As you might have noticed, not much woodworking going on around here. That’s because prior to today, my shop looked like this:

mostly packed

mostly packed

Today it’s well on its way to empty. Now, all that boxed-up stuff, plus my lathe & joiner’s bench are all stashed in a storage unit. My search for my own personal shop has not taken off – I had a great lead that didn’t pan out. I decided rather than jump into something that might not be suitable, I’d stash the bulk of my stuff, move some stuff to my basement, and then get back to the search. So I have spent a great deal of time sorting & packing, both in the shop & at home to empty the basement. The museum begins restoration of the building in a couple of weeks.

So this closes the chapter on me in that particular shop. I’m still at the museum, but I’ll be in temporary quarters. That’s part of what led to me deciding to try to find my own workspace. The other part is I find more & more I want to explore some non-17th-century work. I have lots of ideas; carved bowls, John Brown-style chairs (I never finished my one attempt), and baskets too. That’s part of why I fixed up my shaving horse. I hope to use it more again…

Here’s another type of chair I want to make:

Winterthur bretstuhl

I made one maybe 30 years ago almost. It was based on one Drew Langsner made in Switzerland.  Now I have two great pieces of walnut for the seat & back, and shaved some hickory heartwood legs. So that might be one of my first projects when I get the bench set up here at home.

I spent 20 years in that shop. It really was the absolute best part of my life. I met my wife there. And many many great friends, some of you know the blog Blue Oak – most of those guys worked with us at Plimoth for years.

For my last woodworking project in that version of the joiner’s shop, I carved a sign to go in my future personal shop – thinking along the lines of “if you build it they will come” – only in this case, it’s “make the sign, then get a shop to go with it.” Way back when, I saw this approach work for someone that my friend Heather hired when we were picture framers. His name was Sluggo, & he made godawful posters & album covers for a band that did not exist yet. But lo & behold, he eventually got the band and the rest is history…he’s a renowned punk musician in San Francisco. So this is my Slugg0-inspired shop sign. Thanks D.C.

PF sign

I went out with Paula & Marie again to see the snowy owls. One is very cooperative – the other stayed off by itself in the dunes.

snowy

links -

Slugg0 - http://www.thegrannies.com/news.htm (I can’t recommend clicking that link!) But Sluggo is/was great fun.

http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/

http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/

UPDATE: I wrote this, then kept going further & further on Roald’s blog, which he does with Tomas Karlsson. It’s amazing stuff. You like old benches – get to it! Great stuff, Roald & Tomas – I’ll keep watching http://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/

here’s what I wrote first:

This ol’ world just keeps getting smaller & smaller…

Back in 2010 I wrote a bit about 17th-century workbench fittings. In that post http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/workbench-fittings-17th-c-style/ I mentioned the wooden bench hook used for sawing and other tasks.

Here’s my all-time-most beat-up version, since then replaced..I shave pegs on mine in addition to backsaw work, etc.

I had never seen a period example, nor even really a good image of one. There’s a sort of miter-box version in Moxon, with his characteristic lousy detail engraving. But today I got this comment from Roald Renmælmo from Norway:

January 16, 2014 at 9:31 am e

I was inspecting the Vasa bench deadman this week in Stockholm. I was also trying to fit it correctly. In my opinion the front surface of the stiles and the Vasa deadman are in the same plane. It might have been mounted wrong earlier?

I did also find at wooden bench hook from the Vasa wreck. It was 24″ long and had also been used as a simple “mitre box” for small stock. I will post some pictures of that on my blog soon.

Roald Renmælmo, Norway
http://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/

And so he did, so head over to Roald’s blog to see the excellent photos of this bench hook/miter box. When I get my shop back up & running, (more on that hideous story later) I hope to make a new version myself.

Thanks, Roald. I’d mail you 25 cents, but it would cost more than that to get it to you!

Enough of that holiday stuff, time for some woodworking. First class of the year for me is at Bob Van Dyke’s place in the wilds of Connecticut. Saturday & Sunday, February 8th & 9th, 2014 I’ll be at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in Manchester, CT to teach a 2-day class in carving 17th-century style patterns in oak. Bob’s school gets an astounding array of teachers and students, the focus on “period” furniture is first-rate.

we’ll have oak, we’ll have carving tools. Students bring their tools too…come see Bob get unsettled when we look at slides. He sees faces in all the patterns, and it’s not a good thing…

http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html

sign up, come carve a bunch. we’ll have a blast.

carving samples

carving samples

 

reproduction 17th-century furniture

Here’s some photos from one of last year’s classes

 

leslie diggin the posture

 

I thought I had a lot of carving tools

dedham panel

 

 

 

The end of the year. It’s OK w me, I don’t mind seeing it go, but they sorta run together anyway. I have known Heather for ages & ages, she wrote a nice piece about her approach to winter, post-holidays. Good stuff.  http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/2013/12/28/resolutions/

I have been carving spoons steadily, while on vacation from the shop. I’ll be back there in some capacity soon, but hewing & carving away at spoons meanwhile. Also, the end-of-the-year sorting of photos, many that never made it anywhere.

Here goes:

First, some spoon wood. Snow is now gone, I hope it comes back.

spoon wood piled high

I finished a few of these cherry serving spoons, two were sold, and we kept one – here they are chip-carved & oiled. Shows the patterns in the bowls I spoke of earlier.

spoons finished

Now, leftover photos. I will never get around to telling the story of this stupid holdfast. Presented to me by Ken Schwarz at Colonial Williamsburg in 2007, mostly just to shut me up…you had to be there…

holdfast

I have a large oak table waiting to be shipped out to its customer. I flew blind as far as fitting the end boards – nothing to go by. It’s probably overkill, certainly is for the period, but it should hold.

perhaps overkill

Late Oct I took part in a program at Historic New England, and we got to see this chest up-close. Boston work, real nice.

boston chest w drawer HNE_edited-1

boston chest side panel HNE pl

At the back, there is wood-extraction galore – riven, fore-planed, millsawn, and frame-0r-pitsawn. The whole show.

boston chest pitsawing v millsawing

 

Saw this sticker in Lexington back in the spring. It never fit in a blog post, but been thinking about Maine lately…and the GD a consistent soundtrack.

GD maine sticker

Even lacking snow, the river is always worth watching. Resident mallards, few winter ducks thus far.

ducks

 

So how do I reckon the beginning of winter? Well, I walk down to the riverbank and turn left. Then I see this – and know it’s now winter.

 

river view

 

Look closer – up in the upper left corner,  two redtails sitting side-by-each. That’s winter.

two hawks

 

 

I really want to offer my most sincere thanks for all the great support I have received here from the blog-readers. I never expected such a response when I started this back in 2008. You have been great, I appreciate it. Back to the spoons now.

 

Now I am trying to go back to some ideas I had for blog posts that never got written in the last two months. First up is “wainscot.” I’ve always had it in mind to write about wainscot, then after reading Richard Law’s post about his reading of Wolsley & Luff’s Age of the Joiner it got in my noggin again. The book is a real mixed bag; but worth having if you’re careful. What Richard found out is that wainscot means different things at different times/places and needs.

One basic meaning of the word is paneled walls – a series of connected frame-and-panel constructions to sheath interior walls. Simple, right?

wainscot, Merchant's House, Wiltshire

wainscot, Merchant’s House, Wiltshire

Well, it also means imported oak from the Baltic. Or from elsewhere, through the Dutch territories. Or is means oak quartered, usually riven, as the Baltic oak mostly was.

muntin from wainscot of wainscot

muntin from wainscot of wainscot

muntin rear view

muntin rear view

It can also mean an object made with either these materials or this construction method. A wainscot chair can be an oak chair, it can also be a walnut chair, made with a joined frame and a paneled back.

wainscot chair

wainscot chair in oak

wainscot chair, walnut

wainscot chair, walnut

The absolute best discussion of it is now Adam Bowett’s entries for oak, wainscot etc in his newest book Woods Used in British Furniture-Making 1400-1900. I had mentioned this book a while back, it really is a great reference book. Costly, but worth the money. If money’s tight, absolutely get the library to hunt it down for you. But then you’ll want to buy it. I saved up and got one. The introduction and the entries on oak, mahogany and walnut are excellent research and writing. The other stuff too, but those are the ones I read first. His entry for wainscot is 9 pages long…you can skip my post here about it & go read Adam’s book instead. 

