Chair assembly pt 1

I spent some time recently working on the undercarriage of the “democratic” chair designed by Curtis Buchanan. First, a very modern convenience; an Ipad on the bench, running Curtis’ excellent video series on youtube, so I can follow along with what he’s doing. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL_KlogKd1xf9GYjSfBVLKTp8KngC8q7j

 

Here, I’m set up to bore the legs for the side stretchers.

I flipped the chair seat around to get at the other legs – Curtis’ bench is in the midst of the shop, so he can get around the whole frame. I shoved some short alignment pegs in the bored mortises, to help line up the bit extension for the next set of holes. We used to use these in the JA chairs; not necessary but they don’t hurt.

I got smart & got the Ipad off the bench  – clamped it to the window frame. I got afraid I was going to smack into it. I can fix a busted chair part…but not the electronics.

Here I’m test-fitting the legs with their side stretchers in place. Gotta spring them a bit to get them in the seat mortises.

It’s been over 25 years since I made Windsor chairs with any regularity; and much of the process has been simplified since then. I spoke with Curtis last week, and we talked about how we used to bore this stuff, how to find the angles, etc. It’s all so much more direct now. The center stretcher angle he finds by setting two sticks (in my case, 2 rulers) = one across the side stretchers right above the mortise locations, the other sighted to line up with the first. Then strike a line across the seat – that’s the angle! I added a square to double-check the alignment of the two sticks.

Here’s where I got to – the rear posts are just jammed in place. I’ve caught up to Curtis’ videos. (well, except for leveling the feet) I could just bop ahead, but I might as well wait & see what he’s got up to in fitting the crest and spindles. I have plenty to do in the meantime.

This chair has a white pine seat, ash legs & stretchers. Posts are red oak, the spindles and crest I have made for it are hickory.

 

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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.

A new red oak log

No matter how busy I am, when the right log comes along, I try to hop on it. Our friend John Scags had a great red oak that I knew would not be there in 4 weeks when I get back from my trip. So even though I’m too busy to think straight, I took the time today to split open this log. I had John crosscut a couple sections; one five feet long, the other 3 1/2 feet. I even got some stuff from the “butt swell” that I had planned on discarding.

This oak split open so nicely; it was a treat. Very slow-growth too. That represents a diminished strength; but for my joined work it’s fine. The stuff is overbuilt anyway. For the JA-style ladderback chairs, it’s probably not the best choice, but will work…

In this first photo, I’m working on the top end of the 10-foot log. This section was trimmed to just under 4 feet. It opened with two wedges, and barely any muscle. There’s some lousy stuff right near the pith, but the straight wood out near the bark is perfect. Flat, straight and easy to split.

These quarters are split, just with some fibers hanging on. I went in with a short axe and snipped them open.

The main section was five clear feet, just above the flared bottom of the log. I bit more trouble inside, but nothing too difficult. Here I am using one of the heart sections busted off the top bits to pry it open after splitting.

I tried to shoot some video with the new camera. It seems mostly to be me fumbling around and dropping stuff. But I do get the wood opened too. It wasn’t as windy as it sounds, the Nikon has a setting I need to go in & adjust to cut out all that noise…

https://youtu.be/KduuYy499Ps

 

some Instagram links

It’s hard to keep up with all the action on the web these days. Used to be I read the blog aggregator https://unpluggedshop.com/ and that kept me up to date with many of my far-flung woodsy friends and colleagues.

Then came FB and Instagram. FB is a time-sucking hell-hole and I limit how much time I’m willing to give it. I mostly use it to keep in touch with friends I have who don’t read their email.

Instagram in particular really is active for the spoon-carving/green woodworking crowd. There’s a slew of people I follow there, and I can’t list them all here – but I’ll point out a few you might like, if you don’t already follow them. I just strolled through my list, knowing I’d be leaving a lot of great friends/carvers/woodworkers out – not a slight, don’t take it personally. I’ll do this again if people find it helpful…

But first, there’s one special non-woodsy one; Heather Neill.  

https://www.instagram.com/hnartisan/  This week she’s finished her paintings for her annual showing at the Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. Showing them  on her blog one a day – started yesterday – http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/2018/07/18/granary-gallery-2018/

Now for the woodsy stuff you already know about probably –

https://www.instagram.com/jayketnerwoodcraft/ a friend of ours from Maine, met him through workshops. A regular at Greenwood Fest. Been really taking off with his spoons.

https://www.instagram.com/gibbeted_hew/ This strangely-named feed is Dwight Beebe. A regular victim of mine for years, Dwight and Jay are in the same boat – really making great stuff these days.

