And now I’m in the midst of shooting more stuff for a follow-up book on the subject…which means another batch of joined chests. Hewing and riving all those pieces, planing it…trying to remember which stock is for which chest. It’s a tough life.
I just finished one, and am wrapping up the smallest one from the video shoot. But I just started one with two drawers like this one I built a few years ago. It’s based on one from the Connecticut River area, around 1650-1680 or so.
This one is going in the book to show the framing and construction of basic drawers. Another key feature of this chest is that the carving is wrapped around the framing parts, continuing from one piece to the next. Most carved chests are like that in the top photo, where the carved elements are stand-alone designs.
So to layout the design on this one, I had to test-fit the chest’s front frame, then use two compasses to mark the undulating vine that winds its way around the chest front.
Here’s a sample of some of the carving. Each flower/leaf shape is free-hand, determined by the gouges used to outline it. No two are alike, and there’s no symmetry to the design. You can’t go wrong.
I’ll be starting the carving this weekend at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. If you’re in the area, come by…. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=98
The Joined Chest DVD I did with Lie-Nielsen is back from being reprinted after a glitch was found in the first batch. I’ll send out replacements to those who jumped on it earlier…
So, if you have a few hours to watch me thrash an oak log apart and build a joined chest, you can do so from the comfort of your own home – otherwise, you have to stand at the railing in my shop at the museum.
We shot the DVD last spring in Maine, it includes splitting and riving the stock apart, hewing and planing, then layout, joinery and assembly. I cut notches for the till, and show how to install that, and make a tongue-and-groove white pine floor. The lid is also white pine, a single-width board. For the finale, I attach the lid with iron “snipebill” hinges, (what I call “gimmals” – the 17th-century term for them.)
The disc runs over 200 minutes and is broken into 18 chapters so you can get around to the segment you nodded off at. There is additional content accessed through your computer; some measurements, photos and other bits and pieces.
I have some of these discs for sale, you can order from me by emailing me with your mailing info. Price is $42, shipped media mail in the US.
I also have some of the 2nd DVD I shot on carving patterns. This is called “17th-Century New England Carving: Carving the S-scroll”. A long-winded title about a disc that shows several different ways to lay out and cut a design that is combined many different ways to different effect. This one’s about 100 minutes. Price from me is $27 shipped in the US by media mail.
If you’d like to order both of them from me, the price will be $62 shipped in the US by media mail.
My email is email@example.com. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check to me at this address:
3 Landing Rd
Kingston MA 02364
Let me know if you’re sending a check so I can hold a copy for you.
Of course, as always you can buy these DVDs directly from Lie-Nielsen too, while you are there buying tools and other goodies. They have my first DVD on carving, too and they also sell the joint stool book. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?grp=1320
(Ahhh…the link now only gives me a preview – says I need to subscribe. If the link fails you, do a search for “Luther Sampson Duxbury shop” or something like that. Might be that I reached the monthly limit on freebies at Boston.com…)
I hope you can read it, it’s exciting stuff. Kudos to Michael Burrey for seeing it for what it is…and to the many who have worked thus far on documentation, research, etc.
November 22, 2012 is Thanksgiving day in the U.S. Simple for me to find what I am thankful for, because it’s also the birthday of my kids Rose & Daniel. Seven years old now. They showed me a couple of little toys they got this morning, a wolf and a hedgehog or something like it. These wooden toys are among the favorites in our household. The kids dragged out a number of others like them.
I had seen a photo in Robin Wood’s book about the “ring” turners who make similar toys in the German town of Seiffen, then I remembered that just the other day Robin posted a link to a youtube piece about how these toys are made. So I am copping it & posting it here in case you missed it.
Notice that CNN calls him a “wood-spinner” – but we all know he’s a turner.
I don’t think our toys are ring-turned, but regardless, for us, these toys are great. Nice that they are wooden, but best feature is that they are just figures that the kids have to apply all the story for…and when you let them, they do. No Disney story line, no action figure, no computer game to go with them. No T-shirt, pillowcase, DVD series, – none of that sort of junk that we find associated with so many toys…
Took the kids to school the other day & saw this Red-shouldered hawk.
My day job is a pretty busy place these days, Thanksgiving is sort of a big deal there. (for overseas readers, it’s a long story, but it amounts to 4.000 visitors per day Thursday – Saturday this week…) So no real action here.
TOOL SALE:. For tool customers, I will pack & ship your tools after the weekend. Then I think I’ll let the tools slide for the month of December. Everyone is crazy enough in December and I don’t feel like adding to any extra craziness. I usually spend as much of December as I can walking in the woods. And cleaning the shop.
SPOONS – I will have a few spoons done in the next couple of weeks, just because I had been planning it, and some have asked about them as gifts. So a small batch coming up in about 2 weeks.
WORKSHOPS/TEACHING – I did a post about my 2013 schedule, and I will make it a static page on the blog next week so folks can find it. Meantime, the link is here:
“little boxes, little boxes, all filled w ticky-tacky & they all look just the same”
I just finally added some boxes for sale to my static pages here on the blog. I don’t expect these to fly outta here like the spoons or Alexander’s tools, but if you’d like to see them, here is the link:
For future reference, the carved boxes page and others are in a drop-down menu under the heading “Peter Follansbee, joiner” A few things reside under there, leftover from when I killed my website. The blog is easier to manage, and I’m here everyday anyway. I just found out that earlier today was my 500th post. Whew, no wonder I’m tired.
Readers of the blog know that I try to regularly include period examples, for a couple of reasons. One is the basic premise that the study of period artifacts is essential to learning how to make this stuff. I’ve been very fortunate in having access to many collections for study. Along those lines, I know it’s not practical for everyone to get to see these objects in detail, curators, collectors, etc just don’t have the time and resources available to accommodate everyone who wants to crawl around their furniture. So I try to let you see some of it here.
Some collectors and collections (most maybe) distinguish between American and English furniture – and either focus on one or the other. Me, I like them both. The sheer numbers of surviving English pieces makes it much more interesting than sampling American pieces. In the book we show some New England stools as well as some from old England.
Here’s a photo of two joined forms sent to me last week by Bob Trent who often searches auction listings on line…this one’s from Bonham’s. (to be able to zoom on the photo, go to their website: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20404/lot/288/
These are interesting because of their central stretcher, instead of the usual arrangement all around the frame. This central stretcher has never been seen on any known American stools or forms, not even on tables. I like this framing though. It is easier to sit at, I did it for my kitchen table. On the forms from Bonham’s auction, the joiner made the framing simple by planing the side stretchers to the same thickness as the stiles. This means the center stretcher’s shoulder-to-shoulder dimension is the same as that of the long aprons. On my kitchen table I foolishly didn’t do it that way, and had to do a test-fit to get the length of the center stretcher. Learn by mistakes, next form I did this way I equalized the side stretchers and stiles and got on quite well.
So this is another variation on joined stools and forms, After you’ve read the book and made your first stools, then you can do # 2 with a central stretcher. Send your photos of your stools here & I will put them on the blog…
See Chris Schwarz’ blog of a week ago or so to see some other variations on joined stools…
Here’s one more board chest, made in Plymouth Colony…late 17th century. Hard to pin a date on such a thing.
Lots of added junk inside to house the drawers. Runners nailed to the inside for the drawers to ride on, (pictured) and a divider between the two narrow, side-by-side drawers.
Very simple cut-out to form the “feet” of this chest. Note the decorative end of the lid’s cleat. I like this sort of treatment and use it way more than I see it on old chests and boxes. It’s hard to resist.
Simple rabbeted nailed drawer. Note the sawmill’s tally mark scribed on this drawer side. The board’s been planed, but not deeply enough to get all the way past the race knife marks. Is it the number of board feet in each board? I don’t know for sure how it’s employed.
Here’s the juncture of the moldings outlining the “frames” on the chest front.
Another view of one of the drawers. Nailed-on bottom board. Running side-to-side.
All in all, a great chest, but pretty simple. All white pine, maybe the moldings are Atlantic white cedar, I’m not sure. There’s a till on the inside; the chest lid’s been repaired with a new strip at the back edge where the hinges busted out.
I have a funny job. 8 months out of the year, I answer questions as I work in the shop. You tend to hear some of them over & over again. And again. I’m going to answer some of them here from time to time. Here’s the first one.
How did I get started in this kind of woodworking, hand tools, green wood?
It’s not a simple answer like “I served an apprenticeship” or anything along those lines. When I was younger, I inherited from my father a tablesaw, drill press, router, jointer, lathe, etc. – all electric. All 1950s & early ‘60s vintage. I tried to learn something of how to use them. Fumbled around a bit, until I saw a 1978 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. In it were two articles that somehow struck me just right. One was an excerpt from Make a Chair from a Tree, by (then) John Alexander. The other was an article by Drew Langsner about cleaving wood from a log. I ordered Alexander’s book and tracked down a copy of Drew’s then-new book Country Woodcraft (Rodale Press, 1978)
That was the beginning of my real woodworking education. Two years later, I went down to Marshall, N.C. for my first-ever visit to Country Workshops, the school run by Drew and his wife Louise. I was not a stellar student that year by any stretch of the imagination. The wood was not the only “green” thing around, let’s leave it at that.
