Never carved this one before

Nine years ago, Maurice Pommier sent me some photos he shot at a museum in Bretagne.  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/bretagne-joinery-an-english-book-stand/

I’ve studied these few photos as closely as I could; they’re great stuff. A couple years back, I spent some time trying to suss out how to layout some of the patterns; but it took til today for me to carve a pattern based on one of his photos and my sketch. The board is a piece of butternut; about 7″ x 22″.

 

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After all the compass-and-awl/marking gauge work, I used a couple different gouges to strike the outlines. No v-tool at this point, some #7 and #5 gouges, and one old one flatter than a #5.

All this “over-and-under” business is not willy-nilly. There’s a pattern to keep. So I spent some time talking to myself, and even tracked my finger along, thinking “It goes over here & under there…”  Then picked up a gouge & struck it. Quick, before I got confused again.

Here it’s nearly done, just need to find an ending.

This is what I came up with. It’s not a copy of Maurice’s photo, but follows the general scheme of it. Only 2 small mistakes to this point.

Then cutting it is no big deal; particularly in this butternut. I try to use the widest gouge I can fit in there to remove the background. I want as few moves as possible; the approach I try to avoid is picking at it with endless tiny movements. I cut right next to all the incised bits, then back up & knock out the waste.

It was a lot of work – there’s a ton of background to a design like this.

I punched the background with a textured punch; it really emphasizes the foreground/background distinction. This is the first time I thought I was finished. I was wrong.

See why?

I fixed the 2 strokes I forgot, then found two more. Then added a V-tool line through all the bands. Now I think it’s done. One v-tool line stopped short… I usually leave “mistakes” at this point; but this time I might actually fix it – tomorrow.

 

This is one of two sliding-lid boxes underway. The other is Spanish cedar; that one’s chip-carved. That goes on forever too.

Back in October Lost Art Press ran a very nice feature about Maurice in their “meet the author” series – if you missed it, here it is:

https://blog.lostartpress.com/2019/10/18/meet-the-author-and-illustrator-maurice-pommier/ 

I took the late afternoon sitting down

I’m strictly a mortise-and-tenon sort of woodworker. But some years ago, when Chris Schwarz wrote his tool chest book, I decided to learn how to cut dovetails. Chris Becksvoort has nothing to worry about, that’s for sure. But I can work my way through them. It’s the only furniture work I can think of that I do sitting down, except maybe seat weaving.

Sometimes I get some odd species of wood across my bench, and then I undertake some “different” furniture. Today I started in on 2 sliding-lid boxes.  Below is a small box assembled, in leftover Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata). It takes chip carving very nicely. The stacked up pieces are butternut (Juglans cinerea), headed for a larger version. The plan is to include a hidden drawer on this one, like I did a few years back https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/chip-carved-box-for-bowl-gouges/

Here’s the older one, in tulip poplar. I know I started it in 2014, not sure when I finished it.

This is the cedar one – I have come to the conclusion (many times) that softer woods are harder. To work, that is. One false move and you’ve blasted the thing to bits. This one looks like it will make it. More chip carving to come, then a pine bottom & cedar lid.

This is as far as I got on the butternut today. I ripped and planed these boards to a shy 3/4″ thick, and trimmed them to 7″ high by 22″ long.

So tomorrow I’ll pick up where I left off. I do have some oak furniture to make, but the white oak needs to wait just a bit longer…

Fields of November

Started the day by taking a walk in the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield, Massachusetts. This area has had outbreaks of Easter Equine Encephalitis in recent years, so late summer/early fall I stay out of this place. But it’s one of my favorite walks, so now that we’ve had a good freeze it’s back in the rotation. the red-tailed hawk above was there to greet us as the sun was just beginning to light things up.

When you get to DWWS early in the morning, you’re sure to see lots of white-tailed deer. And this is a typical view – the doe staring at us, the young one (is it still a fawn when it has no spots?) looking a bit surprised.

But today, near the end of our walk, we almost literally ran into this youngster. All alone…standing right in the path. And un-spooked by us. I was surprised there were no other deer nearby…

We needed to get going, so we trudged forward and it went off just a bit into the woods. I had to peel the 300mm lens back to 140mm to get this one in focus.

Posted this one on Instagram earlier today. After we moved on, about 5 minutes along that path we spooked about 4 deer. I wonder if this one belonged with them?

I did some shop work today – I’ll do that as a separate post. While I was in the shop, I thought of Norman Blake’s album “Fields of November” all day. Great light and color today. Lots of earth tones.

it depends who you ask…

 

Here’s how I make these applied turnings. Other people use other methods. I did not devise this method, but I think a few of us came to the same conclusion at the same time. I first stumbled onto this method in the mid-1990s, and I recall discussing it with Alan Miller back 20 years ago when he, Trent & I wrote a long article about Essex County (Massachusetts) cupboards that use lots of applied decoration. http://www.chipstone.org/article.php/554/American-Furniture-2001/First-Flowers-of-the-Wilderness:-Mannerist-Furniture-from-a-Northern-Essex-County,-Massachusetts,-Shop- 

The concept is: How to get a pair of turnings that consist of just under-half-cylinders. There’s lots of ways to get there, but when using period style tools, including a pole lathe, there are challenges. Some turn a solid, saw it in half, then clean up the flat backs with a plane. That’ll get you there, but how to hold the piece for sawing & planing?

I do it this way. My first step is to glue up a turning blank with a spacer between the two halves. The spacer’s true function is to provide a solid material for the lathe’s center points. Without it, the centers are driven right into the glue line, and acting like a wedge, they can split the piece apart too soon. I know this for a fact. Remember, “Good Judgement is the Result of Experience, and Experience is the Result of Poor Judgement.”

I don’t use hide glue enough to bother keeping a glue pot running. The past week or so there have been some damp and some cool mornings, so I lit a fire in the stove. Perfect, I’ll heat up some glue while I’m at it.

Once the piece is glued up, I mark the center in the middle of that strip, in this case oak. Then scribe a circle.


Next, I make it octagonal; these short ones I find it easiest to hold them between bench dogs in the cabinetmaker’s bench. I’ve done them loose on my joiner’s bench, but this way is easier.

and then turning. I used to do some turning every day at my old museum job. Visitors to the museum would want to see the lathe work, so I’d stop what I was doing and show them. Now, weeks can go by without me touching the lathe…makes for rusty skills. I can see why people would like turning rosewood, it takes detail very well, and burnishes like no native wood I know.

But like I said, I’m out of practice. These two are OK, but need to go back on the lathe to be thinned down. For their length, (6 1/4″ long) they’re too chunky. Makes their proportions out-of-whack.

 

Two new boxes for sale: SOLD

UPDATE:

Both boxes are sold. More are in the works, thanks as always for the interest and support,

PF

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I finished up two boxes in the past couple of weeks. Both are white oak, the one on the left with a pine lid, the other with a white oak lid.

They’re for sale – $900 for the white pine lid example, $1,000 for the oak lid one. Plus shipping. Leave a comment if you’d like to order one. I’m making more in a week or two.

These came about because a friend gave me some fabulous white oak; the best oak I’ve had in ages & ages. Both use wooden hinges (like most of my boxes, and a few period boxes…) – carved on the fronts & the ends. Till inside each. (click the pictures to enlarge.)

Here’s a look at each. The pine lid one first. A pattern on the front that I really like. I’ve never seen the original carving; it’s in Victor Chinnery’s book Oak Furniture: the British Tradition. I’ve done it a few times; it works best with a pretty wide piece of stock. Both of these boxes are 8 1/2″ high, the oak boards that make up the carcasses are 7″-7 1/2″ wide. Overall dimensions for this one are:

H:  8 1/2″  W: 24 1/2″  D: 15 1/2″

Here’s the general form:

And the end view, showing the pintle & cleat wooden hinge. This carving is based on some I saw in a Wiltshire church w Chinnery almost 20 years ago.

This is the one with a figured sycamore till lid. Flashy.

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Now the oak lid example. I had some nice quartersawn white oak to glue up to make this lid…more work than a pine lid. Heavier, but tougher too. I like both, I more often use pine lids, just to conserved the oak for carving.

This pattern is one I copied from a photo a student brought to the Lost Art Press workshop in the summer. He got the photo off an auction site…I think the original was part of the Devon group of carved oak that I have studied so frequently. I adapted the pattern to become a running band, then added S-scrolls below it.

Just a plain ol’ red oak till lid.

Is

I stood the S-scrolls upright on the ends. This is a common pattern from that group…


a few period details in oak

I didn’t take any photos in the shop this week. So I sat down & looked at folders that I haven’t seen in ages. There must be stuff there we can look at.

Here’s a scan I made from a book that fell part – the Gate on the Stairs at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. this picture is from Henry Tanner’s book “English Interior Woodwork of the XVI, XVII & XVIII Centuries” Batsford, London, 1903.

Here’s the actual item, I shot this at Haddon Hall over 10 years ago.

This one was maybe the same trip, a row of spindles above panelling – a church at Great Durnford, Wiltshire. The arcading carving is what I was after today; but then I noticed there’s a row of punch marks just above the spindles, between the dentil carvings. Shows how many teeth the punch had…(but I didn’t measure the impression.)

That reminded me of this detail from a New England chest, showing the punch used on the background, also used as a decorative accent on the solid. That one is about 1/4″ x 1/2″ maybe a bit fatter, 5/16″?

From a related New England chest, here it’s on its head showing the bottom boards. They fit into a groove in the front rail (top of the photo) and the side rails (on our left) and are nailed up to a higher rear rail. Riven oak, tongue & groove between the boards. Note the sawmarks where they trimmed these boards after installation. Also visible are the layout lines locating the mortises on the faces of the stock.

chest bottom 

This next one is a rear rail of a chest, missing its drawer runner, thus the empty notch. That’s a side lower rail coming down into this stile. It features a barefaced tenon – no rear shoulder. Stock needs to be accurately planed to thickness. But fun to do sometimes…

rear stile 

One more – scribed layout lines remaining on a Lake District carved panel.

 

 

Summer’s over, I go to the beach

Once summer’s over, we head to the beach more frequently. It’s the best place there is. I pored through a bunch of photos I’ve taken there lately. Some came out better than I thought at the time.

Low tide is the best for walking. A bunch of gulls just hanging around.

Higher tides are best for bird-watching. Semi-palmated plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) coming in for a landing.

Sanderling (Calidris alba) on the run.

And in flight.

This was last month, one of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) making a last-minute appearance before migration.

More sanderlings, with a dunlin (Calidris alpina) mixed in

and no, I don’t know all these Latin/scientific names – I look them up on Cornell’s site – https://www.allaboutbirds.org/