The spoons, a frame-and-panel and one spoon rack for sale now – the top of the blog, or this link. . http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/  If you’d like to order something, leave a comment. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can send a check. As always, I appreciate everyone’s interest in my work.

 

Meanwhile, but here’s today’s blog post. I have some stuff underway that I haven’t put on the blog much, because I haven’t made more than a few baskets a year in 2 decades. This is the scene these days. Baskets, and more baskets. I used to make these a lot, before there was joinery. It really is exciting to explore them again; but I’m having to re-learn stuff I used to know pretty well.  Today I had to make a slitting tool too, to slice up the narrow horizontal weavers. I’ll shoot it tomorrow when I use it again. I had one once, but it got lost in the shuffle 20 years ago I guess.

 

the scene

I decided to dedicate a whole week, maybe more, to making baskets. It’s been so long since I made more than one or two…and the only way it’s going to come back to me is for me to do it over & over.

 

basketry 1

basketry 2

basketry 3

Earlier in the week, I was shaving and bending some white oak for handles & rims. I’ll fit those on this weekend. I like the white oak even better than hickory for bending. The King of Woods, Daniel O’Hagan used to say…

riving white oak

shaving horse work

 

 

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

 

015

 

You’ll remember I used to constantly badger people about a blog called  “The Riven Word”. Well, it is no more. My friend Rick McKee is no longer at the museum, as they say. But the good news is he has landed with some old cohorts of ours and is up to some pretty interesting hijinks. And has started a new blog about it. Right now, it’s off to a slow start, but I know he’ll bring some interesting stuff to the web…so sign up and drop Rick a note. Maybe we can guilt-trip him into writing frequently. Of course, I should speak, with my one-post-a-week of late. 

here’s Rick’s new site: http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/

 

 

Lately I’ve been able to use some of my all-time 2nd-favorite local hardwood. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog a while know that it isn’t walnut.

 

white ash bolt

It’s ash. Down here in southeastern New England it’s white ash. My whole furniture career I have used this wood, at first I made JA-inspired ladderback chairs out of it quite often. Way back when…

At the museum, I have mostly used it for turned chairs, like these three-legged monsters.

three footed stool, ash & cherry

Four legs too.

ash chair, oak slats. Hickory bark seat

It turns so nicely, not as well as maple, but the combination of strength, dead-straight grain, great splitting ability, and good turning details makes it well suited for chair work. 


I have done some joinery with it from time-to-time, recently I put up some photos of my bedstead at home, and it has lots of ash components.

bedstead foot board

I have a joint stool frame made from ash too. Historically, you find some joiner’s work in it. Not a lot, but some. It has little decay resistance, especially compared to oak. Victor Chinnery told me that this chest at the Wadsworth Atheneum is made of ash. It’s eaten alive, so maybe Vic was right.

joined chest, Devon England c. 1660-80.

 

But there were several years, maybe 6 or 8, where I made lots and lots of baskets from ash, in addition to the chair work.

two baskets, c. 1988

Traditionally, basket splints were pounded from the whole log, crushing the early wood pores to separate the growth rings into splints for weaving. Here is the end grain, showing the ring-porous growth rings. It’s the open pores of the spring wood that crushes, leaving the more dense growth as the splint.

white ash end grain

That’s the best method to use if all you want from the log is basket splints. There’s very little waste that way. But if you want to make some chair parts from the same log, it’s best to rive out blanks and work them this way & that – some shaved & turned into chair work, tool handles, and others pounded apart into splints.

ash splints pounded


Many visitors to my shop comment on the smells of the wood. I don’t notice them as much as most folks just walking in. But this ash log I can smell, mostly because it’s not that often that I have some. And the scent of it brings back great memories of my earlier days at green woodworking. Funny how olfactory stuff is so tied to memory.

With the onslaught of the Emerald Ash Borer problem, I have often thought of how much I like ash timber, and how I would miss it if it disappears. Such a shame if future woodworkers won’t get to use wood like this. To that end, I am trying to make the most of each log I get from ash. Hoping that somehow the objects can stand if the tree is gone…it has made me re-think my feelings about the romantic sound of a wooden baseball bat making contact with the ball. Ash is the “traditional” wood for bats, ideally suited for it. But given the dubious lifespan of a bat, I think we’re better off with chairs, baskets – let’s aim for something that’ll be around a while

This log is going into some tool handles, a cupboard, a joined stool and some baskets. I guess I should make some shaved chairs from it for old times’ sake too…

Here’s some video shot by my friend Rick McKee from the Plantation showing how I pound apart the splints.

