furniture carving & spoon carving classes in February

I have several blog posts underway, but tonight I’ll interrupt my ideas just to give a nudge to some folks looking for classes in carving. My season kicks off in February, with a class on the weekend of the 13/14th at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes  (scroll down, there’s an April class of mine listed first, but the carving-only one is mid-February)

We’ll be working for 2 days learning the ins & outs of carving 17th-century style patterns. I have just been working on some new old designs to add into the mix – here are some drawings I’ve been working on, these patterns are part of the huge inventory of designs found on oak furniture from Devon, England, with their offspring in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

carving sketch

Here’s a version I carved maybe 5 years ago:

carved in oak

There’s carving, and there’s spoon carving –

 

 

 

so for the would-be spoon carvers – come down to Plymouth CRAFT for a weekend of spoon carving. We’ll split, hew and shave spoons from freshly-cut local woods. Learn about the tools, the grips and the design of the spoons. The whole world is spoon-mad, so you might as well jump on board.

spoon carvers

http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spoon-carving-with-peter-follansbee

the rest of mortising: beyond boring

There’s more to mortises than the boring machine, as enticing as that device is, it’s only the start. I wait until there’s several joints laid out, then bore all of them…then tuck the machine away & go on from there. 

boring

boring detail

Here’s one of the through-mortises that’s all bored, three 2″ diameter holes:

mortise bored

Then it’s chisel work. This is actually a different mortise, but the principal is the same. Here I’m chopping the end grain. 

chopping end grain

And here paring the side walls/cheeks of the mortise. 

paring cheeks

I went to pick up my 2″chisel the other day, and there’s a ladybug crawling around. In January?

lady bug

This mortise is chopped. Now the timber needs to be reduced to 5 3/4″ at the joint. It’s how we compensate for the various sizes of 6x6s in the frame. 

mortise

First, saw down to the scribed lines, 

sawing housing

then knock out the waste with the chisels, 

chisel waste

then pare it flat. 

paring

then cut a bevel along the bottom end of the mortise, where a corresponding one on the tenoned piece meets it. 

bevel

Jarrod’s new video

My late friend Victor Chinnery once quoted a phrase he read somewhere – “think much, say little, write nothing.” This, 20 years after his book Oak Furniture: the British Tradition. I’ve been thinking of that quote this week.

sycamore

Several years ago, I was a guest on Roy Underhill’s show The Woodwright’s Shop, and for a topic I chose spoon carving. The 24 or 26 minute episode shows me & Roy making spoons, with methods that I was using at the time. I don’t carve spoons in the same sequence now…but that was how I happened to be doing it at that time. http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/watch-on-line/featured-guests/peter-follansbee/

In spring of 2014, I went to Lie-Nielsen to shoot another in a series of videos with them, and we carved spoons. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

spoon video

That video shows a different sequence from what I did with Roy…and right after shooting that work, I left for a short class in Minnesota with Robin Wood. I got a ride up Highway 61 with Jarrod Stone Dahl, Robin and JoJo Wood. One evening JoJo showed me how she hews the spoon blank from a straight-grained blank, and once again, my techniques adapted. The gist of it is that we all keep learning as we go. Hopefully it never stops.

Now you can see one of my favorite spoon carvers, Jarrod Stone Dahl, show you step-by-step his methods in carving spoons with an axe, knife & hook knife.

 Jarrod’s new video from Popular Woodworking is available now for download or you can order the DVD. I bought mine last night. I’m sure I’ll add some stuff to my spoon carving repertoire. http://www.shopwoodworking.com/the-art-of-spoon-carving-dvd

If you’d like to come carve spoons, (or boxes, etc) my teaching schedule for the first half of 2016 is here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2016-teaching-schedule/

 

In Search of Simplicity

Bill Coperthwaite
Bill Coperthwaite

From time to time readers of the blog have seen/heard me go on about Bill Coperthwaite. Bill’s impact on a whole world of craftsmen/women is pretty far-reaching. I met him near the end of his life, but a group of people are working to keep his legacy going. To learn something about this endeavor, read the website In Search of Simplicity http://www.insearchofsimplicity.net/

One of Bill’s traditions the group has kept alive is his calendar. If you buy this year’s, that means you don’t need to buy one in 2044.

http://www.insearchofsimplicity.net/dickinsons-reach-calendar.html

Picture

cutting tenons on the tie-beam

NOTE: for those (few) of you who still read blogs on computers, I posted my workshop/teaching schedule for 2016 both at the header of the blog and on the sidebar. There’s other stuff there too – links to the spoon carving DVD for sale, Maureen’s etsy site, Plymouth CRAFT – just so you can find any of that stuff without slogging around. On phone & devices – I have no idea what it all looks like. Hmm, the sidebar doesn’t show on the ipad…I guess I continue to be a dinosaur. I like to see it LARGE. The menu above has some other content, articles, snippets about my furniture work, stuff for sale; boxes and baskets – DVDs, and the schedule. OK – tour over, now for tonight’s post about the timber framing project.

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You can fit what I know about timber framing on the head of an (oak) pin. I took part in some workshops back in the 1980s, and had aspired to build a frame of my own one day. Never thought it would take over 30 years…but life is funny. I’m thrilled to have Pret’s expertise to guide me through the process, he did the layout. Now I have started cutting the joints. The other day it rained, so I pulled a couple of the frame’s posts in the house to cut some joinery. These are 10′ long, so barely enough room to work on them. Through mortises, and a tenon at each end. Brace mortises still need to be laid out.

2 posts

There were a couple of other pieces laid out, but those 12-footers had to wait for the weather to improve, which it did today. Here I’m sawing the shoulder on a full-width tenon. Daniel took some photos for me, the 2nd one he caught the sawdust flying! Rose shot some of them too.

sawing

sawdust

Then comes splitting the cheeks – when the wood is straight-grained enough. Just like the furniture work I do…

splitting

splitting detail

then paring the tenon’s cheeks. The frame is really like a grossly-oversized joint stool.

paring

A finished tenon. Then I had some actual furniture work to get started. Some white oak for a change! I’ll shoot it next time. 
tenon

I’ve been posting snippets on Instagram – some of you might have seen this, but if not – here’s the splitting again.

more mortising for the frame

between holidays and rain days, we haven’t had a chance to do the layout for the timber framing until today. It was cold with an east wind, but we’ve been spoiled by spring-like temperatures til now. With more rain & sleet ahead, I wanted to get some stuff laid out so I could bring it inside to cut joinery. Pret came & did the layout, I started cutting the six shallow mortises in the sills. These are where the posts will sit, they’re only 1 3/4″ deep.

sill mortise for post

I was using one of Pret’s augers; this one cuts like a dream. A nice tool in fantastic condition. Cook’s pattern auger bit, I’m told from readers on Instagram/Facebook. I knew the shape of this auger from Curtis Buchanan raving about it for his windsor chair work. But here it is in a 1 1/2″ hand auger. And yes, this layout is marked with a pencil, unlike my furniture work. There’s all manner of modern approaches to this work, (some pressure treated wood under the sills, bolts & nuts to secure the frame to the footings, etc) but I expect all of tools will continue to be hand-tools.

cook's auger bit

There are a couple of through-mortises we’re making. For those Pret broke out one of the boring machines he used when he built his house umpteen years ago. The label on this machine is mostly worn out – but some web search tells me it’s a Snell boring machine. Made in Fiskdale, Massachusetts, over near Sturbridge.

boring machine

I probably last used one of these in the mid-1980s. So he ran through its features, bored a few holes, then turned me loose on it.

pret demos the machine

 

Here goes:

You can incidentally see in some of the photos that we have floor joists in, but used conventional lumber (2x6s) for them. We have only so many white pine timbers, so conserved them by using framing lumber. The joists are notched into pockets in the sills. Then they will be toe-nailed in place. They also have ledger strips attached (nailed) on, to house insulation under the floor eventually. It feels great to be getting this project going.

I’m new at this & now I remember how it feels

birch_edited-1

I took a couple half-days this week to explore a craft I know almost nothing about. Some years ago I had bought a birch “cannister” from Jarrod Stone Dahl. I had seen his work on his website & blog and really admired it. Here’s one of his, from his website http://woodspirithandcraft.com/

IMG_3020.jpg

Last year we met for the first time when I went out to North House Folk School – http://www.northhouse.org/ I was there to take a class with Robin Wood on bowl turning, but Jarrod couldn’t let the birch bark go to waste, so he peeled some of the logs before we made bowls outta them. I knew the principal, but had never seen the act before. Amazing material. 

jarrod peels fast 2

One evening, he gave me a quick 20-minute crash course in making the finger joints on these ancestors to the Shaker oval boxes. A gift of some bark, (and some I bought on the web somewhere) and then – where’s the time to explore this? Along came Christmas – perfect.

It’s probably good for someone who teaches crafts to undertake a new one now & then. Some of the mistakes I made were just plain stupid, especially the 2nd time I made them! I finally made a pattern – not to use like a template, but just to help visualize the relationship between the female & male ends of these joints.

first cuts

The only thing I had ever made like these were hoops for Swiss-style cooperage with Drew Langsner, and that was a long time ago. This past fall, I had a chance to examine a very nice example of birch bark work when a group of us visited Dickinsons Reach, formerly the home of Bill Coperthwaite. The best guess is that it’s Russian work.

russian birch work3

Mine of course have flaws many beginners exhibit, but I pulled my usual “distract them with decoration” – employing my horror vacui nearly to its fullest.  The Russian one here has its rims lashed with strips of birch bark, some are done with spruce root. I have neither of these suitable, so I might substitute hickory bark, when I next get time to work on something like this. 

Here, I have test-wrapped one end around, to scribe where I will make the cuts for the tabs…

scribe

Said tabs, and some scribed and punched decoration.

trimmed tabs

Here’s test-fit – the inner sleeve needs to be thinned so it will overlap with less bulk. But it’s just sprung in there for now, so I can pull it out & finish it. The finger joints are OK, but not great. More beginner problems…this one’s about 6″ in diameter and about 8″ high.

inner sleeve

Jarrod did a tutorial on his blog once http://woodspirithandcraft.com/blog/2014/01/birch-bark-box-tutorial.html?rq=birch If you aren’t familiar with his work, these days the best place to find him is Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/jarrodstonedahl/   To learn more about this work, see the book Celebrating Birch, but by far the best reference is Vladimir Yarish’s Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark.