day off to clean up & sort stuff

Mostly this winter has looked like this in our neighborhood.

 

before the snow

Then the other day, it looked like this:

upriver

Most winters I like it like that…but this winter I’ve been framing the workshop, so trying to get every outdoor day’s work I can. But it looks like for the next week, the shop will be covered up, thus:

shop w tarps

After this storm the other day, I was able to uncover the work-site, and finished cutting the rafters we had laid out. But tonight I’ll cover it again, the prediction is for more snow for the next couple of days. I can’t complain, I’ve got pretty far, considering the season. And I love the look of the snow, and the quiet.

A couple of days ago, one of the many emails from Popular Woodworking was one I was waiting for – April Stone Dahl’s new video about her black ash basketry is available for download, or for ordering the physical disc.   http://www.shopwoodworking.com/traditional-basket-weaving-dvd

I got the download and have been watching it. April did a great job – I kept watching for the cuts – and there are several long shots, where she makes much of the basket in “real” time and talks us through the whole thing. It’s a great job –  here’s the intro:

—————-

Last fall, Heather Neill was kind enough to hand-me-down her Nikon D300, so my D80 became a dedicated bird-shooting camera…(now I don’t switch lenses, which always led to dust on the sensor..) – but that means I hardly ever load the photos from that camera to the machine here. today, I got a backlog of pictures sifted & sorted. Here’s some from the past month:

 

we don’t really have a plan/drawing

A few people have asked about the timber frame we have underway here, specifically about the design. First thing to know, if you want to tackle a project like this, find someone who knows how. That could be a class/workshop sort of thing, or an individual who has experience at it. I took a class way back when at Heartwood School out in Washington, Massachusetts; http://www.heartwoodschool.com/ then worked on timber frames at three other classes at Country Workshops. But all of those were long ago…so long ago it was in black & white. 

PF at Heartwood

There are also several books on the subject of course. Jack Sobon’s book’s Timber Frame Construction and Building a Classic Timber Framed House are both excellent. http://www.storey.com/author.php?ID=501199  The first one includes as a framing project a garden shed 12’ x 16′. Exactly the size building I can have here at home, due to watershed conservation and zoning issues. But also a size building that works fine for what I need; a hand-tool workshop.

But….my friend Pret Woodburn has built many timber frames, and that experience is worth more than money. Jack’s plan in his book calls for 8”x 8” timbers, but we scored a nice collection of 6”x 6” white pine timbers. So that’s what we’re using. That size is plenty strong enough for these spans…but it takes some adjusting here and there.

We don’t really have a drawing. We’re starting with Jack Sobon’s plan, and then changing it here & there. Our rafters are mostly 3” x 6” – so too thin for joints at the peak. So we’re adding a ridge beam, in this case a full-dimension 2” x 8” sixteen-foot plank. The rafters will be nailed to it. The two pairs of end rafters are 4”x6” – so these have enough thickness for some joinery for a collar tie across them. This collar tie is mostly a nailer for the siding on the gable ends.

There are also girts, horizontal timbers running around the whole building somewhere around waist height. These are also nailers, for board-and batten siding. There’s two braces at each corner post, one heading each way. In one direction the brace connects the post to the tie-beam, in the other, it connects the post to the higher plate.

We’re skipping the braces on the middle posts, I don’t want them to interfere with any window placement on the long walls where there will be workbenches.

One end of the shop will have a loft for storage. So we’ re going to cut in pockets in two tie-beams for joists to lay this loft on. The other end will be open to the rafters, one benefit – there is space for the lathe’s springpole. And perhaps some room for shelving or who knows what…

My blog is not the place for a bibliography about framed houses, but there are a couple other books not necessarily about how to build a timber frame, but about old houses that I have always enjoyed. I’m from New England, specifically Massachusetts, so if I can only have one it’s Abbott Lowell Cummings’ Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay 1625-1725.

timber 003

timber 004

I was many times lucky enough to tag along when Pret and several of our old co-workers used to tour through and study old buildings with Abbott. It was priceless.

There’s a little English book that I like because it’s so handy, and has nice detailed drawings. Its size is both a plus & a minus, my eyes are not getting younger. Richard Harris’ Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings…

timber 001

Here’s a spread from it, nice details.

timber 002

Little by little I’m getting the hang of some of it. I’m no carpenter, so it’s a new venue for me. It’s a long-held dream of mine to build my own building. Once, it was going to be a house, but this is better. No electricity, no plumbing. All woodworking. Something I can understand, after some practice.

more chisel work

rafter pocket

And geometry.

I started in cutting the rafter pockets/seats in the frame’s plates (the long upper timbers that connect the three posts on each long wall, and upon which sit the rafters). Most of these are 3″ wide, the ones at each end are reduced a bit, to 2″ to leave some wood at the end of the plate. Those outside rafters will be notched to fit the smaller pocket.

