pictures from the box making class in Kyneton Australia

The 2nd half of my Australia trip was with Glen Rundell, chairmaker in Kyneton, Victoria. Glen kindly hosted a class on making carved oak boxes. Here’s Glen & his son Tom working at carving during one  of our lunch breaks. 

He just happened to have some English oak he milled years ago, so we dove into carving; filling spaces as much as we could.

practice carving

 

heads down, everybody at work

Nine students worked all week; learning the carving patterns, then sizing the oak for each box. Working out the wooden hinge; fitting a till – it’s a deceptive project. Lots has to happen just right.

raking light

 

notches for the till

The corners were glued and pegged, Glen made short work of shaving enough pegs for everyone…

square peg round hole

 

box ready for lid

We used Peter Ross’ hand-made nails (a bag of nails in your luggage gives the folks in the X-ray area at the airport something to look at…) to attach the bottoms, and the cleats under the lids.

nailing the bottom

 

who’s the rubber-necker on the left?

The students did great work. Here’s a shot of 7 boxes – one got away before the photo, one student took his box home to assemble. 

 


It would take more than one blog post to cover Glen’s work. His website is here: https://www.rundellandrundell.com.au/  and Instragram https://www.instagram.com/rundellandrundell/?hl=en

Glen & his wife Lisa also run the Lost Trades Fair – an astounding event that I hope to see some day ttps://www.rundellandrundell.com.au/lost-trades-australia

There’s also a retail shop in Kyneton, used to be called “The Chairmaker’s Wife” but now I think it’s Lost Trades: The Artisans Store – https://www.rundellandrundell.com.au/shop

and a few more Australian birds:

First, New Holland honeyeater

Eastern spinebill

 

Red wattlebird

Yellow faced honeyeater

yellow faced honeyeater

Rainbow lorikeet

rainbow lorikeet
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Oz

Australia. Imagine that I went there…

When I started woodworking for real in the late 1970s, I had never been out of New England by myself. Barely out of Massachusetts. Then in 1980, I somehow made my way down to Drew & Louise Langsner’s in western North Carolina. Some years later, I started regularly going between here (Massachusetts), Pennsylvania and Langsner’s.

By now, woodworking has taken me to some great places; 5 trips to England, one to Sweden, one to Alaska, a couple times to North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota and numerous trips to Virginia, North Carolina and more.

But Australia is light years beyond all that. Boston to Anchorage Alaska is 4,558 miles. Sätergläntan (the craft school in Sweden) is closer, 3,612 miles. But to Kyneton, Victoria is 10,526 miles. Then over to Pambula Beach, then back to Kyneton. Then home.

Thanks to my hosts in Australia; Jeff & Jules Donne & the kids, Paul Boyer & Rachel Clarke and Glen, Lisa & Tom Rundell. (they should all be asleep as I write this.) You all took care of my every need, and made sure I saw more astounding birds than I could fathom. Oh, and we did some woodworking too. I’m starting to get night & day straight here, and got out my cold-weather clothes. As I sort the photos, there will be posts to come about the whole trip.

I can do that…

I spent two days recently ferrying around Long Island with my friends Bob Trent and Mack Truax. We were researching furniture for a project there in Cutchogue. More later about that, but I wanted to get this picture out into the world.

The back of a joined chest with drawer. Never touched by a plane at any spot, it’s all riven or hewn. And the hatchet had a run-in with some iron object, chipping the cutting edge. Blow the photo up and you can “read” each stroke of the hatchet based on the tracking made by the notch in the edge. This surface is not un-heard-of; but is a somewhat extreme example. Rougher than most…I love it.

Here’s a detail from the front. The arch fits in like a framed panel, then below it the columns, with their capitals and bases, are thicker, reaching back behind the plane of the arch/panel. (the column/base/capital on our right is original, the others replaced). THEN – the carved bit with the leafy-flower shape is nailed from inside to the backs of the frame. A pretty involved series of moves to create a great deal of depth. Needs a thick bottom rail.

Shooting in the tight spaces was hard, I didn’t even try to shoot inside the chest with the camera. Used an Ipad to shoot this grainy photo, but it gives you the idea of what is going on.

Not the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not far off.

Bonus item was this New Haven box, with S-scrolls running all one way, rather than opposing/symmetrically. Trent files this under “Plan ahead!”

strapwork carvings

I’ve been carving a lot of oak lately. Boxes and drawer fronts in this pile.

As I mentioned the other day, I have a box with a drawer underway; for a descendant of William Searle, one of the Ipswich joiners. These pieces get big and heavy – about 15″ tall, 26″ wide. Maybe 16″ deep.

I’ve only seen one & 1/2 period examples of this form, this one is based on the full example. The 1/2 example has lost its drawer; got cut in half at some point. Both were by the same maker(s); sometimes attributed to William Searle, sometimes to Thomas Dennis.

Lots of layout involved, and the outlines are struck with gouges and chisels, not cut with a V-tool. Centerlines, margins, arcs – all measured off with a compass. In this case, I’m trying to make a close copy, usually I make my own versions of this “strapwork” design.

 

But I got ahead of the story. While I had the box with drawer underway; I got an email asking if I would make a copy of the “other” one, the one that’s lost its drawer! And it had nothing to do with my having the first one on the bench. What are the odds that I’d get that note while working on a related box? I’ve got the first one to the point where all the hard parts are left – the drawer, applied moldings around the middle and base, and turned feet for underneath. Then the lid. I need to shoot some of that for the book I have underway, so rather than get involved in that right now, I got out a board to start carving the next box front.

It’s fun to see how the strapwork designs relate to each other, and how they are different. Scale is quite similar, about 5 1/2″ to 6″ high x 25″ wide.

 

I wrote in detail about strapwork back in 2013 – I found it by searching “strapwork” on the blog’s sidebar. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/strapwork-carving-designs/ 

Update, oak furniture & spoons for sale etc

I started some blog housekeeping today. I never get around to cleaning up the pages on the blog. First thing is there were spoons and a bowl left last week. So I made a page for them and posted it in the header. I added two pieces of oak furniture for sale as well. Certainly not an impulse purchase like some of the spoons – but better they’re posted here than just collecting dust. This chest is one of them – and it’s at a slightly reduced price; $3,600.  Here’s the link to the page. The chest, a large box, spoons & a bowl.    https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-march-2018/

 

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The other thing I am working on, woefully late, is my teaching schedule. I created a page for that as well. I’ll update it as I get my act together. There will be the usual Plymouth CRAFT stuff in the fall; and more at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. The page is also in the blog’s header and here’s the link:  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/teaching-schedule-2018/ 

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For those inclined, a reminder that I take custom orders also. I’m chipping away at my list. Among them is this box with a drawer, for a descendant of William Searle, the joiner in Ispwich, Massachusetts. This afternoon was one of those days in the shop where everything went exactly as planned. No hitches anywhere, smoothly flowing all day long. But… I shot no photos in the shop as I worked. I planed and cut the end boards, rabbets front & back, made the till, bored all the pilot holes, fit the hinges in the back board, and assembled the box.  All red oak, except the till side & bottom, Atlantic white cedar.

The drawer front caught some raking light as I was leaving the shop.

And while I was outside hewing, this cooper’s hawk strafed the mourning doves. Missed.

Spoons and more for sale

Some stuff for sale this time. Box, book stand, bowl & spoons. Just leave a comment if you’d like to order any of these; all of these prices include shipping in the US. Further afield, we can figure out a shipping charge. Paypal is simplest, but I’ll take a check too , just let me know. The bowl and spoons are finished with food-grade flax oil. Thanks to all for the support, past and present.

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Oak box, SOLD

S-scroll carving. This box is mostly based on a period one I studied many years ago. Rare to see a New England one this small. It’s based on the work of Thomas Dennis, the joiner from Ipswich, Massachusetts. I carved the ends, which was not the case on the old one. Iron nails and hinges, red oak box & lid, which oak bottom. Till inside.

H: 5 3/4″  W: 14″  D:  9″

$525 includes shipping in US.

Here is the inside, showing the small till within. It’s made of Atlantic white cedar, with a chestnut lid.

The oak lid to the box.

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Carved Book Stand; black walnut.  SOLD

Not a stand for carved books…you get the idea. I’ve made a few of these. I based the dimensions on a turned one I studied once. The idea of this is from an English one I saw only in a photo. So I made up some of the format; the joinery around where the shelf meets the stiles, that sort of thing.

I keep one on my desk and it holds papers, etc that I work with as I’m writing…some people even use them for tablets. (there’s no stopping progress)

H: 16 1/2″  W: 15 1/2″ D: varies – about 15″

$450 including shipping – this doesn’t fold dead-flat so I make a wooden crate inside a box for it.

 

 

 

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Bowl – butternut. This bowl has been around a while. I carved it from a large butternut limb; bent and twisted. Once I finished it, I chip-carved around the rim. Then here it sat for quite a while, something was always a bit off about it. I showed it to Dave Fisher and he said, “easy, just carve away this bit & that bit & it’ll be fine.” I did, and it was. Then it went in a chest and I forgot about it until a cleaning of the shop recently.

H: 4″-5″  L:  13 1/2″  W:  6″

$350 including shipping in US.

 

 

SPOONS –

A few months back, I began to carve my spoon handles with designs derived and adapted from furniture carvings. I have never shown this process yet on the blog, but shot a couple photos of this one underway…  I’m going to write and shoot more of this soon, but thought this was a good place to introduce the subject.

I always start with margins. These I incise with this knife by Del Stubbs. He stopped making it, and I’ve never found anything as good since.

Then I use a gouge to begin incising the pattern. This is an old gouge with a very short handle, maybe 3″ long. I found it that way & it’s perfect. I can’t drive these with a mallet like in furniture work. It’s all hand-pressure. I oil the spoon first, that helps. So I’m pressing down and rocking the gouge side-to side.

Then an angled chip behind that incised cut.

This one I further highlighted with a punch. It was a bit scary whacking it with a hammer to punch those dots. But I haven’t broken one yet.

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Here’s the spoons for sale:

spoon 18-01; cherry. Very pronounced crook; I love making this kind of spoon.

L: 9″ W: 2 3/8″
$125

 

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spoon 18-02; Cherry, crook. This is the spoon I like to make the most of all. A curved crook, this spoon has shapes and angles in several directions. This one still works, I’m known for carving some “challenging” shaped-spoons.

L:  7 1/2″  W:  2″
$125

 

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spoon 18-03: Cherry crook again.

L: 7″  W: 2 3/8″
$75

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spoon 18-04; Almost a pie-serving shape, but quite narrow. A small slice of pie. American sycamore crook. Very flat “bowl” to this one…
L: 9 3/4″  W: 1 1/2″
$75

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spoon 18-05: SOLD

a long, cherry serving/cooking spoon. Lefty, mostly.

L:  13 1/2″ W: 2 3/4″
$100

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spoon 18-06: SOLD

a big spoon. A deep bowl. Cherry again.

L: 13 3/8″  W: 3 3/4″

$100

 

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spoon 18-07: SOLD

Large cherry server.

L:13 7/8″   W”  3 1/2″
$125

 

spoon 18-08:  Ornamental cherry

L: 10 3/4″   W: 2 1/4″

$90

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spoon 18-09: Small birch spoon. Straight grain.

L:  7 1/2″  W: 2 1/4″
$85

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spoon 18-10; black birch serving/cooking spoon. This one is straight-grained. I based it and the next two on one I made years ago that gets frequent use in our kitchen.

L:  10 1/2″  W: 2 3/4″
$85

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Spoon 18-11; Another black birch. Same story as above

L:  10 3/8″  W:  2 3/4″
$85

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Spoon 18-12; One more as above

L:  9 5/8″  W:  2 3/4″
$85

 

period carvings; arches/arcading: what-have-you

That carving pattern I worked on the other day https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/carved-arcading/ is very common, except in my work & my photo files! I have rarely used it, but that will change; I’m planning to take a whack at a few versions of it. Here’s what mine was generally based on, a walnut box, made c. 1600-1610. London? This is the drawer front to the box…I’d say maybe 4″ high. Look how much detail is crammed into a small space.

arcading

This one was sent to me by a reader of the blog – I know, because I’ve never been to Suffolk. Simple version, cut very well.

Suffolk arcading

A few years back I had 2 workshops in England. Jon Bayes attended one, and this is his version of that carving in progress. https://www.riversjoinery.co.uk/workshop

 

Jon Bayes’ arcading

Here’s a row of it, over some nice spindles in a church in Great Durnford, Wiltshire.

Great Durnford, Wiltshire

A wainscot chair now in the Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Even has the pattern upside-down.

wainscot chair Merchant’s House

One for the dish-people. V&A in London:

It’s as old as the hills. But so are all the other patterns I know…here it is from Sebastiano Serlio’s 16th century book on architecture:

Same book, different section. This time a fireplace/hearth:

I’ve seen it on boxes quite often, or the top rail of a chest. Here’s one more from a book called “A Discourse on Boxes of the 16th, 17th & 18th Centuries” by Andrew Coneybeare. Nice detail shots of carving in that book. Published in 1992 by Rosca Publications, Worcestershire. Like the first one, look at all the detail jammed into a tiny space. The other versions seem blank…

I remember learning its name as “nulling” but I see no reference to that anywhere. Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture had a definition of nulling with no illustration. Said it was part of a molding. Coneybeare cited just above calls it “fluting.” Makes some sense. I’ve called it “arcading” but my kids thought I was talking about the crazy places with video games and noisy rides. So now I don’t talk about it.