a further look at some period joinery work

I did a couple of presentations last weekend at Fine Woodworking Live; a seminar put on by the magazine. It was a sold-out affair, and seems like everyone had a good time. With the magazine staff, the presenters and the attendees there were close to 300 people there. All trying to consume as much information about woodworking and furniture-making as possible.

My talks were 90 minutes, and it’s hard to cram everything I know into that time slot. Because my work is so closely based on studying period pieces, I tried to show some examples prior to my demonstrations. This blog post will flesh out some of what I was talking about.

Al Breed came to one of my sessions, and asked about the insides of the mortises; is there any indication that the joiners bored them first? My reading of the evidence is that these narrow mortises, typically about 5/16″, are just chopped. No need to bore them first. These shots (scanned from slides, thus not as sharp as they might be) show the inside of the top front rail of a chest from the Smithsonian. The chest was made c. 1640-1670. Oak. The joint is broken open near where the till parts fit. One of the nice things about oak is how well it splits, but that’s a drawback too.

inner front rail, smithsonian chest

Here’s a detail of that joint, showing the chopped bottom of the mortise, in the first photo you can also see the angle of the mortise’s end grain cuts, and the trimming of the tenon’s edges.

 

This chest has a joined front fixed to board sides and back. So a blending of a board-chest and a joined chest. Two pieces built this way survive from this shop.

Figure 9

(the photo above is from http://www.chipstone.org/article.php/222/American-Furniture-1996/Seventeenth-Century-Joinery-from-Braintree,-Massachusetts:-The-Savell-Shop-Tradition )

To me it’s not a surprise that this joint blew apart, the surprising part is that more didn’t. I have written before about how much wood is cut away right were all these parts converge – the mortises for the top rails, the grooves for panels on front & side, the notches for the till side and till bottom, and the mortise bored for the till lid. It’s like a game of connect-the-dots.

here is part of that earlier post:

This next photo is the front stile for the chest I’m building now. This stile is red oak, and it’s about 3 1/4″ wide by 1 3/4″ thick. Clustered up near the top end of the stile are several cuts into the stock.
  • First, the two mortises, for the front and side upper rails. These are 5/16″ wide by about 3 3/4″ high. The one for the front rail is about 1 1/2″ deep, the other about 1 1/4″ deep.
  • Each has two 1/4″ holes bored in them, those for the front rail go all the way through the stile.
  • There is a groove running along each edge, into these mortises, for the beveled panels.
  • Additionally there is a notch cut across the inner face of the stile for the till bottom. this notch is about 3/8″ wide and about the same depth. It is positioned so that the till bottom is flush with the bottom edge of the upper rails.
  • What is missing from this photo is one more assault on this piece of wood – the hole bored into the stile for the hinged end of the till lid. This hole is usually about 3/8″ in diameter and about 1/2″ deep, and right near what will be the top end of the stile, after the extra wood is trimmed off the top. It will be about 3/8″ away from the mortise for the side rail.
That’s a lot of cuts into this piece of wood, all in the same neighborhood. Sometimes I am amazed that the stile can take it.

 

Another thing we discussed (I think this was a breakfast discussion…) was the backs of pieces. Chris Becksvoort was telling us about Shaker work, Al Breed about Newport 18th-century work – I chimed in with a group of chests and cupboards from Plymouth Colony from the 2nd half of the 17th century. Here’s the surviving section of a chest with four drawers; in “as found” condition. 

Look inside, the inner face of the rear section is a bit firewood-like. (the strap hinges are replacements) Narrow oak panels, with muntins that have large torn-out sections from riving them:

And a knot in one, and panels with riven texture – not planed smooth.

Sometimes the insides have fully-formed moldings on the framing parts. These get covered up as soon as the chest is filled with textiles. Some Boston joiners did the same thing.

All the chests and cupboards from this large body of work use employ chamfers on the framing parts on the side elevations; usually stopped chamfers. You see it below on the lower edge of the horizontal rail:

stopped chamfers

But they did it too on the rear elevation. Sometimes smooth transitions, sometimes stopped chamfers. This is the part of the cupboard or chest that gets shoved against the wall! Hard to understand the outside being so neat when sometimes the inside is just this side of firewood.

 

 

 

Hewing Wooden Bowls

I’m getting ready to go over to Southbridge, Massachusetts for Fine Woodworking Live http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/  but in the meantime, Lie-Nielsen just posted a preview of my new video on hewing wooden bowls. I copied it here, in case anyone would like to see what this video covers. I still have some available:  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/  and they have the rest https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos

 

 

a bunch of carved stuff, some intentionally half-done

I have been doing some carving lately…I have a number of half-finished (some 7/8 finished) stuff around. The oak I’ve been carving lately is intentionally half-finished, so I have stuff to demonstrate at the Fine Woodworking Live event this coming weekend.