There are records in England of the word wainscot being a noun –  an early record is one I first saw in Wolsey & Luff’s book - an excerpt from the will of John Henryson of Kingston-upon-Hull, 1525, mentioning:       

 “I gif to William Henryson, the carver, at the next comying of the hulkes oute of Danske a c [hundred] wayne scottes”

These wainscots  are either bolts or logs of oak to be worked at their destination. 

Here’s Reverend William Harrison’s note about imported wainscot  - in A Description of England of the late sixteenth century: (1577 1st edition, or 1587 2nd)

“Of all oke growing in England, the parke oke is the softest, and far more spalt and brittle than the hedge oke. And of all in Essex, that growing in Bardfield parke is the finest for joiner’s craft: for oftentimes have I seene of their workes made of that oke so fine and faire, as most of the wainescot that is brought thither out of Danske, for our wainescot is not made in England.” 

John Evelyn, Sylva ( I think this is from the 1661 edition, but not sure) :

With Fir we likewise  make Wainscot, Floors, Laths, Boxes, and wherever we use the Deal; nor does there any Wood so well agree with the Glew as it, or so easie to be wrought: It is also excellent for Beams, and other Timber-work in Houses, being both light, and exceedingly strong, where it may lie dry everlasting, and an extraordinary saver of Oak where it may be had at reasonable price.

Nor are we to over-pass those memorable Trees which so lately flourished in Dennington Park neer Newberry: amongst which three were most remarkable from the ingenious Planter, and dedication (if Tradition hold) the famous English bard, Jeofry Chaucer; of which one was call’d the Kings, another the Queens. and a third Chaucers-Oak. The first of these was fifty foot in height before any bough or knot appear’d, and cut five foot square at the butt end, all clear Timber. The Queens was fell’d since the Wars, and held forty foot excellent Timber, straight as an arrow in growth and grain, and cutting four foot at the stub, and neer a yard at the top; besides a fork of almost ten foot clear timber above the shaft, which was crown’d with a shady tuft of boughs, amongst which, some were on each side curved like Rams-horns, as if they had been so industriously bent by hand. This Oak was of a kind so excellent, cutting a grain clear as any Clap-board (as appear’d in the Wainscot which was made thereof) that a thousand pities it is some seminary of the Acorns had not been propagated, to preserve the species.

 (Ahh, Evelyn brings up the word “clap-board” – we’ll get to that another day…)

In 17th-c New England they surely weren’t using any imported Baltic oak. There the word applied to local oak, probably riven on the quarter. Sometimes,  though, it was about the paneling, In Massachusetts Bay Colony’s earliest days, Governor John Winthrop chastised one of his deputies for being lavish with his own house.

“May 1, 1632  …upon this there arose another Question, about his howse: the Governor havinge formerly tould him, that he did not well to bestowe such cost about wainscottinge & addorninge his howse, in the beginning of a plantation, bothe in regarde of the necessitye of public charges & for example &c: his answeare now was, that it was for the warmthe of his howse, & the Charge was little, beinge but clapbordes nayled to the walles in the forme of wainscott.”  

(Richard S. Dunn, James Savage, Laetitia Yeandle, editors, The Journal of John Winthrop 1630-1649 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996) p.66.)

I’d say that’s the earliest use of that word in New England. And in that case, while clapboards were usually oak, the term wainscot here is about the wall-panelling. Faux wall paneling to boot. There’s a pine board chest at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society with narrow boards nailed to the front of it to mimic a joined chest. Sounds like the paneling Winthrop’s deputy had…

ply ant chest

 

Otherwise, New England inventories usually use the word as an adjective – wainscot chest, wainscot chair, etc. I can’t think of any examples like numerous English inventories where they list the wainscoting as a “moveable” like furniture.

Here’s an English one, from 1672,   Abraham Brecknock, Writtle, uses “wainscot” as both noun & adjective:

 “One drawing table, 6 joint stooles, and a forme and a Bible £2; One presse-cubbord, another wainscot cubbord and all the wainscot about the Hall, and the long bench joyning to the wainscot £7-10; Three chaires , 6 cushions & other implements £1 “

For the record of sawyers working the imported material, here’s a piece from London, 1633 - from Henry Laverock Phillips, Annals of the Worshipful Company of Joiners of the City of London, (London: privately printed, 1915) we get a petition filed by the Joiners Company against the Freemen Sawyers of London:

 “1633  Petition of the Compy of Joyners &c to the C of Aldermen against Freemen Sawyers

 Report to the C of Aldermen…we caused to come before us as well divers of the Cy of Joyners as other freemen Boxmakers as also the Sawyers we conferred also with the Wardens of the Carpenters Cy touching the matters complained.

 That within these twentie years the prices of sawing is so exceedingly increased by means that the freemen Sawyers have appropriated the performance of the work & that only forreyners have served under them as that there is now taken sometimes three pence and sometimes four pence for sawing a Curfe of Wainscott which was then done for three half pence and no more.” (p. 25, 26)

Links: 

Here’s Richard’s post from some time ago, that got me to thinking about this: http://www.flyingshavings.co.uk/believe-words-words-words-hamlet-act-ii-sc-2/

In it, our friend Tico Vogt mentioned the blog written down under by “Jack Plane” – I have been remiss to never bring this blog up here. It’s outstanding, just great. No idea who this fellow really is, but his work is great, and he knows period work quite well. You probably already read it, but if you don’t, you’d like it. Here’s the one Tico remembered about wainscot  http://pegsandtails.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/oak-in-the-seventeenth-and-eighteenth-centuries/

 

 

I shot some more stuff today…

I have been carving up the last of 2013′s spoons – some serving spoons in cherry heartwood. When cherry logs lay around too long, the sapwood goes off, but the heartwood is still good in this log after 8 months -

I shot these two spoon bowls together to show the variation in the grain pattern inside the bowl. The centerline on the spoon on the right is mostly centered on the piece of wood – so you get a nice, even concentric pattern as you cut into the succeeding layers to hollow out the bowl.

The one on the left was a bit whacky, I forget why now. Some defect caused me to line up the centerline of the spoon to one side of the centerline of the split billet. So now the grain pattern inside the bowl is one-sided. I like this effect; but I like the other one too. All this becomes horridly small details that matter to few…but it helps to know how & why different patterns emerge.

cherry spoons underway

cherry spoons underway

All the spoon blanks have to be split in such a way that the central section of the tree, the pith, is avoided. Usually it is hewn away. Leave it in, and the spoon will crack, probably more than 99% of the time.

But do you then hollow the side towards the bark, or towards the pith? Well, you can do either – one will get this pattern, one that. Here is a 3rd spoon dropped into the photo above, showing the pattern resulting from hollowing the face towards the pith. Usually I hollow the wood near the bark side, like the middle spoon.

3rd spoon

3rd spoon

When you hollow them in green wood (almost always the case) – the bark side bowl gets narrower, but deeper upon drying. The other gets wider, but shallower. This is the effect of differential shrinkage in the wood. More minutiae, though. The amount they shrink & distort is not great, to my way of thinking. I’m more concerned about the grain pattern, or quirks of the individual spoon blank. I generally work them all bark-side up, but if the tree has another idea…I’ll follow the tree’s lead.

 

Here’s some furniture that made it to the background paper today. First is the chest I made for the museum. Every year they have a raffle for one of these. This is the one I made piece-meal – started in April, finished in Oct/Nov. Never again. Finishing it up in the last few weeks was an ordeal.

raffle chest 2013

joined carving chest, 2013 – oak & pine

Here’s the little 2-panel chest I made for the Woodwright’s Shop episode. It still needs its hinges installed, but that’s manageable. A combination of red oak, with 2 white oak sawn panels in front. Pine floor boards.

two-sie chest

small joined chest, red & white oak, white pine

Here’s a detail of the next version of that little chest…I just couldn’t leave all that blank oak around. This one’s for me…riven matched panels in front.

next two-sie chest

gouge-carved chest in progress

The gouge-cut carvings. one tool, two moves.

next two-sie detail

detail carving

a joinefd form, red & white oak. A little more than 5 feet long, I think. I forget. The seat is quartersawn white oak.

joined form

joined form, red & white oak

I am starting to assemble the schedule for where and when I will be teaching in 2014. This list is partial; as of right now (Dec 2013) – I will update it as things get sorted out. Some of these places have their schedules posted, some are still in the works. I’ll also keep it as a separate page here on the blog for later access. Hope to see you out & about…

PF carving strapworkFebruary 8 & 9, 2014 – Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Manchester, CT. Carving 17th-century style. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes  Bob Van Dyke runs a great place there. Fun will be had. Watch in horror as Bob loses it when we look at period carvings, “All I see is faces” says Bob. 2 days of learning the tools to use, how to work with them this way & that, and generate different patterns. Layout, execution – folks usually carve about 5 different patterns, including one full-size panel version.

spoon carving

May 11 & 12, 2 days of spoon carving instruction at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME. My first-ever attempt at teaching spoon carving. I am really excited to tackle this. If you read the blog, you know I have been carving spoons for many years, and every day for the past few. Axes, knives & more – what fun. They will have the details up on their website soon. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshops/

mini chest

August 4-8, 2014 – The Woodwright’s School, Pittsboro, NC. – This time, Roy has been kind enough (or nuts enough) to agree to us trying to make a small joined chest in a week. A mix of riven oak and sawn boards (maybe pine – we have some details to work out…) – it will be much like the joined chest we did on his show this past season. (flat lid instead of panels though – enough joinery already) Riving, hewing, planing – mortise & tenon, then grooves & panels. If it works, it’ll be something. Well, it’ll be something anyway…

carved box 2011

September 22-26 – Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts - http://www.heartwoodschool.com/coursefr.html  WOW – I’ll teach right here in Massachusetts. I was a student at Heartwood back in 1984 – and now 30 years later I’ll be teaching the make-a-carved-box class there. Riving oak, planing, carving, assembly – another mix of riven oak & sawn pine. Assembly with hand-wrought nails, wooden pins, and a wooden hinge. I’m really looking forward to returning to Heartwood.

(Will Beemer was able to find a photo that had me in it from 1984 – I’m the skinny longhair sorta just behind/above the fellow in white overalls…head down, arms up.)

PF at Heartwood

There are other things coming up, some museum lecture/demos; one at Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in NC – in March. Haven’t been there in ages. I’ll also add another class at CVSWW – this one a 3-day class in making a carved frame-and-panel. So some carving, and some joinery for those too smart to tackle 16 or more mortise & tenons! I’ll get that sorted soon, sorry Bob. The 2-day open house at Lie-Nielsen in July – I missed it in 2013, so cleared room in 2014.

I’ll flesh this listing out as it gets more details.