First, the simple bit, sawing down the 45-degree bits. This is the outside corner of the plate, where the rafter will sail past, overhanging the side of the building.

easy part first

Then you knock that bit out with the mallet & 2″ chisel. Easy if there’s no knots.

mallet work

Then pare that surface either flat or slightly hollow. Making sure the straightedge will connect the top & bottom limit of this flat.

paring

The next bit is the one that takes some time & finesse. I didn’t shoot it all – I was busy enough trying to cut it right. I got plenty of practice – there’s 9 pairs of rafters I think.

It’s a notch cut right behind the first angled bit, one plane parallel to the first, the other 90-degrees to each. And an inch &  3/4″ deep at its mid-point. Which moves around if your angles get sloppy. Here I’m paring the end grain of this section.

peak inside

Here’s one plate with its rafter pockets underway. I’m almost done with them now. I have one real devil, with a big knot, to go. And one of the end ones, which are reduced in width.

Pret laid out & cut the outer rafters today, 4×6 timbers, the others will be 3x6s. Here’s his first rafter sitting on the drawing of the plate’s cross-section.

we’re getting there, but there’s still a long list of stuff between us & raising. But each day it gets closer.

Connect the dots

Remember the other night when I showed some drawings and carvings, I included this one that I was working for the frame I’m cutting.

devon pattern cropped

Here is the brace with that design on it – done in pine, frustrating carving softwood. It’s not like carving oak.

brace

I know this pattern from surviving carvings on oak furniture made in Devon in the 2nd half of the seventeenth century. I have a fair number of reference photographs of works I studied over there, and related ones made here in Massachusetts. But by far, the best on-line reference for Devon oak furniture is Paul Fitzsimmons’ Marhamchurch Antiques website. I always open his emails, and always take the time to look at his newest offerings. They never disappoint. http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/current-stock/all/

Here’s that motif from a chest Paul posted some time back:

OSM chest

The bottom rail is the one I’m thinking of, the top rail is related, but a variation. Here’s another, I forget where this photo came from, the chest is Devon, c. 1660-1700.

chest w drawer feb 2010

While scrolling through some reference materials here at home the other day, I remembered Thomas Trevelyon. His story is complicated, but he produced perhaps 3 manuscripts, c. 1608-1616 of various subjects. Astounding stuff. In some of my last years at the museum, our reference library received a facsimile copy of one of these, I think I might have been one of only two  people to even look at it. These aren’t pattern books, because they were never printed – they’re manuscripts. I never got straight what the purpose was.  BUT – purpose or not, here, the border of this illustration is what I was remembering:

124v-125r

This one’s from University College, London – I got it from here,  http://collation.folger.edu/2012/12/a-third-manuscript-by-thomas-trevelyontrevelian/

where you can read much of the story about Trevelyon. One of his manuscripts is now digitized & available here:  http://folgerpedia.folger.edu/Word_%26_Image:_The_Trevelyon_Miscellany_of_1608

He uses this border a lot in the UCL manuscript. Sometimes there’s a flower between the S-scrolls. This pattern will make its way into all of my furniture-carving classes this year. It’s great fun to connect the dots like this.

 

 

Plymouth CRAFT spoon-carving & sloyd/slojd update

Plymouth CRAFT is now a year old. http://www.plymouthcraft.org/ It’s an organization with which I’m thrilled to be involved.  After a great first year, 2016 looks to be even better. As you have read here, Greenwood Fest in June will be a memorable event. I’ve been working with Paula Marcoux as we coax all the instructors for details about their sessions. We’re close to the point now where Paula & I have to sit and figure out who does what where & when.

In the meantime, Paula took the chicken way out and booked two workshops that happen after the festival. We had wanted to pursue having the instructors stay a few extra days and teach in-depth classes – but the hardest part was deciding how much of that we could do, then who to tap. It being our first venture, we decided to have just 2 classes – that’s enough for now. These classes will be held at the Pinewoods camp where the Greenwood Fest is happening. Dates are Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14 & 15. Tomorrow registration will open for these small classes – one with JoJo Wood and one with Jögge Sundqvist.

jojo hews

JoJo will explore the finer points of spoon design, concentrating on the most demanding spoon, the eating spoon. I spent about 20 minutes carving with JoJo once and it changed the way I approach things. This class will be small, 10 students. And it will push you in ways you can’t fathom.

jojo spoons

See the description here http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=an-in-depth-look-at-the-eating-spoon-with-jojo-wood

Jögge has a treat in store, making a distaff…”A what?” you say. This class is a crash course in Swedish design, tradition, culture and more. Emphasis is on the use of the drawknife, slojd knife, and a couple of other common hand tools. This is a class in technique and thought, not a project-based workshop. Yes, a distaff is a useful thing, for spinners. Here, it’s a symbol.

dull jogge

Here’s his photo of some of his distaffs

Photo by Jögge Sundqvist
photo JöggeSundqvist

http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=distaff-the-passion-of-carving-with-jogge-sundqvist

I’ll be skulking around both of those days, trying to eavesdrop on these two exciting workshops.

If you can’t make it to those classes, or need a warm-up, I have a spoon carving class with a few openings left; coming up in February.

spoons oct 2013

We’ve had great response to spoon carving; each class has its own dynamic. But the common threads are people get started and can’t stop…so come & make some wood chips. http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spoon-carving-with-peter-follansbee

Then in April, Tim Manney will come down from Maine to teach his methods of steam-bending spoon blanks. This will be a real treat. I have written about Tim’s methods before, and I continue to enjoy his work. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/what-if-a-chairmaker-made-spoons/

drawknife work 2

Tim will be at Greenwood Fest too – I just haven’t got around to posting his bio yet. But this weekend in April is a chance for close instruction in a mind & wood-bending approach to a traditional craft. http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=steam-bent-spoon-work-with-tim-manney

 

Spoons & more for sale, Jan 2016 – proceeds towards workshop project

 

chisel waste

Some of you have seen that I have a workshop-build underway. This is a momentous happening for me, as perhaps you can imagine. After leaving my museum job, where I had my workshop for 20 years, I was drifting around a bit, thinking I’d “find” something suitable. It’s now been 2 full years since I packed up my old shop & moved my stuff to storage. I had a loaner shop that I used to shoot the last batch of photos for my upcoming book 2 of joinery. I also tucked a 6’ bench in typically cramped basement quarters here at home. And that’s what really spoiled me, because I got used to, and really liked, being at home.

This story is already getting too long, so I’ll skip ahead. For about a month now, my friend Pret & I have been working part-time cutting joints for the timber frame that will be my 12’ x 16’ workshop. It’s fun, and is going great. The hardest part for me is keeping my head in the present – in my mind, I’m in the shop, working out what goes where, and wandering around inside that space. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Over the years many of you have written to thank me for the blog and its stories, ideas, etc. I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to send an email or comment, it means a lot to me. The new shop will allow me to get back to photographing furniture work the way I like to, (the basement shop has no room for me, much less a tripod, etc) so you can look forward to more of the “old” posts, maybe by springtime. We have some more joinery to cut, and a lot of details to work out. In the time not working on that, I’m trying to get some stuff made so I can earn money – to buy insulation, siding/sheathing, flooring, shingles, and all the other miscellaneous bits to bring the shop to completion.

So – the fundraising bit –

bowl & spoons Jan

I have a few spoons for sale, and will have more coming soon. There’s also some odds and ends; hewn bowls, and a carved panel in Alaskan yellow cedar. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-bowls-more-for-sale-jan-2016-shop-build-fundraiser/

I still have a box or two, and the baskets. Those are found here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/furniture-sale-winter-2015/ and here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/baskets-furniture/

I’ve had a couple of complaints about selling stuff here on the blog, one of those I wrote back to & talked about how much free stuff there is here, and always will be (as long as the blog lasts, over 8 years right now). The writer & I worked out the situation, and it all ended well. The reality is I now make my living making things & selling them, and travelling around teaching. Some months are better than others, just like everyone else. After thinking it over long & hard, I decided to add a “donate” button here, while I build the shop. The button will disappear when the shop materials are all set. If anyone is inclined to help out that way, I’d greatly appreciate it. I hesitated to include this option, but I decided that people might want to help out, and my yard is too small to have you all over, so here’s a different way. On the page for spoons, and on the sidebar.

Email  if you’d like any of these items. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check. Just let me know. Thanks as always. Peter.Follansbee@verizon.net   

 

 

furniture carving & spoon carving classes in February

I have several blog posts underway, but tonight I’ll interrupt my ideas just to give a nudge to some folks looking for classes in carving. My season kicks off in February, with a class on the weekend of the 13/14th at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes  (scroll down, there’s an April class of mine listed first, but the carving-only one is mid-February)

We’ll be working for 2 days learning the ins & outs of carving 17th-century style patterns. I have just been working on some new old designs to add into the mix – here are some drawings I’ve been working on, these patterns are part of the huge inventory of designs found on oak furniture from Devon, England, with their offspring in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

carving sketch

Here’s a version I carved maybe 5 years ago:

carved in oak

There’s carving, and there’s spoon carving –

 

 

 

so for the would-be spoon carvers – come down to Plymouth CRAFT for a weekend of spoon carving. We’ll split, hew and shave spoons from freshly-cut local woods. Learn about the tools, the grips and the design of the spoons. The whole world is spoon-mad, so you might as well jump on board.

spoon carvers

http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spoon-carving-with-peter-follansbee