I have said it before, but be sure to go read Rick’s blog the Riven Word. I don’t miss a post – great tone, filled with fun and information. 

http://blogs.plimoth.org/rivenword/

Here is a simple riving brake we used in the box class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. It’s the first kind I learned on, a forked section of a tree, supported by crossed poles. Works fine. Price is right.

riving brake

A pine tree fell in a storm this spring. My riving brake took the hit. Crushed & mangled.

I used a borrowed one for months, til I finally got around to remaking it. This is the new one.  I prefer this over the forked tree brake, because it puts the riving stock in an easier position to get at…

 

I have been un-packing, sorting and generally getting settled back in the shop after a hectic July. I finished the sample box that I took with me to Maine. I got the bottom on during my demos at the class, but I didn’t get around to the lid. So I finished it in the shop on Monday. It’s extremely white pine, so I think I might stain it with iron oxide/linseed oil.

New box, July 2012

Here you see the wooden pintle hinge arrangement.

 

open

 

The pin(tle) is a continuation of the back board’s rabbets; it requires some careful planning. Then the cleat that fits under the lid has a hole bored in its rear section. This cleat fits over the pintle and when all goes well, you have a hinge. It’s one I have found in a couple of variations in period boxes; but all in all, pretty rare. I use it a lot, folks like the idea of a wooden hinge. I have another version that I am going to use on a very small box coming up next.

 

I’m also shifting around here at home, working with a new computer. So some desk shuffle. I will have more posts about the CFC class. And then some new boxes.
Another batch of spoons for sale in a day or two.

I hope you got to see the stuff the Riven Word folks posted about pitsawing the other day. It’s the tip of the iceberg. Have a look http://blogs.plimoth.org/rivenword/?p=3855

 

 

 

They should all split like this one. Nine feet long, 21″ at the top, 23″ at the bottom. Red oak.  I split this one from the bottom, it just worked out that way. Usually, I’d split down from the top. Two steel wedges, two wooden wedges. A little snipping with a hatchet. Less than half-an-hour to get it into one-half, one-quarter and two eighths. I later counted about 100+ years on the rings, still quite fresh in the heartwood, sapwood is all decayed. Must have been down for a while to lose the sapwood completely.

here’s the photos, including a juvenile yellow-shafted flicker, rounding out a woodpecker trio at the house. Haven’t seen or heard a red-bellied here lately:

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I have been working with an excellent red oak log. It’s dead-straight, even, clear. Everything I want. The boards I have been riving and planing are around 8” wide, some 10” wide panels came earlier from it as well.

This week, I have been working a short section that I crosscut for panels and other 2-foot stuff. I got to the last quarter of it yesterday. From the outside, it looks great.

I split it with wedges and a sledgehammer, and it busted right open. 

….Then, I pulled it apart & looked inside

Yikes. what a mess.

Turns out rather than 10” wide panels, I got a bunch of 2” square stuff for some joined stools.

From two of  these sections, I managed to plane 7 stiles. (one’s leaning upright) Something happened to number 8. Oh well. 


Meanwhile, there is another log I have also been working. This is narrower stuff, maybe 6 1/2” wide pieces on average. There was a weird growth pattern, lots of straight-grained wood in the first half of the tree’s growth, then some strange wiggle to the grain. It’s throughout a lot of what I have seen in this log. It might be hard to see in this photo, but the bottom half of the shot has a very rippled grain to it…

 

Found part of the problem this week. No hardware that I have found, but some localized injury to the tree.

 

I have used some of this stock in a joined chest I just finished; but these pieces are junk. Here’s the chest, I am planning on shooting some details of it soon. 

Now, some birds. First up, some downy woodpeckers. One feeding another, but I couldn’t decide if it’s a male/female pair feeding, or an adult feeding a juvenile.  

Then, tonight I saw a certain juvenile scooting into a roosting hole, or is it the nest? 

Actually, he/she looked into this hole, then moved up one flight, into a hole just above this one. The tree is a locust. (can’t decide if the bird is a hairy woodpecker, not a downy. The bill looks a bit long for downy…but I’d need better views)

 Is this goodnight? 

Meanwhile, there was a trio of white-breasted nuthatches scooting all around…I saw them being fed too, but didn’t get a shot. Here’s one of them:

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