Saw a book at the library the other day – Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do – but I didn’t take it home. I already know I like living within sight of the water.
As an added bonus, the borrowed shop I’m using has a water view as well. As you might know, I had a great time this winter. But…I’m not sad to see it going away now…today was the first day I could sit outside and feel warm enough in just a sweater. So I sat by the edge of Town Brook and ate my lunch. And watched the water.
For ten minutes, I was transported. I was Huck Finn, drifting down his Mississippi. Then I was Henry David Thoreau, philosophizing beside Walden Pond. I heard Garcia singing Brokedown Palace. I was that red-tail hawk, floating above the Brook…then I was me, thinking of the Jones River at home…was the tide low or high?
Then an emergency vehicle came screaming down the road, my reverie was snapped. Water view or not, it was time to go back to work. But it sure was a great ten minutes.
I took today off, which means I only did woodworking for half the day so far. A few things rambling around during the last week. We made it out to the beach the other day for the first time since the winter hit hard.
The usual beach-combing, sand-building, and scenery-viewing. Then on the walk back, Daniel noticed this skull. I put the keys in the shot for scale.
My what lovely teeth you had…really small, but fierce teeth. I woulda brought it home for the skull & bones collection, but it was still fleshy in places…
Saw this in the yard today, it was cause for excitement.
The view up the river, no ice.
I finished this bowl yesterday & today. Mostly finished, I’ll carved some stuff along its rim. Butternut, (Juglans cinerea)
Here’s one way I hold it for final shaping of the rims’ edge. Just some scrap blocks inside the bowl, to keep the vise from pressing against the upper edge.
Like the spoons, I lean towards odd-ball shapes. This one’s a bent limb, which results in the pith being off-center. So I made the centerline of the bowl ever further out-of-whack. That results in some unusual shapes. Which can be good, or can be fatal. Worked this time, I think.
One other Lie-Nielsen thing – we have decided to try something new(ish) for my carving class this June. Usually we rive and plane some oak, and carve patterns based on the 17th-century stuff. This time, we’re attempting to carve and assemble a small box.
but I do it with oak all the time. I have three active oak projects going right now. Active means I’m working on them all at once. A couple more are semi-active. Like the desk box, that got back-burner-ed for a video shoot this spring. I’ll save the final assembly for the cameras.
This chest has been around a long time, but it’s going forward now at a regular clip.
Its purpose is to illustrate in the joinery book how to make & fit drawers. Hence, “chest with drawers.” The front is mostly pinned, the sides are test-fitted, I have to finish cutting and fitting the till, and a little more work on the rear frame. Mortises are cut, need to cut the tenons; plow grooves, etc. I’d say this chest is about 8 or 10 hours’ work from final assembly, including the floor. Then comes the drawers. And lid.
A related chest with drawers is the model for the joined chest class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ve cut the front frame, and started the carving the other day. It too will have 2 drawers, there are drawer rails not yet fitted in this photo…
I used to like to start the day with large movements, like planing. Then I’d save the carving for late in the day, when I wanted to take it easy. But here in the (walk-out) basement, the light is best early in the morning – so I carved yesterday AM. But it’s a lousy way to begin your day. Too tight a posture. So this carving got left for later. and today I planed and mortised the front rails for the NEXT joinery project!
A cupboard for Plimoth Plantation. This one will have a joined front fitted to a board carcass. No decoration to speak of, other than chamfers, etc. So the opening in the middle is for a door. Below are off-cuts from the panels in this cupboard; 10″ long, they have a limited use. Usually they would just get tossed, but these will get planed to 1/4″ thickness for drawer parts for the desk box. Good use for such wide, flat stuff that is otherwise firewood.
Next week I hope to move all of these over to the shop I’m doing my photography in, and get some good pictures going. Goal is to have the first chest with drawers and the cupboard all assembled this time next week. we’ll see.
I’m back from the first weekend of the chest class – and it went very well. Now I have to plane a slew of oak, like the students were doing all weekend.
But the family took a walk on bare earth today, and heard a bunch of loud crows – kept looking up to see what the trouble was…but it turned out to be right in front of us – this juvenile red tailed hawk, sitting on a fence post. We walked right near it, without spooking it. Here’s when I thought I was really close to it –
then the hawk just wouldn’t be spooked. So we left, and when we turned for home – still there.
closer still. I’ve got close to juvies before – for some reason, there’s times when they don’t care about us.
well there’s a lot going on here, it just doesn’t look it according to the blog. Much of the activity is in my head anyway. Let’s see…recently I’ve been preparing to teach classes, or teaching them. The spoon class at Plymouth CRAFT went very well, at least I think it did. some of the students thought so too. It was a hoppin’ scene, and I’m too out of breath to run it all down. here’s some pictures I swiped from Marie Pelletier who shot a bunch for us. One or two are mine. spoon carving, knitting, sausage-making (well, my shot was cooking some…) and egg-decoration. And lunch. http://plymouthcraft.org/
At the same time as that, I was (with help, thanks to Michael Doherty) prepping material for the upcoming chest-building insanity coming up at Bob Van Dyke’s. I hear today the first 150 or so pieces have been delivered and are ready for students tomorrow to begin planing them. when Roy Underhill & I tried a chest class last summer, we both said within 15 minutes of being underway, “this is nuts” and we’d never do it again. Then Bob called, cooked up his scheme, and the log piece fell into place…so here goes again. Impromptu riving brake:
Half of 10 or 12 chests’ worth:
but all the while, I’ve been thinking about workspaces. it’s 8 or so months since I left my shop at the museum. Luckily I was lent a shop where I can work & shoot photographs for the upcoming book on joinery. That’s a great space, but it’s not mine…
and then the winter struck. I loved it, but one thing that much snow did here was make anything you want to do take longer. So I stuck close to home, and worked at the workbench I have in the basement here. That space is multi-purpose to say the least. Effectively the part I work in amounts to about 7’ x 10’ – with a little extra if I move stuff out of the way…but then it’s in the way for something else. I counted one day – I needed a chisel, and it was 9 steps to the tool chest, 9 steps back. I know I’m not alone in this regard, but it sure is crazy-making.
that’s one reason why there’s been so little on the blog – no room to take decent pictures. Here’s one I shot with an Ipad, of a chest test-fitted. I’d have to go out the window if I had to move quickly. And I had to move stuff just to shoot this with an Ipad!
I’ve been busy with Instagram and Facebook, but to me those aren’t as satisfying as this. to me, this becomes like a journal or record of my work..
but I’m cautiously optimistic that 2015 will change some of that. Sounds like I might be able to build a shop (whoops – not a shop, an “auxiliary building”) – I have more checking to do, but the first round with the town sounded hopeful. I did not tell them what it was for, just a “tool shed”. so in my mind, I’m designing a 12 1/2’ x 16’ building. I already am thinking of what to carve on the frame! I know – “nothing’s for certain, it can always go wrong” – but I said cautiously optimistic.
I always wanted to be this guy:
Or the joiner-equivalent of this British chair maker:
This September, Jogge Sundqvist will be teaching a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME.. This will fill quickly; I am just posting it so you’ll know. I’ll be there, it’s going to be great. read the details here:
And now for all-too-rare posts with birds – cooper’s hawk in the sycamore tree next door. I saw him chasing a feeder bird on the wing, not usually his M.O. Everyone’s hard up these days.
A great blue heron on the ice on town brook in Plymouth – we have only seen a heron once this winter at home, not sure why. Usually they’re here all the time.
Everybody has to be careful on the ice. He eventually got a medium size rodent and choked it down, but it’s before breakfast here so I will spare us the visuals.
There’s a male wood duck who is fixated on a female mallard at Jenny Pond in Plymouth.
These ducks get fed, so are hideously tame. You can’t usually get near a wood duck in the wild, I can’t anyway. He stuck next to her on every move.
It’s easy to extrapolate all kinds of shallow human traits here = she must be very proud of herself, snagging such a showy male. He’s forever primping to keep up his flashy appearance. But they’re just ducks.
On the way home from Plymouth, I stopped to check on the screech owl. It was a sunny day, I’d be sticking my nose out of the box too if I was him.
At the end of last June, I left my job at Plimoth Plantation. I had been there 20 years, and it was quite a scene for much of that time. I miss having an audience (“sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me…”) and I miss having a shop that’s 16’ x 30’. But a big part of what appealed to me there was my co-workers. We had quite a crew of talent, ideas, execution – it was a very creative place. Over the years, one by one, sometimes in larger clumps, folks left the museum. Finally it was my turn, and things on the outside are great. I get to teach workshops at some of the best woodworking schools going – Roy’s place, Bob Van Dyke’s, formerly at Country Workshops = and beyond.
I was glad to be on my own – no rules, no bosses. Then – an opportunity to join a new non-profit? Out of the frying pan, into the fire? Nah, I jumped at the chance to be involved in Plymouth CRAFT. (Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades) It’s not a woodworking school, it doesn’t exist in space, and it’s still in its infancy. But it’s peopled with many of the craftsmen & women that I worked with at Plimoth. Having been with these people day in and day out, I tend to take them for granted; but their talents are extraordinary. This coming weekend we have several things going on at once –
Paula Marcoux’s exploits are too many for me to go into, but her gig at Plymouth CRAFT is all-around top-to-bottom whirlwind. In addition to helping us all get going there at Overbrook House this weekend, after she makes us a lunch that has to be experienced to be believed, Paula will be teaching her class Sausage, Scrapple & Lard – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=sausage-scrapple-lard
And if that’s not enough, Martha Sulya is now going to teach some lucky students how to make the Ukrainian decorated eggs that she has astounded us with for years. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=pysanky-ukrainian-egg-decorating If you have read this blog a while, you know I like patterns and decoration – these eggs got it in spades. Everyone who sees them is amazed. This is not some “small-craft-warning” this is the real thing.
We have more planned, me & Rick McKee (blue oak blog – https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/ ) will help students learn some of the intricacies of riving parts right from an oak log… http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards and other classes too. Sign up for the newsletter – Plymouth CRAFT will keep growing. Come join us, you’ll have quite a time. Part of what I like about it is the exposure I get to other crafts, and other craftsmen & women – you start to see all kinds of connections between and across the trades. And you’ll meet some people you might never forget. Fun stuff. There’s some new content on the CRAFT website, look it over when you get a chance. http://plymouthcraft.org/