unfinished furniture

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.

new pine boards
new pine boards

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.

pine chip carving
pine chip carving

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.

MFA upper case thus far
MFA upper case thus far

and a detail of the upper rail’s carving, it’s very simple stuff, a little compass-work, then freehanded from there.

detail upper rail's carving
detail upper rail's carving

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:

carving detail
carving detail
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37 thoughts on “unfinished furniture

  1. Well, you certainly can’t buy a screen door like that at the home center! Did you do the chipcarving with a knife, gouges, or a combination of the two?

    The chest for the MFA conference reminded me of something I wanted to ask you. When waiting awhile to install a carved board, do you ever notice cupping toward the carved side? Over the past couple weeks, I have been working on-and-off on a box with the pattern from your woodwork magazine article. The stock I am working with is great, quarter split, etc. I carved the front board first, and propped it in such a way so that both sides would be exposed to the air as it dried a bit more while I carved the side boards. The 1/2″ red oak was cupping noticeably toward the carved side. I presume that this is due to the carved side drying faster due to the carving itself. The sides did the same thing to some extent before I assembled the four pieces, and I was able to pull them flat at assembly.

  2. WOW @ the width of the new pine boards, particularly the one laying horizontal against your bench, how wide is it.

  3. ahhhh, sees it in your post now, 18-25 inch wide, very impressive to see new boards of that width today. Air dried huh, will the boards be more stable if dried that way as opposed to kiln dried?

  4. several answers in order, I hope.

    chip carving with a knife. I am not a chip-carver, but had to try my hand at it. I would like to learn to do this work in oak, but have found nothing about using that wood for it, except the medieval & later existing examples.

    I guess I’ve had some cupping of oak boards but don’t remember much of it. Check the rays on the stock, I would imagine they were curved in the tree, and have reverted to their original shape…there are so many factors, humidity or lack of it in the shop, mc% of the material, etc. How long was it between planing & carving?

    The MFA cupboard project is for their new galleries next year. No conference, that might be some confusion between demos I did at Williamsburg & Winterthur this year.

    Air-dried pine works better in my opinion than kiln-dried. That’s all. if air-dried properly it will stay flat. & yes, you answered your own question about widths. easy to find that width, but that width & clear is even better…

    • some curved rays may have contributed, but the more I think about it, I think I may have been trying to get to much width out of the log at hand. I left a lot of juvenile wood and sapwood on either side of the bolt. In the end it came together fine — just the lid left to go. I love the pattern.

  5. Peter;

    Great to see the MFA piece getting some blog time. I was wondering, just the other day what stage it was in. Will this be going in the new wing they are building?

    The carving doe’s make me think of the Connecticut River Valley pieces, like the Hadley chest. I also see a little resemblance, in a piece from Wallace Nutting’s book. Plate 216 (Virginia Bulbous Court Cupboard). I know Virginia’s a whole other topic and not much to go on. Thought there maybe a connection their. This is a stretch I know. Any thoughts

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