I can do that…

I spent two days recently ferrying around Long Island with my friends Bob Trent and Mack Truax. We were researching furniture for a project there in Cutchogue. More later about that, but I wanted to get this picture out into the world.

The back of a joined chest with drawer. Never touched by a plane at any spot, it’s all riven or hewn. And the hatchet had a run-in with some iron object, chipping the cutting edge. Blow the photo up and you can “read” each stroke of the hatchet based on the tracking made by the notch in the edge. This surface is not un-heard-of; but is a somewhat extreme example. Rougher than most…I love it.

Here’s a detail from the front. The arch fits in like a framed panel, then below it the columns, with their capitals and bases, are thicker, reaching back behind the plane of the arch/panel. (the column/base/capital on our right is original, the others replaced). THEN – the carved bit with the leafy-flower shape is nailed from inside to the backs of the frame. A pretty involved series of moves to create a great deal of depth. Needs a thick bottom rail.

Shooting in the tight spaces was hard, I didn’t even try to shoot inside the chest with the camera. Used an Ipad to shoot this grainy photo, but it gives you the idea of what is going on.

Not the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not far off.

Bonus item was this New Haven box, with S-scrolls running all one way, rather than opposing/symmetrically. Trent files this under “Plan ahead!”

Advertisements

Wildlife camera oh yeah

I get requests sometimes from people who want to guest-author a blog post. I reject all. But today, I have my first guest-author, my 12-yr old son Daniel. Here he is:

In mid-April my father bought a wildlife camera. I set it up and mounted it on a tripod. We picked a spot down by the river, tested the angle and left it overnight. The camera is motion activated and shoots 15 second video.The next morning I went and got the card and we got to see some of what happens in the night. The video below is a compilation of the fox playing cat and mouse with a bunny. It was a good night to be a fox but not a bunny.

 

 

Then we set it out the next night and it was a total dud. For a few nights we didn’t get anything out of the ordinary; rabbits, birds and squirrels. Then on May 5th we got some of our best stuff yet.

 

 

The camera has proven a nice way to see what happens in the yard when we’re not looking.

May = birds

May in eastern Massachusetts means bird migration. Earlier this week we saw this male wood duck (Aix sponsa) in Plymouth.

Today was the first foray to find warblers migrating through, or back. Didn’t see many, but some we saw provided great views. This was only the 2nd photograph I shot today, and I could have quit there and been quite content. Black & white warbler (Mniotilta varia) 

The next “good” bird was the devil to find. We heard the blue-winged warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) singing away for maybe 10 minutes or more. Seemed to not be moving around at all. But we couldn’t get it in view to save our souls. Finally it appeared for a little while. Too far off for me to shoot well, maybe Marie got on it.

 

The next good ‘un was so cooperative it wasn’t funny. A veery (Catharus fuscescens), totally silent, but feeding very close to, or on, the ground for a long time.

Three days ago the first-of-the-season Baltimore orioles (Icterus galbula) showed up in the yard. So nice to catch them before the leaves are fully out, when even this bright a bird gets hidden easily.

Down the road we’ve been treated to a show of 6 glossy ibises (Plegadis falcinellus) feeding for the past few days.

Carve a Hinged Spoon w Jane Mickelborough

The Plymouth CRAFT crew is moving into full-tilt preparation for our third annual Greenwood Fest. Tickets are sold out for the fest, but there is space in one unique spoon carving class beforehand. Jane Mickelborough lives in Brittany and there she stumbled into a rich tradition of spoon carving unlike anything else we’ve seen – the folding (or hinged) spoons made in that region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

student’s spoons in Jane’s class last year at Spoonfest

She taught the folding spoon class last year at Greenwood Fest and at Spoonfest in England. Her blog post from the other day says the Plymouth class this season is the only one she’s teaching this year. https://janeswoodenspoons.blogspot.fr/2018/05/teaching-how-to-make-folding-spoons.html

Here’s Jane helping one of the students driving the hinge pin into a spoon blank.

And one of her folding spoons, complete with colored wax inlay.

Signing up for Jane’s class brings you into the pre-Fest activities – hers is one of 7 classes running at once, so you’ll be swept up in lots of interesting action between sessions, at mealtimes and evenings. I think of it as 3/4 of another Greenwood Fest. The price of $500 includes 2 full days of instruction; all materials; 2 nights lodging & 7 meals.

There’s also 2 spots I think in Tim Manney’s sharpening class. I’ve posted about this experience before; https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/sharpening-w-tim-manney-at-plymouth-craft/

I remember one student yelling “what else can we sharpen?” during one of Tim’s classes…

 

https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details

Splitting three spoon blanks

Some limbs/logs are too thick for 2 spoon blanks, and too thin for 4. For oak furniture, I was taught to usually split in halves. But sometimes you can get three out if things go well. I first saw splitting in thirds done by Robin Wood and Jarrod Dahl at North House Folk School in 2014. Here they used 3 axes struck with a wooden club to bust out bowl turning blanks. Robin tells me that this is how all the bowls from the Mary Rose were oriented in the log. He’s on the right, Jarrod next. 2nd from the left is Roger Abrahamson. http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html

Later, Deneb Puchalski showed me his take on it during a spoon class he & I did at Lie-Nielsen. Here’s a grey birch bolt, about 5″ in diameter, that I split in thirds. This small stuff you just need one hatchet, no helpers. I started by drawing a peace sign, or Mercedes Benz insignia on the end grain. Or forget that stuff, and drawer three lines from the pith out to the bark, dividing the piece into thirds.