In the 7/8 finished department, there is this – what’s different? It’s maple. Slated to be a cutting board (the blank side, of course). I’ll cut out a handle at one end, with a hole for hanging it, carving-facing-out, when it’s not in use. Here’s one from before – (I thought it was pretty new. But 1 1/2 years have gone by since I made that one.)https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/why-did-this-take-so-long/

As I was sorting & organizing this shop, I squirreled away some walnut scraps leftover from a joint stool…and last week I started making this book stand. Just a little trimming here & there (the finials for instance), and pinning the joints left.

This chair frame is mostly done – maybe it’s less than 7/8s there, but it’s close. There’s a crest rail all carved, but it doesn’t go on until after assembly. I just have to cut the rear stretcher, then add two figures that get attached to the rear stiles, and the crest. Oh, and the seat. But that’s plain…

The past couple of days I’ve been cutting parts for the headboard of a bedstead I’m making for a very patient customer (thanks, Wendy!) This is what I will demonstrate on at FWW Live. I have 2 long rails cut, one is all carved. The other has enough of its pattern for people to see what it’s headed toward…so I’ll have some of that carving to do, and some mortises & tenons to cut. I fitted one muntin today, and planed & laid out another.

Closer view of the same grouping.

Here’s the muntin. All this work is in oak, as it should be.

A detail of the patterns on the two long rails.

some more prep work tomorrow. Then off to Southbridge MA on Friday for the event.

spring cleaning pt 1

we started spring cleaning here yesterday.  I spent the day in the back yard, burning the winter’s collection of brush/branches, etc. It’s a once-a-year chance to spend the entire day by the riverbank…with nothing to do but feed and watch a fire.

I saw lots of birds during the day’s fire. Didn’t get shots of most of them, but here’s a few. (I don’t know what this looks like on your end, but when I preview it, if I click on the photos, they get pretty large, makes them easier to see. sometimes 2 clicks.) There were ospreys around much of the day, but only briefly when I had a camera in my hands:

The cormorants were fishing; but they were quite skittish. Here they are high-tailing it away:

If I was sitting on the riverbank, the red-breasted mergansers paid no attention to me;

when I was standing they either went up the other side of the river, or flew off.

This week I have a few things coming up. Going out to answer a call “Do you want some wide red oak?” – pretty simple question to answer. So some log-splitting coming up. Then I have to plan out my demo/talk for Fine Woodworking Live  http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/ – it’s my first time working with them. Looks like it will be quite an event.

thanks for all the support from those who have ordered the new videos. I really appreciate it. My setup was a bit clunky, but I went in & made it so those ordering both titles are only paying one shipping fee. I refunded any who got caught in the earlier “double-shipping” debacle. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/  I have some oak boxes underway, and some hewn bowls. I’ll shoot some of it soon & post some stuff here so any who have not seen the details can get an idea of what the fuss is about…

New DVDs; carving oak boxes & hewing wooden bowls

I just got a shipment from Warren, Maine – 2 boxes of new DVDs from Lie-Nielsen. We’ve had these in the works for a while, but better late than never. The first is Carving Oak Boxes.

This makes the 3rd oak project video; after the wainscot chest & the wainscot chair. I think this one is my favorite – it covers making 2 different boxes – one typical flat-lidded box, with wooden hinges and a till inside. The other is the slant-lidded “desk” box. This has 2 tills, a tray and 4 small drawers inside. The video also covers carving the designs on the desk box – patterns that I have done from the very beginning of my carving career, and have never put in the previous videos on carving.

Here’s the desk box –

——————–

The 2nd video is Hewing Wooden Bowls

Like spoon carving, a whole sub-culture of bowl-carving is gathering quite a bit of momentum. Who can blame them? Axes, adzes and gouges – what could be more fun? I was on a spree of hewing bowls a couple summers ago, and had done an episode of Roy Underhill’s show about this work. Then I went up to Maine to shoot this video shortly after that. Things got in the way, and my bowl-work got shelved for a while, but just lately I have started picking up my bowl-carving tools again.  I think of  this video as an introduction to this work; showing how I split, hew and plan out the shape. Then follow that work with gouges and other shaping. The whole reason I make them is to decorate them, and that is covered too.

