Make a Carved Oak Box; at Lost Art Press Dec 9-13

There’s a nearly-last-minute opening in the final carved oak box class for the year – I’m returning to Lost Art Press for a small class (6 students) in making these boxes. There’s few versions in my book Joiner’s Work https://lostartpress.com/products/joiners-work and this class will follow much of what’s in there – but there’s always more to add. Different patterns, more details. I have taught the class four times in the past 12 months; this is the last time for this year and there’s only one shot at it next year. So…if you’re free December 9-13 and able to come to Covington, KY – have at it. Here’s the blurb, contact Megan Fitzpatrick to register…

“In this workshop, we’ll explore the construction techniques and decorative carving styles of oak boxes made in New England during the 17th century. Using quartersawn red oak and white pine, we’ll size the materials, cut rabbets to join the corners and fasten them with square wooden pins. Fitted inside the box is a lidded compartment called a till. The white pine bottom is attached with hand-made iron nails. The lid, also white pine, opens on a wooden pintle & cleat hinge.

 

Much of the focus is learning the carving style. Using about a half-dozen different gouges and simple layout tools including an awl, square, compass and marking gauge, we’ll go through numerous patterns in practice sessions prior to carving the actual box. We’ll study reference photographs of period carvings, learning how to lay out and cut them based on the tools and some basic geometry.

No experience necessary. Some basic tools required; a list will be sent to participants. (Follansbee will have some extra carving tools for students’ use.)

The fee for the weeklong class is $1,200, plus a materials fee for the wood and hand-forged iron nails. Register by sending an email to Megan Fitzaptrick at Lost Art Press: fitz@lostartpress.com.

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…

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…


Chairs, stools, boxes – for sale; some on sale

The house is full, the shop is pretty full as well. So I went up in the loft and here goes a few things for sale, a couple on sale. Some prices include shipping, in the smaller and/or lighter stuff. Heavier & bigger, shipping is additional. Come pick them up if you’re nearby.

If you’d like something, leave a comment. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can send a check.

thanks, PF

Ladderback chair

The latest version of my JA chairs; this one I started last month during Plymouth CRAFT’s chair class & finished it up right after. Red oak, some ash rungs. Hickory bark seat.

H: 33 1/2″ seat is 17″ wide at front, 13″ deep. Seat height about 18″
$1200 plus shipping; which runs around $150 here in the US.

 

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Post & rung stool

Related to the above; I made this for a recent article in Fine Woodworking; when that photo shoot was over I stashed it in the loft & promptly forgot about it. Found it today in a pile of chairs and things. I own a John Alexander version of this item; so this one’s extra. The bark seat will last decades; but it’s just a step or so off from what it should be – strips vary a bit too much in width; and are spaced a bit too far apart. There – I’ve told you what’s wrong with it; but it’s a perfectly fine stool really. I’ve priced it to reflect my take on it –

seat height:  18″ frame is 14 1/4″ x 17″
$500 plus shipping

 

 

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Joined stool; oak with red wash – SOLD

H: 20 1/2″ top is 14″ x 15″
I had it at $850; now $750 plus shipping

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.

 

Single-board quartersawn oak top.

Carved oak box; pine lid & bottom  – SOLD

I made this box earlier this summer; took it with me to Lost Art Press when I taught my first box class there. It’s not a copy of an existing box, but the carvings are based on some work from Connecticut.

It got a bit battered in transit; then back here in the shop something fell on the pine lid & scarred it. So a ding or two. It’s either make a new lid or lower the price. This one works just fine, and now you don’t have to worry about banging it around. Been done for you..

H: 6 1/2″  W: 18 3/4″  D: 12″
was $850, now $750  including shipping

 

Below are the two main detractions on the lid – right dead center on the end molding something fell on it. Looks like it was a chisel! Out along the back edge is some minor denting…

Desk boxSOLD

This one’s been around the block a few times. Most recently it’s featured in my book Joiners’ Work – (get the book here & make your own desk box, https://lostartpress.com/products/joiners-work )

I really like this box, but am seriously jammed for room in the house. Plus I have a very large chest of drawers to bring in the house soon, so I’d be pushing my luck to get this & that in. It’s a copy of one I saw many years ago, made in Braintree, Massachusetts about 1670-1700. Red and white oak, white pine bottom. Hand-made iron hinges. 4 drawers inside, two tills and a tray. Great thing about it is your family can’t pile anything on top of it, so you can get at its contents easily.

H: 11 1/2″ W: 24 1/2″  D: 16 1/4″  height at the front is 6 1/2″

Was $2,000. Now $1,600 plus shipping.

 

 

Carved panel; Alaskan Yellow cedar – SOLD

I’ve said it before, but this is really & truly the last piece of this wood that I have. Working this wood was like nothing I’ve ever seen or felt before. Or since. There wasn’t enough wood to re-saw and make a small box, so I carved this large panel with a design found in a room at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The room came from Bromley-by-Bow; maybe early 1600s.

If you’d like, I can put some screw eyes & wire on the back, or you can decide on how to display it when you get it.

H: 21 3/4″  W:  10 1/2″
$450 including shipping

 

Upcoming classes in October

Last week we announced a couple short-notice classes with Plymouth CRAFT. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/events

The lineup is Pocket Spoons with JoJo Wood and Bowl Turning with Darrick Sanderson. Two great instructors, one weekend, fabulous venue – October 5 & 6, 2019 at Overbrook House, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.

JoJo Wood returns for 2 days of spoon carving. JoJo is a great teacher, and has spent a tremendous amount of time perfecting her techniques in carving. Noted for clear, distinct facets and beautiful shapes, her spoons are easily picked out of a crowd. She was here in June to teach two classes and those went over very well. This class will focus on her “pocket spoon” – it’s a social movement – you make great spoons and improve the planet at the same time.

Pocket Spoon

There’s still room in this class, so you can sign up now. October is coming soon. At some point, she’ll get sick of that trans-Atlantic flight and we won’t see her as much. Get it while you can.

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Darrick’s class is essentially sold out – (there’s a waiting list) EXCEPT – we’ve kept a spot in both Darrick’s and JoJo’s for a scholarship applicant. Maybe we’ve been too quiet about this, but here’s the story, clipped from our website:

“We get it that registration fees can be a stretch for plenty of people. A community conversation about how to foster broader, more diverse, participation in green woodworking began at Greenwood Fest 2018 and is still ongoing; many present last June made donations to support that goal. Since then we at CRAFT have been trying to figure out the best way to extend the largesse of those generous folks who can afford it to those who cannot.”

Our audience has responded very well to our request for help in offering these scholarships, for which we are grateful.

Read about it here: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/craft-green-woodworking-sch

At the bottom of that page are two buttons – one for “apply” and one for “donate”

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My own classes – I have two left for this year that have space. Both at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. One’s a 2-day class in carving oak patterns; Sept 28 & 29;  https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/29-speciality-weekend-classes/626-carving-in-the-17th-century-style-with-peter-follansbee-2.html

carvings for new chest

the other is a 5-day class in making (& carving) an oak box with a pine lid; October 12-16.

https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/37-week-long-classes/635-make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee.html

 

 

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/

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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.