Joined Stool Video series finale – Molding & Pegging the Seat

Well, we finally finished the joined stool video set. This is the one where Daniel inadvertently discovered an echo chamber effect when he blended two shots together. Much to his delight…

 

I’ll do some blog housekeeping one of these days, and make a page with all the videos in this series together. But they’re on youtube in a playlist there too…

I was going to put a gallery of joined stools in the video, but it was already pretty long. So here are some stools over the years. Most of these have been here before.

There’s some stand-alone videos I shot a while back, I’ll get to those soon. Nowadays, I’m shooting several about making baskets from an ash log. I also got a couple of requests, so I have plenty in the pipeline. They’re fun to do, but a bit time-consuming. I need to remember to shoot ordinary photos too…

Here’s the highlight of the past week for me – a rare sighting of a mink around the shop. They’re here a lot, but usually the only view I get is a fleeting glimpse. This one was in constant motion, but stayed in view long enough for me to get some photos…

 

Basket tour part 1

 

The past two weeks or so I’ve been pounding ash splints for making baskets. I’ve started weaving a few of them, and have lots more coming up. Baskets used to be almost a weekly thing for me, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before oak furniture took over my thoughts. But I always come back to them, they’re so much fun to make and even better – to have around.

While getting ready to plunge deeply into them in the next couple of weeks, I’ve been studying some that I have hanging around here. Unlike the baskets I’m starting these days, all these are white oak baskets. You split white oak growth rings apart, instead of pounding like you do ash.

First, some I got when we cleaned up Jennie Alexander’s house after her death. JA loved baskets, and collected lots of them, but especially white oak baskets. I brought home a couple. This one is by a Maryland basketmaker JA knew, James McCrobie.

Here is Mr. McCrobie, as Alexander referred to him, shaving oak at a fair in Maryland.

The bottom of this basket:

And the inside view:


This one’s special because it’s by our great friend Louise Langsner, for Alexander. Way back when Louise used to make white oak baskets. Later, she began growing willow & using that to weave baskets. This white oak basket has hickory bark lashing on the rims.

The bottom:

The inside:

Louise used to peg the handles to the rims. I learned that technique there at County Workshops about 1986 or so. I had read it before that in Drew’s book County Woodcraft. Watch Lost Art Press for an updated version of that classic book (I’ll post about it when it happens too…) – in it is a chapter by Louise about making her oak baskets.

Here’s my first oak basket from that class – the instructor was Darry Wood.

In 1989 I made this round bottom white oak basket for Alexander. It came back to me after her death:

Inside:

Bottom, with hickory bark reinforcements

The hickory handle has a double notch, the lashing is hickory bark.

This one’s mine too, from 1988, I probably made it at Langsner’s – that spring & summer I was the intern there. White oak, hickory handle

I’ve used this basket a lot. Usually it holds all my spoon-carving gear, mostly tools & spoons-in-progress. The bottom features two “skids” shaved hickory bent up into the body. These reduce wear & tear on the bottoms.

One more white oak by me – this one’s from 1990. I’m working (again!) to re-learn how I weave those “filled” bottoms. So I swiped this one back from my wife, emptied it, and will this time keep track of what I did to weave it.

But it’s all ash here now. I haven’t made a white oak basket since this one probably…here’s a real favorite, but very small basket in ash with hickory rims & handle, hickory bark lashing. It’s about 6″ x 8 1/2″ and the basket is 3″ high. I wish I could make them this good all the time. Better go practice…

These new ones still have potential…

here’s the last time I re-learned the filled bottoms. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/another-basket-underway/ 

Joined Stool video series – prepping the seat board

Winding down the joined stool video series. Prepping the seat board took more time, both in reality and in getting this video done, than I wished. Some days it’s like that.

After this one comes making the molded edge & pegging the seat down. I expect that to be one video, but we’ll know more when Daniel & I sit down to work that one out.

After that, I have a few stand-alone videos I shot a few weeks ago, and right now I’m starting to shoot a series on making ash baskets. I had a couple of requests too, and I’ll try to get to those.

Thanks, everyone, for watching, commenting, supporting. I appreciate it.


The book version is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

Making parts of things

I got a call from my friend Michael Burrey recently. Was going log shopping, did I want anything? Well, I hit the jackpot. Ash, hickory & red oak. I brought the ash and hickory home first, they don’t last as long as red oak in the log. So I’ve been working them into pieces of things – basket & chair parts mostly.

The ash log was first, and I wrote some of that here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/fraxinus-nostalgia/

I’ll get back to that when I begin making baskets from it soon.

