Harry Kavouksorian and Joni traipsed down from Maine to shoot some video of the raising. Harry quickly made a short edited synopsis of it. Thanks very much, Harry & Joni -I really appreciated you coming down. Here:
Yesterday was the day we’ve been waiting for – frame-raising day. Pret & I laid out & cut joinery a little more than part-time for almost 3 months. So many friends gathered on Saturday here by the river, neighbors came to watch (& got roped into driving pins) – and we had a great time assembling & raising the frame.
Back when I did a lot of research into 17th century woodworking, I read M. Halsey Thomas, editor, The Diary of Samuel Sewall 1674-1729 2 volumes, (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1973). On page 11 I found: “Saturday, May 15. (1675) Brother’s house was raised, at the raising of which I was. Two Pins lower Summer. [footnote: Throughout the Diary, Sewall records driving nails or wooden pins in buildings under construction. This gesture of good will and voluntary association with the enterprise is traced by H. W. Haynes to Roman and Old Testament sources…] ”
I tried to include as many of the visitors as would be willingly led to the deck to drive pins. When else are they going to get a chance to do that? The first timber-frame raising I took part in was at Drew Langsner’s in the mid-1980s. Daniel O’Hagan was the instructor for that class…back in 1959 Daniel wrote a letter to the Catholic Worker newspaper which included this snippet:
“I went to a neighbor’s barn raising last week, and after the heavy beams had gone up and were pinned together, we stopped for a bite to eat. Most of the men were Mennonites, and most came by horse-drawn vehicles.
What an eye-opener and lesson in cooperation, to see 20 men walk over to an enormous oak timber and, after placing stout sticks under it, how gently, how quietly and easily, the great beam rose off the ground and was carried and laid at its destination! No shouting, no profanity, not rattling engines or gears grinding, not even an order to start heaving!
If only co-operation would be ingrained in us as competition has been!”
Yesterday, Maureen, the kids & I were delighted to be hosts to a large group of friends and neighbors, all working together and sharing a great experience. No nail guns or compressors could hold a candle to it!
I’ll write more about it this week, here’s a gallery of photos, no particular order:
the winter is gradually letting go around here; my workshop is almost all-cut & ready for raising. (Then the real work begins of finishing it off so I can use it!) – and soon I’ll be travelling out & about to teach classes. Here’s a reminder of the upcoming classes –
April 1-3 I’ll be at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, the project is making a carved frame & panel in oak. We’ll work with riven oak, planing it to size, cutting the joinery, and carving the panel (& frame if time allows) and then bevelling the panel and fitting it in the frame. All the basics of 17th-century joiner’s work, wrapped into five pieces of wood. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes/29-speciality-weekend-classes/510-build-and-carve-this-frame-panel-with-peter-follansbee.html
On May 7 & 8, I’ll be back at Lie-Nielsen, with two days of spoon carving. May is my favorite time to be in Maine. Spoon carving is, as you might know, sweeping the world. Come see what it’s all about, or if you’ve already carved a lot of spoons, come & we’ll explore some of the finer points of spoon design. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/126
June is mostly taken up with Greenwood Fest, but right after it, I’ll pack up again for Warren, Maine. This time at Lie-Nielsen we’re making a carved box. Last year we developed a short version of this course; jumping right to learning the carvings, then designing the box’s patterns. We’ll assemble the box with wooden pins securing rabbet joints, then nail the bottom on, following 17th-century practice. A wooden hinge engages cleats under the lid. Come join us and eventually your house will be as full of boxes as mine. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/129
In the “classes that ain’t mine” department, I want to bring your attention to two at Plymouth CRAFT –
Tim Manney’s coming down from Maine to Plymouth to show a different take on spoon carving – he will show you how to steam-bend a straight-grained piece of green wood to a shape that is perfect for a well-designed spoon. Don’t be mystified by the steam-bending – it’s a simple process that will take you in new directions with spoon carving, and other woodworking too. Tim is part of the Greenwood Fest this spring in Plymouth, but here’s a chance to spend some concentrated time in a small group exploring spoon design, tool use and more.
One offering from later in the season – After Greenwood Fest, Dave Fisher is coming back to Plymouth to lead 12 students through the process of bowl-carving. If you’ve seen his work – (you have, haven’t you?), you know Dave’s a master at this. He puts a lot of thought into his bowls, and will show you how to really advance your visions in this engrossing workshop. I’ll be peering in the windows for this one for sure, unless he sings some Barry Manilow songs…
We have lived on the Jones River here in Kingston for 15 years now. We’ve seen lots of things/creatures from our yard. I have kept pretty good track of the birds, (I think 101 species) we’ve only occasionally seen deer (although they’re abundant), coyote, raccoon, skunk, etc. While Pret & I have been working on the frame, we’ve seen an otter several times, Maureen & I found a muskrat on the ice this winter – but today was something altogether unexpected. Here’s the view from the workshop’s site:
It’s a seal. My assumption is a harbor seal, I think that’s the most common one in eastern Massachusetts. The tide was quite high this morning, and there seemed to be a lot of fish activity, so the presumption is that this seal followed the fish up here.
It’s a pretty short jaunt from here to the bay, unless you go by river – then it winds a bit. But if you’re letting the tide take you, and your following fish, I guess it’s not that big a deal. We’re right near the bottom of this screen shot, just above where the river runs under the road in yellow (3A) –
Next thing you know, the great white sharks will follow the seal.
In between framing the workshop & working on some wainscot chairs, I have been carving some spoons…
I posted a few for sale, the page is here, or at the header of the blog there’s a link. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-etc-for-sale-march-6-2016/
If you’d like to order something, just leave a comment or send an email. Paypal is easiest, or you can send a check. Thanks as always.
Warm weather coming, time to finish up that timber frame!
I worked a lot today on the shop frame. And took a lot of photos. Finishing up some leftover joinery; then some detail stuff. We’re using a method called “square-rule” joinery, where each timber is cut down right at the joints to a common thickness. In this case, 5 3/4″. That means each mortise gets a housing cut beside it. Here’s some of how I cut this detail.
I make a series of saw kerfs to break up the material to be removed. Angle the saw to cut down to the depth at the front shoulder; the saw is tilted so I don’t cut into the back of the timber, behind the joint.
Then sneak in there with the toe of the saw to even out these kerfs.
Here’s what it looks like after these steps.
Then, using the chisel bevel down, knock these bits out.
Then pare them down to the required depth.
Sometimes I do this paring with the timber’s face held vertically, it’s easier to see the line I’m paring to that way.
When I’m done paring, I want this shoulder to be less than 90-degrees. That way nothing interferes with the joint closing at assembly.
Then I chop a bit of a bevel at the mortise’s bottom end. A corresponding bevel will be on the tenoned piece.
The posts and one tie-beam have chamfers on their inside corners. After marking out the width, I start by shaving with a drawknife.
Here you can see that I just blocked the timber up so the corner is easy to get at:
The chamfer on the tie-beam has a “stop” I marked it out with a square & awl, then sawed down to the chamfer’s depth. Clean up with a chisel.
Then using a chisel bevel down, I cut a curve into the section behind the stop.
Then I got out the carving tools to finish off this timber – the first one I worked on, finished it last!
Ages ago I was principally a chairmaker and poked around in various bits of green woodworking like basketry, spoon carving and other things centered around riven green wood. Because green wood has always been my starting point, there has always been an outdoors component to my woodworking. Making ladderback chairs, I could pull the shaving horse and a low bench outside, and make the whole chair out there. The notion is the same as this view of me making a garden hurdle:
But as I got more involved in furniture making, much of my work centered around the workbench and shop tools. I still did the initial work outside, splitting and riving the stock, some initial hewing – things like that. But once I was to the bench work, it was indoors with me.
This winter as I’ve been cutting the frame for the workshop, it’s almost all outdoors work. I carved the designs on the timbers inside, and cut some joinery on smaller parts inside while the weather was bad. But as long as it’s been warm enough (a relative term, generally over 25-degrees Farenheit) 99% of the work is outside. We started in December and those days were pretty short…I know some places have less daylight than us as the winter solstice approaches, but here we got about four or five hours of work in on those late-December days. Not all the shortage was due to daylight issues, some of it was simply a case of fitting this work in around general life issues. Working part-time, we got started in December, quit for the holidays, the picked up again in January…
This winter has been a remarkably easy one, especially after last year’s over-100 inches of snow. So we got lots of good-enough weather to layout and cut the joinery. I think since the holiday break, there’s only been one week, maybe two, where there was no chance for cutting joinery. Now we’re closing in on the last couple of weeks of joint-cutting…and I’m noticing the weather, the light, and the landscape changing. It’s easy to be more aware of this being outside all day. Here’s some newly-brighter light on an old saw handle:
Today I worked about fours hours out there. These days as I’m chopping brace mortises, I’m trimming and fitting the brace’s tenons, then marking them to their dedicated positions. This is the beginning of test-fitting the frame.
When I first starting working at home 1 1/2 years ago, I had some low work-benches scattered around part of the yard, tucked in front of my riving brake. I couldn’t make joined furniture there, but wove baskets, hewed bowls, and carved spoons at various spots in the U-shaped tangle of benches. It became a favorite spot to gather and make stuff, the kids used it too.
When it came time to choose the site for the shop, that was the natural choice. The riving brake will have to move before raising day.
So that’s where I’ve been much of this winter, when time allows, cutting mortises and tenons, watching the river flow, and keeping tabs on the yardbirds.
The shop could have been all framed & sheathed by now had we gone with a nailed-together, 2×4 format. But the way we approached this project was for the long haul. I knew I’m not building another workshop; so I wanted this one to really have a personal touch. As I had written before, it has long been a dream of mine to make my own hand-made building. And with some great help & guidance, it’s coming together. Slowly, but once it’s done, it’ll be done a long time. And it’s great fun, being out there, working on it.
Meanwhile, the kids have set up a cafe with the off-cuts. Not sure I’d eat or drink there…
Weather permitting, I think the frame will go up in March, just as the first flowers will be poking through the leaf-litter. Then we’ll begin closing in the shop, so I’ll be back to working inside just as the nice weather is getting here! I’ll make up for it with windows.