Moving is a good time to sort junk & throw out some stuff. Moving the shop is no exception. I got to the small bookcase & sifted through some magazines…I had long intended to go through the back issues of Antiques & Fine Art and snip out the photos and articles that might be useful, and ditch the rest. I can save 2 feet of shelf space by doing just that. I ran across this advertisement from a 2004 issue of the magazine:

box ad

 

I had never seen this box before it appeared in this ad…and I have never seen it otherwise for that matter. But to me, it resembles the work in the cupboard at the MFA that I worked on some years ago. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=MFA+cupboard

To review that project – the MFA owns a 1680s/90s cupboard base. They asked me to make a top to go with it, but worked to look “as new.” It was a great project, one in which I had lots of help from their conservation people and those at Winterthur Museum as well. Here’s my result, before it was installed at the MFA.

upper case, MFA cupboard, 2010

upper case, MFA cupboard, 2010

To get to that, we studied the related objects. In all, we only knew of 4 pieces from this un-identified shop. Here they are:

First is the MFA cupboard base. The top drawer is carved on a shaped drawer front applique – and the stiles are carved below this drawer. Plus false muntins on the 2nd & 3rd drawers. Highlighted w paint.

MFA cupboard base

MFA cupboard base

a detail:

S-scroll MFA cupboard

S-scroll MFA cupboard

The chest wth drawers at Concord (MA) Museum is a great example of this guy’s work. It’s all kinds of weird in its construction, but the carving and paint are immediately recognized.

 

chest w drawers overall b&w

A detail of the carving:

concord detail

This old photo of the cupboard head at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY shows what was left c. 1900 or so. They had the base too, but this one I cropped when I was studying the cupboard’s upper case.

 

Met cupboard head

 

The box at Winterthur is a fine example, I especially like its small size. It’s dated in paint on the side, I think it’s 1698.

 

Winterthur box, dated 1698

Winterthur box, dated 1698

You might remember one of my interpretations of this box just the other day:

painted box Nov 2013

When I ran across the photo at the top of this page in the shop today, I started to make out in my head how to lay it out…within a few minutes I figured it would be quicker & easier just to lay it out on wood & carve it. so I did.

 

half-carved

half-carved

I tilted the board a bit, to try to show the layout scribed w a compass…it’s a bit hard to pick out. But it’s there.

half-carved & layout

half-carved & layout

What fun! Once I got that out of my system,  I went back to sorting & cleaning.

 

A few notes from the shop – it turns out I will not have any more spoons for sale this month.  A couple of people wrote & ordered some, and those I have just about done. But I decided not to tackle more. It was getting too hectic, and I have enough to grapple, cleaning out this stuff.

where to begin

where to begin

I will have one more carved framed panel, if anyone is interested. I cut the frame at the Lie-Nielsen event at Phil Lowe’s the other day…so I just have to clean it up a bit, and take proper photographs.

last one for 2013

last one for 2013

Meanwhile, the best day in the shop in ages was Sunday, Daniel came back. Can’t say too much, he’s making a Xmas present. But we had a great time. Being in the public eye 8 months out of the year means the kids only get to the shop during the 0ff-season. So we’re making the most of it right now.

 

Then, this red-bellied woodpecker sat right out the upstairs window at home. You can tell he’s a red-bellied, because the red head is not all-over. I didn’t name these creatures…in the last shot you can actually see a smudge of red down near his nether parts. That’s where his name comes from. His belly is mostly white, with a streak of red. a faint streak.

I’ll be posting my teaching schedule for 2014 soon. It’s a busy one…

Some stuff I have been finishing up. Got to photographing it on Thursday.

A small carved & painted box. I did one like this before, when I was working on the cupboard for the MFA. This one is not a copy of an existing piece, but based on a couple of examples we studied while researching that project.

painted box Nov 2013

 

Open showing the till inside.

 

 

 

carved & painted box open

 

And a detail showing the wooden hinge – a pin on the extension of the rear board, fitting through a hole bored in the lid’s cleats.

carved & painted box detail till hinge

 

In keeping with the squiggle-painted decor – here’s a joined stool I built during the book project, but just painted this fall.

joined stool painted Nov 2013

 

Then next stool was a customer-request. Carved aprons.

joined stool carved fall 2013

joined oak stool carved fall 2013

 

I’m also finishing up the bookstand orders I got – one more to go. I keep hearing about “oh, you can use an Ipad on them too!” – I don’t want to know about it!

bookstand

 

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