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…

As many of you know, no visit to the Woodwright’s School is complete without a trip upstairs to Ed Lebetkin’s tool store… http://www.woodwrightschool.com/the-tool-store/

I long ago gave up the notion of trying to get away without spending any money; it’s easier to just accept your fate if you go there. I really don’t know of many physical places anymore that have this many tools worth plowing through. At Ed’s it’s not like you have to sift through boxes of junk to get at the good stuff. It’s all worthy, good stuff. 

Here’s some general views 

ed's store p 2

 

ed's store

 

ed's chisels

 

I came away with an interesting plow plane, and my usual half-dozen piercer bits. I was looking at a European model, when Ed showed me this very simple one. So back went the Euro plow, and this one’s now here in New England, ready for tinkering at some point – next month. I have no time for fiddling with it right now. Looks like birch to me. 

 

simple plow overall

detail 1

detail 2

detail 3

detail 4

 

First there is a joined chest

mini chest

then there is no joined chest…

no joined chest

then there is…

then there is

Ahh, the miracle of television (& ear worms…)

Just back from teaching the joint stool class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. This class went better than any joined stool class I have done. My thanks to all the students who came from near & far (Dave from New Zealand took the mileage prize -if there was one. Other than he had to eat all the local food they put in front of him. “What, no possum?”) Very nice people, and all worked very hard in tough weather…

When I travel I don’t usually check email, blogs, etc. It’s nice to be disconnected, but also I have lots to focus on when teaching. We had 9 students making joined stools at Roy’s last week. That’s lots of chances for stuff to go wrong. So night-times I was trying to figure out the next move. And recover from the heat & humidity. So now I’ll run down some of what we did. Here’s a look at the first day’s work. First off, we had a great batch of oak logs. Three sections that were 24″ long, and almost that wide. AND they split flat in the radial plane. That meant no twist, thus easy planing. But these guys didn’t know that yet. 

first splits

splitting open the oak sections

It looks like this one got opened into thirds, then broken down into the eighths I had marked out. I only saw this now while sorting photos. And I took the picture! The humidity was so high that my camera lens fogged up at one point. 

 

 

 

 

 

split how

the peace oak

Here’s Jamie using a very large froe to bust out some stiles from the 1/8ths. We wanted 40 stiles and got ‘em. 

froe

Then it was into town for lunch, then some bench work begun – starting to plane the rail stock. Very green oak, with an extremely high tannic acid content. We learned about cleaning tools quickly. 

planing

 

http://www.woodwrightschool.com/

http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

 

Packing to go to Roy’s this week. Joint stool class, followed by TV shooting…so I have been very busy, but not much to write or show…

 

here is a neat little thing a friend brought in the other day for me to look at. I had nothing concrete to say about it, other than it’s really nice. Said to have been brought from England or Wales, guessing by the family story late 19th/early 20th century. Looks like it’s seen a lot of use, for some reason or other. Hung on the wall…

front viuew

slider

painted panel

mini cupboard

 

Here is my small joined chest. It was really hard to not carve this. It’s semi-assembled, but I knocked it apart today to pack in the car. We’ll build it on Roy’s show. If all goes well…

mini chest

joined chest, H: 20″ W: 30″ D: 15″

 

chest floor

inside, showing till & floor

Meanwhile, at the house – “PLAY BALL!”

PLAY BALL

PLAY BALL

Just read Phil House’s book Perfect Once Removed. A reminiscence about 10-yr old Phil, finding out his cousin was Don Larsen, who later that year (1956) pitched a perfect game in the World Series.

 

 

 

yellowlegs

yellowlegs

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

joined form & 1/2 pair of joint stools

joined form & 1/2 pair of joint stools

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…

 

my version of a Thomas Dennis wainscot chair

my version of a Thomas Dennis wainscot chair

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…

carved box, May 2013

carved box, May 2013

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…

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/make-a-joint-stool-at-roy-underhills-july-15-19/

 

 

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.

splitting oak w wedges

splitting oak w wedges

hewing at the mill

hewing at the mill

Maybe the owls will come out to watch.

Roy's barred owl

Roy’s barred owl

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.

lots of planing to do

lots of planing to do

the Bag Man

the Bag Man

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.

chamfered frame

chamfered frame

pole lathe practice

pole lathe practice

There’ll be tools galore, I’ll bring mine, Roy’s school has tons, then there’s Ed’s store upstairs!

overall ed's

some of ed's planes

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/

get goin'

get goin’

and miles. Over 10,000 of them.

Cooper’s hawk

I guess if you’re not early, you’re late. So the schedule for workshops in 2013 is cooking all over the world right now…

I have a few dates I can post right now, others are being finalized & I”ll put them up here soon. I have to strike some sort of balance if I want to stay married (yes) and employed (mostly), so I have a few full weeks of classes, and a few weekend sessions. I hope to add some as I can…

First is a semi-woodsy bit. I am one of a host of speakers at the Furniture Forum at Winterthur in early March 2013. My talks are easy, I get a workbench and tools, so I just do my usual thing. Only in somewhat nicer clothing, probably. I am also listed as doing some “workshops” but Winterthur means something different from what I think a workshop is…so I look at these as more like a demonstration – like my day job. Here’s the whole brochure. FF Brochure 2013_Web (2)

 

Now – do you want to make a joined stool?

joined stool, chamfered not turned

Want to make a joined stool way out west?  I have been to the west before, having lectured and done research in Hartford, CT. But this is even further west than that…April 22-26 at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

http://www.ptwoodschool.com/Home.html

Here they are riving some stock, but wait, what woods do they use there? Not oak?? There’s woods other than oak?

Port Townsend WA

Yup, it’s experimentation time. But it should be fun. There’s a weekend class following it in just the carving patterns. I am really looking forward to these workshops, I have never been to that part of the country. The carving class info is not up yet, (I was late getting stuff to Tim, sorry Tim.)

http://www.ptwoodschool.com/joint_stool_from_a_tree.html

 

June 7-13. I don’t drink beer. I don’t eat meat. And I don’t speak German. But still, because of Thomas Lie-Nielsen and Chris Schwarz, the folks at Dictum in Germany want me to come teach a class how to make the carved boxes I do. Me? Teach carving in Bavaria? Has the world gone nuts? We’ll see in June. Info is not up yet…  http://www.mehr-als-werkzeug.de/page/kurse-in-metten.htm

how could I say no

 

July 15-19 I’ll do the joined stool in honest-to-goodness oak at the Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro. Roy hasn’t got the schedule together yet. But he will. It will be a gas.

many shavings

 

Then in August (12-16), I’ll be back in North Carolina at my long-time favorite woodworking school – Country Workshops. http://countryworkshops.org/ We’ll make the carved boxes -

“been there so long he’s got to callin’ it home” is how I feel about this place.

up towards the workshop

and if enough of us show up, I bet Louise will make pizza that Drew will fire in their outdoor oven. Don’t miss it. Have a look:

pizza at Country Workshops

Here’s Louise’s blog, in case you’ve missed it when I posted before http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/

 

This coming Friday I’ll be at the Lie-Nielsen Event at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Bob Van Dyke’s place in Manchester, CT. While I am there, Bob & I will figure out a winter date for a weekend class in carving. So that will actually be first of the season for me…the lineup this weekend is really something. Come by if you are around the area.  http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=93

 

Enough. It’s not like I’m Chris Schwarz or something.

 

 

 

the Woodwright's Shop

look where I was last week.

I have had very good fortune in my woodworking career – great teachers, friends, projects. All I could ask for…

One of the top highlights has been the chance for the past 10+ years to work on occasion with Roy Underhill. Roy saw my shop at Plimoth one day on a scouting trip he made through New England, looking for ideas for his show. I remember getting a phone message at work – “Roy Underhill called you” …”yea, sure” says me.

It’s hard to express the impact Roy’s books and shows have had on my work. I remember being in my early 20s, having just met Alexander & Langsner – and the green woodworking world was pretty small. Having found a television show about it was astounding…I remember watching the first couple of seasons on my lunch breaks at my part-time picture-framing job. I used to go to the local pizza joint & change the channel to see the show.

Years later, I ended up working in the living history museum field – and lo & behold, one of the books that addresses some of the challenges in that work is also by Roy – Krushchev’s Shoe: and Other Ways to Captivate an Audience of 1 to 1,000  (http://www.amazon.com/Khrushchevs-Shoe-Other-Captivate-Audience/dp/0738206725/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1335301008&sr=8-3)

So whenever I’m at a symposium, lecture, woodworking shows, etc where Roy is also on the bill, I try to make sure I get to see what he’s up to. It’s always worth seeing. Great teacher, presenter, lecturer, also can do woodwork – except he hasn’t finished a project in 32 years! Still worth it.

Last week, we had great students from many parts of the country, they had come a long ways, set aside time from their busy lives, all to let folks like Roy & I get to do what we love to do – share our ideas about furniture & woodworking.

students carving

another

learning to hew

more

many shavings

Ed Lebetkin’s store upstairs continues to swell w tools… if he doesn’t have what you’re looking for, he’ll probably end up with it soon.

tip of the iceberg

 

partial view of the whole iceberg up there. If you’re looking for something in particular, write to Ed  at edlebetkin@gmail.com

 

partial view of the whole iceberg

 Here’s a drawing my son Daniel did after watching an episode where Roy & I made spoons. To the right behind me are the finished spoons that were propped up for viewing in that episode. As well as a bunch of blocks that Roy brought in to make spoons from, behind him:

The episode is here, # 3108  http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/video/3100/index.html 

So if you have not yet made it to Pittsboro, NC for a class at the Woodwright’s School, put it on your list. It’s getting better all the time. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/

I feel that being a part of his Woodwright’s School is truly an honor, a real highlight in my career. Thanks for having me Roy, it means a lot to me.

BUT – here is the real kicker from the week down south: 

barred owl

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