To start the split, take a hatchet and put its toe right at the pith. I tilt the hatchet so only its toe is hitting the wood. The last thing I want is this split to go past the pith in the other direction. Give it a knock with a wooden club.

Not too hard, I just want to start the split.

Then take the hatchet out, turn the piece and do the same for the other two radial lines.

Keep going around and around, and each time whack it a bit harder…and the splits will begin to develop.

 

At a certain point, you just are committed and drive the hatchet all the way. It usually does this – knocks one third out from the other two.

What fun!

Then take one of your chunky thirds and knock the pith off and go ahead and carve your spoon from it. And the other two…

Red tail hawk from today.

 

Here there & everywhere

Back to the blog now. April has been a whirlwind month for me…and as I look back I see only 2 blog posts all month. When I counted up the final tally, I was out of the house & shop for 15 days out of the month. On top of that was packing and preparation for the various gigs, and unpacking & trying to sort out what’s what. I’m almost all set up again now. And it’s almost May.

I had posted about the barred owl at Roy Underhill’s place, but there was woodworking going on too. Two 3-day spoon carving classes. Lots of spoons underway; something like 18-20 students off & running. Or hewing, I guess.

The trip to Roy’s is a 2-day drive, so that was 10 days away. I came home, unpacked, put tools away and switched gears to prep for a demonstration & slide talk to the Timber Framers’ Guild at their meeting in Portsmouth, NH. https://www.tfguild.org/ Easy, this one was a up & back in one-day affair, but took time to prep. I shot no photos, because I was doing the slide-show bit, then I worked on the wainscot chair I have underway, I think. I honestly forget. It was a very nice crowd, friendly people who chop large mortise & tenons…

Back from that, un-pack, and dive right into prepping for Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge, Massachusetts.  http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/ 

A one-day spoon carving class, followed by Friday night-Sunday afternoon conference. Hotel woodworking! I had little assigned to me there, a slide talk on Saturday morning, then loafing around hob-nobbing with woodsy types. They got me an assistant to help teach the spoon carving class – Dave Fisher! I wound him up & stood back & watched.

It was great to be able to see a lot of the event, at Greenwood Fest I never get to see the presentations for more than 10-15 minutes at a stretch, so I felt like I got away with something at this event. I didn’t take photos beyond Dave’s demo on bowl-carving. If for some reason you’ve missed Dave’s work thus far, go: https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/ 

 

As you see, it truly is hotel-woodworking. Wall-to-wall carpeting, cameras projecting onto screens. It all works out very well, but it’s hard to shoot coherent photos. So these were all I got.

I watched Mary May carve a ball & claw foot, she’s always great to see. I’ve known Mary and her work for several years now, but never really get to see her presentations from beginning to end. https://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool/  and her Instagram site is here: https://www.instagram.com/marymaywoodcarving/ 

Then we piled into see a very clear demo from Pete Galbert on turning. I’ve done almost no turning for 3 years so it was very helpful to get a breakdown on his approach. I have a lot of lathe-work coming up, so I went and bought Pete’s new video from Lost Art Press to help me get my turning muscles back. https://lostartpress.com/collections/dvds/products/galbert-turning 

https://www.instagram.com/petergalbert/

It was really a great time. The Fine Woodworking crew worked long and hard to put on this event, I highly recommend it. I’m sure you’ll get wind of it when they announce it for next year.

 

Carving the next wainscot chair stile

I’ve got my joinery book just about finished, I have a few things to photograph, and a couple of paragraphs to write. This carving pattern came after I was done writing, so it goes here instead of in the book. It’s a rear stile for a wainscot chair, 3″ wide.

After striking margins and a centerline, I struck the outline of the diamond shape with a broad chisel & mallet.

The inner part of that design is outlined again with the chisel.

These half-circle bits get 2 strikes of this deeply curved gouge. These are stuck to the margin…

Next, I took a large #5 Swiss-made gouge and used it to outline the large rosette. These photos are too close to see, but just about all of this is mallet work.

After outline, then I use the same tool to relieve the bits right around the rosette. Then a smaller #5 to finish removing background.

Inside the rosette, a small circle right in the middle, defined with 3 strikes of a small curved gouge.

Then remove a chip right up against that incised outline to begin hollowing the shape.

Then I can step back and use a large tool to remove more of that hollowing. By cutting the bit right near the center first, I’ve decreased the chances of knocking the middle out with this gouge. 

Once that rosette is hollowed, I use a very narrow gouge to define the outline of the petals.

Then remove a chip behind the 2 cuts that form the intersection of 2 petals.

Then a straight chisel to connect the parts, to define the edges of the petals.

A narrower chisel makes a straight line through the petal, followed by a punch (a fine nailset in this case) at the tip. 

Here’s a short (amateur) video done with the ipad, warts & all. It shows me carving the diamond/lozenge part: