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.
August 12, 2014
August 12, 2014
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…
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:
We tried to sort and count them as we went, but it was doomed.
We need over 70 panels; about 8″ wide by 12-14″ long. SEVENTY!
We scurried back to the woods to get more of this amazingly straight-grained oak. what a tree!
I don’t know who this is, but he was not alone.
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.
Next, they plane all the long rails, layout the joinery, chop mortises, plow grooves & cut tenons.
April 13, 2014
Winter is perhaps really over here – it better be, I put my hat & scarves away.
The day started out in the woods, looking for birds. Daniel & I saw many, he counted 18 species; but we only got a few shots of them.
Back home we ended up with spoon carving lesson # something-0r-other. I have to teach a bunch of students at Lie-Nielsen next month, so started practicing with Daniel. His knife work is excellent, given his strength. (the May class is full, so we added one as soon as we could – which means October! here’s the link
Working one-on-one meant I got some carving in too.
Meanwhile Rose did the 19th-century-Swedish-immigrant-in-the-garden routine. All around a busy day here.
When one of the household is a knitter and the other is a basket-maker, that means knitting baskets. I don’t get to make baskets much anymore, but have several that have lingered for quite a while. I finished this one the other day. It’s a form I have only done once before; a double-swing-handle design. Basket is ash, handles, rims, and feet are hickory. Lashing is hickory bark.
Then Daniel went in the house & started a self-portrait carving his spoon. Sometimes these pictures never get done, like my baskets. So I am posting it now in case it’s an orphan drawing.
Now onto another subject. If you’re inclined to help support some young people doing what they love, remember Eleanor Underhill? Maybe you know her father? In addition to illustrating Roy’s most recent Woodwright book, she did some drawings for mine & Alexander’s Joint Stool book – but her main gig is music – and she’s part of a trio making “heartfelt country soul” – they’re using Kickstarter to fund their next album. I’m in.
November 4, 2013
It’s been some busy times. It seems distant now, but Woodworking in America was not too long ago. The Ohio, the Monongahela, the Susquehanna, the Delaware, the Hudson, the Connecticut, the Charles – I crossed all these rivers & more heading back to the Jones, my own little river. All that driving gives a person time to think. So I have lots of ideas for posts, if I can remember them.
But as soon as I got home, I got scrambling around trying to catch up to where I was, or wasn’t. Then came the World Series, where I lost a bunch of sleep watching the millionaires with “Boston” on their shirts beat the millionaires with “St Louis” on their shirts. None of it made me want to go tip over people’s cars. Nor high-five anyone. But that’s me…
So I prepped & packed for a one-day demo/evening gig at the MFA in Boston, then unpacked, worked a couple more days, then packed for a one-day demo/lecture at Historic New England as part of the Four Centuries thing. So many more hours in the car, going around Boston rather than through it, so I could avoid the hysteric nonsense surrounding the millionaires’ victory parade.
One thing that I wanted to address is a compliment I often receive about my presentations. People are often remarking that I can work and talk at the same time, or that I can engage the audience well…I’m grateful for the compliment, but I know the truth. First of all, I get to practice full-time in front of an audience – for 20 years.
But the real truth is that I’m a second-rate copy. A cheap imitation. I trained at the foot of the master – and here I tip my cap to him. Yup. Roy Underhill.
I remember one day walking into work & getting a note from my co-worker Henry. It said “call Roy Underhill” and it had a phone number. “Yea, sure” I said, along with unprintable exclamations – in the vein of “get outta here!”
But somehow Hank convinced me that Roy had really been there the day before, and wanted to talk to me about shooting the show in Plimoth. This was about 2001 or so. Summer I think. So he came up & we shot stuff – it was really something. I remember watching his show & reading his first book to death back in the early ‘80s. So it was a thrill to work with him after all those years. Then a few more years went by, and we met up again at Colonial Williamsburg in 2007 – I arranged to hang around Roy as much as I could that session, whenever I wasn’t on the stage pretty much; and since then we have shot several more episodes.
What I have learned is that when Roy is around, I try to shut up & pay attention. But I’m not watching so much for the woodworking. He’s excellent at that, but what I get from him is the presentation…watch him work an audience, draw them to him & then pull a nickel out of their ears, so to speak. Ask Megan Fitzpatrick about the time we saw Roy teach Shakespeare to a little 10-yr old boy on the spur of the moment…
After WIA, me, Peter Ross, Patrick Edwards & Roy went to dinner across the street from the venue. Had to wait for a table – so Roy took over the maitre’d duties to kill time…and to engage the group hanging around waiting….it really broke the ice.
One of the real thrills of my woodworking career has been to work with Roy. Whenever he calls, I say “yes- let’s do it.” Knowing it’s going to be good. I know he doesn’t read blogs, so I can say all these wonderful things about him – he’s a real inspiration for me. Thanks, Roy.