 

https://www.instagram.com/pathcarvers/ – This is one to watch! It’s JoJo Wood and her newly-wed husband Sean Vivide setting up workshops near Birmingham, England. Not just “let’s teach people to carve stuff” it’s aimed at helping people find some benefit/healing through craft work. Here’s a blurb from their website:

“Part of our project is to help introduce traditional crafts and creative arts to sections of the community that would not usually have the access or the opportunity to experience the beneficial effects that they can bring. We work alongside organisations such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mental health services, low income families, prisons, carers and people who would find the effects and skills gained from participating in developing a traditional craft based activity useful for their day to day living.”

Image may contain: one or more people

http://www.pathcarvers.co.uk/path-carvers/about/

https://www.instagram.com/themagnificentleaven/ Paula Marcoux. If you’ve been through Plymouth CRAFT, and/or Greenwood Fest, then you know.

https://www.instagram.com/edwardmaday/ Met him only once. Nothing green-woodsy about this, but he’s unbelievable.

https://www.instagram.com/koreneva_beresta/ Her birch bark work is amazing.

https://www.instagram.com/danielle_rose_byrd/ Just saw Danielle last week at Lie-Nielsen. She’s great to have around.

https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/ Rick McKee – I’ll take his IG feed, while I reminisce about his old blogs that he used to write.

https://www.instagram.com/gerrishisland/ Another Maine friend, Peter Lamb. Knows everyone.

https://www.instagram.com/surolle/  Jögge Sundqvist. I’m not stupid, gotta see what surolle is doing.

https://www.instagram.com/fiddlehead.woodworking/ Amy Umbel. Always good to see what she’s up to. Inspired me to change my spoon decorations.

 

Lots of oak furniture in New York this week

I went to another world the other day. Attended part of Americana Week at Sotheby’s in New York. I was there to give a talk, but I got to see some great oak furniture offered for sale this week…and got to see some friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in quite a while. Here’s the link to the auction listings; http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2018/important-americana-n09805.html#

Auction previews are great – unlike museums, here you can open stuff and peek inside. Lot #723 is a New Haven wainscot chair that has people all excited. (Some of these photos I shot hand-held in the galleries; the best ones were given to me by Sotheby’s) 

A detail of one of the arms.

and of the carvings;  I need the detail shots because I’m going to make one of these chairs this year.

I got to look this chair over with my friend Bob Trent – and neither of us had ever seen a groove like the one cut in the outside of the stile

I saw this box in 1998, now lot 727, on another research trip with Trent. And as soon as we started looking it over, we realized it was part of the group of boxes and chests by William Savell and his sons John and William from Braintree, Massachusetts. Even though we hadn’t seen this particular pattern before.

 

Many things connect this box to the others – square wooden pins instead of nails to secure the rabbets. Gouge-chopped accents here & there are direct quotes from the others. And the scribed lines above and below the carving; with diagonal chisel cuts zig-zagging across the box. Maltese cross punched inside the zig-zag.


Here’s the side of a related box at the MFA in Boston. You can see the zig-zags clearly here.

 

Jn Savell box, side carving

The box now at Sotheby’s again – look especially at the area outside the arches –

Now from a chest at the Smithsonian – this exact same motif outside the lunettes from the top rail

lunette, William Savell Sr 1590s-1669

and above & below the opposing lunettes is a pattern from the panels on these chests – look at the very bottom of the panel:

panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s

Then back at the box front –

I don’t know what’s the story behind these till trenches. If it’s a till w a drawer, why does the vertical notch extend below what would be the till bottom? There is no hole for a till lid…

Inside, it stops just short of being labelled “This end up”.

