chair seat, basket find, carved oak

Some snippets of odds & ends. Last week, I worked for a time on hollowing the seat for my version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. His video series on this chair is here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL_KlogKd1xf9GYjSfBVLKTp8KngC8q7j

The plans are here https://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store/p31/Full-Scale_Drawings%3A_How_to_Make_a_Democratic_Side_Chair.html 

I often hear people say to me, or about me, “he makes it look easy..” and that’s how I feel about Curtis’ video – but of course he makes it look easy, he’s done it for 35 years or so. It’s fun to delve into something that I don’t know all that well anymore. I saw Pete Galbert last week & told him “don’t lay off Windsors for 25 years and then think you can just fall back into it…”

That’s about where I got in one session. I need to really hone the inshave better, then finish the hollowing before I start in on shaping the exterior.

I had the distinct advantage of having Curtis’ model on hand. I bought one of the prototype versions of this chair. When I measure it against his plans, it’s different. Makes me feel better.

On my way to Lie-Nielsen’s Open House last week, I stopped at an antique mall & found this inexpensive black ash basket. It’s a beauty. It’s maybe 15″-18″ in diameter.

The handle detail.

The base. Each upright is split in two about halfway out from the center. Makes a tighter weave. At first I thought it was every other one, but it looks like all of them. Very fine work. It’s pretty tattered, but still quite nice.

I worked oak at the Open House, took no photos at all. (swiped this one from LN’s Facebook page – where they have several photos of the event. https://www.facebook.com/lie.nielsen.toolworks/

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and beard

If you’ve never been to LN’s open house, it’s great. Maybe 30 demonstrators. Go next year. I’ll see you there. This is the layout and initial carving of one of the box fronts I made (I started 3 of them; finished this last one at home yesterday.)

Here it is finished.

Before I went up to Maine, I finished another carved and painted box; I’ll post this for sale in the next couple days.

Now I’m back to the chest of drawers. I’m on the lower case now, but here’s one of the drawer pulls on the deep (10″) drawer. East Indian rosewood.

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furniture & woodenware for sale July 2019

I have the first big round of items for sale from work I’ve been finishing up during the past month or more. Prices include shipping in US; beyond that, additional charges apply.

Click the photos to enlarge.

I’m challenged when it comes to setting up stuff for sale; I’ve tried to insert paypal buttons right on the page, but it never works as easily for me as they say it is. So after wasting 2 hours, I ditched it once again. Leave a comment here if you want something; that way we have a timed record in the off-chance there’s more than one person interested in the same item. Then I  will send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check.

If you miss out on something, I regularly take orders for furniture, and to some extent woodenware too. Just email me if you’re interested in ordering something.

Any questions, fire away. thanks for looking, PF

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Carved oak box. This one is made from red oak, with a white pine lid & bottom. Wooden pins and glue securing rabbet joints, wooden hinges. Till inside.

H: 6 3/4″  W: 18 3/4″  D:  12″
$850 including shipping in US

 

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Bowls – There’s several bowls I’ve re-carved recently. I had started them while working with Roy Underhill; we had a class at his school, and shot an episode of the TV show. I ended up with several “bowls begun” that got stashed in the loft. Four straight years of watching Dave Fisher each June really drives home what  bowl can be. So I had some time this spring/summer and tackled “fixing” these bowls.

Butternut (Juglans cinerea) bowl:
H: 5 1/4″ (to handles)  L:  17″  W:  9″
$450

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Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) bowl #1
H: 5″  L:  15 1/2″ W:  8 1/2″
$400

Carved on top of the handles, and along the sides/rim. This pattern is one I’ve been using on spoons a lot lately; it’s either half-round lunettes, or diamonds – depending on whether you look positive or negative. Or is it right-brain/left-brain?

 

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Poplar bowl #2;
H: 5″  L: 15″  W:  8 1/4″
$400
Poplar often includes streaks of dark blue/purple in the heartwood. Over time all the colors fade a bit, and turn a mellow brown. But the streaky bit stays streaky.

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Poplar bowl #3
H: 4 1/2″  L: 16 1/2″ W: 8″
$400

This bowl is one of the times I learned the lesson “leave the finishing touches for last.” I had carved the handles way before I had the shape the way I wanted it. So when I re-carved the bowl recently, I had to go over that carving and cut it anew. Fortunately there was enough thickness left for it to work. I added the textured background, just like on furniture carvings.

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Joined stool; oak with red wash

H: 20 1/2″ top is 14″ x 15″
$850

This stool is like a pair I made recently for an historic house museum in that the stiles/legs are plumb, not canted in one direction like many joined stools. I added carving to the aprons of this one; two different, but related patterns from Connecticut.

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Ladderback chair (what I usually call a “JA chair” after Jennie Alexander, whose design it follows. Somewhat)

H: 34″ W: (across front) 17 1/2″  ”  D: 14″ (at seat)  seat height: 18″
$1300 (includes shipping in US)

I caught up on my orders for ladderback chairs, and made one or two more. Here’s one in ash & red oak, with a hickory bark seat.

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Spoons

One picture; 3 spoons. There’s other views below, showing the shape, particularly of the crook. The handles are all carved, as usual. Here’s the lowdown.

top – #1; apple, crook  $130 –  SOLD

middle #2; birch  $100

bottom #3; birch  $100

Lengths are 10 1/2-12″

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Walnut spoon – SOLD
I couldn’t throw it in the other photo, it was wreaking havoc with the lighting.
L: 11 1/2″  W: 3″
$100

 

 

Baskets – I make baskets from white ash, pounding the log apart to make the splints. Usually I use white oak or hickory for rims and handles. Lashing the rims is either hickory bark or more ash splints.

Basket #1:   SOLD

This round basket has no handles, making it an excellent choice at the table.

Diameter: 11″  Height: 3″
hickory rims inside & out, hickory bark lashing.
$200

 

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Basket #2  SOLD
A small ash basket with a length-wise handle done in white oak.
H: (to rims) 5″ L:  10 1/2″  W: 8 1/4″
$200

 

Just a box of rain

Well, it’s Friday of box week, which started out as bowl week. I don’t know how it got to Friday so quickly, but I managed to finish fitting bottoms and lids on two boxes yesterday. Some of it spilled into this morning.

 

I usually use white pine for bottoms and lids; many New England boxes from the period did just that. Otherwise, oak lids. I tend to save the oak for more carved parts, i.e. the next box. Thicknessing and flattening white pine is pretty easy; I don’t even use a hatchet. The scrub or fore plane is effective enough at quickly removing excess material. It comes to me usually a full inch thick. Flatten one side. 

Then, having laid out the intended thickness, I start in on the 2nd face. At first, just a wide bevel all around down to just above the scribed line.

For this work, I use a plane that has its iron re-ground to a wide curve. Set to take a thick shaving. You can see the bevel planed on this board, just under the back end of the plane.

Then I can go right across the board, using the bevels as a sighting aid. This quickly removes the excess thickness.

Shoot one edge, then trim to size.

And it goes on & on. Some lids get thumbnail moldings around their edges, some just a bevel. The bottom boards are beveled where they extend beyond the box to form a base.

These boxes mostly started life as a carving demonstration. then got stashed until I had time to make them into boxes. So I finished assembling two of them this week, some painting to finish up on this one from a week or so ago, but that has to wait for the rain to quit. Then it’s onto the next thing, which really is hewn bowls. The loft is crawling with them. You’ll see that next week.

One more box class that has space in it, at Connecticut Valley School of woodworking. October 12-16. Last I’ll speak of it… https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/29-speciality-weekend-classes/635-make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee.html 

Box week

It was going to be bowl week. But I think it turned into box week. I don’t know what happened. Some of it stems from the great, not-quite-finished loft cleaning of spring 2019.

When I make a carved oak box they can go one of two ways. Some are reproductions/copies of existing boxes, as close as I can get them. This desk box is an example of that work. The measurements, decoration, construction are all based on an examination of a late 17th-century example.

