The Road to Hell…

This clean-up is harder than I thought. It takes longer, anyway. There’s a pile of baskets, the best of which are here – some finished, some nearly so. All of these were sitting up in the loft for a year-plus. But at least now they can get used.

Here’s the ones for today’s work – I have some last bits of hickory to split, shave & bend for handles & rims.

Two stools – the one on the right is brand-new, just finished last week, maybe it was the week before.

The joined stool is #3 of a pair. I made parts for three when I was making them for the Cutchogue Old House project. Then realized the order only called for two. So this stool, all turned & joinery cut, went up into the loft. I brought it down when I was prepping for my Winterthur demo last month, did some quick carvings on the rails, then pinned it. Today I plan on making the seat board, pinning that & tomorrow painting it red.

Birch bark canisters.

Ugh. I am very taken with this work, but have only spent a little time with it. Last fall Plymouth CRAFT hosted a class by Jarrod Dahl – and I learned a lot from those sessions. This one I had cut the finger joints some time ago, made a bottom, but ran out of bark so couldn’t make the bands that usually go around the upper & lower ends. I decided last week to forget them, and made a top for it, and fitted it with a basket handle. A little chip carving finished it off. 6 1/2″ diameter, 9″ high. 

While moving some large books around in the house, I found a small sheet of birch bark that I had flattened & forgot about. It turned red – I don’t know if that was from the book, the paper between it & the book or what.

 

 

 But I made a small canister from it, and had some short pieces to make the bands. Now a handle & it will be done.

Some post & rung work:

The ladderback chair I started during Plymouth CRAFT’s first chair class early in May. It came home in pieces, but I figured I better build it now or just burn it. Assembled it yesterday. Slats are next. The stool parts beside it are overflow from the finished stool above. So I’ll finish both of these up, then they are slated to get rush seats instead of hickory bark.

In my cleaning, I keep running into bits of wood stored around – “Oh, that’s going to by X, Y or Z someday.” This one is mahogany – a wood I have never used. I think Bob Van Dyke gave it to me. One little piece, what could I make from one piece? One of Roy’s sliding lid boxes. 

I’m not going to spoil it for those that don’t know these little puzzles. You can watch him make one here – https://www.pbs.org/video/dovetailed-grease-pot-bmswsp/

And look – one more. This carved box only needs a lid and some paint to call it done. OK, I know what I have to do now, better get away from this desk and do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chairs are next

I’m back home now; earlier this week I was one of the presenters at Winterthur Museum’s “Furniture Up Close” – it was a great time there; I love re-connecting with the museum world; it’s where I learned so much about furniture. Got a preview of spring while I was down in Delaware, back here it’s still the future. Spring is an amazing time at Winterthur – the full name is Winterthur Museum & Gardens for a reason.

But after a month of near-constant travel or preparation for travel, I’m glad to be here for a while. A long string of large projects; the queen-sized bed, the dresser and settle; is now behind me. Now I’m going to make small stuff; carved boxes and ladderback chairs. I shot almost nothing at Winterthur and did shoot nothing at Cutchogue when Pret & I installed the dresser and settle…

Next up is the chair-making class with Plymouth CRAFT. My latest JA chair, with a bark seat mostly done by Rose – I’ll add the last filler strips this week.

 

I started in yesterday on either making or gathering a few of the bits & pieces we’ll need for 6 of us to be working on this stuff. I use a gauge like this for sizing the rough-shaved posts and rungs. 1 3/8″ on one notch, 3/4″ on the other.

These V-blocks we use when boring the posts; the thick ones came from JA’s shop, I made a set yesterday, but had no thick stuff. Should work fine anyway. The other little frames on the right are for temporary mock-up of the rear posts, for alignment purposes. And some various bits; 20th & 21st century-style.

I shaved these rungs here & there – these will be issued AFTER the students split & shave replacements for them.

 

Same is true of these posts. In practice, each class prepares the material for the next class. Thus I started it off, now it’s on them.

I was taking these shots this morning; and thought of Rick McKee and his chicken-scratching obsession recently. https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/

I see those pinwheels/daisy wheels and just think it’s someone too scared to finish carving it. This is the door to the axe-cupboard.

And this a box with gouges – someday I’ll finish it.

 

I’m going to make another few chairs – the Shaker tape one here is available, the bark seated ones sold; but can be ordered. Here’s a slightly out-dated page about the chair project – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/pf-ladderback-chairs/

Make a Chair from a Tree – Plymouth CRAFT workshop May 2019

Well. Here goes. 2019 marks my maiden solo voyage in teaching students how to make Jennie Alexander’s ladderback chair. My version of it anyway. We’ll be following the general format I learned from JA and Drew Langsner, who together and separately taught this class for decades. I learned a lot from both of them about this chair; and assisted in classes at both Country Workshops and Alexander’s shop in Baltimore. In the early 1990s I worked with JA on the 2nd edition of the book Make a Chair from a Tree.