Here’s one of the bowls:

 

I have some of each video for sale, price is $40 each, with $3.50 shipping in US. This page has them, with a paypal button for ordering: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/

Contact me for shipping outside the US – we can figure out pricing. Peter.Follansbee@verizon.net

(I hope this works – I’m a bit clunky with the retail end of blogging. With my spoons, I usually send out an invoice – but there’s usually only a dozen of those at a time. I tried to set this up so it will take you right to payment – so I don’t have to send out invoices. If there’s a wrinkle, bear with me, and we’ll get it sorted. Fingers crossed.)

or you can order directly from Lie-Nielsen https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos

some of my older videos are available to purchase as streaming videos through Lie-Nielsen, instead of buying a physical disc. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4228/peter-follansbee

Maureen’s knitting & felting; Greenwood Fest stuff too

I’m in-between spoon batches right now…just started a few new ones yesterday. Meanwhile, Maureen tells me she updated her etsy site, with “spring” colors. For those interested, here’s the site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

(what am I going to use as her next backdrop? These panels became a chest & a chair…)

3 Felted wool bowls, light green, pink & yellow, stackable, Easter baskets,spring decor, Nature table, Waldorf inspired. open ended play

Two felted wool bowls, light green and yellow, Easter Baskets, spring decoration,Waldorf inspired

 

on other fronts:

Did you see the piece about Dave Fisher from Fine Woodworking? http://www.finewoodworking.com/2017/04/07/motc-bowl-carver 

It’s nice to see Dave getting such wide acclaim. We’re thrilled to have him as part of Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest. If you’re in the area, come see some of his work at the opening of the exhibition on Sunday: http://fullercraft.org/event/living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft/ – the show runs til June 25th.

If you missed out on Greenwood Fest tickets, you can still be a part of the pre-fest scene, which will amount to about a 3/4 size festival! There’s still openings in Jane Mickelborough’s Folding Spoon class and Tim Manney’s Sharpening class. Jane’s spoons are really among the most exciting things happening in the spoon world right now. Rooted in local (Breton) tradition, a fascinating way to learn some history and craft at the same time.

folding-5

Here’s some of the story: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/jane-mickelboroughs-folding-spoons/ 

Tim’s sharpening class is a real eye-opener. We had it at Plymouth CRAFT one weekend, and people were running around asking “what else can I sharpen?” Sharpening is of course essential, but often gets short-shrift. But those who take the time to learn it have an edge over all the procrastinators…

hollow-ground-hatchet

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/sharpening-w-tim-manney-at-plymouth-craft/

Sign up for either of these here: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses

Fuller Craft Museum this weekend

It’s going to be a busy weekend at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. I’m heading there Saturday as part of the audience, to see Terry Martin & Zina Burloiu. http://fullercraft.org/event/deep-collaboration-demonstration-show-and-lecture-from-terry-martin-zina-manesa-burloiu/

I remember reading about Zina’s spoon carving and her chip carving, way back when in the old Woodwork magazine. I still have the article, it tells a fascinating story about her first trip from Romania to the US, where she took part in a turning conference. Must have been the 1990s, if I remember right.

The next time I saw her work in “print” was on Robin Wood’s blog about the first Täljfest at Sätergläntan. There she is, showing Wille Sundqvist her chip carving…and when I saw this, I remembered the Woodwork article.

http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/wood-craft-blog/2013/10/26/wood-carving-festival-saterglantan-sweden-taljfest/

Then, when our friends at Fuller Craft began talking to Plymouth CRAFT about an exhibition, I was barely paying attention – “yes, of course I’ll be a part of it…”  Then my friend Denise Lebica mentioned that the same weekend, Zina Burloiu was going to be there. I jumped at the chance to see her & her work in person. It’s not just Zina’s work, of course. I don’t want to short-change Terry Martin, her collaborator for many years. Here is a link to Terry’s site, which includes the background of their collaboration: http://terrymartinwoodartist.com/new_direction.html

Terry kindly sent me a couple of shots of Zina’s chip carving:

 

Then on Sunday I’ll be back as a participant in the opening of the Plymouth CRAFT exhibition, “Living Traditions: The Handwork of Plymouth CRAFT” – http://fullercraft.org/event/living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft/

The day includes a reception and a panel discussion in the afternoon:  http://fullercraft.org/event/opening-reception-for-living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft-and-ellen-schiffman-the-52-box-project/

So a couple of round trips to Brockton. I’m spoiled with my new commute of 15 steps outside the door. I’m going to have to get in the car for this…