The bedstead’s headboard is moving along. Once I had the first free-hand panel carved, it was easy to carve the 2nd one. After marking out the margins and a vertical centerline, I used a compass to take a few markers – here noting where the S-scrolls at the bottom corner hit the vertical margins.
Then I chalked in a rough outline for that shape. This panel, like many from this grouping (and all 4 in this headboard) have a stylized urn at the bottom center of the panel. That shape I marked out with a square & awl to locate its top & bottom, and marked its width from the vertical centerline. The S-scrolls then fit between the urn and the bottom corner/margin.
My camera-boy (Daniel, 11 yrs old) came by & used the Ipad to shoot some Instragram stuff…here’s some leftovers. Carving this bottom corner S-scroll, in two snippets. (home-video caliber – no edits, shaky, etc – but worth a look.)
there are related S-scrolls across the top section of the panel. These reach from the corners to the vertical centerline. These top and bottom sections are the first things I block in with the V-tool.
then comes the stuff between. I sketch the vein in the larger leaf, it reaches from the centerline to the margin.
Then I carry on, doing first one side, then the other.
The whole thing is about filling in the spaces, and in this case, blending one shape to lay against another.
Here’s the V-tool outline almost all done.
Next I take a #5 gouge, in this case about 1″ wide or slightly less, and chop out between the V-tool lines, to begin removing the background.
Some beveling, some shaping. With a narrow #5.
People ask about the background punch. Mild steel, filed to leave these pyramidal points.
accents with a few #7 gouges.
And a narrow chisel. Bevel towards the waste when chopping like this.
Then pare down to the chopped mark.
Trim to length.
Bevel the back, first with a hatchet.
Then 2 planes. Feather down to nothing.
Here’s the headboard thus far. There will be plain panels below this, and a carved crest rail above. And of course, two vertical posts.
Each time I’m at a museum to study furniture, I ask permission to post my shots of the objects here…some say yes, some say no. I feel like I’ve been very lucky to have so much access to 17th-century furniture, and I know many folks either haven’t got the time or inclination to go search it out. (it’s also heavily skewed to the east coast here in the US…)
I thought I could review some stuff that’s been over on the blog before, there’s always new readers, and it never hurts to see details – even ones you’ve seen before. The following objects are from a group that I studied many years ago with Jennie Alexander and Bob Trent. These were the first oak chests I ever learned about…so I always enjoy looking at them again.
When I think back on the leg-work to find this – staggering. I also searched for who might have been the original owners in the late 1600s. From our research, we knew the group of chests came from Braintree, Massachusetts, so I had to do some genealogical research stretching back from the 1880s to the 1680s – eventually found some likely candidates, it’s in the article somewhere.
Here’s the same chest, scanned from one of my color slides. Until this one, all but one of the joined chests we had seen had one (sometimes two) drawers underneath. I’ve built copies of this chest many times….
Here’s the other w/o drawer-chest, with brackets under the bottom rail. Lost some height of its feet, and has a horrible replaced lid.
One distinctive feature of these chests is the way the floor fits into the chest. Instead of a higher rear rail that the floor is nailed up to, these guys use a lower rear rail, and sit the floor on it. And nail it. Here’s one I restored, with some white pine floor boards, sliding over the lower rear rail, and fitting into grooves in the side and front rails. The back panel is not yet installed, making it easy to see what’s going on. Tongue & groove joints between the floor boards.
Same thing on a repro I did, better view of the lower rear rail. sorry for the garish light. (just think, when my new shop is done soon, only-daylight)
Then the back panel slides up from the feet, fitting into grooves in the stiles & upper rear rail. Here’s an overall view of one lying on its face. A white pine panel, (glued-up to get enough width to fill behind the drawer) – bevelled on its ends and top edge to fit the grooves. Slides behind the lower rear rail(s) – and is nailed to the bottom-most rear rail.
Here’s a detail. It requires some careful layout of the joinery for that/those rear rail(s). The tenon is “barefaced” – it has only one shoulder. Fun stuff.
Since the 1996 article there have been maybe 6 more of these chests that have shown up in auction houses. etc…I never saw this one, from James Julia Auctions in Maine. Clearly weird drawer pulls, something funny about the lid, but otherwise looks great.
and one with two drawers – we saw only two of those in our research, there might be four now
I’ve written about these chests and boxes many times…here’s a search for “Savell” (the name of the joiners who we think made them) https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=Savell – there’s other stuff mixed in there, but lots of stuff about the chests and the carvings.
Some catch up about the wainscot chair underway. First off, the back of the panel is decorated, unlike most (all?) New England wainscots – in this case a raised/tabled panel. The raising is quite distinct, leaving a high rectangle (the table) that is then set off by scraping a molded edge to it. Here, I have the panel on the bench, pausing in mid-bevelling.
Here it is, test-fitted into the rear stiles & crest rail. The stiles still need moldings scraped along their long edges. This section is leaning against the front section, so you see the scrolled apron peeking through behind. I can’t wait to work in the new shop, where I hope to have some room for photos!
The front of the panel has 4 “crop circles” (I had to give them some name…) – you might have seen an earlier post where I showed a couple of period examples of this decoration.
I had no evidence regarding what tool might have made these shapes – I’ve only seen the circles a few times… so I made a tool much like a wooden brace, or “wimble” as it’s sometimes called. But instead of a boring bit in the bottom, I inserted a scraper, like we use on scratch stocks for molding.
Here’s the head. I left it loose, thinking I might like to use this head for an actual brace (that’s what I cut it for ages ago, was just lucky I could find it now, & thus didn’t have to make it)
Here’s the scraping profile, and the result. If I had time to spend, I would have rounded the end of the tool, and installed a ferrule to keep the cutter in place. I tried a screw like I use on scratch stocks, but it split the maple. So I temporarily clamped the end closed, cut the circles & moved on.
