period carvings; arches/arcading: what-have-you

That carving pattern I worked on the other day https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/carved-arcading/ is very common, except in my work & my photo files! I have rarely used it, but that will change; I’m planning to take a whack at a few versions of it. Here’s what mine was generally based on, a walnut box, made c. 1600-1610. London? This is the drawer front to the box…I’d say maybe 4″ high. Look how much detail is crammed into a small space.

arcading

This one was sent to me by a reader of the blog – I know, because I’ve never been to Suffolk. Simple version, cut very well.

Suffolk arcading

A few years back I had 2 workshops in England. Jon Bayes attended one, and this is his version of that carving in progress. https://www.riversjoinery.co.uk/workshop

 

Jon Bayes’ arcading

Here’s a row of it, over some nice spindles in a church in Great Durnford, Wiltshire.

Great Durnford, Wiltshire

A wainscot chair now in the Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Even has the pattern upside-down.

wainscot chair Merchant’s House

One for the dish-people. V&A in London:

It’s as old as the hills. But so are all the other patterns I know…here it is from Sebastiano Serlio’s 16th century book on architecture:

Same book, different section. This time a fireplace/hearth:

I’ve seen it on boxes quite often, or the top rail of a chest. Here’s one more from a book called “A Discourse on Boxes of the 16th, 17th & 18th Centuries” by Andrew Coneybeare. Nice detail shots of carving in that book. Published in 1992 by Rosca Publications, Worcestershire. Like the first one, look at all the detail jammed into a tiny space. The other versions seem blank…

I remember learning its name as “nulling” but I see no reference to that anywhere. Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture had a definition of nulling with no illustration. Said it was part of a molding. Coneybeare cited just above calls it “fluting.” Makes some sense. I’ve called it “arcading” but my kids thought I was talking about the crazy places with video games and noisy rides. So now I don’t talk about it.

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Carved arcading

I spent the weekend at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, teaching 13 students to carve oak patterns…but I forgot my camera. One design I hoped to include, but ran out of time for, is this “nulling” or arcading pattern. It’s very common, there’s lots of variations on it. This is my recent version, in walnut instead of oak. This example is only about 3 1/2″ between the bottom and top margin.

Here’s how I carved a section of it today, after unpacking. This pattern has no free-hand aspect of it, very different from my usual work. All the elements are struck first with an awl, square and marking gauge. Spacing is marked off with a ruler and compass/dividers. Once I know the spacing (that’s some trial & error, based on the size of your stock, and the tools available) – I strike the chisel work to define the spaces between the arches.

Then I use my #7, 3/4″ wide gouge to strike the tops of the arches and the peaked leaf that falls behind them. 3 strikes of the gouge outline the tops of the arches. There’s a marking gauge line at the top & bottom of these, so they all line up properly.

This leaf tip that fits behind them starts about 1/2 way up one side of the arch, and hits a centerline struck through the chiseled portion.

Once the outlines are struck, I use the chisel with its bevel down to chop these sections. Sometimes I have to go back & forth between the vertical strikes and the beveled ones to get the chip out.

Then comes some background removal. I use the #7 to chop behind its original strikes.

Then a #5, about 1/2″ wide to smooth off this background. It leans down from the top margin to the arches/leaves.

Then I hollow the leaves with the #7.  Makes them look like they fall behind the arches a bit.

Now to hollow the arches. I start with a narrow, deeply-curved gouge. (old, no before they were numbered. It’s between a #8 & #9.) Two strikes  define the bottom of the hollow. Previously I struck inner margins for this hollow.

I chop right behind this to remove a chip. This will help protect the bottom solid bit when I finish hollowing.

Now a larger gouge hollows out the whole thing. This takes a few cuts. I don’t go to the full depth in one go. In the end, I want this tool to hollow all the way to the outlines I struck.

Here is the pattern after the shaping. But it looks pretty blank…

Gotta fill all the blank spaces. Start with a small #7 to chop details in the leaves.

A straight chisel to highlight the peaked bits.

A large gouge just strikes an incised line around the top of the arches. A punch fills in other spaces.

This really narrow gouge chops little patterns inside the hollows.

 

I always like to see what they look like after applying some linseed oil –

 

(I’ve 

I’ve heard it called “nulling” but my copy of Cyril Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture is out in the shop. That’s where I would check the name. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow.

Locks

Chests, cupboards, boxes, cabinets – most any wooden furniture that opened and closed had an iron lock in 17th-century New England (& old England for that matter). It’s rare that they survive, even more unusual is a customer who wants to pay what it takes to get locks on their custom furniture. I have such a client right now, for 2 boxes and a chest. So I get to a.) show how I install a handmade lock, and b.) first, re-learn how I install a handmade lock. I do them so rarely that each time is like doing it for the first time. The lock above was made by Peter Ross, blacksmith. http://peterrossblacksmith.com/ His website is perpetually under construction. His iron work is top flight. We’ll get the tacky stuff out of the way first – if you want locks that are so-called “museum-quality/period-correct”, expect to pay for them. This lock, with escutcheon and 2 keys was $650. I suspect Peter still undercharged me, given the amount of work that goes into these. OK. Now to install it.

I cut a test-mortise in a piece of scrap to make sure I was on the right track. Then proceeded to the box. First, bore the main part of the keyhole.

The real dumb thing was to build the box, then decide it wanted a lock. So now, how to hold it for all the chopping, paring, etc? Because of the overhang of the bottom/front, I had to prop the box up on a piece of 7/8″ thick pine. I put some bubblewrap between them so as to not mess up the carved front too much. Then to hold the lid open with something other than my forehead, I cut an angle on a piece of scrap, and clamped it with a spring clamp. Not traditional, but worked well.

After scribing the layout based on the lock, I sawed two ends as deeply as I could.

After chopping some of that waste out, I had to re-score the end grain. I switched to a very sharp knife for this part. worked great.

Alternated scoring with the knife and paring with this long-bladed paring chisel.

Once I got to the stage for testing the fit, I realized I needed a hole bored in the scrap below for the sleeve to fit through. Once that was in place, I swiped a black sharpie over the lock, and then tested it. Left black marks where I needed to adjust things.

Some back & forth til it fit the way I wanted it. The slot on the top edge of the lock is for the staple from the lid to engage the bolt. So I needed to get the wood out of that slot.

Ready to be nailed in place. I bored pilot holes, and drove the nails in. I backed them up out front, thinking some might poke through. As it happened only one did, in a low point in the carving. So no trouble at all.

Then needed to open up the keyhole a bit. A rare appearance of a file in my woodworking. I bored a small hole first, then opened it up with the file.

The escutcheon, nailed in place. I had to snip the ends of these nails off, so they wouldn’t mess up the lock. In this application, they are as short as a wrought nail can be just about.

Then, some fussing to locate and excavate the housing for the staple. Here, I locked the staple to the lock and impressed its position by using the sharpie, and closing the lid & leaning on it. That left a mark so I could see where to cut into the lid.

Knife and chisel work again.

 

I got this part done, then had to pick up speed because it was getting dark. So the final photos will be another day. It’s 99.9% done. An adjustment is all that’s left.

 

Back in the shop

First off – my holdfast is bigger than yours. Being back at Colonial Williamsburg last week reminded me of my previous visit there 11 years ago. I was using the 18th-century style holdfasts, and made an off-hand comment along the lines of “boy, these high holdfasts get in the way…” Ken Schwartz, the head blacksmith offered to make me a low one like I use at home…but I said “No – don’t go to all that trouble..”  – then I guess I made another comment about the height of the holdfast. So after lunch, Ken came on stage and presented me with a custom-made holdfast.

He & I met up again last week, both remembering that event. Seems we’ve both told the story many times – but I’ve never posted the holdfast before. I find it a couple times every year during deep cleaning of the shop.

I finished a carved box for a customer today. One of my “usual” boxes; oak with a pine lid & bottom. Wooden hinges.

I have a number of custom pieces to build this year, so I’ll be doing a lot of furniture work. I get questions sometimes about “do you take commissions?” – and the answer is yes. I have a list right now that will take me through the first half of the year, but this box is an example of something that can jump the queue – I can usually work one of these into my schedule pretty easily. As it happened in this case, the box was made, I just had to finish the lid & bottom.

Finished this walnut book stand today too – which was just the finish; linseed oil. This one is spoken for, but there’s another right behind it.

One of the custom pieces I’m working on now is a chest of drawers. This one is not based on any particular period example, it will be carved and have moldings between the four drawers. I don’t want to use applied moldings in this case (it’s going to a very dry climate, compared to here by the ocean) so I have opted to adapt this “lipped tenon” seen in Plymouth Colony work of the 17th century. In this shot, you see the joint halfway home, leaving a piece about 7/8″ thick riding over the stile’s face. That section will get the molding cut in it.

Here’s how I cut it. Pencil layout for the camera’s benefit. This blank is laying on its face, that will be the molding.

I’ve made the rip cut that sets off the molding, and cut the tenon to length. Now I’m cutting the rear shoulder.

Splitting the waste off. 

Sawing the other cheek of the tenon.

Then chopping the end grain between the tenon and the molding.

The joint once it’s cut & pared.

Fitted into the mortise. There’s 3 rails like this, the other two will have scratched moldings. I’ll shoot more of this project soon.

The rest of the Greenwood Fest lineup for 2018

I’m back from New York and off to Williamsburg. I’ll be at their Woodworking conference through Sunday, then back home here Monday or Tuesday. Then Pret & Paula get back from their jaunt just in time for tickets to Greenwood Fest to go on sale February 2nd, 10 AM eastern time.  https://www.greenwoodfest.org/

You can read what we have so far on that site. Earlier I mentioned we’re having 2 new instructors this time – Curtis Buchanan https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/greenwood-fest-instructor-curtis-buchanan/ and Robin Wood https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/greenwood-fest-2018-instructor-robin-wood/ The rest of the lineup are regulars, or now-regulars for Greenwood Fest.

The Spoon Carving Triumvirate.

JoJo Wood – I’d hate to think of this program without JoJo. https://www.instagram.com/jojowoodcraft/

 

Barn the Spoon – a great addition last year and we’re thrilled to have him back again. https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/

And last but not least – Jane Mickelborough. https://www.instagram.com/janespoons/ Her folding spoons (and fan birds) were a huge hit. She’ll be doing some of both this time.

Jane_opening_fanbird393.jpg

Then, Dave Fisher. There is no link to Dave Fisher. I’m not saying anything else.

Dave Fisher on a bowl horse

Darrick Sanderson is a huge hit. https://www.instagram.com/dcsandersoninc/ Hewn or turned bowls, spoons like crazy, non-stop carving/cutting/slicing.

Darrick844.jpg

 

The whirwind-around-the-world slöjd man Jögge Sundqvist.  https://www.instagram.com/surolle/ Where is he? Japan, Australia, Sweden, Minnesota – well, in June he’ll be in Pinewoods with us. Here he is doing his Jimi Hendrix thing. 

Jogge_behind his back653.jpg

 

Not only do we have the now-old man of Windsor chairs, Curtis, but once again we have Pete Galbert coming back this year. Great chairs, great book, great teacher. https://www.instagram.com/petergalbert/

PG_channel_seat2211.jpg

We just spent a weekend with Tim Manney making all edges sharp. Chair making, tool making, sharpening – Tim covers a lot of ground. https://www.instagram.com/tim.manney/

I’ll do a separate post about Pen Austin next week – she does amazing work with finishes, surfaces, etc. Often working with lime plaster, at the Fest she’s going to show us about using milk paint like you’ve never seen before. Even this crowd that is milk-paint savvy. Pen was there the day we launched Plymouth CRAFT but it’s taken until now for us to get her into our orbit – she’s very much in demand for restoration work. Here is a photo of some of her faux painting on columns for a Shakespeare Company’s stage.

pen & marbled paint

 

I’ll probably do an oak carving session during the Fest, and hopefully Paula will do another cooking w/fire class…we’ll figure those details out during February.

teaching schedule for 2018

I’ve been meaning to get my teaching schedule posted here; but have been too busy getting stuff together…Next week I’ll be part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Working Wood Conference. I haven’t been there since 2007, here’s a shot from then, with Jennie Alexander pontificating while I get set to turn something.

