odds n ends

A few strands of things here tonight. I have been in & out of the shop the past few days, so not any real concentrated time there this week. My main task at my day job in the winter is to clean the wooden furnishings for the re-created seventeenth-century village at the museum. This stuff gets seriously cruddy in the 8 months-plus that we’re open to the public. It’s about 130 pieces of furniture altogether. Here’s a view of some of it, much has been polished with linseed oil. Over time the finish becomes quickly patinated; the mix of smoke from the hearths, dirt, handling & use, and repeated annual coats of linseed create a pretty murky dark mess.

winter work

But, the view out of this building is quite nice; and it’s where the eagles sometimes show up, less lately than a month ago, but enough to keep me coming back.

juvenile eagle Feb 15

Back in the shop, I did manage some time on the walnut chair. Now I am at the point where I need to cut the joinery for the arms, then saw, chop & shave them out. I decided to make “flat” arms, rather than arms that are joined up on their edge. Most wainscot chairs have their arms up on edge, but there is a large group that have them laid out the other way. I figured for this high chair, it might accommodate a modern tray, or tuck under the table easily if the arms are done this way.  That means a turned tenon on the top of the front stiles. Usually on this sort of arm, the turning above the seat just runs all the way up to the tenons. Because I didn’t make this decision until now, I have a squared block above the turned section, as if it were to have a rectilinear tenon. Oh well. Not the end of the world.

turning tenon

So I put the pieces back on the lathe, and turned them down to ¾” tenons. The walnut turns beautifully; it’s funny, in some of the pictures it looks like wet clay. Now I will scribe the location of the mortise on the face of the rear stiles. Once I have those joints cut, I can re-fit the chair frame, and make a template for the arms’ shape. This weekend I guess.

turned tenons

A reader asked about the hammer I use in my work. I answered in the comment section, but will put it here too, in case someone missed it & wondered about it as well. The hammer I have is a leftover from a shoemaker’s kit. Mark Atchison made it, I presume based on some period example seen either in archaeology or a surviving artifact. It weighs about 16 oz; so a little light for my purpose. It works fine, I have used it since 2001. If I were shopping for a hammer for joinery work, I would opt for something heavier. Alexander suggests Japanese hammers, which are very nice tools.

small hammer

 Incidentally, wrought nails are excellent for small kids; the heads are sized well for an easy target.

While keeping an eye out for eagles, I have seen a number of things this way & that.

hooded mergansers
red shouldered hawk

And today’s visitor:

grey fox

9 thoughts on “odds n ends

    • Tico: the whole scenario is a classic of “don’t do what I do…” approach to furniture care, etc. I just scrub the dirt/sand and grime as best I can with Murphy’s Oil Soap in warm water. than apply yet another coat of linseed oil cut w turpentine. Then these creatures get sent back down to life on a dirt floor (some clay, sand & dirt combined mostly) in a very damp environment, where they get used hard, and cleaned little for the next 8 months. There is usually decay or insect activity in the feet, they often sit on damp earth floors for a good length of time. Especially the rear feet, closer to the walls, once they get wet they stay wet a while.

      My furniture at home gets the same initial finish, but then gets taken care of in its life, and sits on dry wooden floors, etc. BUT the patina this museum repro furniture develops is interesting…it just comes at a price.

  1. Peter, I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before but I couldn’t find it with the search. What camera do you use for the incredible wildlife shots? Thanks!

    • Keith: I’m glad you like the pictures; but I am an amatuer at best. The camera is a Nilkon D80, and the new lens is a 55-300 mm zoom. This is tiny compared to what real bird-photographers use. I like to look at this site http://birdsofessex.blogspot.com/
      for great bird shots, and this fellow uses the equivalent of a 700mm lens!
      I don’t know this fellow, but I really enjoy his shots.

    • Ron: more than half, less than 3/4 of it. Plus dozens of pieces that have gone to customers or “other” – I have tried to tally the boxes after the fact, and always lose track. four dozen at least. Of the carved chests we exhibit I have made 17 out of 32. But I have probably made another 15 anyway that have been raffles, etc. I have slowed down in recent years, (both intentionally and as a result of getting older & having slightly different focus) but used to make 24 pieces of furniture in 8 months….

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