This picture is a little hard to read, but it’s a step called “kerfing” the joint. In this case, the rear shoulder was in the way, keeping the front shoulder from pulling up tight. So you go in there with a backsaw, and re-saw the rear shoulder. Sometimes it takes a single pass, sometimes more.
Then you knock it all together again, I have already pinned the front section and rear section separately. I was looking to get a general overall photo…but this wasn’t it.
I went to the other end of the shop, and that’s the angle. Better anyway.
Then I went higher.
Here’s the frame. This one gets a crest, two applied figures one on each side of the rear posts, then seat, then arms.
Here’s the crest, with conjectural attachment. It gets nails through the ends, down into the integral crest rail. But I never felt like those were enough to hold it in place. So I added a loose tenon between the two crests. I chopped one mortise in the wrong spot, so you see it runs wide/long.
I did a couple of presentations last weekend at Fine Woodworking Live; a seminar put on by the magazine. It was a sold-out affair, and seems like everyone had a good time. With the magazine staff, the presenters and the attendees there were close to 300 people there. All trying to consume as much information about woodworking and furniture-making as possible.
My talks were 90 minutes, and it’s hard to cram everything I know into that time slot. Because my work is so closely based on studying period pieces, I tried to show some examples prior to my demonstrations. This blog post will flesh out some of what I was talking about.
Al Breed came to one of my sessions, and asked about the insides of the mortises; is there any indication that the joiners bored them first? My reading of the evidence is that these narrow mortises, typically about 5/16″, are just chopped. No need to bore them first. These shots (scanned from slides, thus not as sharp as they might be) show the inside of the top front rail of a chest from the Smithsonian. The chest was made c. 1640-1670. Oak. The joint is broken open near where the till parts fit. One of the nice things about oak is how well it splits, but that’s a drawback too.
Here’s a detail of that joint, showing the chopped bottom of the mortise, in the first photo you can also see the angle of the mortise’s end grain cuts, and the trimming of the tenon’s edges.
This chest has a joined front fixed to board sides and back. So a blending of a board-chest and a joined chest. Two pieces built this way survive from this shop.
To me it’s not a surprise that this joint blew apart, the surprising part is that more didn’t. I have written before about how much wood is cut away right were all these parts converge – the mortises for the top rails, the grooves for panels on front & side, the notches for the till side and till bottom, and the mortise bored for the till lid. It’s like a game of connect-the-dots.
here is part of that earlier post:
This next photo is the front stile for the chest I’m building now. This stile is red oak, and it’s about 3 1/4″ wide by 1 3/4″ thick. Clustered up near the top end of the stile are several cuts into the stock.
First, the two mortises, for the front and side upper rails. These are 5/16″ wide by about 3 3/4″ high. The one for the front rail is about 1 1/2″ deep, the other about 1 1/4″ deep.
Each has two 1/4″ holes bored in them, those for the front rail go all the way through the stile.
There is a groove running along each edge, into these mortises, for the beveled panels.
Additionally there is a notch cut across the inner face of the stile for the till bottom. this notch is about 3/8″ wide and about the same depth. It is positioned so that the till bottom is flush with the bottom edge of the upper rails.
What is missing from this photo is one more assault on this piece of wood – the hole bored into the stile for the hinged end of the till lid. This hole is usually about 3/8″ in diameter and about 1/2″ deep, and right near what will be the top end of the stile, after the extra wood is trimmed off the top. It will be about 3/8″ away from the mortise for the side rail.
That’s a lot of cuts into this piece of wood, all in the same neighborhood. Sometimes I am amazed that the stile can take it.
Another thing we discussed (I think this was a breakfast discussion…) was the backs of pieces. Chris Becksvoort was telling us about Shaker work, Al Breed about Newport 18th-century work – I chimed in with a group of chests and cupboards from Plymouth Colony from the 2nd half of the 17th century. Here’s the surviving section of a chest with four drawers; in “as found” condition.
Look inside, the inner face of the rear section is a bit firewood-like. (the strap hinges are replacements) Narrow oak panels, with muntins that have large torn-out sections from riving them:
And a knot in one, and panels with riven texture – not planed smooth.
