Another extracurricular post this morning. I have been meaning to write for ages about the knives I bought from Del Stubbs http://www.pinewoodforge.com/
Anyone interested in working spoons will hopefully know about Del’s Pinewood Forge. The website is a treasure trove of ideas, pictures and links. He makes unbelievable knives.
I have three knives from Del; two are pictured here. One is this little thin number that I’ve been using for chip carving. Del calls it a detail knife. It’s really an impressive little piece of work.
Here you can see some of the chip carving on this little bowl I’ve been picking away at for ages…
The other is a “sloyd” knife; an all-around carving knife that I use for shaping spoons. The perfectly honed and polished blade is like no other.
the knives come with nice sheaths, either bark or wood, depending I guess on the knife. Service is quick, price is cheap. what more can you ask? I haven’t done much spoon work lately; but I did some of the chip carving on the bowl last week. I did see some cherry limbs that came down in a recent storm…might go see if they’re any good…
bowl & knives
Del’s knives are legendary, and for a reason. If you’re in the market, go to the website & see what’s what.
anyone who regularly reads the comments here might recognize James Conrad as a regular contributor. James mentioned this morning that an auction house in Maine has a joined chest coming up that is a real nice example of a Braintree chest. I swiped the pictures from the auction – here’s their website. http://jamesdjulia.com/auctions/div_catalog_300_sh.asp
John Savell, c. 1660s-1690
So the first thing is the lid and goofy hardware masquerading as drawer pulls, these are both replacements of course. But the rest is first-rate. I was in Maine last week, but did not get up to see the chest. I assume it’s refinished. here’s more:
The rear view shows the large pine panel (2 boards) fitted into grooves in the stiles & upper rail; nailed to an interior lower rail(s). The holes for the now-missing gimmal hinges are present. Notches in the top end of the rear stiles, for the lid to swing past…
Inside looks great, till is intact; tongue-and-groove floor boards (usually Atlantic White Cedar) nailed down to the rear floor rail. Nice to have it all there.
This view is of the chest on its back; showing the same sort of work to make the drawer bottoms. so the floor & drawer bottoms are all original also. Here is the lower rear rail with the pine panel fitted behind it…
I was lucky enough to do some work on the previous one that James Julia sold a few years ago; made a new lid and drawer pulls for it. Even after all this time, these chests always impress me. Before we had a solid attribution for them to the shop of William Savell and his sons John & William, Alexander had dubbed these guys/this guy as the “Master Over-Builder” because the work so far exceeds much of what we see in New England work of this period.
I was out of the shop for the past week or so. When I have a bit of a hiatus like that I like to start back up with some physical work to loosen up again. Yesterday I chose a long-waiting extra-curricular project to warm up with. A few years back, I saw this chair made by Drew Langsner when I was teaching at Country Workshops.
It’s the first Windsor chair I have really wanted to make in many years, after having first seen them in John Brown’s book, Welsh Stick Chairs, then I saw some old ones on my first visit to England in 2000.
Back in the 1980s I made lots of American style windsors; but left that work behind for joinery. But I knew when I sat in Drew’s chair that I wanted to make one or two for the house. There’s plans for it in his book The Chairmaker’s Workshop, so I generally based the one I started on the seat plan in the book. I had an elm plank that was nearly perfect for the seat. I made a cardboard template for the seat’s shape, and marked the positions for spindles and legs. This ain’t joinery, so those that know me might be surprised to see pencil lines – but they really help in boring these compound angles.
I bored most of the spindle holes, but a couple I wasn’t sure of the angles (from Drew’s book it looks like the angles are for the high-back version of this chair). So I left a few to be bored once I have the arm bow made & test-fitted.
Next up was adze work. I clamped the seat in between bench dogs on my #2 bench, the German one with vices. Standing on a plank to raise myself higher, I worked mostly across the grain of the seat with my small curved adze.
This tools works well, I used it a lot this summer making hewn bowls. Jogge Sundqvist taught me to swing or pivot it from the wrist, while ‘throwing” it too. I followed this tool with a curved drawknife, called an inshave. I have one I bought many years ago, it’s OK but not a great tool. It’s just that by the time good inshaves were available, I was getting out of Windsor chairmaking.
I have a small hollowing spokeshave I use to clean up the inshave work.
And that’s as far as I got, about 2 hrs all together, to make the template, mark the seat board, bore some of the holes and begin shaping the seat. It’ll take some more hollowing to finish the seat off, then comes cutting the shape. So it took 2 or 3 years to get started, but now my new Windsor chair is finally underway. Hopefully I’ll get some time to keep it moving along.
About the flatsawn white oak I featured in the last post, got a number of comments discussing the tendency for this wood to distort upon drying. I fully expect it to do so, but there are few instances where I will use very wide boards. This log was 26″ wide when we sawed it, I think. I have to make a board chest in early summer, and the height of its carcass is going to be less than 20″ – so I will use the best boards to make its front, back & sides. lesser quality stuff to make its floor boards. In all likelihood I will make the lid from quartered stuff, glued-up into a wide panel.