If you haven’t seen it before, here is one of my favorite presentations of his -
I doubt I need to do it, but just in case, here are the links you need to get a hit of Roy’s gig.
October 24, 2013
So another 1,860 miles under my belt; just back from Woodworking in America, 2013 version. I took ZERO pictures while there. Me, I stuck by Roy Underhill & Peter Ross much of the time. Also met George Walker, but we mostly talked birds. A little about design & layout. I did stop by to see Chris, John et al at the Lost Art Press booth. Picked up my copy of the deluxe version of the Roubo book. It makes me want to try some of that weird French stuff! I’ll write a separate post about that book soon, but it’s mostly a no-brainer – a beautiful job by all at LAP.
Also spent time with the Lie-Nielsen gang – no surprise. We talked about next season’s schedule – no dates right now, but I will teach my usual 17th-century carving class there, probably during spring migration. Then later in the season my first class in spoon-carving. I’ll announce it here, and it will be posted at their site too – so keep watching if you are interested. I doubt I’ll travel as much next year as I did this, so if you want to take a class – act promptly.
I’m back at the shop now, trying to pick off one project after another.
I have lots to write about, & will get to it very soon. Stayed up too late tonight watching the Red Sox lose game 2 of the World Series.
For those looking to buy spoons, I have a dozen to post tomorrow night. So hang in there, they’re coming.
Then, I’ll tell the story of this stick of wood. From it, more spoons to follow. It never rains, but it pours.
May 28, 2013
I’ve been spoon-mad lately (you could tell, right?) – carving lots of them. But it’s May, so there should have been warblers here. I missed most of them. This spring was lousy for me, birdwatching-wise. I think George Walker saw them all. I’ve been pretty busy with one thing or another. Most of which was not birds. My timing was way off, and when I was available – well the weather stunk up the place. We had yellowlegses in the river a bit, one in this photo, 3 came in another day…
I did manage some woodworking recently, just no photography to speak of. Here’s a joined form I’ve made for a client, along with the “half a pair of joint stools…” The form is made just like what’s in the book, just stretched out. This one’s about 80″ long. In this case, I beef up the long rails, these are about 1 1/2″ thick, to keep them from flexing. http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm
The tops of the stools and the form are perfectly quartersawn oak. Beautiful stuff. I don’t usually get too carried away with the natural beauty of wood. But this stuff was great. These go with a table I’ve been building. I’m not assembling the table until it’s ready to go out. At 7′ long, I haven’t the room for it to hang around. Plus that large a flat surface would accumulate stuff quickly. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/revisiting-a-well-known-collection/
A wainscot chair got done recently. This replaces in my shop an earlier version of this iconic chair, my first version sold last fall. We’ll see if this one sticks around or not. I have to get in the shop and shoot some proper photos of it soon. Before it gets too dusty…
A few weeks ago I made a carved box for EAIA. They ordered it from the museum, and then it went in their auction. Someone ended up with it, I hope. This one was also made from quartersawn oak, with a pine bottom. It got away w/o real photos, or measurements. It’s about 7″ high, x 20″ wide. I try to keep up with a record of these things; and in recent years have not missed much. Previously, I made a slew of these carved boxes and never shot them at all. From time to time, I hear from people in the past who say, “I still have my box…” and I had forgotten I ever made them one…
Still have some slots open in Roy Underhill’s Woodwright School for the joint stool class in July. Fun will be had. Come on down…
April 17, 2013
Well, now it’s April, which means it’s practically May. Might as well be June, which makes me wonder what you’re doing this summer.
What you could do is come to Pittsboro, North Carolina to make a joint stool at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/
Out at the mill, we’ll split out an oak, and get to use a lot of wedges, hatchets and other big tools.
Maybe the owls will come out to watch.
Next, we’ll take the pieces into the school’s bench-room in town and get to planing.
If we make enough shavings, the Bag Man appears.
Mortise & tenon joinery, drawboring, chamfering (turning for those full-tilt crazies) – it’ll be like the book come to life. I don’t remember what’s in the book, so I’ll be making it up as I go along.
There’ll be tools galore, I’ll bring mine, Roy’s school has tons, then there’s Ed’s store upstairs!
If you wanted to know about green woodworking, then a week with me & Roy ought to do it. It reminds me of Twain’s quote about Kipling: “Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.”
Seriously, it’s a great week there. if you are interested in learning the craft of oak joinery with old-style tools, here’s your chance. My box-carving class at Drew Langsner’s is full, with a waiting list – so this is the only other week-long class I have this summer. Unless you’re in Germany in June! http://www.mehr-als-werkzeug.de/course/KU1631301/Carved-Box.htm
So get going. Get over to Roy’s website: http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/