Riving, drawknife work, boring with a brace & bit, mortise & tenon joinery, steam-bending. Lots to cover in this class, it’s where I began as a woodworker in 1978.

boring mortises
chopping slat mortises

 

drawknife & shaving horse

We’re going to do it as a 6-day class with Plymouth CRAFT, just 6 students in the class. Dates are Friday May 3- Wed May 8th. 6 spots, so if you think you’d like to tackle this (and 6 days of Paula’s lunches) best sign up early.

https://www.plymouthcraft.org/ladderback-chairs-with-peter-follan

(Two things – I wrote “solo” but Pret Woodburn will be there to assist much of the time. He just never wants credit for all his helpfulness. And May? – what was I thinking? It’s the pinnacle of the birding year – right after this class, I’m going to Mt Auburn Cemetery to see warblers during their spring migration.)

the week in pictures

Just photos, and some captions.

mortising a joined stool frame

 

I bore the peg holes to mark it “done”

 

shaving rungs for JA ladderback

 

Mortised these posts, then shaved with a spokeshave to finish them

 

joinery tested for the 2nd joined stool frame

 

some spoon carving at the end of a day

 

new old shop stool by JA; pre-1978

 

unrelated – two scrolled & molded table rails and two bed posts

 

stile for joined table; 2 3/4″ square

 

turning one of the stiles

Thinking about self-taught turning – “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

turning detail

 

Jones River this morning

 

Nice to see the sun today

PF versions of JA ladderback chair

I’ve been re-adjusting to life in the Northern Hemisphere after my trip to Australia. When I was in the airports and planes (almost 30 hours of “dead time” each way) – I had some good reading, including a draft of Jennie Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree, version 3. This book will be published next year by Lost Art Press.

When I got back up & running in the shop here at home, I assembled one of my JA chairs as my warm-up. After having read so much MACFAT it seemed the thing to do. Now I plan to get back into a rhythm and work on one of these each weekend; either seating, shaving & bending posts or assembly. Next weekend, it’s slats in this new frame. 

 

The first ones I made this year sold, and now I’ve got 5 more underway.

 

I’m going to begin taking orders for them now, and will begin shipping/delivering starting in late January. If you’d like to order one, I’m offering them for $1,200 each. I’ll take orders up to 10 chairs, beyond that I’ll start a waiting list. I’ll collect a deposit of $200 for each of the first 10 chairs. They are made of either oak (usually red, some white oak rungs or slats) and ash. It all depends on what’s on hand. Right now, it’s red oak and ash. Seating materials will vary between hickory bark (as long as I can get it), and natural rush seats. Optional seating is woven tape seats like Shaker tape. There’s a hemp version of a tape seat that JA really liked, I have yet to use it.

The chair is about 34” high, 18” wide (across the front) and 14” deep. Seat height is 18”.

Email me at peterfollansbee7@gmail.com if you’d like to get on the list. The deposit through paypal will be $206.

Hickory bark seat

Part of my re-discovery of the JA chair is a hickory bark seat. I know of nothing else that works, looks and feels this good. And the more you use the chair, the better the bark seat looks. I got a couple of boxes of bark coils JA had. (sorry, Nathaniel. That’s why you got the Jogge cabinet…)

Here in New England, I never get such long strips of bark as this. I think the bulk of this seat was 3 strips. After soaking the bark, the first thing I did was split each strip in half. The under-half goes on the seat, the upper half I save for lashing basket rims.

I tie the strip at the back rung, next to the post on my left. You can start on the other side, but this seems to be my habit. If I recall…

Under the front rung, back over the rear, laying over the tie. Then come back again…

and on & on…I pull it snug, but not tight. The bark soaked for over an hour and is quite pliable.

 

 

Starting to run out of this strip. I make sure the end where I will tie a new strip on is on the bottom of the seat.

Like that…

Once I’ve come around the corner, I start the weaving. This herringbone/twill pattern is over-2/under-2 for the first row.

Then over-one, under-2.

Row 3 is under 2-over-2.

I guess I didn’t shoot the next row – it’s under-1/over-2. The only skip is at the right-hand side. Otherwise it’s over-2/under-2…

The kids came out, they’d never seen me do this work before…tried their hand at it. Here’s Daniel’s turn:

 

And Rose’s.

 

Using a JA-made stick to shove the rows up tight.

 

The stick is tapered in thickness, so it can get under there to catch the weaver as it comes through. Next time, I’ll fill strips in the sides, and pack the top toward the back. I should get one more row up near the front rail.

Clean-up time at JA’s

a sea of chairs

Well, that was quite a trip. I usually take pictures when I travel, but this past weekend I was far too busy to get near the camera much. A group of us descended on Jennie Alexander’s home & shop to begin sifting and sorting the shop/woodworking-related books, papers, and what-have-you.  For me the absolute highlight of the whole weekend was a spontaneous 20-minute examination of about 25 chairs, maybe more. Me, Geli Courpas, the first “apprentice”, Nathaniel Krause, the last-apprentice and Bob Trent. “Which one’s older? Which one’s turned, versus shaved?” And more.

Geli Courpas, Nathaniel Krause & PF

JA & I sold off many of the “extra” tools many years ago. That’s a good thing, because there were so many books, magazines and papers it isn’t funny. But there still were a few tools to gather, then disseminate.

a few tools left

Trent did an amazing job sorting the stacks. Many of the notebooks, including the correspondence between JA & me, were donated to the research library at Winterthur Museum a while back. But there’s lots of stuff still there. I haven’t read the older notebooks, but I plan to next time I’m at Winterthur, Trent says they go back to 1973, five years before the book Make a Chair from a Tree.


I brought home lots of books, maybe 5 or 6 boxes. Many are ones I’ve known all these years. I spent lots of time in that study. Some are to keep, some are to sell here. I’m going to start right in. That hadn’t been my intention, but I have no place to store all of these, so the sooner I move half of them the better. We’ll do it like we did the tools, or the way I usually sell spoons, etc. I’ll post them here, you leave a comment of what you want, then we can make a transaction through paypal, or you send a check. International shipping is extra.

so – books for sale tomorrow night. Some of Alexander’s book, some oak furniture books, some tool history books. I’m going to do one box at a time. If you are interested, watch for tomorrow’s blog post.