The bulk of a log like this then gets ripped to narrower widths; which gets me past the worst of the effects of distortion. England is full of very old furniture made from flatsawn oak. It’s certainly not the first choice; but it will work fine.
Read through this blog & you will know, my first choice is always the straightest-grain, riven, quartered clear oak. Green to boot…
But sometimes, as in the case of this log we bandsawed, it’s worth it to saw the log rather than turn the whole thing into firewood.
Jennie asked about how will it carve – we’ve been down this road before here; but it’s a chance to dig out some carvings for show & tell. all of these are carved in flatsawn oak. Some mine, some 17th-c English. worst case first, Devon, 1669 – the inside view shows a piece that should have been burned, then its carved front view.
One of mine next; I don’t know what I did with this one, but it worked. Not as pleasant as carving the best quartered riven stock; but if it’s what you have, you can certainly work it.
These next two are from a cupboard from the Lakes District; c. 1690s. Some great variety in the stock in this cupboard; these are about average.
cupboard door with carved panel
This is a chest I made either in 2008 or 9; white oak with a white pine lid. The panels and central muntin are flatsawn white oak; the stiles and long rails are riven white oak.
So, we’ll check back in about 5 months on that pile of white oak. I expect some very good wood from it, and some real lousy stuff, and a lot of in-between.
well, I mentioned last week that this year I will be working some sawn stock. Already I have the walnut high chair that is underway; but recently the carpenters at work hired the local fellow who runs a bandsaw mill. While he was here, we had him saw up a white oak that didn’t quite make it as riving stock. There was enough twist in the log that made it obvious that riving it would waste a lot of wood. So I asked him to saw a bunch of 1″ and 2″ stuff from it.
He had to slab off some of the flared end of the log. His mill handles 26″ wide, I think. so after running it through a bit to even things off, then it was a matter of what stock to cut where/when. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time agonizing about it, we had a number of people around to move this wood, and many other sawing projects for the day. I was essentially cutting in line. So quick was key. I chose to cut 2″ stuff off the top, I think we took 2 planks at that size, then one of 6/4 – by then we were nearing the middle of the log, so I switched to the 1″ stuff at that point.
My plan was to then take these 1″ thick boards & rip them down the middle to approximate some quartersawn stock. We ripped three of these boards, the center board and one north & south of it.
It was noisy, but quick. It’s been years since I have regularly pitsawn stock; so I’ll take what I can get. These sort of mills do real nice work, they have a fairly narrow kerf. We stickered & stacked the stuff right off the saw, onto the forks of the tractor, then just set the pile down on some bunks. I later broke it into two stacks. And there it sits. You”ll see this white oak later in the year.
This is one of two piles from that log. The plank on top is an oldie, put there to cover the stack. The thinner stuff is in the middle of the pile. I rarely have wood like this on hand; it will take me quite a while to use this up.
the end view shows the quartered stock in the middle as well. Sandwiched between some wide stuff on bottom, with a heavy plank above.
thanks to the whole crew for making it happen, and Michael for snapping the pictures.
I think I mentioned earlier that the walnut high chair I am working on is not based on an existing example, but loosely based on period work. One thing I decided to do is rake or cant the rear stiles both towards the back of the chair and towards the sides. This results in a broad base, nice & stable with a fidgety kid in the chair. But creates some geometry for laying out & cutting the mortise & tenon joints.
The front frame is simple enough, because its front face is going to be plumb. So the only rake here is side-to-side.
But the rear frame, I wanted the rear stiles flared out at the same angle as the front, but narrower overall. Took some tinkering, I cut a scrap of pine with notches in it, to clamp to the faces of the rear stiles, to test the angle. Good enough so far.
But in the side view, I want the rear stiles to angle back both above & below the seat. So the side seat rails have 90-degree shoulders where they meet the front stiles’ side mortises. And angled shoulders where they meet the rear stiles side mortises. AND those rear stiles’ mortises are cut at an angle to accommodate the flared seat plan. Got it so far?
That’s as far as I got today, even without any eagle distractions. Tomorrow I’ll mortise for the side stretchers in the rear stiles; then cut the corresponding tenons on those stretchers. Then start mortising the rear stiles for the rails above the seat…
right now, the rear stiles are extra long, so the shims under the front stiles.
As far as working the walnut versus the oak; I have a hard time gauging how it’s going. It feels weak to me, and I don’t like the way it mortises. Much less forgiving than oak. Oak I can beat this way & that. The walnut I find chips and breaks in places where the oak never would. Here, I sawed tenons where I would ordinarily split them in good oak.
Maybe it’s a factor of the species, or kiln-dried versus green-ish, or even random-sawn versus radially-split stock. Either way there’s no danger of me defecting to the walnut camp. After this chair, it’s back to oak for me. I remember my friend Daniel O’Hagan telling me that everything you need you could make out of either white oak or white pine. As I recall, he was making a walnut joined stool at the time. I’ll stick to oak & pine.
Sometimes I get asked what my hobby is, because my job is other people’s hobby…but if you are a reader of this blog, then you know it’s birdwatching. So now it’s time for a new lens for my Nikon. Thus, some books for sale. These are furniture history books, not how-to books. Folks who have an interest in furniture styles and history will enjoy these books. They are extra copies that I have collected over the years; I used to pick them up when I saw them at reasonable costs; but I don’t really need so many multiple copies of things. Most of these, I already have two copies, a shop copy and house copy.
All are in good condition, a few have never been opened. I looked at prices on the web, and then just rounded these a bit to simplify. Anyone interested can email me & we can figure out details. I can take paypal, once I remember how to do it. Or a check. Shipping will be extra, especially for the Lockwood volumes.
Luke Vincent Lockwood, Colonial Furniture in America, 2 vols; 1913 edition. This one was a library copy, so not pristine, but still quite sound and in good condition. these are large volumes, 10 1/2″ x 13″. Along with the likes of Wallace Nutting, Lockwood is an important part of furniture history studies. $60 for the set. Shipping to be determined, these volumes weigh 17 lbs. – SOLD
I’ll just list the years I have; I am charging $40 for each, plus $5 shipping in US. Pretty much an average price; some go higher on the web, none much lower. –
1997 – issue focus is on Southern Furniture
1998 – 2 copies, one un-opened. Includes me on a three-legged joined chair, and Trent on turned chairs from Plymouth Colony.
1999 – 2 copies. An issue devote to furniture from Rhode Island. 1 SOLD, 1 FOR SALE
2000 – has an article about 17th-c Salem, Massachusetts furniture. Great photos of the group of cabinets from that shop.
2001 – has 60-page article by Bob Trent, Alan Miller & Follansbee on joined cupboards of Essex County.
2008 – unopened. has an article by Trent, Follansbee & Alexander on post-and-rung chairs. SOLD
One more, a real kicker. Robert Blair St. George, The Wrought Covenant: Source Material for the Study of Craftsmen and Community in Southeastern New England 1620-1700, (Brockton, Massachusetts: Fuller Art Museum, 1979)
This one has been my house copy for years, a little wear on the spine & back cover. Inside is tight and fine shape. I have a real beat-up copy in the shop, but my wife has a perfect copy that I have absconded. Hence this is extra. Exhibition of 17th-century furniture from southeastern Massachusetts. great great stuff in this book. Still the best treatment of Plymouth Colony furniture. $145 & $5 shipping, total $150 in US. – SOLD
If anyone is interested, email me. If any of the books sell, I’ll update this post, so the list will be current.
Sometimes I use sawn timber in addition to the riven stock I mostly favor. This year I have a few projects that call for sawn stock; first is this walnut high chair I started recently. This stock was supplied by the customer; cut to oversized blanks, surfaced & dried. (well, not in that order…). I still have planed all the stock again, so it has the right feel to it.
Yesterday I sawed out the rear stiles; in this case these pieces are canted both above & below the seat. In the above photo, I am marking the shape from a template I cut out of white pine. I prick some marks with an awl, then strike chalklines from there.
I fasten the blank to the bench with a holdfast, trying to align my sawcuts so they are mostly plumb. I just eyeball this, but don’t want to be tilted over. Then, start sawing. I had just filed this ripsaw before this task – so it cut pretty well. I am no great sawyer, but can manage in a pinch.
I try to maintain a steady broad stance when sawing. It helps stabilize things, making the cutting easier and less tiring. I made two cuts to outline the front and rear of the stile, then flipped the piece end-for-end to finish it off.
Cutting these leaves me with some weird-shaped off-cuts; but I will be able to cut some stretcher material from them, and who knows what else.
Here’s the template and the rough-sawn stiles. Next up I will plane them to finished shape and dimensions, then cut some mortises. These stiles are crooked every which way – the shape of the chair from the front view is canted, and the front face of the rear stiles below the seat is canted towards the back in addition to sideways. Here’ s the front frame, showing the “rake” or cant.
I have been only working on this intermittently; but this project will pick up speed next week. I have never really studied any surviving high chairs in detail; so I am making a bit of this up. Also, this chair will be used at a modern table, so I have to fit it to the customer’s dimensions. There’s some goofy geometry involved; and although I drew some of it on paper, I left a bunch of it to be worked out in the wood. Sometimes it’s easier that way…
well, even though I said there would be woodworking here on the blog, events dictate otherwise. So the title at least warned you – but I can’t resist today’s eagle show. great views of several birds. These veiws were out the windows where I was working today. so what was I supposed to do, ignore them?