Joined Stool Video series finale – Molding & Pegging the Seat

Well, we finally finished the joined stool video set. This is the one where Daniel inadvertently discovered an echo chamber effect when he blended two shots together. Much to his delight…

 

I’ll do some blog housekeeping one of these days, and make a page with all the videos in this series together. But they’re on youtube in a playlist there too…

I was going to put a gallery of joined stools in the video, but it was already pretty long. So here are some stools over the years. Most of these have been here before.

There’s some stand-alone videos I shot a while back, I’ll get to those soon. Nowadays, I’m shooting several about making baskets from an ash log. I also got a couple of requests, so I have plenty in the pipeline. They’re fun to do, but a bit time-consuming. I need to remember to shoot ordinary photos too…

Here’s the highlight of the past week for me – a rare sighting of a mink around the shop. They’re here a lot, but usually the only view I get is a fleeting glimpse. This one was in constant motion, but stayed in view long enough for me to get some photos…

 

Basket tour part 1

 

The past two weeks or so I’ve been pounding ash splints for making baskets. I’ve started weaving a few of them, and have lots more coming up. Baskets used to be almost a weekly thing for me, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before oak furniture took over my thoughts. But I always come back to them, they’re so much fun to make and even better – to have around.

While getting ready to plunge deeply into them in the next couple of weeks, I’ve been studying some that I have hanging around here. Unlike the baskets I’m starting these days, all these are white oak baskets. You split white oak growth rings apart, instead of pounding like you do ash.

First, some I got when we cleaned up Jennie Alexander’s house after her death. JA loved baskets, and collected lots of them, but especially white oak baskets. I brought home a couple. This one is by a Maryland basketmaker JA knew, James McCrobie.

Here is Mr. McCrobie, as Alexander referred to him, shaving oak at a fair in Maryland.

The bottom of this basket:

And the inside view:


This one’s special because it’s by our great friend Louise Langsner, for Alexander. Way back when Louise used to make white oak baskets. Later, she began growing willow & using that to weave baskets. This white oak basket has hickory bark lashing on the rims.

The bottom:

The inside:

Louise used to peg the handles to the rims. I learned that technique there at County Workshops about 1986 or so. I had read it before that in Drew’s book County Woodcraft. Watch Lost Art Press for an updated version of that classic book (I’ll post about it when it happens too…) – in it is a chapter by Louise about making her oak baskets.

Here’s my first oak basket from that class – the instructor was Darry Wood.

In 1989 I made this round bottom white oak basket for Alexander. It came back to me after her death:

Inside:

Bottom, with hickory bark reinforcements

The hickory handle has a double notch, the lashing is hickory bark.

This one’s mine too, from 1988, I probably made it at Langsner’s – that spring & summer I was the intern there. White oak, hickory handle

I’ve used this basket a lot. Usually it holds all my spoon-carving gear, mostly tools & spoons-in-progress. The bottom features two “skids” shaved hickory bent up into the body. These reduce wear & tear on the bottoms.

One more white oak by me – this one’s from 1990. I’m working (again!) to re-learn how I weave those “filled” bottoms. So I swiped this one back from my wife, emptied it, and will this time keep track of what I did to weave it.

But it’s all ash here now. I haven’t made a white oak basket since this one probably…here’s a real favorite, but very small basket in ash with hickory rims & handle, hickory bark lashing. It’s about 6″ x 8 1/2″ and the basket is 3″ high. I wish I could make them this good all the time. Better go practice…

These new ones still have potential…

here’s the last time I re-learned the filled bottoms. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/another-basket-underway/ 

Joined Stool video series – prepping the seat board

Winding down the joined stool video series. Prepping the seat board took more time, both in reality and in getting this video done, than I wished. Some days it’s like that.

After this one comes making the molded edge & pegging the seat down. I expect that to be one video, but we’ll know more when Daniel & I sit down to work that one out.

After that, I have a few stand-alone videos I shot a few weeks ago, and right now I’m starting to shoot a series on making ash baskets. I had a couple of requests too, and I’ll try to get to those.

Thanks, everyone, for watching, commenting, supporting. I appreciate it.


The book version is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

Joined Stool video series: Trimming the tops & feet

Next installment in the Joined Stool series of videos. A bunch of fiddly fussy bits trimming the stool prior to making the seat.


There’s nothing more to say – other than thanks for watching. So here’s an ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) from yesterday’s socially-distant birding trip. No one told the birds we were coming, so it was a complete dud. Maybe next week.

Joined Stool video series – Assembly

The next video in the joined stool series is up & running. Assembling the stool. There’s a lot of repetition, but somewhere in there is what you need to know about pinning these joints together. And some of what can go wrong.


We’re closing in on this set being done, there’s maybe two more. Three I guess when I re-load the one about carving & scratch stock molding.

If there’s something you’d like to see addressed in future videos, I can’t promise anything but it won’t hurt to ask.

And thanks to all who help to make this go. I appreciate it.

I forgot to add: Today’s warbler, a common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

For anyone new to the blog, The book about the stool

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree 

Make a Joined Stool videos – the End Frames

Then it was May. And the sun came out.

Daniel is on a two-video edits a week schedule. Today’s was a bit of a clunker, which was my fault. It’s a combination of too many things, all related to working the end frames of the joined stool.

This part of making the stool was one of Alexander’s favorite exercises; because it allowed her to pontificate about construction dimensions and resulting dimensions. I could usually follow along to a degree, so here I show how to calculate the length of the side stretchers.

(and today, for some stupid reason, the video wants to start part way into it. I clicked all the same buttons, etc. – skip back to the beginning.)

All of this stuff I’m doing in these videos is covered in detail in the book JA & I did some years ago –

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree

for anyone new to this blog and this work, the book is here https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

(when I went to get that link, I accidentally followed one to Amazon – $130. Weird. I think it’s a good book, but it’s not that good…)

Joined Stool videos – Turning the Stiles

About the Joined Stool video series. Some of these videos made it up to youtube before I fully hatched the idea of making this a connected how-to series. So far then, there’s been mostly repetition as Daniel & I work on cutting & piecing them together. I’ve been deleting the first uploads over at Youtube as he & I finish up each video. Don’t worry, the whole thing will come back, one-by-one. Today’s is turning the stiles. Then comes decoration – carving & scratch-stock molding together. Then after that, it’ll all be stuff that’s not been posted before. Tenons, test-fitting, drawboring, the seat, etc. 

Turning the stiles for the joined stool is a long one. First thing to know – I’m no great turner. I think of myself as a joiner who does some turning. I don’t get as much practice as I used to do. Somewhere I recommended two friends’ videos – Curtis Buchanan’s youtube series has some of his turning https://www.youtube.com/user/curtisbuchanan52/search?query=turning. And Pete Galbert did a nice video a couple years ago with Lost Art Press https://lostartpress.com/collections/dvds/products/galbert-turning 

Both will help a lot. If only I would practice more… so – if you have the stomach for it, here’s my assault on one of the stiles for this joined stool. Including some mishaps that are not fatal at all. 

I got a note from a reader who blew up a still shot of the stool stick – which made me realize some might want that information. This stool is one I made up, but some of the details are similar to one in the book I wrote on the subject with Jennie Alexander. I’m not going to draw up a whole diagram of the stool – it’s not necessary. The stiles are 2” x 2” squares – and here’s the stick against a ruler (in inches) so you can suss out the details. Change them at your will. Use the photo above for further reference. (I noticed that photo & this have the top of the stool in different directions…sorry about that.)


The aprons & stretchers on the front & back are 10 1/2” from shoulder to shoulder. I made the tenons 1 1/2” long. The short aprons are 4 1/4” shoulder to shoulder at their top edge. Their angle is 1:6 1/2. The rest comes from a test-fit. You’ll see those videos as Daniel & I work to spit them out. Thanks for watching…

here’s the book on the subject https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

——————

I have some carving videos planned after the stool series; (some are already shot) – like this strapwork pattern:

if there’s particular things you’d like to see, leave a comment. If I can, I’ll try to tailor things some…but my scope is pretty narrow. Oak furniture, carved decoration, mortise & tenons, beyond that…hmm.

The videos are free. There is a donate button on the side of this blog for those able & willing to help keep things running ’til classes start up again. Thanks so much for all the support, I greatly appreciate it.

