I finished making the two carved boxes I’ve been working on. The first one is this yellow cedar “sampler” box for my class in Alaska. Jonathan and the rest of the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association sent me some Alaska yellow cedar so I could test it out before we ordered it for the class. The wood will work fine, and I carved this one with a range of patterns – hence “sampler.” The side, and the pintle hinge:
The inside of the lid:
What’s weird about it is the proportions. Not weird really. Just ugly. there’s a reason you don’t see 17th century boxes this size – because they’re both ugly and stupid. But it maximized what I got out of the boards they sent down. overall size is 6 1/4″ H, 11 1/2″ W and 7 1/2′ D. So I made a proper oak and white pine box, just to make me feel less unsettled.
Someone yesterday commented that this design reminded them of Northwest coast work – well, it is northwest – but northwest of Boston Massachusetts, c. 1680s/90s. Look at the side I carved = even more so. This one is H: 7″ W: 17″ D: 11″
Here are some of the period carvings I was following somewhat
I’ll paint mine, but maybe not right now. I have to send them by dogsled to Anchorage – whoops – we have more snow than them. I’ll use UPS I guess. Here’s the two side-by-side.
I set out to work on a couple of boxes the past few days. I have one in oak and one in Alaskan yellow cedar underway. This is the front of the oak box. set in a vise to drive the wooden pins in the corners. It’s going to be painted in addition to the carving.
When I peg the corners instead of nailing them, I glue it too. So while this one set for the glue to dry, I went back to one from a while ago in Alaskan yellow cedar. I am teaching in Alaska this spring, http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/registration-for-the-peter-follansbee-classes-is-open/ and the guys there sent me some amazing wood to test. I carved a bunch of sample patterns in it, to get the hang of it. So I cut a few of them out to make a box. This one is unlike any box I have ever made – it’s carved on all four sides; inside on the ends, and the lid, inside & out. That way, I get to bring as many different examples in one item as I can. Usually I have a large box full of sample patterns I bring to classes – but I usually drive too. Alaska is VERY far away from here. So this box is going to serve as a sampler. Here’s what I carved on the lid:
I got the bottom cut, then the lid & its cleats. But I stopped right before final assembly. If I kept going, I’d be out of time – & wouldn’t get to go outside to play with the kids. The boxes can wait until tomorrow. This photo wasn’t today, but a day last week. Same idea, go out & play in the snow:
Starting last year, I took up writing a regular column for Popular Woodworking Magazine, called Arts and Mysteries. It’s 2 pages in each issue, and it’s fun to do. The lag between writing and seeing it in print is lengthy, so I forget what’s been done and what’s not. I think there’s been about 4 columns so far, maybe 5. I’m working on the next batch now. http://www.popularwoodworking.com/
Today I had to get out my shaving horse for some photos I was shooting for an upcoming piece about chairs. Once the photos were done, I figured I’d do some drawknife work that I’d been meaning to get to. I have some baskets to finish, got to make rims and handles for maybe 5 of them.
Nothing is as nostalgic to me as working with a shaving horse and drawknife. I hardly use them anymore, but when I do it always reminds me of where I began; making chairs, baskets and other shaved work. For a few years, it was the only work bench I had…
At one time I had several drawknives, but now I’m down to two and one of those is put away. The one I favored over any other I tried is this old drawknife made in New York; White is the name, but I think they’re the same shapes at Barton drawknives. Mine’s 8″ long, I have seen them up to 12″ or more. Original handles, and tight. It’s not as clean and bright as it might be, but I try to keep it sharp.
A year or two ago I saw Tim Manney demonstrating Peter Galbert’s drawknife sharpening jig. The way Tim cut the end grain of white pine – I felt like a rube from the country, because next time I was at Lie-Nielsen, I plunked down the cash to get one. It made me want to get a bunch of drawknives and re-hab them..but I’ll stick with this one.
While I’m looking at tools – one more I splurged for some time back, a few years now I think. When I make spoons, I use a pencil, but if you’ve been around when I make furniture, or carve furniture, you know I hate pencils. I use an awl every day I work at the bench. For many years, I used an awl Alexander made from an alignment tool, ground & sharpened, fitted with a wooden handle. Then I met Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Toolworks at a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool event. I decided to order an awl and marking knife…and never looked back. The best part? Dave asked what kind of wood I wanted the handles to be, and I said I don’t care. He made the from oak. It’s a tool that’s a real pleasure to use.
Here’s some of what I shaved, basket “ears” – white oak, my favorite for bending. These are for swing-handle baskets. The ear in the orange clamp is a perfect bend; the one in the red clamp is completely un-perfect.
Here’s the detail:
These are notched for the basket rims, and tapered to weave down into the basket.
More snow, but it’s fine with me… I don’t have to be anywhere for quite some time. I get to stay right here, working, writing, playing with the kids and generally having fun. (except I should be paying bills instead of writing this post). Today’s view was a bit blurry, due to sleet mixed in with the snow. That kept me from sitting by the window all day, and got me to try some work . I opened a small window to see the view, but others in the house get discouraged when I leave a window open on a day like this.
I did get some carving done, back in this spot for a short while…
But mostly I messed around with chores. I did take an hour or so to work with the kids, they learned some of the Fibonacci sequence, and we drew spirals until we ran out of paper. They especially liked the idea that this sequence could go on forever.
I’ve been preparing oak for the joined chest with drawers that I have to make, and it’s a warmup for teaching that class. But I am also carving spoons here and there.
If you want to come to a spoon class with me, I found out today that my spoon class at Lie-Nielsen in May is full. Ditto the 2 sessions at Roy’s. The only other spoon class I am scheduled to teach in the lower 48 is with Plymouth CRAFT at Overbrook House in Buzzards’ Bay, MA. Dates are March 14 & 15. This class is newly added…here’s the link to the blurb, http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee
My wife is all right. Among the tons of junk she brought here all those years ago was 2 pairs of old, but not antique, snowshoes. So today after I finished planing oak for the afternoon, I went for a walk in the snow. Found this red-tail hawk. He landed on this branch while I was standing nearby.
Landed again, all of about twenty or thirty feet from where I first found him. And there he sat, til after the sun went down.
He’s in the middle of this picture on the tall pole. As I was walking back to the car, I heard but did not see 2 great horned owls hooting.
For green woodworkers anyway. In summer, working in the wood pile can be unpleasant sometimes. Buggy, hot, humid. The wood storage can get to be a problem. Insects can get in your wood, decay can set into some species pretty quickly.
But in winter….it’s another story. This pile is against a steep embankment in my yard.
Storing green wood in the log this time of year is a breeze. It’s like suspended animation, even better than Ted Williams’ head. (this is a sure thing, Ted’s head, I doubt it) I try to store the stuff I need the most upright. There’s a few benefits. You don’t have to lift and heave big heavy log sections around to get at the one that’s just exactly perfect for what you need. And when it snows, it’s easier to uncover the stash. The short stuff in this pile is just over four feet, the birch might be over 6′. (I don’t know what that is in the other measuring system)
Here’s some I split out today, broke it down further at the riving brake, and now will bring it in to plane the long stuff for some joined chests & a cupboard. There’s other less-pressing stock under the snow. It can wait.
The kids took a jaunt around the yard to test-drive their new snowshoes. More snow on the way, we’ll hit the woods tomorrow or the next day.