Strapwork design & carving

Strapwork pattern in progress

I have this great piece of red oak; quartersawn, 12″ x 24″, clear, pretty straight (thanks, Rick) – and after seeing the carved lid on the cedar box the other day, I decided to try a large panel of a strapwork design again. Usually when I undertake these patterns, I only have a partial idea of what it will be. Much of it I work out as I go.

The top and bottom edges are easy, they’re always those linked arches. I divided up the space, put a circle in the middle and struck all the arches with gouges and a chisel. Then I knew that this time I wanted these long, vertical leafy things. You can see in the photo below that I carved one all the way before continuing. That way, if it didn’t work – I could quit, or flip the board over. Or plane it all away. (all extreme choices that rarely get employed.)

initial pattern

But I liked it, so I went on from there. Here, I’m setting a marking gauge to strike lines that will connect the right and left sides of the panel at the middle.

striking layout w marking gauge

Below – using a 3/4″ wide gouge to strike circles in some empty spaces around the middle.

using a gouge to define elements

This time the area where those left & right halves come together get volutes carved as the ends of each section. I strike their outlines with 3 different gouges.

volutes

These patterns usually flow outward from the center – up & down, left & right. Here I’m using a compass to mark the height of one element from the horizontal centerline. Then I’ll swing it around to hit the bottom of the same form.

compass work

Most of the work is striking out the design. Removing the background is easy, there’s just a lot of it.

background removal

But you only have to solve one-quarter of it when doing the design part. Then it’s a matter of flipping it over in your mind to “see” the other 3/4. This is as far as I got yesterday afternoon, but the fire’s now lit, so time to finish this carving.

The cover and the box

It was 1976. I was eighteen years old. My father had died the year before, and among his effects that came to me by default (I still lived at home) was a tablesaw & jointer, drill press, router, lathe, hand-held “power” tools and an assortment of handtools. I was an art student, aspiring to be a painter. I learned from a neighbor how to use the tablesaw and began to make picture frames for my paintings. Somehow made a bookcase, surfaced with a belt sander. 

That summer I accompanied my mother on a trip to Doylestown, PA to visit her childhood friend. We did the tourism routine there, including the Mercer Museum – so I saw rooms full of antique woodworking tools, but have no recollection of it. I have a vague memory that we visited Nakashima’s showroom – but I might have imagined that. But one thing I know for certain – on that trip someone showed me an early issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. And I subscribed when I got home. Back then, information trickled out, unlike today’s barrage. I used to read every word in each issue, several times in many cases. I still have many of those old copies. And I know many people who tell a similar story. It was through Fine Woodworking that I got onto John Alexander and Drew Langsner. 

The other day, Dave Fisher wrote to me to congratulate me on being on the cover of the new issue. I hadn’t seen the email from FWW and although I knew my box article was in the works, I had no idea it was going to be the cover. I remember when Pete Galbert wrote his version of this blog post – and now it’s my turn. Thanks to everybody at the magazine for making it  happen, I appreciate it. 

Barry Dima came up here in the beginning of this year to shoot the article about making the carved box. Because the whole world flipped upside down shortly after that, I forgot about it. Every now & then it would come up again and I’d be surprised. Recently I was sorting photographs and saw that box & couldn’t place it. Then I remembered I had sent the box down to them to photograph – now they’re done with it, so it’s available for sale. 

Approx dimensions are H: 8 1/2”  W: 24” D: 12 5/8”

Red oak box, pine lid and bottom. Till inside. SOLD
$900 includes shipping in US. Leave a comment or send an email if you’d like it. Check or paypal ($927 through paypal.) Or when the magazine comes out, you can make your own.

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree

2012. That’s when the Joint Stool book appeared with Lost Art Press. I forget, but I think it was one of their first “outside” books, i.e. authors other than Chris/or reprints. It is a book that is near & dear to me, representing 20-plus years of my collaboration with Jennie Alexander – I learned so much in that period it’s always fun to look back on the whole ride. 

Chris wrote to me recently, saying it’s time for the 2nd printing, and would I write something about JA for it. So I added a new short intro – that’s all that’s changed for content. Chris made some changes in paper choice, and we switched it to a board cover. The aim was to lower the price of it from here on out. 

But there’s still some hardcover copies left, and they have put them on sale to move them ahead of the new printing coming in. So if you want the original hardcover – now’s the time to get it for $27 – I think it was $43, so not insignificant. Have at it.  https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree 

In my back & forth with Chris, I mentioned that I had wanted to add a shaved baluster instead of a turned one. But never had the time. So I said maybe we could do it as a blog post – then I searched & realized we had already done it! I knew it was a good idea.

 https://blog.lostartpress.com/2012/07/02/joint-stools-without-a-lathe/

Carving video; the lunettes

I plodded my way through another video edit to go along with the Carving Drawings – this one the lunette above. I can’t match Daniel for speed, and this one had two good camera angles, but the sound levels dip when I switch to the canon camera view. But all the steps are there, some in detail. And it doesn’t cost you anything, so it’s worth it.

I have one more to shoot from that first group, and already have some of the next series underway. Jeff Lefkowitz and I are working on those drawings now. The first series of drawings is here, https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/ and this video below shows what they contain –

Two boxes for sale

I photographed the two boxes I’ve worked on lately. These are made from quartersawn red oak, with white pine bottoms. There’s a couple things about my boxes that are different from most seventeenth-century boxes. I’ve seen a few period boxes with pegged corners instead of nailed. Mine are almost always glued & pegged. The bottoms are nailed on with handmade nails. Similarly, a few period boxes are carved on the ends, but most have plain ends and carved fronts. Mine almost always are carved on the ends too. I tend to use a wooden hinge on most of mine, another feature sometimes seen on seventeenth-century boxes. I sometimes use iron hinges, which is more typical of period work.

November box #1 – SOLD
H: 8 5/8″ W: 23 1/4″ D: 13 7/8″
$1,000 includes shipping in US.

Nov. box #1
Nov box #1 open
till, walnut lid, red cedar side & bottom
Nov. box #1; end carving & wooden hinge

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Nov. box #2 SOLD
H: 7 5/8″ W: 23 1/2″ D: 14 3/4″
$1,000 includes shipping in US.

The second box actually came first. The carvings on these boxes are based on work from Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. This one has a zig-zag design with what I guess are tulip shapes.

The paint is iron oxide (red) and lampblack mixed in linseed oil.

Nov. box #2
Nov. box #2, end view
Nov. box # 2 till; walnut & red cedar
Nov. box #2, detail

If you’d like either of these boxes, leave a comment or send an email. Payment by check or paypal – if paypal the invoice will be $1.030. Shipping in US included.

I take orders as well, so if there’s a box (or other joiner’s work) you see here & miss, send a note. I’ll be home all winter making stuff…

Floral panel, pt. 2

As promised, this one’s back to woodworking. It’s the 2nd part of the video about carving the floral panel.

Might as well stick the first part in here again too.

Links below – the youtube channel (I think most of them get copied here though) and the page where you can order the drawings.

https://www.youtube.com/user/MrFollansbee

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

New video: Carving the Floral Panel

It’s taken awhile to get to this new video. Daniel’s dance card is getting full, school work & his own projects like animation (I thought that meant Looney Tunes, but apparently it means something else) – so I delved into editing video. That’s part of what took so long.

This panel is easier than it looks, once you break it down. The previous videos in the series have some bearing on it – some of the same accents and forms appear. Here’s the link to the “playlist” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB2LcmbKpkcYGweT2rnyRQysMee6vWKVW

I’ve broken it into two videos, this being part 1. (Thomas Lie-Nielsen once asked me if I could do a video shorter than Ben-Hur. I’m not sure I can…)

I’ve featured this design a number of times, but never done it on video before. It’s in the book Joiner’s Work and I wrote an article once for Popular Woodworking about carving it. This is an example I carved years ago, another variation. I’ve probably never done it the same way twice.

chest panel

I’m nearly done with my work on the 2nd set of drawings. Then I’ll send them down to Jeff Lefkowitz and we’ll begin getting them ready. The first set is still available here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

leftover photos

I haven’t looked in my cameras lately; so today I downloaded what’s on them. Here goes. Some go back a good ways, here’s the last osprey (Pandion haliaetus) I saw this season, in the locust tree outside the shop. Sept 13th.

There’s some dead branches in that tree that hang right outside the shop windows. An excellent perch for bird portraits, when I’m quick enough to react. Here’s a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – to me, an overlooked bird. Common, maybe even a nuisance, but a beautiful bird nonetheless.

the great blue herons (Ardea herodias) stick around all year.

