I have until December…but might need that much time

I have  hard time lately getting things going on the blog. I’m still blaming it on the time-change…but there’s probably more to it.

Anyway, I started working full-time in the shop again. Just didn’t shoot much. I have a small version of Schwarz’ tool chest underway, for when I travel to workshops. I haven’t decided whether to paint it like the first one. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=paint

One idea is to nail moldings on it, to mimic a joined chest. I’ll shoot some of it next week.

Then I did some tool handles today, an old Karl Larsson hatchet, and a new knife blade. Mark Anderson at Winterthur told me of a great website where you can buy more knives than you can shake a stick at. http://www.ragweedforge.com/index.html#catalog I held back and only bought three blades…but I know I’ll be back there someday.

Meanwhile, I have until December to finish the chest of drawers I started as part of my Winterthur demonstration. I’ll need all that time for sure. I had framed the basic upper case, which will house two shallow side-by-side drawers above one very deep, full-width drawer. The top drawers are about 4 1/2” deep, with a rail above and below them.

nailing drawer bottom
nailing the bottom on the drawer
drawer detail incl bottom
drawer detail

When I framed the side elevation, I forgot that the upper rail at the side corresponds to the top drawers in front, and the moldings that runs above &  below them. So my first side upper rails were only 3 1/2” high, but once I started to look at it, I realized I had to go back & re-do these rails. 6 1/2” is more like it. I hate having to extend mortises, it’s a nuisance. But it’s worth taking the time this early on to make sure this piece is right in the end. (note that in the picture, you can see the pin holes bored for the initial, wrong-sized upper rails. I will put one more pin hole down near the bottom of these rails.) There will be applied moldings run in line with the top and bottom edges of these rails.)

upper case side frame & panels
corrected upper side rails
interior view cedrela panels
interior view, showing the beveled panels

Mine is not a copy of a particular example, but is based on the one at the MFA and one at Yale. The MFA one is made almost entirely of riven cedrela (Spanish cedar). Mine has an oak frame, but (sawn) cedrela panels. The moldings will be cedrela as well, both those applied to the framing, and the drawer fronts’ decorations. Working with a timber like this is a bit dicey compared to how you can treat riven oak. I beveled the panels without the hatchet, started with a plane, finished with a spokeshave. Easy does it, these can break if not handled carefully. 

(here’s some of the previous mentions of the chests of drawers that I am studying for this work… https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=cedrela )

beveling cedrela
planing bevels on cedrela
bevel w spokeshave
finishing a bevel w spokeshave

Which brings me to the next part. Unfortunately, my classes at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking in April had be be cancelled due to under-enrollment. I appreciated Tim Lawson & Jim Tolpin taking a chance on me, and I’m sorry it didn’t work for us. Maybe my New-England-y 17th-century outlook doesn’t fly out in the newer West. BUT one door closes, another one opens. It means I get time to be a student in Matt Bickford’s class at Lie-Nielsen in April. I’m bringing some cedrela with me, and Matt says we can work on that on the 2nd day. That will give my moldings a jump start so I can keep the chest of drawers moving ahead.


UPDATE: I forgot to include this shot from taking the kids to school today. In the Home of Applied Paranoia, it’s good to have someone watch your back. Here, it’s a case of “you watch my back, I’ll watch  yours.” – Red-shouldered hawks. 

watch my back I'll watch yours




15 thoughts on “I have until December…but might need that much time

  1. Ragweed forge is a great site. I was drooling over it last night. I had seen the page a while ago while looking for Sloyd knives. Last night I followed a link from a Society for Creative Anachronisms page.

  2. I followed that link to the painting pages and was reminded of how at least one church here in town (Montpelier, VT) has wooden exterior moldings shaped to look like stone work.

  3. It’s disappointing to hear about the class cancellation, even though I was not going to attend. I was looking forward to hearing about the challenges and triumphs of making a joined stool from Douglas-fir.

  4. Hi Peter,

    I’m trying to find spoon carving knives like you have. Suggestions? (Also, we just cut down a plum tree. I tried carving a spoon and the next day it had split all the way down the middle. Is plum not a good wood for carving?)

    Bill Nelson 707-688-7187 Sent from my iPhone

    • http://countryworkshops.org/ is Drew Langsner’s woodworking school where I learned spoon carving. He sells very good quality tools for this work. As does Del Stubbs at http://www.pinewoodforge.com/

      I have never worked plum. there can be lots of factors that lead to splitting. Drying too fast, near a heat source, etc. But some woods are trickier than others. I know lilac is a very dense beautiful wood that is very difficult to dry evenly without checking. Make sure whatever spoon wood you use to remove all the pith, (the central part of the wood/branch, etc) and some of the stock right near it. I keep my green spoons-in-progress wrapped in paper bags to keep them from drying too fast.
      Hope this helps.

  5. So I envision a pine chest with applied riven oak strips, an idea just in time as I am starting on a smaller chest build myself. Good to see the Japanese box getting retired.

  6. I, too, was looking forward to hearing the tale of riven doug fir. Then why didn’t I sign up for the class? Well, because I felt that, with your and Jennie’s book, combined with my finish carpenter background, that I could probably figure it on my own. I think you taught yourself out of a teaching job!

    • And I think you missed out on all the stuff in my head that’s not in the book. Never assume anyone’s workshop/class is just a run-through of their book/DVD, etc. It’s always best to work alongside someone who knows what’s going on…

  7. Well said Peter. I have attended classes by the same person and gained good tips and ideas even after the second time taking the class. Books and dvds are great but no substitute for the person who wrote them!

  8. The goof on the rail will be mostly finessed with the extra peg, everybody will be looking at the moldings. I think the knobs on the MFAB drawers are real, the smaller, walnut, normative-looking ones. But if I were you, I’d put the big Italianate knobs made of lignum vitae or something else bongo for all the drawers, they’re bigger and much more dramatic. I assume they turned them pretty close to the center and then whittled the center boss.

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