a joiner’s life is tough…

Chris Schwarz has it easy writing about how to make six-board chests. Cut four joints and get out a bunch of nails. Simple enough to make several for a book and video. http://blog.lostartpress.com/2012/11/04/help-build-the-furniture-of-necessity/

But a joined oak chest is another matter. 

carved chest fall 2011

When I went to Maine last spring to shoot the DVD on making a joined chest, (here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/new-dvd-is-back-again-make-an-oak-joined-chest/ )  I had a finished chest, two partially-built ones and then as part of the shoot, I split out some parts for another. Even the smallest one has about 35 pieces of wood in it! Not counting the till, so make that 38. Oh, brackets on this one, make it 40. 


And now I’m in the midst of shooting more stuff for a follow-up book on the subject…which means another batch of joined chests. Hewing and riving all those pieces, planing it…trying to remember which stock is for which chest. It’s a tough life.

stacked riven & planed oak

I just finished one, and am wrapping up the smallest one from the video shoot. But I just started one with two drawers like this one I built a few years ago. It’s based on one from the Connecticut River area, around 1650-1680 or so.

chest w drawers

This one is going in the book to show the framing and construction of basic drawers. Another key feature of this chest is that the carving is wrapped around the framing parts, continuing from one piece to the next. Most carved chests are like that in the top photo, where the carved elements are stand-alone designs.

So to layout the design on this one, I had to test-fit the chest’s front frame, then use two compasses to mark the undulating vine that winds its way around the chest front.

test-fit & carving layout
compass layout

Here’s a sample of some of the carving. Each flower/leaf shape is free-hand, determined by the gouges used to outline it. No two are alike, and there’s no symmetry to the design. You can’t go wrong. 

sample carving

I’ll be starting the carving this weekend at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. If you’re in the area, come by…. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=98

New DVD is back again, make an oak joined chest

New DVD from Lie-Nielsen

The Joined Chest DVD I did with Lie-Nielsen is back from being reprinted after a glitch was found in the first batch. I’ll send out replacements to those who jumped on it earlier…

So, if you have a few hours to watch me thrash an oak log apart and build a joined chest, you can do so from the comfort of your own home – otherwise, you have to stand at the railing in my shop at the museum.

We shot the DVD last spring in Maine, it includes splitting and riving the stock apart, hewing and planing, then layout, joinery and assembly. I cut notches for the till, and show how to install that, and make a tongue-and-groove white pine floor. The lid is also white pine, a single-width board. For the finale, I attach the lid with iron “snipebill” hinges, (what I call “gimmals” – the 17th-century term for them.)

The disc runs over 200 minutes and is broken into 18 chapters so you can get around to the segment you nodded off at. There is additional content accessed through your computer; some measurements, photos and other bits and pieces.

I have some of these discs for sale, you can order from me by emailing me with your mailing info. Price is $42, shipped media mail in the US.

17th-century New England Carving: Carving the S-scroll

I also have some of the 2nd DVD I shot on carving patterns. This is called “17th-Century New England Carving: Carving the S-scroll”.  A long-winded title about a disc that shows several different ways to lay out and cut a design that is combined many different ways to different effect. This one’s about 100 minutes. Price from me is $27 shipped in the US by media mail. 

If you’d like to order both of them from me, the price will be $62 shipped in the US by media mail. 

My email is peter.follansbee@verizon.net. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check to me at this address:

Peter Follansbee

3 Landing Rd

Kingston MA 02364

Let me know if you’re sending a check so I can hold a copy for you. 

Of course, as always you can buy these DVDs directly from Lie-Nielsen too, while you are there buying tools and other goodies. They have my first DVD on carving, too and they also sell the joint stool book.  http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?grp=1320

my all-time favorite 17th-century joiners

Trent sent a note tonight about a joined chest with 2 drawers coming up for sale soon in New York. 

It’s an old favorite of mine, made in Braintree, Massachusetts between 1650-1700. Look:

braintree chest w drawers

Here’s the link to the auction – http://www.doylenewyork.com/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=12AM02+++313+&refno=++907166

 

In an article of agreement in connection with William Savell, Sr.’s 1669 will, the sons of William Savell, Sr. agree that the widow, Sarah (Mullins Gannett) Savell shall have “…her whole estate returned to her that she brought to Our ffather for her own use & to dispose of forever with a chest with drawers & a Cubbert…”  

the distinction here is “chest with drawers” – plural. Most of this group had a single drawer below the chest compartment. 

Back when I was doing the legwork research chasing these chests down, I saw two examples that had 2 drawers instead of the more typical single drawer. One of those is now in the Chipstone collection in Milwaukee, WI. This might be the other one, or now a third. I did see a piece of 20th-century homemade furniture that incorporated two drawers from one of these. That piece descended in the Hayward family from old Braintree. 

The article from years ago is:

Peter Follansbee and John Alexander, “Seventeenth-Century Joinery from Braintree, Massachusetts: the Savell Shop Tradition” in American Furniture, ed., Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 1996) pp. 81-104

You can look it up on Chipstone’s website, but often you don’t get all the pictures there – http://www.chipstone.org/framesetAFintro.html

Fun stuff. 


[i].) for the will and inventory for William Savell Sr. see Suffolk County Registry of Probate (SCRP) #501, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston. 

