small chest

It’s been about 6 months that I’ve been “out on my own” (I think Roy Underhill called it “free at last”) but I still haven’t really settled into a woodworking routine like I once had…Today, I picked up where I left off over a year and a half ago – finishing a small joined chest I made for Roy’s show in 2013…  http://video.pbs.org/video/2365021510/ and http://video.pbs.org/video/2365079634/

I’ve only had it kicking around for I don’t know how long, and it took all of an hour to finish it off. Needed to drive four nails, trim the floor boards, and set one hinge.

trimming floor boards

hinges

inside chest

 

How stupid that I left it so long! It’s been on the blog in pieces a number of times, I even took it back to Roy’s this past summer, where it was the model for our week-long chest class. Now – it’s done. I copied its proportions from some English examples, it’s quite small. 30″ w x 20″ h x 17″ d. A mixture of sawn and riven oak, with pine floor boards and rear panel. No decoration other than the bevels around the panels. Paneled lid, interior till. It’s for sale if anyone’s interested; send an email if you’d like to talk about it. $2,000 plus shipping. or pick it up. 

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I finished this carved rail for the upcoming wainscot chair – started this carving as a museum demonstration at Historic New England in early December – at least it’s not waiting around 18 months. I’m working now on getting that chair moving along steadily; doing some joinery on it tomorrow. The panel is mostly carved, that should be done tomorrow too. 

carved rail 

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Updated the teaching schedule – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/  a couple of additions,

a hewn bowl class at Lie-Nielsen in late August, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/71

a splitting & riving class with Plymouth CRAFT in May in Plymouth Massachusetts; http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards

and we’re adding a 2nd 3-day class at Roy’s (it’s not posted yet) the first one sold out so quickly that we figured let’s add one…so mid-June in Pittsboro, NC. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/spoon-carving-w-peter-f/

Here’s some bowl shots from the other day. 

hewn bowl

hewn catalpa & birch

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While on the subject of classes – I was talking to the fellow who’s lining up the oak for the joined chest class at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking – this is oak like you won’t believe. If you’ve seen the posts I’ve done recently about the extra-wide oak – same source. Wow. This class is maybe half-full, or nearly so. A time commitment, but a project that will really be something. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/one-of-next-years-projects-a-carved-chest-w-drawers-at-cvsww/

panels

 

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

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Maureen is still willing to mail stuff in time – https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

back to the week that was…when we attempted to make 10 or 11 joined chests in no time at all. Knuckleheads. 

after all the riving and hewing; we hauled some of the stock into town to begin the task of planing it into boards. I’ll just bop the pictures in, then add whatever I can remember about it. Here’s Steven planing just like I showed him…

 

planing

Roy was astounded at the amount of shavings produced by working green wood

shavings pile up

roy & shavings

 

 

 

 

 

One of our un-named students works in a pointy building on the east coast, and to help him out, Roy put up surveillance cameras throughout the classroom..

woodwright cam

A broom wouldn’t do it, so Roy got out a pitchfork…

roy & shavings 2 roy & shavings 3

 

 

Elia couldn’t stand the idea of sending those shavings to the landfill, so we piled them in his truck.

off they go

 

We did get further along eventually; chopping mortises, over & over & over again. 

http---makeagif.com--media-8-20-2014-pYq8lu

 

Then plowing grooves, cutting tenons, test-fitting. 

plowing

 

layout

 

fitting

There was lots of documentation, 

it's horrible

 

until the last couple days, when I lost track of all – I spent 1/2 of the last 2 days with a checklist, “do you have all your muntin stock?” I never did get it all straight. it’s hard to keep track of 250 piece of oak that all look pretty much the same. 

Then one day Steven emerged from Ed’s store upstairs and everyone ran to his bench like it was Xmas morning – “whaddja get?” – so we had a show & tell…

xmas presents

Just another week at the Woodwright’s School…

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For those keeping track, some spoons and things for sale tomorrow…including this new piece: 

 

spoon rack

 

 

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.

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…

more oak 2

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:

growing piles of oak

 

We tried to sort and count them as we went, but it was doomed.

more oak

 

We need over 70 panels; about 8″ wide by 12-14″ long. SEVENTY!

panels

We scurried back to the woods to get more of this amazingly straight-grained oak. what a tree!

cross cut 2

I don’t know who this is, but he was not alone.

creature

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.

it's not that hard really

 

Next, they plane all the long rails, layout the joinery, chop mortises, plow grooves & cut tenons.

owlet

owlet

 

Although I can recite my travel schedule like Rain Man, fat lot of good that does folks out there looking for it written down. so now, 4 months late, I have updated the list. here’s the link, in case you’re looking for something to do.

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014-workshop-schedule/

 

If you want to skip the details, here’s the Readers’ Digest version

Apr – Rochester Woodworker’s Society

May – Lie Nielsen – spoon carving

June – SAPFM mid-year lecture/demo

June – Historic New England, lecture/demo

July – Lie-Nielsen Open House

July – Lie-Nielsen 17th-century carving

Aug – Woodwright’s School, make a joined chest

Sep – Heartwood (MA) – make a carved box

Oct – Lie-Nielsen – Spoon carving

Oct – Ct Valley School of Wood Working – Make a carved frame & panel.

 

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.

PF & Roy at Plimoth, 2002

PF & Roy at Plimoth, 2002

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. 

http://www.woodwrightschool.com/

http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/home/

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodwrights-shop-roy-underhill

I’ve forgotten now just exactly how it all went; but making the rail stock, then cutting tenons was among the first order of business once we had the riven pieces in the shool/bench room. Here’s an example of just how dead flat this wood was; these tenons in the first photo have not yet been pared – they were this flat and even from splitting the cheeks. When the oak works like that, the joinery is a snap.

great rough tenons

Here’s Jerome sawing shoulders, prior to splitting the cheeks. the students learned about working with stock having an irregular cross-section. Sometimes it does not lie flat on the wooden bench hook for sawing. This can make things confusing when you are trying to saw to the line – sometimes you’re not sawing parallel to the bench top, because of the tapered cross-section that stems from riving.

tenons

Then splitting with a chisel. Here’s Tony giving it a smack.

tenon splitting

Bill caught looking at the camera – he’s supposed to know better.

caught bill looking

A few rails with scratch stock moldings cut on their lower corners.

scratch moldings

Then came making the stiles, and mortising. Well, layout before that. The old “two-consecutive thoughts” situation…

The guys really bore down & chopped & chopped. 16 mortises is a lot if you’re not used to working this way. Here’s John & Kelly having at it.

more mortising

mortising

Then while packing to go to Lie-Nielsen, Roy took some time out to show us the passer drill that he & Peter Ross collaborated on. It';s based on a British version, used to cut out the cavities for inlaid brass or other metals in the stocks of squares and similar tools.

passer drill detail

passer drill

template

ready for brass inlay

old & new

Here’s a link to the whole story pretty much. I think he did it on the show one time, or in Popular Woodworking. I found this one on the web…

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