Sometimes the insides have fully-formed moldings on the framing parts. These get covered up as soon as the chest is filled with textiles. Some Boston joiners did the same thing.
All the chests and cupboards from this large body of work use employ chamfers on the framing parts on the side elevations; usually stopped chamfers. You see it below on the lower edge of the horizontal rail:
But they did it too on the rear elevation. Sometimes smooth transitions, sometimes stopped chamfers. This is the part of the cupboard or chest that gets shoved against the wall! Hard to understand the outside being so neat when sometimes the inside is just this side of firewood.
I have been doing some carving lately…I have a number of half-finished (some 7/8 finished) stuff around. The oak I’ve been carving lately is intentionally half-finished, so I have stuff to demonstrate at the Fine Woodworking Live event this coming weekend.
In the 7/8 finished department, there is this – what’s different? It’s maple. Slated to be a cutting board (the blank side, of course). I’ll cut out a handle at one end, with a hole for hanging it, carving-facing-out, when it’s not in use. Here’s one from before – (I thought it was pretty new. But 1 1/2 years have gone by since I made that one.)https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/why-did-this-take-so-long/
As I was sorting & organizing this shop, I squirreled away some walnut scraps leftover from a joint stool…and last week I started making this book stand. Just a little trimming here & there (the finials for instance), and pinning the joints left.
This chair frame is mostly done – maybe it’s less than 7/8s there, but it’s close. There’s a crest rail all carved, but it doesn’t go on until after assembly. I just have to cut the rear stretcher, then add two figures that get attached to the rear stiles, and the crest. Oh, and the seat. But that’s plain…
The past couple of days I’ve been cutting parts for the headboard of a bedstead I’m making for a very patient customer (thanks, Wendy!) This is what I will demonstrate on at FWW Live. I have 2 long rails cut, one is all carved. The other has enough of its pattern for people to see what it’s headed toward…so I’ll have some of that carving to do, and some mortises & tenons to cut. I fitted one muntin today, and planed & laid out another.
Closer view of the same grouping.
Here’s the muntin. All this work is in oak, as it should be.
A detail of the patterns on the two long rails.
some more prep work tomorrow. Then off to Southbridge MA on Friday for the event.
we started spring cleaning here yesterday. I spent the day in the back yard, burning the winter’s collection of brush/branches, etc. It’s a once-a-year chance to spend the entire day by the riverbank…with nothing to do but feed and watch a fire.
I saw lots of birds during the day’s fire. Didn’t get shots of most of them, but here’s a few. (I don’t know what this looks like on your end, but when I preview it, if I click on the photos, they get pretty large, makes them easier to see. sometimes 2 clicks.) There were ospreys around much of the day, but only briefly when I had a camera in my hands:
The cormorants were fishing; but they were quite skittish. Here they are high-tailing it away:
If I was sitting on the riverbank, the red-breasted mergansers paid no attention to me;
when I was standing they either went up the other side of the river, or flew off.
This week I have a few things coming up. Going out to answer a call “Do you want some wide red oak?” – pretty simple question to answer. So some log-splitting coming up. Then I have to plan out my demo/talk for Fine Woodworking Live http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/ – it’s my first time working with them. Looks like it will be quite an event.
thanks for all the support from those who have ordered the new videos. I really appreciate it. My setup was a bit clunky, but I went in & made it so those ordering both titles are only paying one shipping fee. I refunded any who got caught in the earlier “double-shipping” debacle. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/ I have some oak boxes underway, and some hewn bowls. I’ll shoot some of it soon & post some stuff here so any who have not seen the details can get an idea of what the fuss is about…
I just got a shipment from Warren, Maine – 2 boxes of new DVDs from Lie-Nielsen. We’ve had these in the works for a while, but better late than never. The first is Carving Oak Boxes.
This makes the 3rd oak project video; after the wainscot chest & the wainscot chair. I think this one is my favorite – it covers making 2 different boxes – one typical flat-lidded box, with wooden hinges and a till inside. The other is the slant-lidded “desk” box. This has 2 tills, a tray and 4 small drawers inside. The video also covers carving the designs on the desk box – patterns that I have done from the very beginning of my carving career, and have never put in the previous videos on carving.
Here’s the desk box –
The 2nd video is Hewing Wooden Bowls
Like spoon carving, a whole sub-culture of bowl-carving is gathering quite a bit of momentum. Who can blame them? Axes, adzes and gouges – what could be more fun? I was on a spree of hewing bowls a couple summers ago, and had done an episode of Roy Underhill’s show about this work. Then I went up to Maine to shoot this video shortly after that. Things got in the way, and my bowl-work got shelved for a while, but just lately I have started picking up my bowl-carving tools again. I think of this video as an introduction to this work; showing how I split, hew and plan out the shape. Then follow that work with gouges and other shaping. The whole reason I make them is to decorate them, and that is covered too.
(I hope this works – I’m a bit clunky with the retail end of blogging. With my spoons, I usually send out an invoice – but there’s usually only a dozen of those at a time. I tried to set this up so it will take you right to payment – so I don’t have to send out invoices. If there’s a wrinkle, bear with me, and we’ll get it sorted. Fingers crossed.)
We got out early on the vernal equinox, to see the sunrise over the trees on the riverbank. While we waited, these red-breasted mergansers came along, chasing the fish along the river. The other fish-chaser, great blue heron left the scene, water was too high for him.
The sun hit the workshop before it hit us down at the river.
Inside, I’m a sucker for raking light.Now that I finished the chest with drawers, this one is next. Needs some trimming here & there, and fitting the lid. Then when someone buys it, initials carved in the blank area on the center muntin.
Here’s the first 2 (of 8) panels I carved for a bedstead I am making for a customer.
A couple of boxes underway. The front of this one was a carving sample for my recent class in North House Folk School.
Here I’m working on cutting the rabbets for another, smaller box.
Here it is, test-fitted. Next is to make the till parts, and assemble it.
we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston the other day. the kids are studying Greek myths, and we went to look at Greek art, mostly sculpture & pottery. I saw patterns everywhere. I probably hadn’t been in those galleries since the 1980s. Amazing stuff.
The next couple of weeks will feature some chairmaking here. As I said earlier, I’m revisiting the ladderback chairs I began my woodworking career with…I shaved some posts & rungs and chopped slat mortises – but shot no pictures. But today, I had some wainscot chair work to do; and what a world of difference. I had to fashion one hewn rear post for a wainscot chair like this:
The “cant” or “rake” to the rear post is hewn, not bent like in Alexander’s ladderback. This post starts out as a split billet 3″ x 4″ x 48″. That’s a lot of oak. I hewed it oversized; a few weeks ago I worked one and it was too close to the finished size. When I was done hewing and planing, it came up “scant” – i.e. too small in cross-section to match the first one. Here, you see the template laying on the riven and hewn piece:
Thinking about the JA chairs – this one billet had enough wood to maybe make 3 or 4 posts for a JA ladderback. This is a rare case where I work primarily on the tangential face first. I want the front face of these posts to be the radial surface (it’s going to be carved, & I like carving that face better than this one). So the cant gets laid out on the growth-ring plane.
Once I hewed and planed that face pretty flat, I scribed the template and began to hew the shape. The front is easy enough to hew, because of the way you’re cutting down the grain. In this photo, I have the front faces planed, and I’m cutting the thickness of the post above the seat. I decided to saw, rather than split this, so I can use the piece that’s coming off – it will become either a stretcher or one of the carved figures that is applied to the side of the chair. I made a relief cut at the seat height, and am sawing down to that cut. In the photo, this saw cut is nearly done. Then the stuff below the seat will get hewn away, there’s nothing worth saving there, so hewing is quicker than sawing. Easier too. You can see relief cuts there too, I stood the piece up on its top end and hewed down to the mid-point.
Cleaning up these rear surfaces is pretty easy. They don’t have to be dead-flat or true. I shim under the end, and shove the post against my bench hook/planing stop. A holdfast keeps it in place. I’m only planing as far as the plane will fit. It gets close to, but not up to, the angled spot where the post leans back. I skew the plane to get close…
Then switch to a spoke shave. it’s one of the few times I use this tool in joiner’s work. That’ll sneak right up to that junction.
I have to let it dry out a couple of weeks, then I can cut the joinery in it & continue on with the chair. I have another to start in the meantime, so there will be more chair work on the blog soon.