a few leftover bits & a question

Here’s a few things I’ve been meaning to put in a blog post, but with one thing or another I haven’t.

copying pencil

Pencils – I hate them for furniture work, although I have softened and let students use them in laying out carvings. I usually use chalk, easier to remove. But for spoons and hewn bowls, I like to draw the shapes I’m after. These drawings get continually cut away and redrawn, as the design is refined during the process. But regular pencils mostly don’t work well on green wood. Alexander to the rescue once again. For years, Jennie Alexander used to use the Eberhard Faber NOBLOT Bottle of Ink in a Pencil, #705, (or is it #740?) It worked wonders writing on green wood. Just don’t ever forget it in your pocket during the laundry. When it hits the green wood, the line turns a strong blue that you can see easily. But the pencil is no longer made…and while researching this post, I saw one offered on the French Ebay site for $25. Pretty stupid, and there’s no way I’m going to get in competition with pencil collectors. There’s a whole pencil culture out there.  They treat the NOBLOT like it’s a Nic Westermann hook knife or something. Maybe they look at us & think, “there’s a whole wood culture out there…”

About two years ago, I found some online from a boatshop in the Northwestern US. These were Brevillier Urban copying pencils #1925. Made in Austria. They work great, and I’m down to my last few…if you’ve been in one of my spoon or bowl classes, you know I guard them carefully…

So I thought I’d order another dozen tonight while I wrote this post. Ha. Not so easy. I can’t remember the name of the shop where I bought them, and found nothing much on the web about them. Did find some Russian site that has them…at least I think it was Russian. I opted instead, after much fumbling around to try a new one, from http://www.pencilthings.com/category-s/25.htm


Chairmaker's Notebook

Pete Galbert’s book, Chairmaker’s Notebook. Since I got it, I’ve been proclaiming my hatred for Pete Galbert. His book is so damn good that it makes it harder for those of us who have woodworking books in the works. I really mean it when I say this book is unbelievably good. Everything about it is just exactly perfect. Even if you’re not going to build a Windsor chair, if you work green wood, or want to, buy this book. It’s worth it for the chapter on splitting & riving if nothing else. Pete’s drawings and text are thorough and clear and keep you turning the pages to get more details and information. It makes me want to make a chair…but I’m behind enough as it is. Maybe 2016…congratulations to Pete and all the others at Lost Art Press on this one. http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/chairmakers-notebook  (Oh, and for all that disclosure crap – yes, I’ve written a book for LAP, and am working on another. I know the principals involved, we’re all in the same circus…so what? Get the book, and tell me I’m wrong, that it’s no good. You’d be in a tiny minority.)

hurdle maker

Next month, Rick McKee & I are repeating our riving class with Plymouth CRAFT, October 10th & 11th.  http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=riving-now-two-days

Only this time the students will apply their learning to make a section of portable fencing often called “hurdles” – I have threatened to make one for to photograph, so we could show you what the heck we’re dealing with…but as indicated already twice recently in print, I’m behind on other stuff. And a week away from another trip to Maine. So I borrowed a photo from J. Geraint Jenkins’ Traditional Country Craftsmen, a book on English crafts…

They come in all sorts of configurations, some more folksy than others. we’ll have fun with them, as students get to tackle riving, shaving at a shaving horse, hatchet work, mortising, and more…..tweed jackets & ties are optional.

Back on the subject of books, one of the students in my class in Somerset brought a small book to class, all about English boxes. A Discourse on Boxes of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, by Anthony Conybeare. 

box book page

I knew I had seen it before, but had never bought my own copy. As we browsed it, I thought, I really should get this book. The text is just what it is, I won’t go into any details, which would be nitpicking. The photos are excellent, and in many cases, very detailed. Once I got home, I forgot about it, then I was looking through my bookshelf near my workbench, and lo & behold – there’s Conybeare’s book. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember buying it. But I thought I remembered an email about it, and sure enough, Kent Ryan, a reader of the blog, sent me a copy back in late 2013. If you’re still there, thanks, Kent.

NOW, a real can of worms. I’ve never yet made it to Spoonfest over in the UK. Came close this year, but maybe another time. If Plymouth CRAFT were to sponsor/host a spoon & related festival type thing in the Northeast, what would folks like to see & do there? We’re looking at a great site in southeastern Massachusetts, ponds, woods, cabins – meals included…and room for 100 or more attendees. Roofed pavilions, so out of any nasty weather. Looking at 2 1/2 – 3 days, like Woodstock. Without the brown acid & mud. This time of year. No promises, but just wondering if we were to go ahead, would spoons alone make it fly? We’d have no real facility for bench woodworking, but the portable bits like spoons have great appeal. So what do you think? Seems like the eastern US could support it, the closest thing I know of is the Spoon Gathering in Milan, MN. A longgg ways from here. Leave comments if you have any. we’ll keep you posted.

49 thoughts on “a few leftover bits & a question

    • The venue we are considering has an excellent kitchen crew — and we’d all get three meals of freshly prepared locally-sourced food in beautiful surroundings. Truly ideal. That said, I believe I will be teaching a class or two on “Cooking with Spoons”, in one or another of the camp’s huge stone fireplaces…!

  1. Peter, A long time ago, in a place far, far away (Winooski, Vt. To be exact) I learned to take the classes offered by the best professors (everyone knew who they were), regardless of course topic. I am a graduate of the first riving class and so, while this is of no help to your to your syablus question, I am all in knowing that anything Professor Follansbee and his associate professors decide will be well worth my time.

      • Gone by then, Peter; 1975. Probably took some of the same professors. Everyone knew who were the best, who put you to sleep, and where to find the easiest A. I doubt it was different from any other institution of “higher education.”

  2. Have you tried indelibe pencils before? They can make a mark on anything, including metal (which I occasionally find useful) but the marks won’t bleed or smudge in green wood. They’re also easily available and cheap.

  3. I would be there for spoons. How about bowls and hurdles? Pole lathes-ask J Klein to bring his German lathe. Not to mention blacksmiths making knives and such.

    I use soft carpenters pencils on sopping wet hemlock timbers all the time. From the hardware store and cheap.

  4. I think the event would be very popular with spoons and bowls. Hewn and turned.
    By accident, I got a General layout pencil in a pack of 3. Extra black #555. Works very well.

  5. I haven’t made it to Spoonfest or Milan so having something in the northeast would be great. Spoons is enough to get me there.

  6. There’s a bunch of us gathering off and on over the last 14 mos or so in NY. I am sure many of us would be interested in a gathering. Some have made it out to Milan – though I haven’t yet. Would be great to have a Northeast Spoon Fest for this of us that can’t make it to the UK or MN.

  7. Vinyl erasers will cleanly remove pencil marks from wood. Don’t use the erasers on the end of the pencil or the pink pearl erasers as they create a smeary mess. You can buy vinyl erasers at office supply stores in the drafting supply section. They are what drafters use to cleanly erase pencil marks without leaving residue behind. I always have one in my carving tool kit and workshop area. They are not expensive. You can get them in a small size as a wedge shaped eraser that you can put onto the end of a pencil. But I prefer the hand held size.

  8. I’ll be there in 2016.
    Let’s followup in 2017 by doing it in Maine near to L-N. Tim Manney and I will organize.
    Wonderful venue (Hidden Valley Nature Center in the woods with cabins, camping, canoeing etc and the requisite tool porn…and lobster.

  9. The site for the possible spoon festival sounds a lot like Pinewoods Camp near Plymouth. If it isn’t, you might want also to check out that as a possible site.

  10. I would plan on a trip to Mass. for spoons. I’ve taught a few spoon classes at highland woodworking in Atlanta, but I know I don’t know enough, so I would like to meet those that inspire me. And share what I know.

  11. I would love to see a gathering of spoon folk that is closer to the East Coast. And, I’d make attending a priority if I could afford the tickets!

  12. In Art stores there are draughting pencils
    Two I use to mark green wood: .
    Berol Draughting 314
    Sanford Draughting 02237
    Also check out softer charcoal draughting pencils.
    They are outrageously black!

    Peter was very kind in his comments about Make aJoint Stool from a Tree.
    I stumbled across 17th Century joinery. I found it fascinating. Peter took off like he was born there. The Book that resulted is beautifully done and an excellent start. The basics are there. Chris Schwartz and Peter made them very clear. But one further comment. They could have done the book on chests then and there. But I stopped at17C Century stools . I went back to post and rung shaved stick chair making where I belong. They were kind to have me aboard. But I read every Follansbee Blog and am waiting for the chest book-autographed.

  13. Be careful with older copying pencils – the analine dye use in the ‘lead’ of the pencil is surprisingly toxic. Don’t lick it, and if you break your skin with it accidentally, you can get really sick.

  14. I am currently working my way through J. Geraint Jenkins’ Traditional Country Craftsmen, a book on English crafts and recognised the source of the photo straight away. This is an excellent resource for a range of green woodworking, much of which is preserved only as a curiosity by enthusiasts like ourselves. Gives justification for pursuing what we love.

  15. Pencils for wet wood I found what appears to be something similar from Micheal’s and Dick Blick’s, both major US art supply stores. They suggested asking for a “wash pencil”. The manufacturer calls them water color pencils. It appears that artists draw on paper with these pencils and then dampen the paper to smear the mark.

    It worked great when I tried putting a puddle of water on a dry piece of wood and then writing on it at the bottom of the puddle. It also works great on green (wet) bowl blanks.

    Derwent sketching, dark wash, hardness 8B for black or Derwent Inktense for colors and white.

    Jon W

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