chair seat, basket find, carved oak

Some snippets of odds & ends. Last week, I worked for a time on hollowing the seat for my version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. His video series on this chair is here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL_KlogKd1xf9GYjSfBVLKTp8KngC8q7j

The plans are here https://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store/p31/Full-Scale_Drawings%3A_How_to_Make_a_Democratic_Side_Chair.html 

I often hear people say to me, or about me, “he makes it look easy..” and that’s how I feel about Curtis’ video – but of course he makes it look easy, he’s done it for 35 years or so. It’s fun to delve into something that I don’t know all that well anymore. I saw Pete Galbert last week & told him “don’t lay off Windsors for 25 years and then think you can just fall back into it…”

That’s about where I got in one session. I need to really hone the inshave better, then finish the hollowing before I start in on shaping the exterior.

I had the distinct advantage of having Curtis’ model on hand. I bought one of the prototype versions of this chair. When I measure it against his plans, it’s different. Makes me feel better.

On my way to Lie-Nielsen’s Open House last week, I stopped at an antique mall & found this inexpensive black ash basket. It’s a beauty. It’s maybe 15″-18″ in diameter.

The handle detail.

The base. Each upright is split in two about halfway out from the center. Makes a tighter weave. At first I thought it was every other one, but it looks like all of them. Very fine work. It’s pretty tattered, but still quite nice.

I worked oak at the Open House, took no photos at all. (swiped this one from LN’s Facebook page – where they have several photos of the event. https://www.facebook.com/lie.nielsen.toolworks/

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and beard

If you’ve never been to LN’s open house, it’s great. Maybe 30 demonstrators. Go next year. I’ll see you there. This is the layout and initial carving of one of the box fronts I made (I started 3 of them; finished this last one at home yesterday.)

Here it is finished.

Before I went up to Maine, I finished another carved and painted box; I’ll post this for sale in the next couple days.

Now I’m back to the chest of drawers. I’m on the lower case now, but here’s one of the drawer pulls on the deep (10″) drawer. East Indian rosewood.

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furniture & woodenware for sale July 2019

I have the first big round of items for sale from work I’ve been finishing up during the past month or more. Prices include shipping in US; beyond that, additional charges apply.

Click the photos to enlarge.

I’m challenged when it comes to setting up stuff for sale; I’ve tried to insert paypal buttons right on the page, but it never works as easily for me as they say it is. So after wasting 2 hours, I ditched it once again. Leave a comment here if you want something; that way we have a timed record in the off-chance there’s more than one person interested in the same item. Then I  will send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check.

If you miss out on something, I regularly take orders for furniture, and to some extent woodenware too. Just email me if you’re interested in ordering something.

Any questions, fire away. thanks for looking, PF

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Carved oak box. This one is made from red oak, with a white pine lid & bottom. Wooden pins and glue securing rabbet joints, wooden hinges. Till inside.

H: 6 3/4″  W: 18 3/4″  D:  12″
$850 including shipping in US

 

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Bowls – There’s several bowls I’ve re-carved recently. I had started them while working with Roy Underhill; we had a class at his school, and shot an episode of the TV show. I ended up with several “bowls begun” that got stashed in the loft. Four straight years of watching Dave Fisher each June really drives home what  bowl can be. So I had some time this spring/summer and tackled “fixing” these bowls.

Butternut (Juglans cinerea) bowl:
H: 5 1/4″ (to handles)  L:  17″  W:  9″
$450

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Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) bowl #1
H: 5″  L:  15 1/2″ W:  8 1/2″
$400

Carved on top of the handles, and along the sides/rim. This pattern is one I’ve been using on spoons a lot lately; it’s either half-round lunettes, or diamonds – depending on whether you look positive or negative. Or is it right-brain/left-brain?

 

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Poplar bowl #2;
H: 5″  L: 15″  W:  8 1/4″
$400
Poplar often includes streaks of dark blue/purple in the heartwood. Over time all the colors fade a bit, and turn a mellow brown. But the streaky bit stays streaky.

