I feel like Superman….

…when I plane Atlantic White Cedar.

It’s a joy to work this stuff. It’s not really a cedar, but a cypress tree. The Latin name is Chamaecyparis thyoides, here’s a website with some details about the tree http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_1/chamaecyparis/thyoides.htm

I rarely get to handle it. Where we buy logs this timber is usually snatched up by boatbuilders. But once it a while we get some. This one was a small-diameter tree, riven out ages ago. Then I let the rough-split bolts dry outside until I needed them. The riving process is just as it is for oak or other hardwoods. Select a straight-grained log, break it into sections with wedges and a maul, then use the froe to split out the rough billets.

twisting the froe

I have seen it used on lots of 17th-centuryNew England furniture, often as chest floor boards, drawer bottoms, but sometimes panels – like the rear panels in this Plymouth Colony chest.

These panels are easily 9” wide, thus a pretty large tree. Oak framing, pine floor boards, and cedar rear panels. (photo is a scan of an old slide…hence not the best.)

Here is the same chest, this time the side of the till is cedar:

The stock I have is quite narrow, so I am using it for the moldings I need for the German chest I am making…first up is just planing the stock flat and straight. It’s like proverbial candy-from-a-baby.

It’s more fun than you can imagine. I’m near the end of this log, but I will keep my eye out for more…

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9 thoughts on “I feel like Superman….

  1. You could probably weave some of those shavings into a nifty cape… although wearing your underwear on the outside of your pants is never recommended. You get strange looks from the townies (DAMHIKT)

  2. Peter, In the picture of the till, is the till bottom fitted into dadoes in the stiles and panels, or it the bottom scribed to fit around these features?

    • Jamey
      there’s a notch, dado what-have-you in the stiles in I think every chest I have seen. But only very rarely is the panel cut into. Most cases, the till bottom is scribed to fit around the panel and the side muntin too. But in the photo, that side muntin is dado’ed. Once or twice I have seen panels cut into so the till bottom could fit up into it.

  3. Peter, Have you ever carved the Cyress? I have a log approximately 8″ in diameter and 8′ long that I was considering carving into a totem pole of sorts.

    Sheri Tharp

  4. Peter, Can’t wait to see the pics of the finished German chest you are working on. This winter I’m going to try my hand at a carved chest, and I want it to be in a Bavarian style, if there is such a thing. Can you recommend any books or websites where I can research and learn more about carved furniture from Southern Germany / Austria / Hungary?

    Pete Pedisich

  5. While living in Germany I became interested in Bauernmahling – farmhouse painted furniture. I’d like to make a panel chest and paint panels in the old style; other references to locating the technique are Pennsylvania Dutch painted furniture, Norwegian rosemaling, and some fraktur techniques are useful.

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