First post of the year

iced up

That’s just a hand-held snapshot of the iced-up river first thing this morning. It’s cold enough here to not even bother working in the shop…there’s plenty of desk work I’m behind on anyway. For instance, I haven’t written a blog post in 2022 yet. As I made the folder on my computer for this year’s blog photos, I noted that this is the 15th year for this blog. My first posts were in 2008. So here goes.

I had thought back in March 2021 that I’d finish the joined cupboard in December. That didn’t happen, but it is getting closer. I hope to be done in another month. Lately I’ve been picking away at this and that, including a lot of turned work. Here’s one of the feet, they’re just about ready to install. I hewed out a cylinder about 5″ in diameter and bored a hole in the end grain to insert a mandrel for the lathe’s cord to wrap around. Like turning a bowl on a pole lathe. That thick chunk to the left of my skew chisel is just waste to keep the mandrel connected while I turn the tenon at the top of the foot. This is one of the easiest turnings on the whole cupboard – just a giant bead with a cove & half-bead above.

turning the feet

Yesterday near the end of the day I started mapping out the soffit that fits under the cornice of the upper case. In the photo below, the upper case is sitting on its back, with the cornice framing nearest the camera. It will all make sense in a few days. This gets me close, but I really need to peg the cornice together to get the most accurate size and shape for those boards. These will be riven oak, tongue-and-grooved like the floor boards you see in this photo.

soffit template

There’s still more moldings to cut, more turnings to make. Paint and more. Here’s the top molding to the lower case underway.

“sawtooth” molding

Next Project:

I’m very good at starting projects. I could do it every day. When your primary stock is green wood, you have to prep the stuff ahead of when you actually want to be making it. Back in 1989 when I started making oak furniture, studying with Jennie Alexander, we used to spend a lot of time trying to suss out “how green?” – at what stage do you cut the tenons? The mortises? etc. From very early on, we found that it works best if you work the wood twice. I rough it out as green as it comes…then let it sit a while (a month at least…) before cutting joinery or decoration. This means I’ve been interrupting my cupboard project to prep stock for when the cupboard’s delivered.

planing a stile for an oak joined chest

The project coming up next is the video series on making a joined chest with a drawer. I’ve been splitting and planing stock for it and shooting videos the whole time. As I always do, I’m working a bit out-of-order. I shot some log-splitting, but the light was awful and I rejected those clips. I have to get a new log to shoot the first bits of splitting the log apart. But as I prep the various parts of the chest, I’m getting all the riving, hewing & planing pretty well captured.

I don’t have any details yet about when the video series will begin. I hope to sort it out in the next month or so. I heard from many of you – one common question has been can I show how to use sawn stock? Woods other than oak? Yes to both, to a degree – I’ll show what I would do/have done with sawn stock (including some photos of chests made from it) – but I’m not going to build the chest from it. Ditto for “other woods.” One thing I did shoot is what happens with metal-bodied planes and green oak. It’s like a science experiment! But it can work.

Another thing I hope to include is some of the history of these chests and some of the reasoning for the attribution to William Savell and his sons in Braintree. Here’s a snippet from Savell’s probate inventory from 1669:

The house & barn & a bitt of meadow £90
John’s house shop barn & land about 3 Acres £120

John Savell was William’s eldest son, a joiner also. Here’s the house mentioned, now long-ago demolished.

the Savell house, c. 1890s

I made a short sample of what I’ve been shooting. More to come…

8 thoughts on “First post of the year

  1. Thank you, Mr. Follansbee, for continuing to inspire the artistry, techniques, and value of green wood joinery.

  2. Are you using sawn oak and pine for the cupboard shelves and top. It bothers me that the top of the original is pine. Also, another reason for the chamfers on the bottom Savell rails is to make more room??

    • Trent – my cupboard has sawn (quartersawn) oak shelf above the lowest drawer. Same wood for tops of both cases. Three boards edge-glued up to make the tops. We have batted back & forth for ages whether the pine top on the upper case is original. So I opted for oak. The only pine is the rear panels for both cases. All the drawer bottoms, soffits and cupboard floor are riven oak. Tons of it.
      Yes the tapered floor rail technically makes more room, but it’s probably only measured in square inches…

  3. Hi Peter Happy New year! Curious is that oak that your turning for the feet and how dry do you prefer the wood for turning? Thanks and keep up the great work!!

    • Thanks Todd – no, the large turnings in this project I did in cherry. The originals are maple, but I couldn’t find a good enough maple log. I turn them twice, once very green, but leaving them oversized. Then a few weeks later, turn them to final size. They’re still pretty wet at that point. It’s just the tenons that need to be dry.

  4. Maybe consider adding one of the archive widgets (like the dropdown?) or a page/menu item? There doesn’t seem to be any simple way of looking at your posts from the beginning.

    Thanks for keeping the posts going.

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