Maureen’s garden is winding down; these are celosia she tells me.

So now the colors are coming from the trees, here’s the sassafrass leaves.

And the light in the shop is changing; I noticed some late afternoon reflected light hitting some chip carving that’s usually buried in the corner. It’s like Stonehenge or something, only gets lit up a couple times a year.

This box finally got done. It’s butternut, with various secondary woods.

It has a sliding lid and the front panel lifts up & out to access a drawer.

I’ve done similar boxes a few times; they’re fun. They’re not based on anything in particular; but inspired by a few boxes I’ve seen here & there. One from Pennsylvania, some from Sweden. I’ve made up some of the construction, not having studied the old ones in any detail. This one’s about 22″ long.

Carving the Lozenge panel

Daniel & I worked out editing the first video of panel carving to accompany the sets of drawings. This panel is one I have never carved on video before, nor have I covered it in print.

When I shoot these, I’m the camera-person as well as the carver. That means I get to ruin things two different ways. I shot these in late July, and here two-plus months later, I found out that for one section the camera was not in focus. So when I get to the free-hand stuff outside the diamond, there’s not much detail about what I’m doing. But I think you can see it pretty well. I was very happy with raking light across this one. So much so that we only used the views from one camera. It’s long, like most of my videos so far. If you make it to the end, or scoot through to the end, there’s a gallery of about 4 variations on the pattern.

I still have copies of the drawings for sale – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

Working now on set # 2 – I’ll keep you posted when they’re coming along.

Spoons for sale; first batch this year – SOLD OUT more to come

the combination of dark walnut & light birch is too confusing for my camera today

I just today turned the page on my calendar in the shop. That’s how ignorant I am of time this year. And I’m just getting to my first spoons of the year. I wrote about some of these the other day, the walnut ones in particular were carved from dry wood. The birch and rhododendron were carved in the more typical green wood. Not that it matters in the finished product. These are for sale, if you’d like one, leave a comment and I’ll set up a paypal invoice for you. Prices include shipping in the US. Flax oil finish.

UPDATE: THESE SOLD OUT, THERE WILL BE MORE TO COME. THANKS FOR THE INTEREST AND SUPPORT OF MY WORK. PF

Spoon # 1 – black walnut – SOLD
L: 11″ W: 2 3/4″
$100

This & the other two walnut spoons here were leftover furniture stock, radially-riven black walnut hanging around in a corner of the shop.

spoon # 1 overall
spoon # 1 side view
spoon # 1 carved handle

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Spoon # 2, black walnut SOLD
L: 11″ W: 2 3/4″
$100

spoon # 2, carved handle

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Spoon #3, black birch – SOLD
L: 10 5/8″ W: 2″
$90

I found this black birch while I was sorting next year’s firewood. It was still sound, and when I split it open, still fairly green. Some nice radially-split spoon stock came out of it instead of firewood.

Spoon # 3 overall
spoon # 3 side view

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Spoon # 4, SOLD
L: 9 5/8″ W: 2″
$90

As soon as I started carving this recent batch of spoons, my wife brought home some rhododendron branches a gardener friend of hers had just cut…my favorite wood for spoons. And this is my favorite spoon of this batch.

spoon # 4 overall
spoon # 4 detail

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Spoon # 5, rhododendron SOLD
L: 8 3/4″ W: 2 1/2″
$80

spoon # 5 overall
spoon # 5 detail

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Spoon # 6, black birch SOLD
L: 9 1/4″ W: 2″ +
$80

Most every batch of spoons I carve has one (or more) of these – a weirdly impractical spoon shape. From the side view, this could pass as a normal spoon. But it had both a crook and a bend. I just followed it.

spoon # 6 overall
spoon # 6 top view
spoon # 6 side view

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Spoon # 7, rhododendron SOLD
L: 9 3/8″ W: 2 1/2″
$80

spoon # 7, top view
spoon # 7 carving detail

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Spoon # 8, rhododendron SOLD
L: 7 1/4″ W: 2″
$70

spoon # 8, overall
spoon # 8 carved handle

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Spoon # 9, black walnut SOLD
L: 12″ W: 3″
$110

spoon # 9 overall
Spoon # 9 carved handle