They weren’t kidding when they made February a short month

carving detail

I can’t believe how fast this month is going by. I guess all that playing in the snow is catching up with me. Tweaked my back a little, (I think it was a sledding incident) so for the past 2 days have had light duty… so some blog updating was due. I wrangled with the sidebar to this blog. I doubt any one actually uses it; but there is a search button down there somewhere, as well as links to order the wainscot chair DVD; Maureen’s knitting/felting site, and Plymouth CRAFT. You will also see I have, much to my own shock, joined the 21st century and added an Instagram link. There is also a Facebook something-or-other out there with my name on it – all of this is down to Robin Wood and Jarrod Stone Dahl, those cursed bowl turners. I’m astounded by these things. Robin showed me his Instagram site – and while I was creating one, people were finding it…I don’t want to know how that works!

Here’s the facebook link – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009003798086

and the Instagram  https://instagram.com/peterfollansbee/

I’m trying both of these things. Who knows how long it will last? I still like the blog – that I know I’ll keep.

desk box side

I’ve been carving some parts for a desk box lately. I’ve only made this type of box once before. The original is from the Braintree, Massachusetts group, William Savell and his sons John and William. These are the first patterns I ever learned how to carve. Working on them now is really so much fun; makes me look back on the whole joinery trip. I shoveled out some oak the other day; so more work coming.

Next Friday/Saturday, I’ll be at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Chichester New Hampshire. I will be carving spoons and hopefully talking to hordes of visitors. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/74 

Maureen has added some stuff, and now in the depths of winter, her knitting looks spring-ish. that’ll come…

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

I save the finishing touches for last

hewn bowl 14-04 catalpa

Today I was thinking a lot about hewing a bowl with an adze. I was swinging a tool up and down, chopping into a large hollow shape, getting out the innards, and pulling out the chips. Getting more & more open = chop, sweep, chop, sweep. But instead of the confines of my home shop, I was on the ladder, chopping ice out of the old house’s gutters. Now the melting snow flows, but soon it will ice up again. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon up there in the heavens- but  the only woodwork was in my head.

paint

I did get a first coat of paint on the oak box I made. I checked the schedule, and decided I’d try to get it painted before I ship it off to Alaska. It looked too bland as it was. After this part dries, I’ll put some black squiggles & dots, then a coat of thin red over the oak. the paints are linseed oil/turpentine with iron oxide (red) and yellow ochre; and bone black. I mixed some raw umber in to help the drying too. The lid looks like it’s painted white in the photo above, but that’s just all the light from the snow. It’s a white pine lid, so very pale.

The layout for the oval on the lid, and a view of the till inside – recycled chip carving practice.

oval

till

The cedar box just got linseed oil and turpentine. Helps highlight the carvings. Two comments yesterday from stitch-women (up-graded from stitch-girls; i.e. textile arisans – thanks Denise & Mary) praised the odd-proportioned box, one suggesting a sewing box. So now I know how to market it.

cedar box side view

cedar lid

 

Here’s one many of you have seen before, related to the oak one I’m doing now.

carved oak box

 

 

A box and a Box

yc box

I finished making the two carved boxes I’ve been working on. The first one is this yellow cedar “sampler” box for my class in Alaska. Jonathan and the rest of the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association sent me some Alaska yellow cedar so I could test it out before we ordered it for the class. The wood will work fine, and I carved this one with a range of patterns – hence “sampler.” The side, and the pintle hinge:

yc box open

The inside of the lid:yc box open carved lid

What’s weird about it is the proportions. Not weird really. Just ugly. there’s a reason you don’t see 17th century boxes this size – because they’re both ugly and stupid. But it maximized what I got out of the boards they sent down. overall size is 6 1/4″ H, 11 1/2″ W and 7 1/2′ D. So I made a proper oak and white pine box, just to make me feel less unsettled.

oak & pine box

 

Someone yesterday commented that this design reminded them of Northwest coast work – well, it is northwest – but northwest of Boston Massachusetts, c. 1680s/90s. Look at the side I carved = even more so. This one is H: 7″  W: 17″  D:  11″

oak box side

 

Here are some of the period carvings I was following somewhat

box ad

concord detail

I’ll paint mine, but maybe not right now. I have to send them by dogsled to Anchorage – whoops – we have more snow than them. I’ll use UPS I guess. Here’s the two side-by-side.

