Joined Stool video series: Carving the apron

Today’s offering is an appendix to the joined stool video series; carving the apron. It’s a pattern I use frequently; it’s covered in my first video with Lie-Nielsen “17th Century New England   Carvings” https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos 

It’s also featured in my book Joiner’s Work with Lost Art Press – https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/joiners-work

That’s the blurbs out of the way. This video is pretty simple, it’s just 17 minutes of me carving a swath of this pattern. In this example, it’s about 10″ wide and maybe 2 3/4″ high. (I forget. I’m guessing, but I’m close.) One nice thing about these patterns (most of them anyway) is you can scale them up or down to some degree. This way you can accommodate different-sized spaces.

Here’s the tools I used – widest is maybe 3/4″ – 7/8″ – the narrow shallow one is 1/2″. Different makers, so different sweep numbers. But you just need something close, not exact.

That’s it for the joined stool series. One more oak-ish one, then onto baskets. And after that, I have a red oak log up next to open, so I’ll be able to show splitting, hewing & planing – stuff I left out of the joined stool because I hatched the idea after the stool was begun.

And I had requests for sharpening (ugh) and coloring. I’ll tackle those too. And lots more, I’ll be here talking to myself all year.

Basket-making continues

I’ve had this ash log for a month now. I’m just about done pounding splints from it. I had made some chair parts early on, too, but most of it is basket stuff. I have two more 5 or 6-foot sections to work up. And about 16 baskets in the works. Below is one of the remaining billets, you see it’s as straight as a tree can grow.

But not all the material in it is usable. The first 1 1/2″ below the bark grew so slowly as to be useless. Those splints were breaking on me as I tried to pound them. I reached a point where I gave up, there’s only so much time in a day, and it’s not worth fighting over.

The good parts of that stock I split into three billets, and shaved them to then pound them apart.

I use a 3-lb. hammer to pound the billet along its top & bottom surface. Overlapping hammer blows all over.

Then I hang an end of the billet over a rounded piece of wood (in this case, a reject chair part) and smack it. The growth rings then begin to separate.

Then start pulling them apart. Over & over.

Coil ’em up and soak in water before using. Can be stored for ages & ages.

When it comes to the basket-making, I approach it differently than I do the oak furniture I make. When I make furniture, I try to keep close to the originals I study. I don’t mix a Connecticut carving on a box based on one from northern Massachusetts for example. But with the baskets, I’ll pick this or that characteristic and throw them into most any combination.

Many baskets are woven with a continuous weaver going around and around the basket. To be able to alternate the “over/under” scheme as each row climbs up the basket, you need an odd number of uprights. Often this is achieved by splitting an upright, like the one here just to the left of the right corner of the basket.

Another way to get the continuous weaving is to add a “twill” or a skip in each row. At one point, I go over two, instead of just over one. Then each succeeding row this “skip” moves over one upright. The finished effect is a spiral trailing around the basket. No split upright, continuous weaving. You see it here about 11 rows up on the right, then winding to our left.

From the book Shaker Baskets by Martha Wetherbee & Nathan Taylor I learned about added uprights – a method the Shakers used to get an odd number of uprights. The first weaver has a long tail winding up at a corner, and when the weaver comes around, it treats the end of itself as the odd upright – it’s the narrow one here at the corner. It comes down from the top, turns left as it begins weaving around the uprights.

Time to finish some of these so I can make some more. All this basket stuff will be covered in videos – I’ve shot lots of it.

My basketry library is pretty small, but all of these are must-haves if you’re interested in this sort of basket.

Legend of the Bushwacker Basket, Wetherbee & Taylor, Appalachian White Oak Basketmaking, Rachel Nash Law & Cynthia Taylor, Key into the Language of Woodsplint Baskets, various authors, Shaker Baskets, Wetherbee & Taylor.

reference materials

Ha! While looking for that photo of those books, I found that, as usual, I wrote this same blog post before – five years ago – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/some-basketry-thoughts/

Joined Stool Video series finale – Molding & Pegging the Seat

Well, we finally finished the joined stool video set. This is the one where Daniel inadvertently discovered an echo chamber effect when he blended two shots together. Much to his delight…

 

I’ll do some blog housekeeping one of these days, and make a page with all the videos in this series together. But they’re on youtube in a playlist there too…

I was going to put a gallery of joined stools in the video, but it was already pretty long. So here are some stools over the years. Most of these have been here before.

There’s some stand-alone videos I shot a while back, I’ll get to those soon. Nowadays, I’m shooting several about making baskets from an ash log. I also got a couple of requests, so I have plenty in the pipeline. They’re fun to do, but a bit time-consuming. I need to remember to shoot ordinary photos too…

Here’s the highlight of the past week for me – a rare sighting of a mink around the shop. They’re here a lot, but usually the only view I get is a fleeting glimpse. This one was in constant motion, but stayed in view long enough for me to get some photos…

 

Basket tour part 1

 

The past two weeks or so I’ve been pounding ash splints for making baskets. I’ve started weaving a few of them, and have lots more coming up. Baskets used to be almost a weekly thing for me, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before oak furniture took over my thoughts. But I always come back to them, they’re so much fun to make and even better – to have around.

While getting ready to plunge deeply into them in the next couple of weeks, I’ve been studying some that I have hanging around here. Unlike the baskets I’m starting these days, all these are white oak baskets. You split white oak growth rings apart, instead of pounding like you do ash.

First, some I got when we cleaned up Jennie Alexander’s house after her death. JA loved baskets, and collected lots of them, but especially white oak baskets. I brought home a couple. This one is by a Maryland basketmaker JA knew, James McCrobie.

Here is Mr. McCrobie, as Alexander referred to him, shaving oak at a fair in Maryland.

The bottom of this basket:

And the inside view:


This one’s special because it’s by our great friend Louise Langsner, for Alexander. Way back when Louise used to make white oak baskets. Later, she began growing willow & using that to weave baskets. This white oak basket has hickory bark lashing on the rims.

The bottom:

The inside:

Louise used to peg the handles to the rims. I learned that technique there at County Workshops about 1986 or so. I had read it before that in Drew’s book County Woodcraft. Watch Lost Art Press for an updated version of that classic book (I’ll post about it when it happens too…) – in it is a chapter by Louise about making her oak baskets.

Here’s my first oak basket from that class – the instructor was Darry Wood.

In 1989 I made this round bottom white oak basket for Alexander. It came back to me after her death:

Inside:

Bottom, with hickory bark reinforcements

The hickory handle has a double notch, the lashing is hickory bark.

This one’s mine too, from 1988, I probably made it at Langsner’s – that spring & summer I was the intern there. White oak, hickory handle

I’ve used this basket a lot. Usually it holds all my spoon-carving gear, mostly tools & spoons-in-progress. The bottom features two “skids” shaved hickory bent up into the body. These reduce wear & tear on the bottoms.

One more white oak by me – this one’s from 1990. I’m working (again!) to re-learn how I weave those “filled” bottoms. So I swiped this one back from my wife, emptied it, and will this time keep track of what I did to weave it.

But it’s all ash here now. I haven’t made a white oak basket since this one probably…here’s a real favorite, but very small basket in ash with hickory rims & handle, hickory bark lashing. It’s about 6″ x 8 1/2″ and the basket is 3″ high. I wish I could make them this good all the time. Better go practice…

These new ones still have potential…

here’s the last time I re-learned the filled bottoms. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/another-basket-underway/ 

Joined Stool video series – prepping the seat board

Winding down the joined stool video series. Prepping the seat board took more time, both in reality and in getting this video done, than I wished. Some days it’s like that.

After this one comes making the molded edge & pegging the seat down. I expect that to be one video, but we’ll know more when Daniel & I sit down to work that one out.

After that, I have a few stand-alone videos I shot a few weeks ago, and right now I’m starting to shoot a series on making ash baskets. I had a couple of requests too, and I’ll try to get to those.

Thanks, everyone, for watching, commenting, supporting. I appreciate it.


The book version is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

Making parts of things

I got a call from my friend Michael Burrey recently. Was going log shopping, did I want anything? Well, I hit the jackpot. Ash, hickory & red oak. I brought the ash and hickory home first, they don’t last as long as red oak in the log. So I’ve been working them into pieces of things – basket & chair parts mostly.

The ash log was first, and I wrote some of that here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/fraxinus-nostalgia/

I’ll get back to that when I begin making baskets from it soon.

Because I can’t deliver logs down to my shop (there’s no vehicle access) I split both logs at Michael’s yard. Here’s some of the hickory, it split open with ease. They both did actually.

I’ve been able to harvest some of the inner bark from it, I’ve never taken bark strips off split sections before. It’s not my first choice, but better than wasting the bark. Here I have a 7′ long split up on the bench and am shaving down the thickness of the inner bark. It’s been sliced into widths on the log, then thin it down, & peel it up.

Getting under there with a knife & snipping uncooperative inner bark.

The wood is dead-straight and nearly perfect. I’ve been riving & shaving it into chair parts like these rungs:

And I’ve shaved and bent several sets of hickory posts – and some earlier of ash. There’s also some spindle-blanks for another version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. I bent some crests for those too, but they’re already up in the loft. The glue is to seal the ends so they don’t check. Hickory can be temperamental.

Stuff that was too thin for chair rungs gets saved for basket rims/handles/ears. These are shaved with a slojd knife to thin them out for bending.

And here they are bent & tied. These become “ears” for swing-handle baskets. Hickory is ideal for these, white oak is another wood I’ve used for them.

I don’t often get hickory around here, so I’m making the most of it. Thin stock is riven & shaved, then bent into basket handle blanks. I usually make the basket first, then make handles to fit them. Because the hickory can get pretty difficult to work with it it dries out, I’m splitting and shaving everything I can from it now. Handles on the left (& in back) the ash splints on the right. Older rungs above. I have to make some chairs to make room for more chair parts…

Daniel & I are working on the last two videos in the joined stool series. Should have them in the next couple of days. Back to riving & shaving tomorrow, some axe handle blanks to store for my old age.

Joined Stool video series: Trimming the tops & feet

Next installment in the Joined Stool series of videos. A bunch of fiddly fussy bits trimming the stool prior to making the seat.


There’s nothing more to say – other than thanks for watching. So here’s an ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) from yesterday’s socially-distant birding trip. No one told the birds we were coming, so it was a complete dud. Maybe next week.