Lots more stuff in the sale; a Boston chest of drawers, walnut and cedrela

a chest with drawers, Wethersfield, CT

And – me. Poor Mark Atchison gets no glory for all the hard blacksmith work he did back when we made a slew of these cabinets. Trent had us make this one as a gift to his friends Dudley & Constance Godfrey – and now a foundation they started is selling it, and several of these items as a fund-raiser for educational programming at the Milwaukee Art Museum… I didn’t do the coloring…

Plymouth CRAFT workshop in October

With Greenwood Fest taking center stage in the Plymouth CRAFT calendar, there is an understandable quiet period in the summer, just after the Fest. But now autumn is here, and we’re back at it. Along with Pret Woodburn and Rick McKee, I’ll be teaching a 2-day class; Riving & Hurdlemaking Weekend in late October; https://www.plymouthcraft.org/riving-hurdlemaking-weekend

An alternative name for this class could be froe, hatchet and drawknife. But even that leaves bits out. Here’s Rick using the riving brake to shave pieces with the drawknife…

This class is an excellent introduction to the ancient method of riving your work-pieces directly from a log, and using simple edge tools to produce your stock for a project. In our case, it’s a garden fence called a “hurdle.” When I first started green woodworking, these were the methods I learned to make ladderback chairs. The 2-day format precludes us making a chair, hence the hurdles.

The workshop takes place outside of Pinecones, part of the Pinewoods Dance Camp where we hold our Greenwood Fest in the spring. The link above tells the details, you can opt to stay at Pinewoods in one of the cabins – it’s a great setting.

We’ll cover the structure of the wood, why we split it this way & that. How to shave it, hew it – the proper shapes of the various tools and equipment like shaving horses, riving brakes, etc. Lots to cover, and a real eye-opener to many who think wood comes from the store or lumberyard.

Here’s a group shot with the nearly-finished hurdles…

 

There’s other classes coming up in the fall and into the winter. Spoon carving, German holiday baking & more. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/

 

September spoons for sale

 

 

 

I’ll be updating my workshop-teaching schedule soon with some Plymouth CRAFT classes and looking toward next year (we’ve started planning Greenwood Fest already!) In the meantime, I have a few spoons (and one bowl) for sale this time – if you’d like one, just leave a comment and we can take it from there; paypal or check is fine either way. Woods this time are birch, cherry & walnut. All carved with hatchet, knife and hook knife. Finished with food-grade flax oil. Prices include shipping in US. Elsewhere additional charge for shipping. Click the images to enlarge. Thanks for you interest, if you have questions just leave a comment or send an email.

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Sept spoon 01; black birch.  – SOLD

L: 10 1/2″  W: 2 3/4″
$85

 

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Sept spoon 02; black birch,

L: 10 1/2″   W:  2 5/8″
$85

 

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Sept spoon 03; black birch

L:  10 3/4″  W:  2 1/2″
$85

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Sept spoon 04, – SOLD

L: 12″   W: 2 7/8″
$95

 

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Sept spoon 05 – SOLD

L:  11 1/2″   W: 2 3/4″
$85

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Aug spoon 01 –  SOLD

this one was my favorite from last time. Didn’t get picked. Might be the price tag…but this is as good a spoon as I can make. cherry, crook. This spoon blank left me with a very long, narrow bowl. Overall a long spoon. Great crook shape, I couldn’t resist.

L: 13 7/8″   W:  2 1/8″
$125

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Sept spoon 06 – SOLD

Walnut. I’ve been riving up some walnut for joined stools, and got some bits here & there to try for spoons. Radially split.

L:  10 1/2″  W:  2 3/4″
$85

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Sept spoon 07, walnut (see above)  – SOLD

L: 10 1/2″  W: 2 7/8″
$85

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Sept spoon 08; walnut – SOLD

L: 10 1/2″  W: 3″
$85

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large cherry crook – SOLD

The last of these over-sized cherry crooks.

L: 13″  W:  4″
$150

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The cherry bird bowl. I have more of these underway, but won’t get to them for months now – I have a lot of furniture work ahead of me. The bird bowls come from great curved crooks.

L: 15″  H: (at front) 7 1/4″
$500