There’s a bunch of stuff going on around here. I shot photos of the carved box with drawer project for a couple of days; then had to set that down for the back half of this week, so I could build one of these “plain” chairs. I built this one here at home, so there’s no photos of this work. Maple legs, ash rails, oak slats. If I backed up any further to take this photo, I’d be tumbling into a pile of who-knows-what…

 

rush chair sans rush

Time to trim the legs’ tops; then add a rush seat. I was trying to think how many tools it was – splitting tools; hatchet, drawknife, spokeshave, brace & bit, crosscut saw, mortise chisel – I used an awl and knife also. Maybe that’s it. If pressed, you could drop a couple of those tools…but I guess I should add the shaving horse, and a low bench for boring & assembly. 

This one is based mostly on Dutch paintings of the 17th-century; this style of chair was the first project I ever made when I was at Plimoth Plantation. Indeed, this one’s for them, too. Here’s one that has been in use there for many years:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I came to calling them plain chairs because of a reference in the Turners Company of London, about pricing for chairs, “plain matted” and “turned matted” – so if the difference is the turning, then here’s what an un-turned chair might look like. There’s a few surviving oldies around, but they are hard to date; and most did not survive. I have seen a few die out at Plimoth after 15-25 years. You can patch ‘em back together some, but sooner or later, it’s just easiest to chuck ‘em and make a new one. 

Typically I make them with low seats, best for working in, rather than sitting at a table. Like this photo Gavin Ashworth took when Trent, Alexander & I co-authored an article about such chairs in American Furniture. I think it was 2008. 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879

 

Other stuff in the works – finishing up a bunch of baskets I started this summer, (there;’s some in the background of the top photo) finishing some hewn bowls also. Spoons as usual; and I just started cutting out stock for a chair different from anything I’ve done in nearly 30 years.  Next week I’m going to finish assembling the carved box with drawer -just received some quartersawn sycamore (plane tree for you overseas readers) for the lid. Wow. 

This weekend is time to photograph stuff for sale; mine & Maureen’s. She has added some new felted autumn stuff,  if you’re inclined, have a look. More soon both here & there. 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

 

I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.

till is next

 

I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.

Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook. 

planing till lid

There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till. 

fitting till

 

I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar. 

 

 

 

till

 

Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun. 

drawer front begun

Shaping & beveling. 

carving detail

Relieving the middles. 

shaping

I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes. 

low bench

 

This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details. 

depth

 

I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes. 

carving detail 2

 

I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast. 

 

bevel bottom board

The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one. 

rabbet

 

A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end. 

bottom's up

 

Tap. tap. 

 

tap it over

Bang. Bang. 

nailed

 

Here’s where I quit for the day. 

first bottom board in

 

I’m going to write up my Connecticut trips backwards. The 2nd stop was to a Friday afternoon demo at the Yale University Art Gallery’s Furniture Study. What a spot. Readers and students often want to know where they can see period pieces in person. The Furniture Study is just such a place.

http://artgallery.yale.edu/furniture-study

 

These are the works that are not on display in the museum, but are there specifically for study. Tons of them. Over 1,000 items maybe. 

aisle 3

Yale’s Furniture Study

 

down the aisle

Yale’s Furniture Study

You want to see some Guilford, Connecticut carved oak chests? Why not see 3 of them together – then you get to see what’s common, what’s idiosyncratic…

guilford chests

one of 3 Guilford CT chests

guilford w scratch stock molding

carved panel detail, Guilford chest

 

This one they had pulled out so we could look at it in detail; I have only generally studied Connecticut furniture, so it’s fun to look again at these. They are large, heavy stock – the stiles are over 2″ thick, by close to 4″ wide. Note the side top rail, how it has no relationship to the front one. Most often  the top rails are equal in height, but they don’t have to be. The linen is not going to leak out of the chest. 

guilford out front

Guillford chest

I always refer to these chests as prime examples of the use of a scratch-stock to produce the abbreviated moldings above the panels here. A plane would not be able to get the full profile then blend out and in so quickly. This molding was scraped – we just don’t know what the tool looked like, nor what it was called. I’ve been working lately on carving these designs, they are so simple, but very effective too. Maybe 20 minutes of carving? Notice the nail holes in the panels – not from a now-missing applied molding – the beveled framing means there was no molding applied; so I think it’s to fix the piece to the bench for carving. Didn’t see those when I was there, just picked them out in the photos. 

detail

carving & molding detail

 

The till lid detail is nice; I usually put the pintle/hinge pin way out on spine of the till lid. Here the joiner shifted it about an inch or more in from the edge. Makes boring the holes for it easier; might make the whole thing simpler. I had done some like this years ago, then forgot it. So next time I make a till for a chest….