Because I can’t deliver logs down to my shop (there’s no vehicle access) I split both logs at Michael’s yard. Here’s some of the hickory, it split open with ease. They both did actually.

I’ve been able to harvest some of the inner bark from it, I’ve never taken bark strips off split sections before. It’s not my first choice, but better than wasting the bark. Here I have a 7′ long split up on the bench and am shaving down the thickness of the inner bark. It’s been sliced into widths on the log, then thin it down, & peel it up.

Getting under there with a knife & snipping uncooperative inner bark.

The wood is dead-straight and nearly perfect. I’ve been riving & shaving it into chair parts like these rungs:

And I’ve shaved and bent several sets of hickory posts – and some earlier of ash. There’s also some spindle-blanks for another version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. I bent some crests for those too, but they’re already up in the loft. The glue is to seal the ends so they don’t check. Hickory can be temperamental.

Stuff that was too thin for chair rungs gets saved for basket rims/handles/ears. These are shaved with a slojd knife to thin them out for bending.

And here they are bent & tied. These become “ears” for swing-handle baskets. Hickory is ideal for these, white oak is another wood I’ve used for them.

I don’t often get hickory around here, so I’m making the most of it. Thin stock is riven & shaved, then bent into basket handle blanks. I usually make the basket first, then make handles to fit them. Because the hickory can get pretty difficult to work with it it dries out, I’m splitting and shaving everything I can from it now. Handles on the left (& in back) the ash splints on the right. Older rungs above. I have to make some chairs to make room for more chair parts…

Daniel & I are working on the last two videos in the joined stool series. Should have them in the next couple of days. Back to riving & shaving tomorrow, some axe handle blanks to store for my old age.

Joined Stool video series: Trimming the tops & feet

Next installment in the Joined Stool series of videos. A bunch of fiddly fussy bits trimming the stool prior to making the seat.


There’s nothing more to say – other than thanks for watching. So here’s an ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) from yesterday’s socially-distant birding trip. No one told the birds we were coming, so it was a complete dud. Maybe next week.

Joined Stool video series – Assembly

The next video in the joined stool series is up & running. Assembling the stool. There’s a lot of repetition, but somewhere in there is what you need to know about pinning these joints together. And some of what can go wrong.


We’re closing in on this set being done, there’s maybe two more. Three I guess when I re-load the one about carving & scratch stock molding.

If there’s something you’d like to see addressed in future videos, I can’t promise anything but it won’t hurt to ask.

And thanks to all who help to make this go. I appreciate it.

I forgot to add: Today’s warbler, a common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

For anyone new to the blog, The book about the stool

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree 

It’s May – there’s birds

In my eyes, no one healthy should be complaining these days. But – it seemed like that cold & rainy April would never end. Now it’s May. Those of you who have been here for a while know that means some bird-heavy posts coming. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of woodworking too. But staying at home means I get to pay closer attention to the birds coming into the yard now.

Or through it as in the case of this osprey (Pandion haliaetus) hauling some building material for its nest.

a few times this spring there have been flocks of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) here.

They’re always a favorite of mine, a story Heather Neill knows well… https://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/2019/07/16/night-philosopher/

One of my goals this spring-at-home is to get a good, close shot of a Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula). Here’s take 1.

Then take 2:

This Eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) was here very briefly. They’re easy to photograph, being a flycatcher means they hang out in a conspicuous spot so they can sail out after bugs-on-the-wing. But hard to get close to, so this is about the best I can do with them…

There was a flock of yellow-rumped warblers (Setophaga coronata) this morning, some of whom were down low where I can get at them. So I have lots of shots of them.

They’re yellow in other parts, but here is the rump with its splash of yellow to give the bird its English name.

One more yellow rump –

Then after lunch, I was headed back to the shop – but didn’t want to interrupt this turkey hen (Meleagris gallopavo) who was feeding between the house & the shop. So I went around the other way, and snapped a few pictures of her.

She scooted along after a bit, and I watched her go. Then suddenly she disappeared. I kept looking for her to come out from behind a tree, but when I finally got the binoculars out to see what was what, I found that she’s nesting in a thick patch of ivy growing on the hillside.

Fingers crossed that the coyotes, foxes and raccoons don’t find her nest.

 

 

 

Make a Joined Stool videos – the End Frames

Then it was May. And the sun came out.

Daniel is on a two-video edits a week schedule. Today’s was a bit of a clunker, which was my fault. It’s a combination of too many things, all related to working the end frames of the joined stool.

This part of making the stool was one of Alexander’s favorite exercises; because it allowed her to pontificate about construction dimensions and resulting dimensions. I could usually follow along to a degree, so here I show how to calculate the length of the side stretchers.

(and today, for some stupid reason, the video wants to start part way into it. I clicked all the same buttons, etc. – skip back to the beginning.)

All of this stuff I’m doing in these videos is covered in detail in the book JA & I did some years ago –

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree

for anyone new to this blog and this work, the book is here https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

(when I went to get that link, I accidentally followed one to Amazon – $130. Weird. I think it’s a good book, but it’s not that good…)

Fraxinus nostalgia

First. some blog updating – long-time readers of the blog will have noticed an increase in video-action recently. And a drop-off in the written-text-and-photos approach. Today’s post is all still-photography. I am not turning away from that format, it’s my main interest in the blog. It serves several purposes, one of which is purely selfish. It’s my journal. For the past 12 years almost.

I’m enjoying the videos (now that I don’t have to learn editing, thanks Daniel) and will continue to add them. The goal is to have both formats in regular rotation. I have nothing but time, right?

When I think of die-hard gamers who spend a lot of time blowing stuff up on computer monitors, I think of Mary May, the woodcarver. She just seems so at home with that gamer scene. (that’s a joke) – yesterday I was a guest on her livestream https://www.twitch.tv/search?term=mary%20may%20woodcarver

Mary’s there 5 days a week at 1pm eastern time, carving away or having guests present stuff. When all of our travelling woodworking circuses got cancelled, several of us were adapting one way or another, and Mary’s response was to dive head-first into live-streaming her carving work. Watch them live, or catch them later, they’re archived on her site there.

Now onto what you came here for. Michael Burrey nabbed an ash log for me the other day. I went to his place, mask & all, and split some to bring home. These bolts are eighths of the log. They’re probably about 5-6 feet long right now.

I was planning on mostly making ladderback chair parts from them, with some basket splints and other bits. But when I got to riving it, I saw that the outermost 2″ is so slow-grown as to be hideously weak for chair stuff. Look at this section, just over 2″ – and has over 40 years of growth. (ten years between each pair of pencil marks.)

This got pounded into basket splints instead of becoming a chair post. There are chair parts in the log, the earlier portions are still nice & straight, and grew more quickly. This is a finished shaved chair post, 1 1/4″ thick (at the foot) – just about 11 1/2 rings to this piece.

My work for the past 25 years or more has mostly been making oak furniture, but way back when in my chair-making days, I spent a lot of time making ash baskets. And I still do make a few every so often. Here’s how I go about pounding the sections to make the splints I’ll use to weave the baskets.

After riving out the stock, I carefully shave it so I end up with a piece about 3/4″ – 1″ thick, maybe up to about 1 1/2″ wide, by whatever length I can get that’s dead straight & clear. In this case, about 3-4 footers (they were split for chairs initially, remember). The goal is to have the growth rings running horizontally through the width of this “billet” and shaved very carefully so the top & bottom surfaces are each a full growth ring plane.

Then I take a 3-lb. sledge hammer and pound along the top and then the bottom of the billet. Hard. I make sure the piece is well-supported on the surface of the stump. An anvil is better…but I don’t have one. Railroad track is excellent as well. Don’t have one of those either. Top & bottom, overlapping the hammer blows.

Now I hang one end beyond where the billet is supported, in this case on a reject chair post. And smack that overhanging projection. This causes the layers to delaminate.

Here’s a detail of the end grain. You can see the open pores in each growth ring. These are the “early wood” or “spring wood” growth. These get crushed under the hammer blows. What remains is the more solid part of the growth ring, the “late wood”, or “summer wood.” Ash is the only wood I have ever heard of that delaminates this way. Black ash is the traditional wood for baskets in northern North America, but white ash (which is what I am using) works too. I’m told by my friend Jarrod Dahl that black ash pounds a lot easier than white. I’ve never had the chance to work it.

Keep pounding and then repeating the overhanging smack and things keep coming apart.

Sometimes a couple layers will stick together in places. You can get in there & pull them apart, carefully.

I coil them together like this, then tie them together to store them til I need them. Later I’ll be showing how I dress the splints and weave some baskets. And I shot video of this work too, we’ll get to see that another time. (you can see a snippet of it on Instagram from today https://www.instagram.com/p/B_myVA5nI9R/ )

For now, as I pick each bolt of ash, and rive it apart, I earmark some for splints, some for chairs. I go through the whole billet, making materials for later use. Then onto the next billet, etc. Ash logs don’t last long, so I’m working to get through this one before the warm weather gets here.