Our neighbor Sara invited us to see Sara & Brad, fish monitors from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries checking the smelt coming up the river. We had quite a time. Birds I know because they fly right around where you can see them, but the fish rarely poke their heads out of the water…
here’s the fyke net:
Here’s one of the smelt. I think I heard them say they caught 190 overnight, and over 400 in 4 days this week. They told us it has been the best year (out of 14 or so) they have had for smelt. they do the whole “record-them, measure them, toss them back” thing.
Often when choosing a subject for the blog, I sound like a broken record (we can use that expression now, because people are using vinyl again) – spoons, carved oak, chests, boxes, chairs. Birds. After 7 years, it’s pretty rare when I have a woodworking project that I haven’t covered before on the blog. I tend to make the same things over & over. Mostly. But I know I haven’t made one of these cupboards in all that time, so here goes nothing. These are simple affairs; a combination of a carcass like a six-board chest, but with a joined front. Here’s one I did 12 years ago, when we worked on PBS’ Colonial House.
For the new one, I had worked the oak frame up last week, then took it to the shop to saw out & fit the pine ends, shelves and back. I have some nice wide pine boards to use, here I’m ripping the sapwood off, to bring it down to 18″ wide. I tend to do ripping like this, at the workbench, upright. 2 hands. Easy to see my line this way, and I like not being hunched over.
then I marked out the cut-outs for the feet. These are just based on looking at several board chests, but aren’t specific copies of any one foot pattern.
The resulting end board.
This photo goes backwards in time; I’m rabbeting the inside face of the front stile, to insert the edge of the end board. This cupboard will have a central door, opening on wooden pintle hinges. Here’s the mortise for a muntin; and to the left of it, a hole bored for the pintle the door will swing on. To the right, a panel groove.
The other muntin with a rabbet planed in it, to stop the door from swinging into the cupboard.
I cut notches in the inside faces of the ends, for shelves at the bottom & halfway up the height of the cupboard. I rarely make these, so don’t have a router plane. I just make two saw kerfs, and pare out between them with a chisel. You can see I lean the chisel this way & that, to come down to the saw kerf, then I’ll remove the peaked middle. Not as neat as a router plane…
Here’s the cupboard front and one end leaning side by side while I worked on the other end.
Then I bored pilot holes, and nailed the front to the edges of the ends. You can either assemble the front frame around the door, or insert the door afterwards. Because I haven’t made the door yet, I chose option B. All in all, a little bit of joinery, a few rabbets, and a bunch of stout nails.
Later today I got the shelves in, and cut out the board for the top. I’ve had to change the way the back will fit, because I cut one shelf 1″ too short! So had to switch some stock around. I had zero extra pine boards. Friday and next week I’ll finish this up & show you what happened.
back to the week that was…when we attempted to make 10 or 11 joined chests in no time at all. Knuckleheads.
after all the riving and hewing; we hauled some of the stock into town to begin the task of planing it into boards. I’ll just bop the pictures in, then add whatever I can remember about it. Here’s Steven planing just like I showed him…
Roy was astounded at the amount of shavings produced by working green wood
One of our un-named students works in a pointy building on the east coast, and to help him out, Roy put up surveillance cameras throughout the classroom..
A broom wouldn’t do it, so Roy got out a pitchfork…
Elia couldn’t stand the idea of sending those shavings to the landfill, so we piled them in his truck.
We did get further along eventually; chopping mortises, over & over & over again.
Then plowing grooves, cutting tenons, test-fitting.
There was lots of documentation,
until the last couple days, when I lost track of all – I spent 1/2 of the last 2 days with a checklist, “do you have all your muntin stock?” I never did get it all straight. it’s hard to keep track of 250 piece of oak that all look pretty much the same.
Then one day Steven emerged from Ed’s store upstairs and everyone ran to his bench like it was Xmas morning – “whaddja get?” – so we had a show & tell…
Just another week at the Woodwright’s School…
For those keeping track, some spoons and things for sale tomorrow…including this new piece:
Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking is a mecca for period furniture makers. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/ Great classes, great instructors – it really is a first-rate place to learn the ins & outs of period style furniture in depth.
But Bob himself doesn’t know which end is up – to some of my carvings, I mean. He sent me this picture, asking “where’s the top again?” He’s notoriously freaked out by the images he thinks he sees. I see a vase of flowers and leaves – he sees faces, faces & more faces. But in his twisted mind, he thinks the above photo is right-side up. What torment!
Oh, well. He doesn’t have to know how it goes – but I’ll show the students when we get together there for a 3-day class in early October to make an oak frame & panel. This course was designed to be a crash course in the basic elements of 17th-century joinery. We’ll use a combination of riven and sawn oak, plane the stock, cut the mortise and tenon joints, and carve designs on the panel (and frame perhaps, if you are inclined). Plowing grooves, beveling the panel, fitting the whole thing together with drawboring and tapered wooden pins. it’s the whole show, compressed into 5 pieces of wood.
I’ve been working some on the joined chest I started a month ago…here I am fitting one of the panels into the frame. The panel is beveled on its rear face, all around, to fit into the grooves in the frame.
Then knocking the stile in place. This is all a test-fit; I don’t even have the center panel yet.
I had a little time left the other day, so cut some of the details on the framing parts, starting with this chamfer on the top edge of the bottom rail. I start it with a spokeshave, one of the few times I use these tools any more. In my chairmaking days I used them constantly; but now rarely.
Then finished it with a chisel.
and then cut a molding on the bottom edge of the top rail – this molding runs out at the juncture of the muntin-to-rail joint; so I use a scratch stock for it. We call it a “scratch” stock, but it’s really a scraper I think.