 

till lid

till lid

till lid pintle

till lid pintle

It goes on & on. I had wanted to concentrate my carving portion of my demo on these patterns – they are quite simple, but I like the result a lot. Some go for this understated approach to 17th-century carvings; unlike the “every-blessed-surface-carved” approach of my usual inspiration.  

Let’s not forget these drawer fronts – always picked on because they show what can happen!

cupboard base detail

drawer fronts, CT cupboard

If you are in the area some time, contact the folks there through the website – once you start looking around, you’ll have a hard time leaving. My thanks to the staff there for such a nice visit. 

I just spent a week back at the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts  http://www.heartwoodschool.com/ - after being a student there in 1984, I finally returned to teach a small class in making the carved boxes. What a treat! Run all these years by Will & Michele Beemer – Heartwood is a great place. Woodsy, small-scale, friendly and exciting all at once. They have done a great job with this school – it was such a thrill to be there and see how it has developed. When I was first there, I was as green as the wood; but by now I know my way around woodworking schools, and this one gets very high marks. In many ways, it reminds me of my friends Drew & Louise Langsner’s Country Workshops. Both schools are a husband & wife endeavor, very homey (although Will & Michele commute about a mile to work – one of the nicest commutes I have ever taken), and both have a community of supporters and involved participants. I know I will be back before another 30 years. Hopefully next year. Lots of pictures & captions. I wish I had shot the surrounding Berkshire hills…but was sorta busy. 

 

heartwood 2

Heartwood school building

heartwood

from the framing yard

wood storage

some wood storage

splitting

splitting w wedges

brett hewing

Brett hewing

shop view

inside the shop

planing in shop

planing and

planing

more planing

ed carv ing

carving

carving

carving

v tool

V-tool

student carving scroll

carving in progress

A few things set this box class apart from previous ones – because there were only 4 students, we made larger-sized boxes. More like ordinary period ones; about 20-22″ long, 6″ high, 12″+ front to back. And we made tills. Added some fumbling & headache – but they really add a lot to the finished box. 

till notches

notches for till side and bottom

4 hands till

even with 4 hands, it can fall down during test fit

till parts

till side & bottom in test fit, till lid being prepped

box w bottom & till

assembled box, w till & bottom – next is lid

Heartwood’s lunches are legendary – thanks to Michele’s hard work. 

lunch 1

lunch w will

no wonder Will is so happy

lunch 2

lunch 3

Scattered throughout the shop are mementos from previous classes, and apprenticeship grads – going back quite a ways…

student gifts

student gits 2

And projects from specialty timber-framing classes – here’s an example of how to scribe and cut a post to sit on stone. Look at that fit. Will says “now it’s Art”

scribing

scribing fit

 

we didn’t get to it, but there’s a pizza oven. Need I say more? (the frame is a class-project; fitting square timbers to round, round-t0-round, etc – like a sampler)

pizza oven & shelter

pizza oven

 

I didn’t shoot enough the last day; we had lots to do, fitting the wooden hinges, making lids and so on. I wish I had shot some of the local landscape as well. I always joke about those of us from eastern Massachusetts, and how we never go to western Massachusetts (& vice-versa, mostly) – ask my sister who lives in Springfield. But I was thrilled to be there, and reconnect to Will & Michele. BUT…the very next day when I got home, it was off to a perfect fall day at low tide. 

 

sea

box 2013 finished

 

Before I tell you all about last week’s class out at Heartwood, (a great time. what til you see it) =  I have a bit of stuff to run down about next year’s classes. First off, two new places. Three new places I mean. All begin with vowels. 

Alphabetically, Alaska comes first. I think I won’t drive to this one. Late April, just a  tiny bit early for migration, but there should still be lots of stuff to see. Oh, & we’ll make some boxes, but from boards, not logs. Might do a one-day spoon class there too…

http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/peter-follansbee-is-coming-to-alaska/

Another in the series of classes in places that begin with vowels, England. http://www.newenglishworkshop.co.uk/

Seems I’m there for 2 weeks, teaching the log-to-box version twice. Once in Somerset, once in Warwickshire. WOW. These classes are part of an I-don’t-know-how-many ring circus. Me, Chris Schwarz, Roy Underhill, Jeff Miller, Tom Fidgen – mostly all at the same time. I know Chris & I are on the same schedule – I got lost eventually trying to map it all out. I haven’t been to England since 2005 – can’t wait. Somerset – where they carved stuff like this:

somerset chair detail

Somerset wainscot chair, detail

The last vowel destination for now is also a new one for me, Marc Adams (Indiana) – so the only venue in the lower 48 where we’ll do the carved box from a log in 2015. They’re working on the schedule now, I’m there in late Oct, the 19th-23rd. http://www.marcadams.com/ 

There’ll be more of the usual places; Lie-Nielsen, Roy’s, Bob Van Dyke’s – I hope to be at home some too. And I’m working on more new places too. I’ll post more of it soon so we can get 2015 sorted. As always, thanks to the students who put aside time, money etc to come out to these classes. It makes it possible for me to have fun for a living. 

I did some more work on the box with drawer that I started the other day. First of all, this is as close as I get to having drawings to work from…and shortly after I begin, these are out the window. 

as close as I come

 

Today I had to finish cutting the housings for the till, and then bore the pilot holes for nailing the box together. These nails are the real thing, i.e. handmade nails. Rectangular in cross-section. Thin, wedge-shaped. Makes boring pilot holes tricky. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/for-some-work-cut-nails-dont-cut-it/

the real thing

One of the great things about oak is that it splits so well. One of the drawbacks of oak is that it splits so well. Here, I used a tapered reamer to open up the pilot holes. I wedged it back & forth more than reaming it around & around. Have to be very careful here, it’s easy to break out the wood beyond the holes. 

wedge em open

 

I have sometimes hit on the idea of installing the gimmals/snipebill hinges into the rear board before assembling the box. Makes it easy to get at them, and reduces the chance that you knock the box apart while setting the hinges.  (for more on these hinges, see http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/ )

the real thing pt 2

hinges

I didn’t get a lot further than this – I assembled the rear-to-sides, then temporarily tacked the front board in place so I can measure for the till parts.

http---makeagif.com--media-9-18-2014-76jcPp

Then I cleaned up & went home. Won’t get back to this til the 29th or so. Off to Heartwood School this weekend for next week’s class in box-making. Here’s the test-fit, with some Atlantic White Cedar that will be the till side. 

got this far

 

 

 

trimming scraps

 

I have a collection of bits & pieces of oak that I have carved over the years. One is a panel 7″ x 24″ – I wrote about this design way back when = http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/incised-wgouges-versus-v-tool/

When I started planning for my next spate of joinery projects, it seemed logical to warm up with something simple, a carved box. I’m off next week to teach a class in fact; so the timing was perfect. But then I dug through some oak I have stashed, and found the carved panel above; begging to be a box with a drawer. This is something I’ve never made, and have wanted to build for some time. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/i-had-been-wanting-to-see-this-box-for-years/

box with drawer, Thomas Dennis, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706

 

So right away, I’ve made it more complicated than originally intended. Mine will follow the format of the Thomas Dennis box; but different decorative details. When I briefly studied the the original, I didn’t record all the pertinent details of construction. So I have to make some stuff up – I learned on another project recently that when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make mistakes. 

I gathered up some wood, carved new sides to go with the existing front.  

 

 

carved bits blog

Usually on a box, the carcass is fitted together, then the bottom nailed up to the lower edge of the carcass. In this case, the front is the same height as the side and rear. So I planed a rabbet in the inside face of the front board, for the box bottom to fit into. 

rabbet in front

Can’t have a box with this much pizzaz and not have a till, so I sawed & chiseled trenches for the till. Bored a hole for the till lid. 

till trenches

till bits

The front of the box is only 7″ high, but the sides and rear boards are 11 1/2″ high. On account of the drawer. The sides are glued up from narrower stock; as they were on the original. But the rear board I used a solid piece of 12″ riven oak – from this log http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/i-dont-have-time-for-this/

In this shot, I was fine-tuning the rabbets with a shoulder plane. I was going pretty quickly it seems. 

quickly trim rabbets

 

Then I plowed a groove in the rear board to further capture the bottom. This is one of the conjectural construction pieces – I didn’t handle the original box to see how the box bottom really fits. 

 

plowing

It’s a lot of fun being back at the task of joinery…and photography. 

old & new

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