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Poplar bowl #3
H: 4 1/2″  L: 16 1/2″ W: 8″
$400

This bowl is one of the times I learned the lesson “leave the finishing touches for last.” I had carved the handles way before I had the shape the way I wanted it. So when I re-carved the bowl recently, I had to go over that carving and cut it anew. Fortunately there was enough thickness left for it to work. I added the textured background, just like on furniture carvings.

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Joined stool; oak with red wash

H: 20 1/2″ top is 14″ x 15″
$850

This stool is like a pair I made recently for an historic house museum in that the stiles/legs are plumb, not canted in one direction like many joined stools. I added carving to the aprons of this one; two different, but related patterns from Connecticut.

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Ladderback chair (what I usually call a “JA chair” after Jennie Alexander, whose design it follows. Somewhat)

H: 34″ W: (across front) 17 1/2″  ”  D: 14″ (at seat)  seat height: 18″
$1300 (includes shipping in US)

I caught up on my orders for ladderback chairs, and made one or two more. Here’s one in ash & red oak, with a hickory bark seat.

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Spoons

One picture; 3 spoons. There’s other views below, showing the shape, particularly of the crook. The handles are all carved, as usual. Here’s the lowdown.

top – #1; apple, crook  $130 –  SOLD

middle #2; birch  $100

bottom #3; birch  $100

Lengths are 10 1/2-12″

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Walnut spoon – SOLD
I couldn’t throw it in the other photo, it was wreaking havoc with the lighting.
L: 11 1/2″  W: 3″
$100

 

 

Baskets – I make baskets from white ash, pounding the log apart to make the splints. Usually I use white oak or hickory for rims and handles. Lashing the rims is either hickory bark or more ash splints.

Basket #1:   SOLD

This round basket has no handles, making it an excellent choice at the table.

Diameter: 11″  Height: 3″
hickory rims inside & out, hickory bark lashing.
$200

 

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Basket #2  SOLD
A small ash basket with a length-wise handle done in white oak.
H: (to rims) 5″ L:  10 1/2″  W: 8 1/4″
$200

 

applied decoration; Triglyphs

Part of my loft-clean out goal has been to finish building a chest of drawers I started eons ago. I searched this blog, and saw I was assembling the upper case (all I’ve got so far) back in March 2013. And it never got further than that…til now.

I started the lower case, I had one front stile made & mortised, and I chopped its mate the other day. Then I began planing rail stock for it. Meanwhile, I glued up some quartersawn oak for the upper case’s top, and did some fussy fitting of the side-hung drawers.

Late yesterday I worked on some small details; making and trimming some of the applied decoration; in this case pieces furniture historians call “glyphs.” This row of glyphs decorate a small muntin between the two side-by-side upper drawers.  They’re usually “trigylphs” in architecture, mine are corrupted no doubt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triglyph 

Here’s a set from a chest made in Boston mid-to-late 17th century:

I made some for a box in the new book Joiner’s Work. https://lostartpress.com/products/joiners-work  There, I planed the beveled shape on the edge of a board, then ripped the bits off that board. It’s a real nice way to make these, one length can get a whole slew of them, depending on the board’s length.

planing edge

For this set of glyphs, I started with some short offcuts that were good for nothing else. These are Spanish cedar, not a wood I have on hand in any considerable quantity.  I cut out the blanks 3/4″ wide, 3/8″ thick, they’re just under 6″ long. Then I beveled them by holding the plane still and sliding the blank across the plane’s iron. You have to give this work your full attention, or you pay with your fingertips’ blood.

The various stages with this method; the blank on the left, a piece trimmed to size just above the ruler and some planed and trimmed.

I need 14 of them about 2 3/4″ long, I was getting 2 per length from this stock.

Here’s a short video showing how I trim the ends with a chisel.

Now to practice a little turning; find that rosewood up in the loft and make the drawer pulls. Then I can fasten the top and finish the applied bits later, when it’s too hot for any real work. No carving at all, but still “no blank space” is the goal.

It’s staggering for me to think about the time that has gone by since I began work on this piece. In studying museum furniture and other period works, we often speculate about why this piece or that piece looks the way it does. I remember often hearing “maybe the apprentice did this part, the master came in & did that part…” and other theories about variations in a given work. Someone might look at this one day and have plenty to puzzle over. I wonder if they will come up with “Maybe his job changed, he quit, put things in storage, waited a couple years, built his own shop & never had time to pursue this till several years later he went on a cleaning binge and cleared out the loft…”

How I go about re-carving a bowl

It’s a bit challenging re-carving a bowl. I started these in ages past by essentially winging it. Then getting to watch Dave Fisher make bowls for the past 4 years told me two things. I’ll never make bowls as nicely as Dave. And I can get them better than these were when I shelved them. If you want to see him work, Fine Woodworking recorded a lot of video of his bowl carving. I subscribed just for that and it’s worth the price. Then everything else on the site is gravy. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2017/11/02/ep-1-finding-the-bowl-within-the-log

I didn’t shoot the whole step-by-step; but here’s some of what I did. The main area I needed to address on these bowls was the bulky over-thick bottoms and end grain. First I needed a new lengthwise centerline. I snug the bowl between two boards, then shift these around so they are parallel and touching the widest part of the bowl. Take a couple measurements, fiddle around a bit, then mark out a centerline. From there, I can follow Dave’s layout for an oval on the bottom.

I didn’t shoot a true “before” image; but you can see the new layout on the oversized, too-rectangular bottom of this butternut bowl.

The whole premise of this week-long exercise was to quickly determine if these were worth saving. So large tool, in this case a Swiss-made #5, about 35mm wide. And a heavy mallet. Big chunks coming off quickly is the goal. If I’m going to ruin things, I want to do it right away.

After roughing it out with the mallet, I switch to hand pressure to fine-tune some of the shape.

Different bowl, same area, same problem. In this case, I have a large #2 gouge, thus almost flat. I’m using it bevel-up to round over the underside of this tulip poplar bowl. You can only go so far with this tool. Once the cut begins its approach to concave instead of convex, you need to flip it over to bevel-down again. And then I use a bent gouge, with more “sweep” or curve to the blade. Usually a #5 when I’m using the Swiss tools.

Here’s a detail of that cutting action.

 

Here my left hand is snugged inside the bowl, and my thumb is pushing the tool down into the wood. This helps keep it in the cut as I push forward with my right hand.

The butternut bowl. I did have a “before” photo after all – before I whacked off that sapwood rim.

Now its shape is defined, and I want to go back over it to fine-tune the texture.

There’s still a few bowls left to work on, but one is for-sure gone for good:

I worked on five different bowls this week, and all of them are at the “just-about-done” stage. Soon I’ll have them for sale, along with some spoons, boxes and I don’t know what else. They can’t go back in the loft.

Cleansing, part-I-forget-which, three or four maybe

Dove in. These bowls/partial-bowls have been around for ages, some over 6 years. Can that be for real? I guess it can. I left the museum 5 years ago, and I see one large one that I started there…

The goal is to quickly either get these into a shape that satisfies, or chop them up & get rid of them. Having just spent 4 full days eaves-dropping on Dave Fisher’s classes gave me the impetus to get these down.

I worked on two different ones today, but didn’t photograph the morning session. Nor did I take a “before” of this one. But you can see what’s left of the original configuration – a too-large rectangular bottom. Dave showed his students a way to measure and layout a rounded/oval-ish shape for the bottom. In this photo, I’ve got the end to our right roughed-out for its new rounded shape, and am ready to start in on the other.

Big chunks is what I want at this point, I’d rather get some results quickly while risking chopping right through it, than to timidly chip away for eons. The wood is catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) I assume this one’s Northern Catalpa. It’s a very soft wood, ring-porous like oak, ash, etc. Pale brown color, like chestnut.

Because this one hung around so long, it oxidized. Now as I re-cut it, it’s showing a few different colors; the pale brown, a bluish/grey tint when I cut into it, then paler almost green color when I get down deeper. All mutable.

I’ll shoot more as I go further with these bowls. One nice thing about this work is I get to use some very nice tools I rarely get out. A couple of years ago I fit this box (also un-finished) for my bowl-carving gouges. Some are by Nic Westermann, and others by Hans Karlsson’s shop.

 

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/chip-carved-box-for-bowl-gouges/

I got interrupted this afternoon. There was another heron in the garden. That sounds like something from James Thurber. They come after chipmunks, but how do they know there’s chipmunks here?

It took over half an hour, but he made his way up toward the house, and hunted (successfully) under the bird feeders.

Now he’s (she’s?) getting serious. Crouched down, hunting very slowly. From the shop, I couldn’t see the chipmunk. If you don’t want to see the gruesome bit, don’t scroll any further.

I missed the strike, the bird filled the frame too much and I didn’t have time to zoom out. But I got him with the chipmunk once he was upright again. A sad sight for chipmunk fans, but somewhere there’s young herons that will get a good regurgitated meal today. He took it to the river, dunked it repeatedly, then hogged it down. Then came back to the yard right away. It was high tide, so no good fishing for a while.

Just a box of rain

Well, it’s Friday of box week, which started out as bowl week. I don’t know how it got to Friday so quickly, but I managed to finish fitting bottoms and lids on two boxes yesterday. Some of it spilled into this morning.

 

I usually use white pine for bottoms and lids; many New England boxes from the period did just that. Otherwise, oak lids. I tend to save the oak for more carved parts, i.e. the next box. Thicknessing and flattening white pine is pretty easy; I don’t even use a hatchet. The scrub or fore plane is effective enough at quickly removing excess material. It comes to me usually a full inch thick. Flatten one side. 

Then, having laid out the intended thickness, I start in on the 2nd face. At first, just a wide bevel all around down to just above the scribed line.

For this work, I use a plane that has its iron re-ground to a wide curve. Set to take a thick shaving. You can see the bevel planed on this board, just under the back end of the plane.

Then I can go right across the board, using the bevels as a sighting aid. This quickly removes the excess thickness.

Shoot one edge, then trim to size.

And it goes on & on. Some lids get thumbnail moldings around their edges, some just a bevel. The bottom boards are beveled where they extend beyond the box to form a base.

These boxes mostly started life as a carving demonstration. then got stashed until I had time to make them into boxes. So I finished assembling two of them this week, some painting to finish up on this one from a week or so ago, but that has to wait for the rain to quit. Then it’s onto the next thing, which really is hewn bowls. The loft is crawling with them. You’ll see that next week.

One more box class that has space in it, at Connecticut Valley School of woodworking. October 12-16. Last I’ll speak of it… https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/29-speciality-weekend-classes/635-make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee.html 

sooner or later one of us must know

I interrupted myself today to take care of a long-put-off task. Earlier this year, I took my lathe apart so I could build a trio of over-sized projects; a queen-size bed, a 7-foot high dresser and a large settle. My intention was when I finished those projects, I’d put the lathe back. Sooner or later.

A  couple of months went by…til today. I was enjoying having some extra floor space in the shop, but the plan all along was to make a new, shorter bed for it. This one is ash and fits 30″ between the centers, so I can turn joined stool parts, the front stiles of a wainscot chair and any small stuff I might need, like tool handles, etc.

The original bed is stashed up in the loft. It fits 50″ between centers, so takes up considerable room in the end of the shop. I’ll switch them around when I get occasion to turn those giant 17th-century style chairs.

This next photo shows the upright that forms the “headstock” if a lathe like this has one. The bed is fixed to the uprights by large iron bolts with washers & square nuts. All the hardware; these bolts, the centers, and the tool rest brackets were made by Mark Atchison back in 1994 when I was first working at my old shop in the museum.

Here’s the moveable “poppet” with its tool rest bracket inserted through it. You can see the wedge just below the bed that fastens the poppet in place.

The tool rest propped in the brackets.

I have no turner’s work coming up, so for now the lathe is shoved back against the rear wall. It fits 2 JA chairs tucked under it; waiting to be finished. And junk collects on the chair seats, an unfinished basket in this case. The foot treadle is stashed behind the lathe, and the spring pole is up in the peak of the ceiling.

For the time being, there’s easy access to the notebooks and other reference works. Many of you didn’t even know there was a bookcase in the shop probably.

Also important is access to the window looking out over the garden and the river. One day last week we looked out from the house and a great blue heron was under the bird feeders. He spooked and took off, but shortly after that came back & hung around the garden. Wouldn’t want to be a chipmunk that day…

 

A couple of years ago, Maureen planted milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. Today she found a caterpillar on one of the plants…