Peter

Joined stool videos begin

To elaborate on a post I wrote last week – the Joined Stool video series I’ve been shooting is now starting to get posted. It took me a bit to figure out some basic snipping here & there, but thankfully Daniel took over and sorted it for me. So he gets some credit. Curtis Buchanan gets the nod for the inspiration with all his chairmaking videos. When travelling to teach workshops came to a halt, I scrambled trying to figure out what’s next. I was almost going to do one of those subscription video instruction sites…but decided it’s not my bag. Too much pressure to produce in a timely fashion and to a standard that I am not up to, video-wise.

Then I thought of Curtis and how he developed his series of chairmaking videos. I love how those come across as if you’re in his shop and he’s explaining what he’s doing as he goes about making each chair.

For the joined stool, today I posted the intro and a 20-30 minute section on layout & mortising. There’s maybe 5 or 6 more to come for this project; some carving and scratch stock molding, turning on the pole lathe, tenons, test fitting & assembly, and more. From there, I plan on some carving patterns that haven’t made it to video before. Strapwork designs, panels, and more.

Watch them here, watch them over at youtube – many have subscribed there as I’ve been getting more active – but I doubt you need both. Anything worthwhile will get copied here eventually. There’s no charge – they’re free. That way there’s no pressure on me if they stink, and you won’t feel like you’re getting taken. There is a “donate” button here on the sidebar of this blog. So if you like the videos, and are in a position to help keep things running around here, I’d be very grateful. But I’m also perfectly happy having you watch without any obligation on your part. I have tried with this blog to always have content here for sharing – and these are no exception.

OK, enough explanation. Here’s the videos. Hope you like them.

the Arkansas Test

Many of you know I’ve been editing Jennie Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree for Lost Art Press. (yes, I know you want me to hurry…) At the same time, I’ve begun a meandering sort of research project that is only partially formed in my head. For a year or more now, I’ve referred to it as my “Craft Genealogy.” This is the first blog post on that subject. 

Much of this parallel project draws on the Jennie Alexander Papers, now housed at Winterthur Museum’s research library. JA kept notebooks from nearly the beginning of her chairmaking work, the earliest is dated 1973/4. There are other papers, notes and letters that I have here. Eventually, I’ll add these to the Winterthur collection. 

At North House, I gave a talk outlining some of it. It was mostly for me, but some of the audience claimed to like it. But they’re midwestern, they’re very polite. The focus of the talk was mostly about JA, Daniel O’Hagan and Bill Coperthwaite. All letter-writers. Many other people are involved – certainly Drew Langsner who is my connection to all of these folks.  While I was at North House, I stumbled onto a piece by surprise. 

In Daniel O’Hagan’s notes is a description of a stress-test Dave Sawyer used to apply to his ladderbacks, dated 1974: 

His chairs are so strong that he recommends what he calls the Arkansas test having learned it with other techniques from Arkansas craftsmen. The test is to tilt the chair on one leg and taking hold of a back post exert all one’s weight downwards on the chair which supports it all on one leg; by this any weak point will soon creak or break. ” 

The only Arkansas chairmaker mentioned so far in the Alexander letters was Charles Christian. More about him another time. JA eventually visited Christian, but I think had first  heard of him through Dave Sawyer. JA introduced himself to Sawyer in a letter dated May 1976 – but in an Oct 1976 letter to Sawyer, JA noted:

“It is a small world. I was going over my old notes the other day and saw that the Woody Brothers of Spruce Pine N. Car. had given me your name 2 years ago but I never got around to writing.”   

I don’t know how JA got onto the Woody Brothers of Spruce Pine, N.C. – Arval & Walter. Then-John and his wife Joyce had visited them in spring of 1974, and then traded a few letters back and forth. 

While at North House, I was browsing the bookshelves in one of the workshops. A variety of Scandinavian stuff, boatbuilding, timber-framing, etc. One little coffee-table National Geographic book “The Craftsman in America” (1975) – so I opened that, and found a photo that I recognized right away, but had never seen before. Arval Woody testing the chair just the way Daniel described Dave’s test. 

Chairmaking in the US is now is a small world, in the mid-1970s, it was even smaller. I see several explanations, none of which we really need. One is that Daniel mixed up Dave’s chairmaking friends, thus the Arkansas test might really be the NC test. Another is that the Woodys and Charles Christian knew each other, and they both did it. Another is that Dave is the transmission of this show-stopping demo – bringing it from the Christian shop to the Woodys. None of it matters. All I know for sure is when I opened that book at North House, and saw that photo, I knew right away I was on the right track. I heard Daniel O’Hagan’s voice say “It is providential!” 

PS:

I tried it yesterday and almost broke my neck.

I couldn’t balance, needed one hand on the bench. There’s plenty of weight on the chair still, I have enough to go around.

Brendan Gaffney got a better photo than I did; he’s still young & more nimble than me. 

 

PPS: The Woody’s Chair Shop is still going. https://www.woodyschairshop.com/

 

 

 

Pieces underway and a stool & box for sale

More goings-on in the shop. I took a dozen-plus chair rungs and set them in the kiln to “super-dry” them. I’m awful at things like making equipment, fixtures, etc. This kiln is bare-bones, insulation board and duct tape. cross-pieces poked through it to support the rungs, and a light bulb inside. Just a clip-light. The guts of it hang below the box, in the milk crate.

You can just see the rim of the light set in the bottom inside. The rungs are loosely piled in there.

145 degrees F.

The hickory rungs had been shaved months ago, and stored in the ceiling in the shop. When the batch went into the kiln, they weighed 3lbs/9.6oz. I weighed them repeatedly until they stopped losing weight – they finished at 3lbs/4.6oz. Once they kept that weight for a day or two, I then bored the chair posts and built the chair. The notion is that the chair’s rungs will only swell in time, they’ll never be this dry/shrunken again. The posts have a higher moisture content, not having been kiln-dried. They will shrink over time. Viola, a chair. Hickory, with white oak slats. I have yet to scrape and clean up the slats. It will get a hickory bark seat.

Today I spent planing some green wood for boxes and a chest. But took a half-hour to start the next carved box. This piece of white oak was planed in November – it’s surface is just right now for carving. The pattern, inspired by some of the many pieces posted by Marhamchurch Antiques, is almost entirely free-hand. Layout is just a vertical centerline. I’m right-handed, and I carve most fluidly to my left. So I start a carving like this just to one side of the center. Then the hard part is matching that on the right. I ran out of time, so that’s for another day. Once I finish that V-tool work, the background and some small details will be a snap. Height is 7″ width is 21″.

I did scribe two circles with a compass, these will become flowers in the carving. Then I can locate the same circles on the right half, which will help orient things there.

[Marhamchurch Antiques is a great resource for oak furniture in England. Just amazing quantity and quality… https://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/  I never miss a post, and I follow them on IG too. ]

I’ll be out of the shop for a few days, with Plymouth CRAFT hosting Tim Manney’s shaving horse class. So I stood these freshly planed white oak boards up to air out while the shop is empty. These run about 9″-11 1/2″ wide, 20″-22″ long. Perfect for chest panels, I’ll have to trim them narrower for box fronts.

 

FOR SALE

Just two items right now, If you’d like to purchase the stool or box here, just leave a comment or write and we can go through paypal or a check… email is peterfollansbee7@gmail.com    I welcome custom work too, I often make boxes, chairs and more on order, Email me if you’d like to inquire about some custom work.

POST & RUNG STOOL

I showed this stool the other day – made during a photo shoot for Fine Woodworking Magazine. The nature of that work is to have extra parts on hand in case something goes wrong. I ended up with an “extra” frame, so stuck it up in the loft for awhile, then just put the Shaker tape seat on it last week.

H: 17″  W: 17″  D: 14″
$400 plus shipping

CARVED & PAINTED BOX  – SOLD

And this oak box is one I made in December, and put the lid on it this month. White oak box & lid, white pine bottom. Till inside. Wooden hinge, red & black oil paint highlighting the background of the carving.

H: 7 1/2″   W: 22 1/2″  D:  13 1/2″
$1,000 plus shipping

 

Here’s the post about painting it https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/carved-and-painted/