 

 

both boxes

 

 

 

I almost knuckled down & worked a full day

I set out to work on a couple of boxes the past few days. I have one in oak and one in Alaskan yellow cedar underway. This is the front of the oak box. set in a vise to drive the wooden pins in the corners. It’s going to be painted in addition to the carving.

box w pegs

 

When I peg the corners instead of nailing them, I glue it too. So while this one set for the glue to dry, I went back to one from a while ago in Alaskan yellow cedar. I am teaching in Alaska this spring, http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/registration-for-the-peter-follansbee-classes-is-open/ and the guys there sent me some amazing wood to test. I carved a bunch of sample patterns in it, to get the hang of it. So I cut a few of them out to make a box. This one is unlike any box I have ever made – it’s carved on all four sides; inside on the ends, and the lid, inside & out. That way, I get to bring as many different examples in one item as I can. Usually I have a large box full of sample patterns I bring to classes – but I usually drive too. Alaska is VERY far away from here. So this box is going to serve as a sampler. Here’s what I carved on the lid:

yellow cedar

lozenge

lozenge pt 2

done

B side

b side done

 

I got the bottom cut, then the lid & its cleats. But I stopped right before final assembly. If I kept going, I’d be out of time – & wouldn’t get to go outside to play with the kids. The boxes can wait until tomorrow. This photo wasn’t today, but a day last week. Same idea, go out & play in the snow:

bay farm walk

 

 

what’s happening to my monoculture parts 2 & 3

not oak

well, I never really was a true monoculture anyway. But close. Mostly oak, lots of white pine, ash. some maple (mostly turned), but there’s even mention in the back pages of this blog of Spanish cedar, East Indian Rosewood, Atlantic white cedar – and the spoons are a range of woods that never include oak. That’s where you’ll see me use cherry and apple – not in furniture.

walnut bolt

But my recent foray further into walnut is really out of this world, for me anyway. Riven, radial, high moisture content. Now I have run the gamut with this wood, from my first experience with that awful kiln-dried randomly sawn lousy stock, to air-dried straight-grained clear stuff – now to the true beast – riven radial stuff. Wow. Hewing it is so much fun I almost just chopped it all up just for the thrill. It’s going to be a joined stool, which I need like a hole in the head – but the book needs joined work that’s not oak. And…the walnut was a gift. Thanks, Michael D.

hewing walnut

Here are the stool parts, planed. Why 5 aprons & only 3 stretchers? Because I had just a little bit of extra wood. This way, I’ll make the aprons. If all goes well, apron #5 will get chopped down to a stretcher. Something goes haywire, I make #5 an apron & return to the wood pile to hopefully scrounge a stretcher. Timid, I know. But I don’t usually have riven walnut around. This is New England, not the mid-west. 

walnut joined stool parts

Part 3 of the “what happened to my monoculture” is really out of this world – this wood was like nothing I have ever seen. I got a sampling of it in the mail – to test it for a carving class. 11 1/2” wide quartersawn stuff – with over 360 growth rings!

200 to 300 yrs

300 yr mark

Alaskan yellow cedar – is not a cedar and might be from British Columbia…but it is yellow. http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/softwoods/alaskan-yellow-cedar/

I just could not wrap my head around the growth rate of this tree. Turns out as I read more about it, the tree grows for upwards of 1,000-1,500 years. That’s old. It’s a tree that has been in decline for 100 years, dying off due to climate change. Seems it’s so warm these days that the trees are freezing – sounds like Stephen Foster wrote the story of it. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/research/climate-change/yellow-cedar/yellow-cedar_and_climate_change.pdf

We’re hopefully using this for the box class I’m teaching in Alaska next spring. Thanks to the guys up there for sending it down…

carvings

It carves very well, planes to a beautiful finish, except for some tearout difficulties. I’m mesmerized by it. Density is a bit softer than the black walnut; specific gravity is .42,  as compared to the walnut at .51. I did much of the carving without the mallet. Once all the V-tool outlining was done, I used hand pressure for a great deal of this design.

detail

spandrel

panel full view

 

But I have been working up some oak stock recently to replenish what I have used. I only have about 6 or 8 more of this crazy-wide oak panels to prep…the offset handle on this hatchet is especially useful when working wide stuff. this one’s 14” wide. That’s knuckle-scraping wide if you’re not careful.

oak

 

Couple of spoons left, the bowls, etc. The wainscot chair video too – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-december-2014/

over at Plymouth Craft – if you’re thinking of the spoon class, it’s about half-full now. So don’t delay…  http://plymouthcraft.org/  (3PM – Eastern time, that website is having a problem. We’ll get on it, or it will fix itself miraculously…) 

 

carved box

box done blog

 

open w till

 

Finished building a box the other day; red oak, white pine. The original this is mostly based on had no till, but I’m shooting this one for the joinery book, so added a till. This box has a wooden hinge; a small extension is made on the rear board, so that it overhangs beyond the sides. Then this “pintle” is shaved round, and fits in a hole bored in the lid’s cleats to form the hinging action. Some shots of the process:

Here, the rear board’s rabbet is double-long. Much of this excess length will be cut away, leaving the pintle. This shows the saw cuts that define the pintle. 

pintle sawn

 

Then I split the waste off. Red oak splits very well. 

 

split it

 

The result. Next is just gets whittled to roughly round. 

pintle roughed out

 

I jumped ahead and here I am nailing and clinching the cleat to the underside of the box’s lid. You can see the extended and rounded end of the cleat; with a hole bored in it. 

clinching cleat to lid

 

There’s a little fumbling around to get the lid in place and nailed on. But here is the side view of the end result. 

 

cleat & hinge

 

This box is a custom order, complete with initials. You can tell it’s modern, because the period way to render a “J” is to make it as an “I”.  But the customer was leery of having this box read “IT” – so I made up a modern-ish “J”. 

initials

 

Then I went back to my carving

back to carving

my kids complain when we draw

My kids complain when we draw together, they say all I draw is patterns & designs. (Here’s them painting; I can’t find them drawing right now…)

kids painting

 

I’ve been doing some drawings lately. It’s somewhat new for me to draw before I build something, usually I make it first, then I draw it… 

I’m finishing up a few projects, which means it’s time to start the next ones…I’m real good at starting them…it’s easy. I always have more ideas than time. A further challenge is when one thing leads to another, and a project comes up out of nowhere, and jumps the queue. I’m right now struggling to keep that from happening. I’m losing that struggle. But that’s OK.

brittany

I had a visit from Chris Pinnell from Montreal recently, and we were talking about joinery in New France. I had remembered some photos sent to me from a reader, and dug out pictures of joined work from Brittany. [It was Maurice Pommier, author of Grandpa’s Workshop – here’s my original post from a few years back –   https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/bretagne-joinery-an-english-book-stand/ and the book is here http://lostartpress.com/products/grandpas-workshop  ]

 

Afterwards, I went back & started drawing this carving over & over. I’ve probably drawn five versions of it since yesterday. I plan on carving it just to get it out of my system, so I can get on with the other stuff I really should be doing.

bowdoin chair panel

One of the projects I have to do next is a wainscot chair. For this project, I’ll be using some of that really wide riven oak I just got in. The panel is 14” wide x 16 3/4” high. I decided I’d draw this design a few times before picking up the tools, that way I know the shapes I’m after. Those size panels don’t grow on trees, you know. This is slightly different from my usual approach. Typically, with this Ipswich/Devon stuff I carve my own versions of the panels…it’s easy enough to make them up using various elements from existing patterns. This time, I’m trying to copy the existing chair …)

dennis wainscot panel no grid

Dennis wainscot panel

 

 

I’ve drawn it about 3 times, including one that’s half the panel, full size. I won’t lay out a grid on the panel, but I will work from the scaled full size drawing. I want it to have irregularities in it, and those are easy to get. 

 

One last drawing – this thing jumped in front others, should be done this week. A bretstuhl – in walnut. Here’s the carving design I made up for the shaped back board to this chair. the chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking in the early 1980s, from Switzerland. The carving designs I adapted from Dutch work of the 17th century. 

bretstuhl stabelle