My shop is a complete disaster lately, overflowing with too many nearly-finished projects, and newly-begun work. Throw in a week’s worth of shavings, and a stack of red oak, along with wh0-knows-what else, and I see a night of cleaning it out soon.
Chris Schwarz just posted a piece the other night extolling the virtue of white pine, (http://blog.lostartpress.com/2009/05/23/The+Perfect+Handtool+Wood.aspx) and I will second that. I use it regularly as a secondary wood for my work. It’s a great timber. I use it air-dried, and just brought a bunch of it in the shop the other day. These boards ran from 18″-25″ wide, mostly without knots.
An extra-curricular project I have underway is a screen door for the house, this is the only joined work I have done in years in pine, I have no photos yet, except this chip-carved detail. I couldn’t leave that much wood blank.
Back to oak stuff, the cupboard I am making for the MFA in Boston is mostly sitting still at this point, as I wait for the maple blocks to dry a bit before turning the large pillars. I did a carving for the front rail of the upper section the other day. Once I turn the pillars, then I can frame the overhang, and start in on applied moldings.
and a detail of the upper rail’s carving, it’s very simple stuff, a little compass-work, then freehanded from there.
It seems slightly reminiscent of Hadley carvings in its design, and other Connecticut River valley stuff too. Here’s a detail of one I did a couple of years ago, with the same sort of compass-work outline, but entirely different treatment within:
When Alexander & I studied the carvings from William Savell, Sr and his sons many years ago, we went into great detail in our examinations…I wondered if the original carvers even looked as hard at this stuff. One of our favorite areas of scrutiny was the “spandrel” – the 3-sided area just outside the arches on the carved panels. If you have seen the other posts concerning these carvers, here is some real excruciating detail. For fanatics only.
This first one is the work of William, Sr, first the entire panel, then the detail of the spandrel.
Even obscured by various later finishes, you can see that he gets a lot of detail into a small area. There’s V-tool work outlining the shape, then some modelling & shaping of the surface, then some accent work with a gouge.
His son John used a similar motif, but executed it without any shaping or V-tool work. It’s just chopped with a gouge.
So as the rest of this exercise goes, so goes this part – young son William has a slightly more casual approach to this carving, and his spandrels are the weakest showing he’s got:
Here’s links to the other posts about the Savell carvings. In the future, I’ll try to get out some photos of the construction.
the Spring 2009 issue of Woodwork Magazine (the last “regular” issue, unfortunately) included an article I did about making carved boxes. They sent me a PDF of the article, so I uploaded it to my website. If you missed it in the magazine, and would like to see it, here is a link:
Well, if you have read this blog for a while you have seen how Alexander & I go at it…the latest is some back & forth regarding Moxon’s reversal of Felebien’s plow plane image. To keep you from jumping around, here are Moxon & Felebien’s plows again.
Jennie Alexander wrote a comment the other day – here is an excerpt, with some of my comments in brackets:
Peter: I respectfully disagree that we should ignore the issue of miror reversed images Moxon’s printer made from Felibien. [PF: I said let’s get past it, not ignore it. It is well-known, & clearly proven, that Moxon’s image is backwards.]
This becomes important when a tool has what I call “handedness.” I believe the plow plane issue is important. Serious students of the Felibien and Moxon plow prints assert that the Felibien print is characteristic of a Continental plow because, among other things, the fence is located to the right of the craftsman… [PF: I think JA has garbled this a little here, so she will chime in…]
When an actual Felibien plow is used, the craftsman typically holds the plane stock in the right hand, the staves by the left. The workpiece is held on the front side of the bench. The fence is on the hither or near side of the workpiece and to the craftsman’s left. Thus, as far as fence location is concerned, the Felibien plane is identical to the English plow. Your excellent shot of you using an English plow illustrates this fully. You would hold and use the Felibien plane in exactly the same fashion! [PF: we are in agreement here]
The Moxon print confusion leads Moxon himself to erroneously describe the mirror reversed plow in his text: “For the Fence ….will lie flat against the farther edge of the board,…” [PF: this is his description of the use of the plow…]
Moxon does not correctly describe an English plow or Felibien’s plow either.
[PF: this is the real stickler. I think Mark & Jane Rees are correct, when in Goodman’s 3d edition of British Planemakers, they point out that Moxon described a plow plane of the type we now assoicate with English or New England planemakers, not the Continental plow.
Here’s Moxon’s description of the tool, (not its use):
“The Plow, marked B6 is a narrow Rabbet-plane with some Additions to it: viz. Two square Staves, marked aa (yet some of them have the upper edges of them rounded off for the better compliance with the Hand.) These Staves are let stiff through two Square Mortesses in the Stock, marked bb. They are about seven or eight Inches long, and stand straight and square on the farther side of the Stock; and these two Staves have shoulders on the hither side of the Stock, reaching down to the wooden sole of the Plane, (for there is also an Iron sole belonging to the Plow.) to the bottom of these two Shoulders is, rivetted with Iron Rivets, a Fence (as Workmen call it) which comes close under the Wooden sole, and its depth reaches below the Iron sole about half an Inch:”
So, two square staves that go through the stock of the plane. These staves have shoulders on the near side of the stock, reaching down towards the bottom of the sole of the plane. Attached to these shoulders is the fence. See the early 18th century English plow plane at the top of this post. Nothing like Felebien’s plow…but sounds like what Moxon was writing about. The plane probably dates from just 20 or 30 years after Moxon, if that.
So I will hold with my statement that Moxon’s description of the plow’s make-up is an English plow plane rather than a Continental one seen in Felebien’s print, and reversed in Moxon’s own book. Principle differences being that on an English plow, the staves are fitted to the fence, and the body slides on them. On the Continental version, the staves are fitted to the plane, and the fence slides along them. Also, the fence on the Continental plow is a broad board on edge, and the English fence is slung under the plane’s body…here’s two views that should clearly show the difference.
This project got me looking through some favorite books; here’s a few.
W L Goodman, British Planemakers from 1700 (3rd edition, revised byMark & Jane Rees; Astragal Press, 1993)
Josef M. Greber, The History of the Woodworking Plane: Des Geschichte des Hobels, translated by Seth W. Burchard (EAIA, 1991)
Don & Anne Wing, Early Planemakers of London: Recent Discoveries in the Tallow Chandlers and the Joiners Companies (Marion, MA: The Mechanick’s Workbench, 2005)
Gunther Heine, Das Werkzeug des Schreiners und Dreschlers (Hannover: 1990)
Charles F. Hummel, With Hammer in Hand: The Dominy Craftsmen of East Hampton, New York (University Press of Virginia for the Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum, 1968)
I followed a link to this website tonight. I have seen the earlier paintings from these collections, Alexander had lent me a published collection of the 15th-and-16th century examples. But I had never seen the seventeenth-century ones. this turner is from 1601.
Worth a look. I don’t read German, but after a while I could suss out how to sort the images by material or trade, etc. here’s the whole website’s link.
“Wainscot plow” “joiners plow” or just “grooving plow” are several period names for the essential plow plane used in seventeenth-century joinery.
I just got a new old plow plane the other day. Bought it at an online auction, and was quite pleased with what I got. It’s marked W Greenslade Bristol. So I checked W L Goodman’s British Planemakers from 1700. I use the 3rd edition done by Mark & Jane Rees. There I found that Greenslade was in business making planes (& other goods) for many years, up until 1937. Seems Greenslade planes are quite common, and the 20th century examples are numerous. Fine w/me. this one was apparently never used. The wedges that secure the arms were missing, so today I cut 2 new ones from cherry. The plane came with 7 of its 8 irons. Not bad for $77.
Which of course brings us to Moxon, Felebien & the plow plane. The plow plane illustrated by Joseph Moxon has been discussed a number of times, and the gist of the discussion is that Moxon’s engraver copied a printed version of Andres Felebien’s work from 1676. Compare the two plates and you will see that Moxon’s is reversed, an easy mistake for the engraver, if it is a mistake. Might be that the engraver knew he was reversing the image, and just figured it would still convey the information required. Who knows .
Goodman’s British Planemakers (pp. 87-89) has a concise discussion of these illustrations, pointing out that Moxon’s illustration copies Feleibien’s engraving, but that Felebien’s plow is a Continental-style plow plane, and that Moxon’s description is of an English-style plow plane. The differences center around fence and arms. Here is Moxon’s description:
“The Use of the Plow.
The Plow, marked B6 is a narrow Rabbet-plane with some Additions to it: viz. Two square Staves, marked aa (yet some of them have the upper edges of them rounded off for the better compliance with the Hand.) These Staves are let stiff through two Square Mortesses in the Stock, marked bb. They are about seven or eight Inches long, and stand straight and square on the farther side of the Stock; and these two Staves have shoulders on the hither side of the Stock, reaching down to the wooden sole of the Plane, (for there is also an Iron sole belonging to the Plow.) to the bottom of these two Shoulders is, rivetted with Iron Rivets, a Fence (as Workmen call it) which comes close under the Wooden sole, and its depth reaches below the Iron sole about half an Inch: Because the Iron of the Plow is very narrow, and the sides of it towards the bottom are not to be inclosed in the Stock, for the same reason that was given in the Rabbet-plane; therefore upon the Stock is let in, and strongly nailed, an Iron Plate of the thickness of the Plow-Iron, for Wood of that breadth will not be strong enough to endure the force of the lower end of the Plow-Iron is put to: This Iron Plate is almost of the same thickness that the breadth of a Plow-Iron is. Joyners have several Plows, for several widths of Grooves.
The Office of the Plow is, to plow a narrow square Groove on the edge of a Board; which is thus perform’d. The Board is set an edge with one end in the Bench-screw, and its other edge upon a Pins, or Pins, put into a Hole, or Holes, in the Leg, or Legs, of the Bench, such an Hole, or Holes, as will, most conveniently for height, fit the breadth of the Board; Then the Fence of the Plow is set to that Distance off the Iron-Plate of the Plow, that you intend the Groove shall lie off the edge of the Board: As if you would have the Groove lie an half an Inch off the Board, then the two staves must, with the Mallet, be knocked through the Mortesses in the Stock, till the Fence stands half an Inch off the Iron-Plate; and if the Staves are fitted stiff enough in the Mortesses if the Stock, it will keep at that Distance whilst you Plow the Groove: For the Fence (lying lower that the Iron of the Plane) when you set the Iron of the Plow upon the edge of the Board, will lie flat against the farther edge of the Board, and so keep the Iron of the Plow all the length of the Board at the same Distance, from the edge of the Board, that the Iron of the Plow hath from the Fence. Therefore your Plow being thus fitted, plow the Groove as you work with other Planes, only as you laid hold on the Stock of other Planes when you use them, now you must lay hold of the two staves and their shoulders, and so thrust your Plow forwards, till your Groove be made to your depth.
If the Staves go not stiff enough in the Mortess of the Stock, you must stiffen them, by knocking a little wooden Wedge between the Staves and their Mortesses.”
I haven’t used the new plane yet, just wedged it today…here is the one I have been using for many years now, a gift from Jennie Alexander, I don’t remember when. I prefer these small British ones to the larger screw-arm plow planes often found in American tool collections. The smaller ones feel better to me…