Readers of this blog know the relationship that eventually came about between Alexander & I – its importance I have already written about. But the same is true of Drew’s impact on my career. I see him as the unsung hero of green woodworking…for over 30 years he’s been teaching class after class and studying & exploring numerous aspects of woodcraft.
I went back to Drew & Louise’s place many times between about 1985 and and 1994. My first class there was in a barn shared with the animals. I seem to remember Alexander standing on a hay bale to write on a blackboard. Over the years the facility grew and improved through a strong commitment on the Langsners’ part.
Drew’s Country Woodcraft is a neat book, I dug out my copy last week to look it over. Many things in there I never made; I have no use thus far for a Spike-tooth A-harrow, nor a drag. But this might be the first place I saw a spring pole lathe…and I certainly first saw spoon carving in this book.
The Logbuilder’s Handbook chronicles how they built their log house. I have the book, read it cover-to-cover, but never did any hewing of timbers. I aim to tackle some hewing this winter.
After my first trip in 1980, I shook a few demons for a couple of years before I returned in 1985 to try my hand at timber framing in oak. There I met Daniel O’Hagan from Pennsylvania, who became a great influence on me as well. From then on, I remember waiting each winter for the Country Workshops newsletter/catalog to come in the mail , so I could see what classes were being offered & start making plans for the summer’s trip to N.C.
I went again & again. Timber framing a few times, Windsor chairs with Curtis Buchanan, basketry, spoon carving with both Jogge & Wille Sundqvist, coopering with Drew..
For a while I tried each class they offered just about. Drew went on to write many books and articles, – his Green Woodworking is a great book and the Chairmaker’s Workshop is a very detailed exploration into how Drew makes several styles of chairs that have been the focal point of Country Workshops, starting with Alexander’s first class there in 1979.
I spent the summer of 1988 living and working with Drew & Louise. What an experience. The years kept going by. Making great quality tools available became another focus for Drew and Country Workshops, as they started to import blacksmith-made hatchets, gouges, etc. Similarly, there was a series of woodcraft videos, one on spoons & bowls by Jogge Sundqvist, then Drew’s first woodworking teacher Ruedi Kohler, the Swiss cooper. They did another excellent one about Bengt Lidstrom making hewn bowls in Sweden. All well worth having.
By 1994, I got a job. That was great in some ways, my museum work has been another very exciting chapter in my work, but it also changed my travel inclinations for about 10 years. In that time, my travels were about research, studying oak furniture, lecturing, etc. So no time really for woodworking classes. I kept in touch with Drew & Louise through the mail, then email…always with an eye on what was happening down there.
I finally made it back there when the twins were just toddlers, and have been several times in the past 6 years or so.
It’s great to be back, and I am really looking forward to August 2013 when I will again teach how to rive, plane and carve oak to make a 17th-century box. If you have been to Langsner’s you don’t need me to tell you about it, if you haven’t – here’s your chance. Don’t miss out. Take my class, take a chairmaking class, spoons & bowls, or any of the others. Just get there. Here’s the website http://countryworkshops.org/ sign up for the newsletter, sign up for their catalog/class listings. Get on the mailing list so it comes to your house, just like the old days.
Here’s Drew’s website, http://drewlangsner.com/ you can see the sort of wooden ware he’s interested in making lately. To me, it harks back to his days as a sculpture/art student. And while you’re at it, here once again is the link to Louise’s blog about her cooking & gardening. I know I point to this stuff a lot, but we have some new readers here. So bear with me. http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/
I really can’t state strongly enough just how important Drew’s work has been to mine. Getting to know Drew and Louise has been one of the best parts of my adult life. I can say without reservation, without them, I would not be where I am today. No bones about it. They literally made me feel a part of their family, and have been so generous over the years. See you in N.C.
In an article of agreement in connection with William Savell, Sr.’s 1669 will, the sons of William Savell, Sr. agree that the widow, Sarah (Mullins Gannett) Savell shall have “…her whole estate returned to her that she brought to Our ffather for her own use & to dispose of forever with a chest with drawers & a Cubbert…”
the distinction here is “chest with drawers” – plural. Most of this group had a single drawer below the chest compartment.
Back when I was doing the legwork research chasing these chests down, I saw two examples that had 2 drawers instead of the more typical single drawer. One of those is now in the Chipstone collection in Milwaukee, WI. This might be the other one, or now a third. I did see a piece of 20th-century homemade furniture that incorporated two drawers from one of these. That piece descended in the Hayward family from old Braintree.
The article from years ago is:
Peter Follansbee and John Alexander, “Seventeenth-Century Joinery from Braintree, Massachusetts: the Savell Shop Tradition” in American Furniture, ed., Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 1996) pp. 81-104