some chainsaw-milled elm around. Big huge beastly boards. Would require 2 people to sift that pile, dig out those monsters, cut them down to size, etc. I thought I still had a small piece of it around. Found it, but too narrow & cracked.  Back to the drawing board. Some 3” thick pine planks around. Seemed extreme.

Oh, well. I shifted my thoughts to the fan – I knew the hickory will make a great fan. But where’s the pattern? Maybe it’s behind the other end of the bookcase. (to the left in the photo) So I moved a huge pile of oak planks, and got near the back of the bookcase. Too dark to see. No flashlight. One of the young guys had a phone with a flashlight on it. Could see something back there, maybe it’s a bending form. Stretched, grunted & pulled. 

Out came a fanback sidechair seat – all carved, bored, reamed. WIth a tailpiece. 20+ years old. Older than the kid with the flashlight on his phone.

older than some co-workers

pine seat, c. 1993 or so

Curtis is sending the plans with the fan shape, bending form pattern.

Ol’ Daniel would say “It is providential”

much more to this story to come.

PS: There was a comb-back seat also all carved, bored, etc. 

LInks:

curtis’ DVDs

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/how-to-make-a-comb-back-windsor-chair-w-curtis-buchanan/

http://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store.html

Drew Langsner’s Chairmaker’s Workshop book  http://countryworkshops.org/books.html

A while back i showed some snapshots of these wainscot chairs. Before I left town for trip # 2 to North Carolina and then came back & made a trip to Maine, (over 4,000 miles in 3 trips)  I got a chance to shoot them without the shop in the background. The first one is a copy of a Thomas Dennis chair, generally. I changed a few things here & there; but the proportions, carving style, construction, etc all stem from the originals at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and the Bowdoin College Art Museum in Brunswick, ME. Here goes:

TD chair three quarters

TD chair overall

TD chair detail crest

 

The next one I made for the museum last month. Its proportions and dimensions are based on one I copied some time ago, made in Hngham, MA in the mid-17th century. The original had simple V-tool carvings and checkered inlay. I opted to just make up some carvings based on the Thomas Dennis material…so the resulting chair is a mish-mash of period work. All oak as usual for these chairs. 

PF design three quarters

 

PF design overall rear

PF design detail

I rarely chase free logs. I get calls pretty often, and just as often the logs are not up to snuff. Folks mean well, and I appreciate them wanting to find a use for their trees, logs, etc. But I’m fiercely demanding when it comes to picking a log. 

But this one, I decided I had to take a chance. I got a call from Nathan  Goodwin, a finish carpenter up on the South Shore…about an oak 42″ in diameter, x 3′ long. Would I like it? No, not really thinks me, then come to find out, he’s got it in his truck & is willing to drive by my house so I can see it. I figured then I had nothing to lose, nothing much anyway. 

But, I says, I have no way to get it out of your truck. He’s got chains & a come-along. And will drive it to the shop. So how could I say no?

big 'un

big ‘un

There’s some metal inside somewhere, and rot near the middle. But even if only half of it is good, there’s a lot of wood in it. I was busy beyond compare, but had to split it open to see if it would yield anything. 

starting split

I wouldn’t park next to one of these

Indeed, I wouldn’t park there. But fortunately I’m a “tapper” not a swinger when it comes to the sledge hammer. 

radial plane pretty flat

 

Pretty flat radial plane on much of this thing. Some of these faces approach 14″ wide. 

 

further splitting

 

I only had time to break part of it open. So once it was mostly quartered, I broke one section into bolts. 

wide stuff 2

The narrow ones here are 8″-9″ wide and the others are 12″ wide.  I had to split off a bunch of the wood towards the juvenile stuff, that’s where the decay was.  The stock is mostly nice & flat in the riven radial plane. 

I know this log is red oak, and I think it’s specifically a black oak called yellow-bark . So if it’s yellow, that means it’s black, in which  case it’s red. Tell Roy.  Rick McKee always used to rave about yellowbarks for riving clapboards, unless he was saying he hated them.  I can’t remember. I just look for straight oaks is all. 

Thanks to Nathan for bringing me the log. 

 

As many of you know, no visit to the Woodwright’s School is complete without a trip upstairs to Ed Lebetkin’s tool store… http://www.woodwrightschool.com/the-tool-store/

I long ago gave up the notion of trying to get away without spending any money; it’s easier to just accept your fate if you go there. I really don’t know of many physical places anymore that have this many tools worth plowing through. At Ed’s it’s not like you have to sift through boxes of junk to get at the good stuff. It’s all worthy, good stuff. 

Here’s some general views 

ed's store p 2

 

ed's store

 

ed's chisels

 

I came away with an interesting plow plane, and my usual half-dozen piercer bits. I was looking at a European model, when Ed showed me this very simple one. So back went the Euro plow, and this one’s now here in New England, ready for tinkering at some point – next month. I have no time for fiddling with it right now. Looks like birch to me. 

 

simple plow overall

detail 1

detail 2

detail 3

detail 4

 

First there is a joined chest

mini chest

then there is no joined chest…

no joined chest

then there is…

then there is

Ahh, the miracle of television (& ear worms…)

Just back from teaching the joint stool class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. This class went better than any joined stool class I have done. My thanks to all the students who came from near & far (Dave from New Zealand took the mileage prize -if there was one. Other than he had to eat all the local food they put in front of him. “What, no possum?”) Very nice people, and all worked very hard in tough weather…

When I travel I don’t usually check email, blogs, etc. It’s nice to be disconnected, but also I have lots to focus on when teaching. We had 9 students making joined stools at Roy’s last week. That’s lots of chances for stuff to go wrong. So night-times I was trying to figure out the next move. And recover from the heat & humidity. So now I’ll run down some of what we did. Here’s a look at the first day’s work. First off, we had a great batch of oak logs. Three sections that were 24″ long, and almost that wide. AND they split flat in the radial plane. That meant no twist, thus easy planing. But these guys didn’t know that yet. 

first splits

splitting open the oak sections

It looks like this one got opened into thirds, then broken down into the eighths I had marked out. I only saw this now while sorting photos. And I took the picture! The humidity was so high that my camera lens fogged up at one point. 

 

 

 

 

 

split how

the peace oak

Here’s Jamie using a very large froe to bust out some stiles from the 1/8ths. We wanted 40 stiles and got ‘em. 

froe

Then it was into town for lunch, then some bench work begun – starting to plane the rail stock. Very green oak, with an extremely high tannic acid content. We learned about cleaning tools quickly. 

planing

 

http://www.woodwrightschool.com/

http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

 

Slogging through some progress on the small joined chest. Here you can see its simple decoration – chamfers around the panels.

front view

 

Looking into the chest, I have yet to fit the rear panel. The two outer floor boards (white pine) are test-fitted, and after assembly a final tapered board will fit between them. These all will have tongue & groove treatments on their edges.

inside view

 

 

yesterday I worked on joining the frame for the lid. Today I will put panels in this and the rear section of the chest.

frame for lid

But it was so humid yesterday that the shavings didn’t curl as I was planing the oak. They came limping out of the plane, all wet & weak. I felt just like them…

flat shavings

flat shavings 2

 

Here’s where it is now. Off I go.

on bench_edited-1

 

I’ve been working….prepping stock for some chests, a chair or two and some stools.

Ooh, look at the shavings

Ooh, look at the shavings

 

here’s a panel for an upcoming joined chest. I usually think of this as a vase or pot full of flowers & foliage. Nowadays some see faces in it. A similar panel was in the wainscot chair I posted a few days ago.

rorschach test in oak

rorschach test in oak

Here’s the beginning of one that I copied just from a poor photograph. So I made a lot of the detail up. Used gouges & chisels to outline, instead of a V-tool. It requires several consecutive thoughts to establish the pattern in the middle. You can make your mistakes out where the leaves are…

interlace beginning

interwoven design

interwoven design

Here’s the finished panel. Mostly, might add some details around the edges.

interlaced design finished

interlaced design finished

Probably you saw the update from Jogge about the Wille film. Thanks to all who chimed in… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s/posts/500426?ref=email&show_token=b2ed6e52d7f7db05

 

 

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