We all miss somebody these days. Well, many somebodies. One I miss in particular is my friend Heather Neill. But every year about this time there’s a daily dose of Heather’s paintings as she prepares for her show at the Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. And lo and behold, I made another appearance. I had completely forgotten posing for this one.
The fundraiser yesterday was a huge success, thanks go out to people all around the world. (Jogge has to be careful in that photo above, he’s almost got a smile started.) First, this note from Jogge’s Facebook post this morning –
“A big and humble Thank You! to all the fundraisers for Willes tools. Some words explaining this situation: The auction after my father is set up by the new owner, his widow, who now is the owner of the estate. I´ve been really thinking about how to solve this. I would like my father’s tools to be owned and used by the people who knew him and who can tell the outside world about the importance he had for the spoons, for carving and for spreading slöjd internationally. We are three brothers who had to buy out some tools before the auction. With the help of the GoFundMe money, we can now inherit those tools free of charge. There is also an idea that Bjurholm municipality should set up a memorial room after Wille where some tools and implements can be found. Any surplus of the sum will be added to the Sundqvist-Coperthwaite Fellowship. Again, deep thanks!”
I have written before about Wille’s impact on the green woodworking sphere – it was through working with Wille that Drew & Louise Langsner got the inspiration to start their school Country Workshops, which they ran for 40 years. I started there in 1980 and was in & out of there a lot over the years.
Since Wille Sundqvist passed away in 2018, I have from time to time talked with Jogge about his tools – what will happen to them, etc. It’s a long story but right now the pressing part is that there is an auction in a few days. Ty Thornock has set up a GoFundMe page with the idea that we’ll help Jogge get these tools so he can then do with them what he sees fit. Time is of the essence – if you can help Jogge preserve his father’s incredible legacy, follow the link below. thank you very much
The carved box front above is the subject of the most recent video. It’s a mostly-free-hand drawing/carving. Some basic centerlines, then jump in from there. The video runs about 80 minutes and shows just about the whole process. I’ll insert it at the bottom of this blog post. I tried to post it yesterday & this morning to youtube, but the file I was uploading was incomplete. Hopefully it will be corrected now.
I rarely tinker with the blog and it shows. Too often there’s out-of-date pages left up and then it seems that WordPress changes stuff on me. Recently (really months ago) the title & header of the blog became unreadable against the photo – so I spent what felt like an eternity trying to change the font color on the title – finally gave up & changed the background photo to a drawing of a carving. I hope I don’t have to mess with it again for a while.
Right now I have several custom pieces to make, but often have stuff ready-made too. So while I was housekeeping in the blog, I created a page “Furniture for Sale” – there I’ll stick the stuff I have kicking around that’s available for purchase. The link to it is up in the header or here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/furniture-for-sale/
It was months & months ago that I said set #2 of the carving drawings was almost ready. But then I hesitated. The then 4-page set contained some drawings of strapwork designs and I decided they needed some step-by-step explanations. So I waffled around a bit, then drew them up step-by-step. Jeff Lefkowitz and I then went back & forth with captions, etc. At the same time, we monkeyed with the gouge-ID stuff. All of which is to say we’re just about done now, and have sent the set out for some test-prints. Once we see those, Jeff makes whatever last-minute changes we need, then I’ll have them printed & available. For real this time. This set will be 5 pages, 24″ x 36″ – details soon. Should be later this month I hope.
The video – Carving a box front.
I hadn’t done much carving lately at all, then got an order for a carved box. Perfect time for a carving video. I had some trouble uploading this, so broke it into two parts. I call them part 1 and part 2. Here’s part 1
Well, I have a few blog posts coming through the pipeline. First thing is I got the sensor on my camera cleaned. So for a little while the photos will have fewer spots. I’ve been working on the upper case of the cupboard and fitted the door the other day. Today I took it back apart and began the process of figuring out the moldings that mount on it. for review, here’s the original’s door.
There’s three frames that create quite a dynamic effect – the outermost one is simple, a 1 1/4” wide oak molding mounted on the door frame. I used a rabbet plane and a hollow to form it. I got the technique and the plane from Matt Bickford, the molding wiz. My main decorative bag is carving. I can make moldings but it’s not something I do frequently. So each time, I have to review what Matt’s book does. https://lostartpress.com/products/mouldings-in-practice
For the middle frame I decided to take my own advice and practice first. In pine. Aside from the shape of this molding, it has another feature that I had never done before. It’s hard to see in the black & white photo above, but this molding covers (& hides) the drop between the door frame and the panel. I learned to call this sort of molding a “bolection” molding. It doesn’t refer to the profile, but to the manner of mounting it.
Many years ago, Jennie Alexander used to keep a copy of Cyril Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture in her bathroom. Sent me a copy so I could do the same. I did for a while, but nowadays it’s in the shop bookcase. There, I looked up the definition of “bolection”:
“Bolections, balection, belection, bellexion, bilection, bolexion – A molding projecting beyond the surface of the work which it decorates, as that covering the joint between a panel and the surrounding stiles and rails; often used to conceal a joint where the joining surfaces are at different levels.”
And Harris’ illustration:
That’s clearly what’s happening on the Essex County cupboard door. I went to the Massachusetts Historical Society last week to take some more measurements and notes – and shot another view of the door showing just a snippet of the three frames on the door. That escutcheon is a replacement. At the bottom corner, behind the outer black frame you can just see a peg securing the mortise & tenon joint and the junction of the stile & bottom rail. And the next 2″ wide molding sits on the frame at its outer edge and on the panel at its inner edge.
Here’s a not-so-detailed view of my progress late yesterday. it took doing it to make my head wrap around how the miters and the back rabbet co-exist. Turns out it’s dead simple.
But somewhere there are bolection planes – even in the 17th century. Randle Holme’s Academy of Armory (1688) notes:
“The several sorts of plains.
The Strike Block, is a Plain shorter than the Joynter, having the Sole made exactly flat and streight, and is used for the shooting of a short Joint; because it is more ready by the hand than the long Joynter; It is also used for the fitting and framing of Miter and Bevil Joynts.
The Revaile Plain.
The Scurging Plain.
The Moulding Plains, are for the working off of several sorts of Moulding works, which Plains have names according to their several Operations; as
The Hallow Plain.
The Round, or Half Round Plain.
The Belection Plain.
The O-gee Plain.
The Back O-gee Plain. The Cornish Plain.
The Phalister Plain. [An undated note in the copy of Randle Holme in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, reads “Carpenters have a plane called a phalister or feliciter, a corruption of the Italian falcitello.”]”
Well, the only thing that makes a molding a bolection according to Harris is a rabbet on its back surface so it can slip from the panel to the frame. But what is a bolection plane then? Holme says nothing more about it. I don’t think it’s in Joseph Moxon’s book, I haven’t looked in a while. I don’t remember it there.
Colonial Williamsburg has some early 18th century planes they call bolection planes, referring in these cases to the shapes. Here’s one of theirs by Francis Nicholson
I looked in John Whalen’s book The Wooden Plane (Astragal Press, 1993) to see what he said about bolection planes. He’s got the same definition as Harris, but then segues into talking about profiles and their complexity. One thing he notes is a construction I’ve not seen – a rabbet to fit the panel, then the molding to pin it in place. But he doesn’t cite where/when this is used.
One last stop – Goodman’s British Planemaker’s 4th Edition edited by Jane Rees (Astragal Press, 2020) – but all that one cites is the Randle Holme quote. But I think somewhere, very early on, the profile became the marker for a “bolection” molding – possibly in addition to the mounting format. Otherwise how could you have a bolection plane?
But if you’ve made it this far, I have something for one of you. I just got Jane Rees’ new edition of Goodman’s book, which means I have the 3rd edition (1993) to send free to a good home. First one that wants it & leaves a comment gets it. Today I’m off to split a new log, then hopefully make some oak bolection moldings.
You probably already know about Pete Galbert’s video series but in case some of you have missed it here’s a blurb about it. Back in the spring of 2020 when it became apparent that we’d all be home for quite a while, Pete & I both started shooting videos in our shops. My approach was seat-of-the-pants, Pete’s was to go full-tilt – and it shows. His series Foundations in Chairmaking is excellent – https://www.petergalbert.com/videos
I bought a subscription to it when he announced it and have watched almost every minute of it. Pete covers details and nuances very well. He uses some very helpful graphics to illustrate some of the fine points he’s after about things like fiber/grain direction, what the drawknife is really doing when you slice through the wood and more.
Below is a shot from a section about gluing up a seat blank. PG shows you how to orient the 3 (not 2) sections of the board to make joints that pretty much disappear – it’s been years and years since I’ve done this for a chair, but it was a real eye-opener to watch his process.
Recently someone wrote to me asking about kiln dried wood for chairmaking. They don’t have access to green wood and wanted to make a JA chair. Pete had just posted a video about that very subject – something I’ve never done and never will – but I know several folks who do just that. Galbert covered the subject in great detail so I just pointed the person there.
Here’s a snippet from that video, showing the fibers outlined with a Sharpie so you can see what he’s after.
If you like chairmaking or want to start in chairmaking there’s lots of fodder out there. Add Pete’s videos to the pile, it’s money well spent.
Might be two weeks ago now, I test-assembled the cupboard. Daniel & I just finished a short (for me) video showing how I work those large 3 1/4″ square blocks and then test-fit the lower case.
The upper case didn’t get much video-time. There was an earlier video showing how I cut some of the joints for it, and a short bit tacked on today’s showing how I fit the cornice on…we’ll see it all again over & over in time.
I got the cupboard all framed finally. Here’s the lower case, resting on its back. Now it makes much more sense, you can see the openings for the recessed drawers between the upper and lower drawers.
I tried to get a shot showing the whole thing – but the shop’s too small for that. I’ll have to go outside & shoot through the window next time.
Next up, I have to find some new logs; oak, maple – plus some pine boards. Meanwhile, I’m making a list of things to check when I go see the original again. It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen it. So I shifted gears just a bit while that project is in waiting. A joined stool framed, and parts for the next one freshly planed.
I still have some of that hickory I’m working through. I got out Drew Langsner’s Country Woodcraft: Then & Now and made a few pitchforks – not because I need them, but just to practice some bits of green woodworking that I don’t get to much these days, including bending. After shaving the blank to shape, I ripped the tines down.
Drew’s instructions show how to make a rivet from a 10d nail & some washers. Then it’s into the steambox. Once it comes out, time to spread the tines, then bend the whole thing.
The most encouraging part of Drew’s description was something along the lines of “after some clumsy first attempts…” A lot happens in rapid succession – driving in the dowels between the tines, spreading the tines, then bending the fork. It’s been 30 years since my last pitchfork projects…and it shows.
I made about four of them. Here’s the first two. One is four tines, one is three – but the real difference is that they were each bent on a different form – resulting in a different shape. Drew’s form is the 4-tine one in front.
Last view – the tines.
Then comes the next barrage of brettstuhl doings. Friends in Germany did my bidding, literally, and got me a slightly-used Ulmia grathobel – a dovetail plane. Time to practice with this and get onto my next brettstuhl.
That’s enough for now. We’re working on the next video, showing the test-assembly of the cupboard. And on & on.
A couple of things for sale, brought down from the loft. If you’d like any of these, leave a comment and we’ll take it from there. Paypal or check is fine, I add the fees to the paypal charges. If someone beats you to it, I can always make these sort of things on order.
I’ll start with the box. I made quite a few boxes last year, particularly in the fall. This box is #12 of 11, or something like that. I made the body of it then, but didn’t finish it until a week ago or so. It’s quartersawn red oak, with a white pine bottom. The carvings are based on boxes made in Dedham, Massachusetts in the 2nd half of the 17th century.
My schedule is pretty full with the large cupboard I’m making and some stools and chairs. I know I’ll make more boxes this year but don’t know when. And there won’t be as many as last year.
H: 10 1/2″ W: 26 1/2″ D: 14 3/4″ $1,200 includes shipping in US
The till parts were scrounged from what was in the shop at the time, a walnut lid and red cedar bottom & side.
The boxes I make depart from “typical” period boxes in that the sides are carved in addition to the front. This is seen on some period boxes, but most are just carved on the front. I use wooden pegs and glue to secure the rabbets – same story – most period boxes are nailed there, some are pegged. And I use a wooden hinge, again, you see that sometimes, but more often iron hinges.
Ladderback chair Hickory rungs and posts, red oak slats, hickory bark seat.
There’s a story to this chair. I fumbled around a bit when I was re-learning how to make these chairs. This one I got the orientation of a rear post a bit off, resulting in what Drew Langsner calls a “windswept” back to the chair. Just a bit asymmetrical. It’s perfectly sound and sits fine. It’s just not a top-flight chair. But neither is it a “second.” I guess it’s a “second & 1/2.” When I assembled it, I saw the problem and stuck it in the loft and made another. Recently I got it out & decided it’s not that bad – so I put a hickory bark seat on it and took $200 off the price.
$1,000 including shipping in US.
You can see the post on our right is kicked out too far. Not fatal.
Here’s the hickory bark seat.
Kid’s size ladderback chair
H: 26″ W: (across front) 14 1/4″ D: (overall) 14″ Seat height 14″ $800 including shipping in US.
A colored chair? From me? Yup, it’s to hide another mishap. Bored a hole in the wrong spot, plugged it & carried on. But it was right in a front post. So I practiced coloring this one. Even with the plugged joint, the chair is perfectly sound. Here’s the plugged mortise, at the rung that’s running down to the right in this photo.
I still have two brettstuhls here, Alpine chairs, board-chairs – whatever you might call them. It’s funny to think about me making Alpine chairs down here at sea level. They might seem like quite a departure from my normal work, but with carved decoration, mortise & tenon joinery and a long tradition, they are right up my alley. If anyone is interested in one, send me an email at PeterFollansbee7@gmail.com
Daniel & I went over some snippets of video on the cupboard project the other day. It’s a mish-mash of how to hold those funny-shaped stiles for mortising & plowing grooves. Then the beginnings of setting in the cornice joinery.
I’m headed out to the shop momentarily to pick up this project where I left off. It’ll take some head-scratching to see where I am. Below is a mock-up of the cornice rail on one side, and a test-piece of the soffit. This step will locate the groove on the inside face of that cornice – to fit those soffit boards.
Soon I hope to have the framing of the upper case all cut. Fingers crossed.