JA & PF at Colonial Williamsburg 2007

It’s sold out, so if you got a ticket, I’ll see you there. https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/learn/conferences/working-wood

Next month, I’ll be back at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking for a 2-day class in carving oak; February 17 & 18.  https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes The exercises we’ll carve are all based on ones I learned from studying period furniture; chests, boxes, cupboards, church furniture in England and more. Here’s a snippet of what to expect.

In April I’ll be down to Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School for 3 days of spoon carving. It’s full, but I think you can get on a waiting list. More fun than a barrel of monkeys. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/classes/spoon-carving-plus-with-peter-follansbee

spoon rack
I’m not touching those spoons

Later in April (20-22nd) ’ll be part of Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge Massachusetts; including a one-day intro to spoon carving. With Dave Fisher as assistant!! I’m just going to step back & watch Dave… http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/about-fww-live/

I think I’m doing furniture-related stuff too, maybe a talk as well. I’d look into it, but I still have next week’s thing to prep!

May – getting ready for June.

June 5-10; Greenwood Fest 2018. Plymouth CRAFT’s 3rd time around with Greenwood Fest. Held at Pinewoods Dance Camp in Plymouth Massachusetts. 2-day workshops beforehand and a 3-day festival. Demonstrations, hands-on sessions, big pile of spoon wood (or bowls if you’re inclined); lodging & meals all part of the scene. Tickets go on sale February 2nd, 10am eastern time. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/ How fast will it sell out? I predict less than a day…so don’t hesitate.

here’s last year’s group shot:

July – Can’t forget Lie-Nielsen. Spoon carving, July 21 & 22. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/191

dave & the crook

That’s all I have for certain right now. We’re planning a long session for making a joint stool at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. Like the chest project we did there twice, this would be one-weekend-per month for a few months. Maybe 4. So 8 days of classes. Unlike the chest, this project would require little or no homework. Split the log, make the boards, cut joinery, do turning! And make the stool. Haven’t figure the time frame yet. I might have a trip overseas in November, so I’m waiting to get that sorted first.

I also offer one-on-one classes here at my shop in Kingston Massachusetts.

Spoon carving, the oak furniture carvings I do, or various projects – like a carved box. Rate is $500 a day. I have all the tools necessary, wood and reference materials. We have lunch together, lodging and other meals on your own; but Plymouth is 10 minutes away with all its options for both. Expensive, yes. But one-on-one instruction can cover a lot of ground. I have time available in March, then again starting in September. July and August are too hot to share a small space!

First photos for 2018

As I write this blog, I sort the photos into folders, sorted first by the year. Yesterday I started the 11th folder – “BLOG 2018” – whew. So here goes year 11 of this collection of stuff about my oak furniture and more.  Remember when I wrote about finding my stuff on the 2nd-hand market?  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/i-got-it-second-hand/

Well, now I’ve made it to the big-time second-hand market!  http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2018/important-americana-n09805/lot.732.html

Bob Trent had me make this cabinet for his friends Constance & Dudley Godfrey; and now some of their collection is being sold at Sotheby’s this month. I didn’t do the color. Ours looks new, like this:

This picture is of course a lie. Ever clean up your house when company is coming? I cleaned mine yesterday to shoot some furniture photos. I used to shoot every piece I made at my old shop; getting out background paper, lights – all that stuff. Now I have no room for that. And I decided to try to shoot the stuff in its normal settings. That means either in the shop or the house. To shoot it in the house means remove all the extraneous junk piled here & there – it’s a small house, we home-school the kids – and we both worked in museums, which means we keep everything, thinking it’s important.

Here’s another lie:

I have one of these boxes-with-a-drawer to make for a customer this year. This one usually has horses and funko-pops on it. And other 12-yr-old girl stuff.

Outdoors is perfectly honest chaos. Down river, nearly high tide.

Up river. flooded marsh. 

 

Spending these fiercely cold days working at the desk.

Lectures coming up in Colonial Williamsburg, Sotheby’s, Fine Woodworking Live in April, and more. I’ll post my schedule for teaching soon. It will include some slots here for one-on-one classes. Keep warm…except you folks in the southern hemisphere, you keep cool.