This is one of the projects in the new book Joiner’s Work https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/joiners-work 

Here’s a look inside, showing one of two lidded tills, in front of a long tray at the back of the box. There’s four of those small drawers above.

When I’m just making boxes without any specific model, then I do things just a little differently. All the carvings are still derived from period work, as are the construction techniques. For instance, most New England boxes (& English ones) are joined with rabbets at the corners, not dovetails.

Unless I’m making a strict reproduction though, I tend to use glue and wooden pins to secure the rabbet, instead of the more common nailed rabbets. Just saves some handmade nails. There are some period boxes that are glued and pegged, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Here I’m driving the wooden pins into the box front-to-side joints.

In this next photo you see the square oak pegs, and then the finishing touches of gouged decoration along the ends of the box front. I saw this on a few boxes, but I usually put it on all of mine.

In these two new boxes you can see the extended pintle at the top rear corner. This becomes part of a wooden hinge. Again, I’ve seen this on period boxes, but it’s pretty rare, compared to iron hinges.

Here’s the cleat, attached to the underside of the lid, engaging that pintle. If you’re looking at details, you’ll see this box is sawn stock, not riven.

I’m teaching the carved box class a couple more times this year, the first Lost Art Press box class (late July) just sold out last week. After that is a week long class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking – October 12-16 https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/29-speciality-weekend-classes/635-make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee.html 

Then the finale for the year back at Lost Art Press’ storefront in December – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee-december-2019-tickets-54260677146

The class features lots of carving; a full day of practice, followed by a day carving the front and sides for the box. Here’s 7 of the 9 boxes the Australians carved last fall when I was there in the spring:

(The desk box shown above is also covered in the video I shot a few years ago with Lie-Nielsen about making boxes)  https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/home-education-videos/carved-oak-boxes-with-peter-follansbee?node=4243

 

The Road to Hell…

This clean-up is harder than I thought. It takes longer, anyway. There’s a pile of baskets, the best of which are here – some finished, some nearly so. All of these were sitting up in the loft for a year-plus. But at least now they can get used.

Here’s the ones for today’s work – I have some last bits of hickory to split, shave & bend for handles & rims.

Two stools – the one on the right is brand-new, just finished last week, maybe it was the week before.

The joined stool is #3 of a pair. I made parts for three when I was making them for the Cutchogue Old House project. Then realized the order only called for two. So this stool, all turned & joinery cut, went up into the loft. I brought it down when I was prepping for my Winterthur demo last month, did some quick carvings on the rails, then pinned it. Today I plan on making the seat board, pinning that & tomorrow painting it red.

Birch bark canisters.

Ugh. I am very taken with this work, but have only spent a little time with it. Last fall Plymouth CRAFT hosted a class by Jarrod Dahl – and I learned a lot from those sessions. This one I had cut the finger joints some time ago, made a bottom, but ran out of bark so couldn’t make the bands that usually go around the upper & lower ends. I decided last week to forget them, and made a top for it, and fitted it with a basket handle. A little chip carving finished it off. 6 1/2″ diameter, 9″ high. 

While moving some large books around in the house, I found a small sheet of birch bark that I had flattened & forgot about. It turned red – I don’t know if that was from the book, the paper between it & the book or what.

 

 

 But I made a small canister from it, and had some short pieces to make the bands. Now a handle & it will be done.

Some post & rung work:

The ladderback chair I started during Plymouth CRAFT’s first chair class early in May. It came home in pieces, but I figured I better build it now or just burn it. Assembled it yesterday. Slats are next. The stool parts beside it are overflow from the finished stool above. So I’ll finish both of these up, then they are slated to get rush seats instead of hickory bark.

In my cleaning, I keep running into bits of wood stored around – “Oh, that’s going to by X, Y or Z someday.” This one is mahogany – a wood I have never used. I think Bob Van Dyke gave it to me. One little piece, what could I make from one piece? One of Roy’s sliding lid boxes. 

I’m not going to spoil it for those that don’t know these little puzzles. You can watch him make one here – https://www.pbs.org/video/dovetailed-grease-pot-bmswsp/

And look – one more. This carved box only needs a lid and some paint to call it done. OK, I know what I have to do now, better get away from this desk and do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring trip to the Woodwright’s School

I poked around here all winter, then spring came (according to the calendar) and things got busy. Over 3 weekends between March 22 and April 9, I spent 6 full days driving. That’s getting a bit crazy. The 2nd leg of that trip was my annual trip to Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. Like always, it was worth the long haul. Here’s pictures.

Because I’m going to be in the car for hours & hours anyway, I take the scenic route. I hate I-95, so here’s a leg-stretching stop among the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

The project was an oak carved box. We used quartersawn red oak, with white pine lids and bottoms. Here’s Paul, carving his box front. On his messy bench, like everyone else’s. It made me come home & clean my shop.

Another box front off to a great start. Carving the box fronts comes after a full day of practice carving.

 

Our host had some saw sharpening that needed doing. Plenty of light out here.

No trip to Roy’s is complete without a stop or two upstairs at Ed Lebetkin’s tool store. I got out mostly unscathed, I didn’t need a box to haul my tools out like many do.

A snippet of squares.

I warned them that fitting the till is the fussiest part of making this box. They were not disappointed. It was fussy.

Here’s Scott’s wild carving and a deep till.

I’ve had students come to class barefoot, in sandals, flip-flops, etc – but never in spurs. Something new…I had to look up where Montana is, it’s way up there.

All the times I’ve been down there, I’ve never made it out to Elia Bizzari’s shop. We rectified that. What a nice place, great setting. My renewed chair fixation got more inspiration… http://handtoolwoodworking.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/eliabizzarri/?hl=en

Things kept getting busier and busier as the week went on. That’s the point, I guess.

The mornings weren’t great for birding, but some nice views down the creek at one point.

Then back home, jumped into a Plymouth CRAFT demo. Now finishing some furniture, then off to Winterthur later this month. More box classes later in the year, at Lost Art Press’ storefront not-a-school, and at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. (I guess I better send Bob the photos & blurb…) – I think there’s one or two spaces still in the December version at Lost Art.  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/pf-2019-teaching-schedule/

A look at carved boxes

I’m getting ready to head down to Roy Underhill’s for the first carved box class of the season. It’s full, but there’s room in others at Lost Art Press, and later at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking too – here’s the schedule https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/pf-2019-teaching-schedule/

The new joinery book features making three carved boxes in detail. There’s others shown incidentally in the carving section. But I’ve made over 100 of them I imagine. Here’s some from various years, most of these are not in the book. These are all scattered to the four winds; but I’m always happy to make carved oak boxes for customers.

This one is mostly made-up, but the carving pattern is copied from a walnut box in Victor Chinnery’s book Oak Furniture: the British Tradition. I really like this pattern, usually I do it on a pretty wide piece of wood, maybe 7″ high.

 

red oak box, fall 2008

I did it in walnut once, made a terrible mess of making that box, but the carving is OK when the light hits it right.

Two small boxes, one motif. These are only about 5″ high by 15″ wide or so. Same design, just aiming this way on one, the other one on the second example. Garish electric light, I don’t miss it.

small oak boxes

Just a raking-light shot of a box underway. A design I always like, based on an original from Braintree, Massachusetts, right next to where I grew up.

 

Another fairly large box; the carving is from a drawer front based on the same Braintree joinery. This box might be about 8″ high I’d guess; 20+” wide.

guilloche carving on oak box

This little one was one of my favorites; carving, molding, color and squiggles & dots. I plan on doing some carved & painted ones this spring.

 

Here’s one before the box lid was installed, showing the till inside.

 

 

Some of these pictures have been on the blog before; here are two views of the wooden pintle hinge. I use it most often on my boxes, although in the seventeenth century it’s the exception rather than the rule.

 

This one is from just last year or the year before, a carving sample re-used as a box. I assume that’s the inside of the front. I carve the samples over & over in classes and only need them at the moment. So sometimes they get recycled.

 

Red oak boxes with white pine bottoms and lids. Very distinct color and texture difference when new (on the left), but 10-15 years later (right) they blend quite well. Have patience.

 

a detail: