I’m really not a wood-collector

I can’t be a wood hoarder (or collector) – I don’t have room. But for someone who claims to not collect wood, I sure spent a lot of time lately gathering it. Much of my wood of choice is green wood. If your eyes get bigger than your stomach for green wood, you end up with stuff that goes bad one way or the other. Some green wood rots, like birch for spoons. Some gets insects if you don’t get the bark off. Like oak. Here’s former spoon wood that never got made:

Winter is the easiest time for a green woodworker; no insects to invade the stashed timber. I have this pile of riven oak bolts standing outside my shop; this time of year there’s no hurry to deal with them. These are between 5 and 6 feet long, a few shorter sections in there too. Most is oak, a few are hickory that just came in this week. 

I have started to split them up and rough plane them one by one. Removing the sapwood and the bark is critical, that’s where the creatures get in. I have some joined furniture coming up – 2 joined stools, a chest of drawers and a wainscot chair. But then I need a place to store the planed oak bits…here’s a small stack up in the edge of the loft. I’ve glued the ends so they don’t check. I often write the date on them too, helps me keep track of what’s what. These are drawer parts and frame stock for a chest of drawers that’s on my list. The chair rungs behind them are a bit too wiggly to be good enough; but too good to burn. For now…

Before most of that oak work, I have two large pieces to build for the Old House in Cutchogue, Long Island out of white pine. A settle that’s essentially 5 feet square and a dresser that’s 6 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Like much early pine furniture, the originals that we studied to base these on were made from wide white pine boards. The settle for instance – the narrow parts are 15” wide. The uprights are from an 18” board.

This week I went to visit a friend of mine to get some of this white pine. We had to sort through a lot of pine boards, because there were too many 24-26” wide boards and we didn’t want to cut those down to 15” stuff. An interesting problem to have – boards that are too wide! I couldn’t leave all those two-footers behind, so a couple came here to be future chest lids. On the left is one of the settle’s uprights – it’s about 18″ wide, the board beside it is maybe 24″ wide. One or two small knots in the settle piece, the other board has none. 

I pulled one down from my loft that I’d been saving for a couple years, and cut it for a chest here in the house that has been wanting a lid for a while. So I can stash one board where that came from. But clearly it’s time to sort and clean out the loft and use it for real storage, not dead storage.

The next day found me helping some friends sawing out white pine boards, and some of them came back here too. These are green, just sawn. So their storage is easy, outside, stickered and forgotten til next year. Some 20” one inch boards, and one 2” thick plank; about 12 feet long. I’m in the midst of covering this small stack with leftover boards from building the shop. 

Then back to the first stop, where now there was a section of green hickory up for grabs. I split some out, about 6’ long. Chair parts, basket rims and handles. This needs pretty immediate attention, hickory has a lousy shelf life, and is best worked green. A detour, but a fun one. 

I disassembled my lathe to make room for all this oversized work; just finishing up the bedstead now, then will begin work on the pine pieces. You can see how tight it is in there. The long rails are just seen by the through tenons in the foot board’s posts. 

Here’s the wedged through tenon. After this photo, the wedges got trimmed a little, the tenon got chamfered on its corners.

After these large pieces, I’ll re-assemble the lathe. By then, it’ll be spring and I’ll start travelling and teaching. Better get to it.

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Plymouth CRAFT’s Spoon Day June 9, 2019 – the Lineup

There’s still some tickets available for Plymouth CRAFT’s first-ever one-day Spoon event. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-day   Our plan is to have a big woodpile, a host of participants, and then we’ll add a bunch of our spoon carving friends to help everyone learn/have fun/explore.

Usually all the Dave Fisher https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/ hype is about his bowls, but on this day his attention will be on helping you carve spoons, his are the top three in the photo above; below is the spoon Dave gave me the day we met; 2009.

Below his is a classic quilt-pattern spoon by globe-trotting Amy Umbel, https://www.instagram.com/amy_umbel/?hl=en   We’re happy to have roped her into Massachusetts for this event.

The large painted one in that top photo is new to me, from Jay Ketner. Jay’s work has really taken off – by June who knows what it’ll be up to.  Here’s the spoon and the notebook when Jay was cooking up its decoration. No photo description available.https://www.instagram.com/jayketnerwoodcraft/?hl=en

Of course, the spoon on the right is by JoJo Wood. I don’t need to say anything I haven’t already said, do I?

IMG_2878.jpg  https://www.instagram.com/jojowoodcraft/?hl=en 

Tim Manney will be there, maybe he’ll steam-bend some stuff, or help you sharpen things. Just ask him. https://www.instagram.com/tim.manney/?hl=en

Reid Schwartz probably should be home making knives, but we’ve convinced him to take a day off & come down to Plymouth. https://www.instagram.com/reidschwartz/?hl=en

Oliver Pratt is drifting down from Maine – putting down his bowls for the day, and carving spoons with us. He & JoJo will be the barefoot segment of the population. I’ll look the other way.  https://www.instagram.com/oliverpratt_handcraft/?hl=en 

We’ve not yet met Jessica Hirsch, but we’re looking forward to. We’ve heard great things about the work she does through Women’s Woodshop. https://www.instagram.com/joshahirschfeldt/?hl=en

And the usual from Plymouth CRAFT; me & Pret Woodburn, with the addition of Rick McKee https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/?hl=en 

Curtis Buchanan’s new chair plans & videos

I’ve told some of these stories many times, but I’m still not tired of them. You might be. I first met Curtis Buchanan in 1987 when I was one of the students in his first class at Country Workshops. I learned Windsor chairmaking from him then, and made many chairs for about 5 years, when I veered off into oak furniture full-time and put away my scorp, travisher, reamer, sight-lines and all that jazz.

I was thrilled to bits last spring when Curtis came up to take part in our Greenwood Fest. There, he was working on a version of his “democratic” chair. The premise of this chair is two-fold – it can be made with a small tool kit; thus within reach of someone just starting out woodworking on a tight budget. And in theory anyway, it’s a building block of a chair. Learn this one & you can then go on to other more complex chairs.

He had two with him, while during the fest he made a third. I distinctly told him, “Don’t sell that green one (photo above) until you talk to me first…” On the last afternoon of the event, I was running around the site seeing to some of the tasks involved in winding that thing down. Didn’t get to Curtis til some time had gone by. Both chairs were gone. I asked what happened? “Oh, I sold both of those chairs…” just as matter-of-fact…turns out he cautioned the buyer that I might come for the green one. I did. Here it is again:

 

But now I can make my own. Curtis has just released a new set of plans; and a new video series. In the spirit of the democratic notion about this chair, he has set up the plans so that you can either buy them for full-price, or you can download them and pay what you can afford. He leaves it up to you. The full-sheets version is excellent; if I was buying them that’s where I would go. The chair is shown half-scale; the seat, legs, spindles and stretchers, bending forms are all full-sized. https://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

 

 

here’s one of his latest versions:

 

here, he’ll tell you about the chair, then hunt down the youtube channel for him. He’s posted the first 4 videos for it, with more to come.

https://www.youtube.com/user/curtisbuchanan52/videos 

I made a “shaved” (not turned) Windsor chair 30 years ago; still have it kicking around, but it got bumped from the kitchen table when I inherited one of Curtis’ continuous arm chairs from Jennie Alexander. I made it based on Curtis’ sackback plans, but substituted shaved cherry legs, stretchers and arm posts. I got the idea from our friend Daniel O’Hagan who had one or more shaved Windsor chairs when I visited him in that era. This chair is cherry, tulip poplar, ash, hickory and white oak. When new, they looked very different, but 30 years of use have blended the colors pretty well. Patience.

Similar colors the other day in this view of a red-tailed hawk hunting over a marshy area nearby.

June 2019 with Plymouth CRAFT

 

Paula wrote somewhere that we’re all going to miss Greenwood Fest this year; but all the time she’s saved not organizing that event has allowed her to organize some woodsy classes as well as a new idea – Spoon Day. If you’re on Plymouth CRAFT’s mailing list, you got a notice about it today. If you’re not – we’re having two classes with Dave Fisher & JoJo Wood. These happen either June 7 & 8 or June 10 & 11. So what to do on the Sunday in between? We made up Spoon Day – one-day event wedged between sessions.  It’s all on the events page – https://www.plymouthcraft.org/events

 

Here’s the blurb about Spoon Day – we’ll announce other carvers we’ll have there shortly. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-day 

(but you there, block #3, watch what you’re doing! Is that you, Robert Newmyer?)

Tickets go on sale February 2nd. In case you didn’t hear that –  TICKETS GO ON SALE FEBRUARY 2ND.

Sign up for Plymouth CRAFT’s emails here – https://www.plymouthcraft.org/contact

Bedpost tops

Closing in on the end of this bedstead. It’s been ages; I have the best customers, so patient!

This week one of the tasks I did was cutting out the rosette-shapes on the tops of each bedpost. I carve the designs in them when the post is solid, then cut them out afterwards. The ash posts are 2″ x 3 1/2″.  It starts with some saw kerfs:

Then chisel-work down to that saw cut:

Here’s a closer view of some of that work:

To clean up those chisel-cuts, I pare across the posts’ thickness with a very sharp paring chisel. This leaves a faceted surface. If this one is like our bedstead, these will get a great patina from handling them.

I bevel the backs too – just to remove any sharp corners.

Here’s one from the foot of the bed:

We’ve had very few winter ducks this season so far. Today in the afternoon, there was great light on a female common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) so I snuck (or sneaked) down to the river to take a few photos.

Cold Spoon Carving with Plymouth CRAFT

We just finished a 3-day series of spoon carving sessions through Plymouth CRAFT this weekend. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/ I didn’t shoot many photos; so I’ll swipe some from Marie Pelletier. Overbrook is a venue we use a lot, and there’s a wood stove in the dance hall there where we hold some of our classes. Usually, it’s adequate to keep the room comfortable enough to work in. This time – it was tough. But our carvers were tougher…if you count the layers inside my sleeve there – and add the vest, you get an idea of how cold it was on day 3.

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The first 2 days were our “usual” class, geared towards beginning spoon carvers.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

I had some able assistance from Jay Ketner. Kate here is not as maimed as she looks, she just had a small cut that was in a hard-to-wrap spot.

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Then the 3rd day was “advanced” – meaning it was a class for people to fine-tune some of their skills, or spoon design. What it really boils down to is carving spoons from crooks. We had a pile of crooks, mostly large, mostly cherry.  Here’s a normal-sized example.

One of our samples is a new one from Jogge Sundqvist that belongs to Pret & Paula

 

I continue to be amazed at the spoon-carving explosion; and grateful to all the students who keep coming back to us at Plymouth CRAFT. Thanks everyone. Closing with frost on the window, not the pumpkin.

Two boxes for sale

 

Two boxes start off the year for me. I’m about to start a few large projects;  but in cleaning up the shop after delivering the square table I came across some wood that wanted using up. The bottom one is a box made of quartersawn black walnut. The top one a dovetailed box with sliding lid and drawer in catalpa. Both of these boxes are available if anyone would like them. Email me if you’re interested; new address is peterfollansbee7@gmail.com

Both of these showed up on Instagram as I worked them, but I still favor the blog – more room for details and text. I have had the catalpa hanging around as two thin boards for over 2 years. I used some 2 1/2″ thick catalpa when I built the shop, seen here as the carved spandrels around the doors:

CATALPA BOX:  SOLD
5″ high, 6 3/4″ x 15″ overall. White oak bottom; riven, quartered. Drawer is 2″ high.
$600 plus shipping.

The box is loosely based on Scandinavian examples; but only in a very general sense – the carving patterns and the basic format; I never studied any originals in detail. It’s

Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) is a very interesting wood – not native to New England but it grows here easily. Ring-porous; splits easily, very decay resistant. Very light weight. The tiniest band of sapwood in the log. A friend sawed up this log, it was the straightest either of us had ever seen of catalpa. Usually the trunk is curved, twisted, knotty, etc. I think that’s why it’s rarely sawn at all.

I made the sliding lid from the best piece of the batch. But when I got to rabbeting it for the tongues that slide in the box’s grooved sides, I was concerned that it wouldn’t hold up. And I was right. So I made an oak sliding lid, and planed down the catalpa carving and glued it to the lid. Best of both worlds sort of thing.

The drawer is locked by a little ash pin that slips down through a hole in the box front that relates to a hole in the drawer front. There’s a notch in the pin to sneak your fingernail in to slip it up & out.

It was getting pretty dim in the shop when I shot these photos; this is a better representation of the color:

WALNUT BOX:  SOLD
H: 6 1/2″  W: 16 3/4″  D: 12 3/8″
$900 plus shipping.

The walnut one is a pretty straight-forward 17th-century style box. I re-sawed all the walnut from 3 pieces that were 1 1/4″ thick; but nice & straight quartersawn material. I sharpened the saw first. A good way to warm up on a cold morning.

The box is glued & pegged at the corners; the bottom is nailed on. Top is hinged with wooden cleats and pintles. Arcading design on 3 sides; carved, punched & incised decoration on the lid. An ogee across the front edge.

Inside is a till made from walnut, oak & American sycamore. Every piece of wood in this box is quartersawn – except the till bottom, which is better – it’s radially-split oak.

A detail showing the side carving and the lid’s cleat that forms part of the hinge.

Linseed oil finish on both of them, I just need to add a 2nd coat next time I’m in the shop.