Joined chest DVD error to be fixed

New DVD from Lie-Nielsen

 

Got this note recently from a reader of the blog, about the Joined Chest DVD

“At 3:05:16 in the chapter on Making and Installing the Top there is a big red error screen that says Media Offline #15067 for a short while, like 15-25 seconds. It looks like a small section of video is missing when they compiled the video. ”

 

I wrote to Thomas Lie-Nielsen, and he replied:

“Yeah, … It is true.  We’ve pulled them and will reprint. Sorry!”

When I get new ones, I’ll send out clean copies to those who bought from the blog. I’ll keep you posted when I hear more.

 

 

Joined chest DVD now available

New DVD from Lie-Nielsen


I went down to Manchester, CT the other day for a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. As always, I had more fun than I could stand…and just as I came in the door, Ted Dishner of LN saw me & told me, “we have your new DVD…”

So, if you have a few hours to watch me thrash an oak log apart and build a joined chest, you can do so from the comfort of your own home – otherwise, you have to stand at the railing in my shop at the museum.

We shot the DVD last spring in Maine, it includes splitting and riving the stock apart, hewing and planing, then layout, joinery and assembly. I cut notches for the till, and show how to install that, and make a tongue-and-groove white pine floor. The lid is also white pine, a single-width board. For the finale, I attach the lid with iron “snipebill” hinges, (what I call “gimmals” – the 17th-century term for them.)

The disc runs over 200 minutes and is broken into 18 chapters so you can get around to the segment you nodded off at. There is additional content accessed through your computer; some measurements, photos and other bits and pieces.

I have 10 of these discs for sale, you can order from me by emailing me with your mailing info. Price is $42, shipped media mail in the US. Of course, as always you can buy the disc directly from Lie-Nielsen too, while you are there buying tools and other goodies. They have my two previous DVDs on carving, they also sell the joint stool book.  http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?grp=1320

joined chest: till parts, paneled lid

till closed

Fitting the till parts inside a joined chest is one of the most time-consuming aspects of making these things. It takes a good deal of test fitting and fussing to get it right. there is a tendency to rush this part, many times I have made tills that I wasn’t happy with in the end. All in the name of impatience.

The sequence I use is to do the bottom first, then the side, then the lid last. I often make the bottoms and sides from white pine, and always make the till lid from oak. Almost always.

Here is a view of the till bottom fitted into notches in the front and rear stiles, and scribed and fitted against the beveled panels and muntin on the chest side. I made a two-part template from matboard, one part scribed to fit the front stile, and one for the rear. Then I overlaid them on the pine board using the muntin notch as a benchmark.

till bottom scribed & cut


The till side is easiest, and I didn’t scribe it to perfectly match the contours of the chest interior, close enough is OK.

For this till lid, I decided to notch the inner corner of the front stile so that the end of the till lid is a square cut, other than the pintle. I sawed and chiseled the notch, and bored the hole for the pintle. This hole is above and tangent to a line struck from the top edge of the till side.

front stile notched for square-ended till lid

For more about cutting tills, here’s an earlier take on the subject. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/tills/

Now, this chest has its rear finished face inside the chest.

inside the chest, rear framing

 

I really like this format, it makes a nice surface in the chest when you’re rooting around in there. And it leaves all the scruffy bits against the wall, where no one sees them. But one challenge in this arrangement is that the rear stiles bump out beyond the back face of the upper rear rail.

rear stile thicker than rear rail

When it comes time to hinge the lid, you need to deal with these stiles. One way around this problem is to make rear stiles that are the same thickness as the rear rails. I have seen English chests do this, but not New England examples. Another way around this is to cut a notch in the top end of each rear stile. Like this: 

 

We’ll see this again when I install the hinges on this one. This chest is going to get a paneled lid. When I first started reading about 17th-century joined chests, paneled lids in New England work were perceived as being indications of “first-generation” workmen, those trained in old England. That might be so, but it’s a difficult notion to prove. What I can say for certain is that paneled lids take up a great deal of labor. A single-board pine lid is the quickest thing on earth. Plane it, cut it to length and width, and run a thumbnail molding along its perimeter. A multi-board oak lid is a lot of work too, riving and planing usually three long narrow oak boards, edge-jointing them & gluing it up. Then planing it as a whole. 

But the paneled lid is the most labor of all three versions. 

This one requires riving and preparing all those framing parts, cutting the joinery, test-fitting it, drawboring, and then cutting the panels, beveling them, and so on. Maybe those old guys were faster than me…it still takes me more than a day to make this lid I bet.

new DVD this month, making a joined chest

I saw this announcement from Lie-Nielsen the other day in their newsletter. I almost forgot I shot it!  There’s no carving how-to in this one, it’s how to open the log, rive the stock, plane it, do the joinery, etc…

I guess when you concentrate on 17th-century stuff, that means you go first. So although others shot their discs before me, mine’s out soon. This is the beginning of project-based DVDs for LN. There’s more in their pipeline. Here’s their picture and text.

 

new video coming

Over the past nine years, we’ve produced woodworking DVDs focused mainly on hand tool set-up and techniques. In our next release, we turn the focus to applying these skills to a specific furniture project.. “17th Century Joined Chest,” featuring Peter Follansbee, is the first DVD in our new Master Workshops series, which are hand tool based furniture projects with master craftsmen. With only a few hand tools, Peter shows you how to get your stock from an oak log and build a frame-and-panel chest using 17th century joinery methods. Available on our website at the end of October.