I emptied half the shop today (with Daniel’s help) so I could shoot photos of the joined chest I made for that video series. It’s going to a customer soon, so I wanted to get proper-enough shots of it. Who knows if I’ll make it again?
I’m so glad I don’t have a bigger shop, I’d only have a bigger mess. As for the photos, I shoot them almost every single time with just daylight. Sometimes too much, sometimes not enough.
I shot almost all of them from outside the shop. One or two through an open window, the others through the door.
The front panels of this chest are white oak, all the other hardwood bits are red oak (except the drawer pulls, those are white also). White pine floor, drawer bottoms and rear panel.
The till has a red oak lid and side, red cedar bottom.
The drawer front has a pattern I never tire of carving.
Same is true of the panels – that panel opening is about 8 3/4″ x 13 1/2″.
Here’s the shot I like the best, I added a small light from our right just to throw some shadows – the daylight was shifting this way & that. Shot it through the open window behind the stove.
I continue to get notices of new subscribers, maybe more lately than a short while ago. This is very encouraging – I had worried that maybe blogs were falling by the wayside. Glad to see continued interest in this one. I have an Instagram page or feed or whatever-you-call them – but I’ve run out of steam with it. I’ll keep it for a while at least, but won’t give it much of my attention. I much prefer the blog – so thanks to all who’ve stuck with it and welcome to any newcomers.
For those newcomers, you wouldn’t know it lately, but often there’s birds on this blog – and finally today I got one I’ve been waiting 22 years for. This female evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) appeared yesterday – first time ever in our yard. But I couldn’t get a photo. It came back today & I managed to sneak a few shots. When I was first learning about birds in the 1970s these birds were common around here in winter, showing up in flocks of 20 or more. This is only the 2nd time I’ve seen one since the early 1980s. Now if only the male would show up – https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Evening_Grosbeak/overview
Another thing that sometimes happens here is I pull things out of the loft and offer than at a reduced price. Some are there because they’re not quite “right”, others just didn’t sell & went up there. Or I never offered them for sale. There’s one of each from those categories now. From the “just didn’t sell” category – two – a box and a chair.
If you’d like to purchase any of these, send me an email or leave a comment here. You can pay with a check or paypal – I’ll tack $35 on for paypal – my email is email@example.com
CARVED OAK BOX H: 8″ W: 24″ D: 13 1/2″
white pine lid & bottom $1,400 includes shipping in US. Now $1,200SOLD
I KEEP WHITTLING THE PRICE DOWN ON THIS – HERE’S THE LAST SHOT AT IT – $1,000 – SAME GIG, SHIPPING IN U.S. INCLUDED.
The inside features a lidded till. The sides and bottoms of tills are made from what I find around the shop. In this case, a black walnut till side.
The other from this category is a ladderback chair with Shaker tape seat.
LADDERBACK CHAIR – SOLD 11/29 red oak posts & slats, hickory rungs. Shaker tape seat H: 33 1/4″ W: (across front posts): 17 1/4″ D: (from rear post-tops to front posts): 16″ Seat height 17 1/4″ $1,200 NOW $1,000 including shipping in U.S.
This is one of my chairs patterned after Jennie Alexander’s chair. Mine’s a bit heavier in its parts (& overall) than JA’s. But hers were the lightest of all.
From the “not quite right” category – another ladderback chair. This one is asymmetrical – the only damage is to my pride, the chair is sound. Just a little off-kilter. One rear post is angled out more than its neighbor. Or less, depending on how you look at it. Tight, strong – everything about it is OK except that. Sits fine. Will outlast us all. A hickory chair with white oak slats, hickory bark seat. (In the photo below you can see the post on our left angled out more than that on the right.)
Dimensions about the same at the chair above.
LADDERBACK CHAIR – SOLD 11/30
Hickory posts & rungs, white oak slats. Hickory bark seat. dimensions approx. H: 33 1/4″ W: (across front posts): 17 1/4″ D: (from rear post-tops to front posts): 16″ Seat height 17 1/4″ $1,000 includes shipping in U.S.
Ah! the “never-offered” category didn’t get photographed. It’s one of the brettstuhls/board chairs. I’ll shoot it tomorrow or Friday – I’ll post it here later in the week.
A couple of things happened. First, the season changed which means the light changed. I always enjoy the way the light changes from one season to the next.
All the interest in the chest-plans had me chomping at the bit to get back to that project. And I went back to the chiropractor on Monday. So today I began working on shooting video for making the chest lid. And so far, nothing hurts. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
There’s lots of options for chest lids. The best, no surprise, is also the most demanding. An oak lid made of multiple riven boards. Takes a big log and a lot of effort.
A simple way to do it is to use a wide white pine lid. I really like these, they’re light. Fast and pretty easy. They can get dinged up, being soft wood. But that’s just part of living. We all get dinged up now & then.
A paneled lid is another option.
I’m making this lid out of 3 quartersawn red oak boards. It will be close to the riven-board lid. Effort is in between that and the pine lid. Maybe a toss-up with the paneled lid.
The chest plans now are on a page with the carving drawings –
https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-plans/ As far as the PDFs go – of any of the 3 of these – I had hoped to set up a place where you could just pay for them with paypal and download them. But so far that’s beyond my blog-capability. But if you want any of them as PDFs, just email me & I’ll send a paypal invoice.
After a year of intermittent work on the plans for the Braintree Joined Chest, I’m happy to announce they are now available and ready for ordering. The chest featured is based on some examples I studied (and one I own) made in Braintree, Massachusetts between 1670-1700. I made them like the originals, with riven oak as the primary wood with white pine as the secondary wood. Substitutions are up to you. The finished chest is 35 1/4” high, 55 1/4” wide and 23 1/2” deep (front to back.)
I’d like to include a word about Jeff Lefkowitz. If you’re not aware of his work, a little background. A chairmaker and teacher, Jeff first came to my attention through the plans he worked on for Curtis Buchanan’s Windsor chairs. As plans, they convey all the details you need when building the chairs. But they’re also just exquisite images. If I had wall space in my shop, I’d stick some on it. Jeff went on to do other plans you might have seen, Tim Manney’s shaving horse, Dawson Moore’s spoon mule, Jarrod Dahl’s pole lathe, chairs by Pete Galbert and Bern Chandley – I’m sure there’s more. And two sets of carving patterns he’s worked on with me.
This time I threw Jeff a challenge – working up detailed drawings for a joined chest with a drawer – something that to my knowledge he’s never seen in life. Or is certainly not familiar with. Very un-chair-like. We went back and forth over the past year. Picking the project up, then setting it aside now and then to come back to. Jeff fits these projects in between his chair-classes and his home life. Always in this project, it was Jeff pushing for more detail, better explanations.
The plans consist of 6 pages, 24” x 36”. The first four are the chest and its components and joinery, these are drawn by Jeff in his usual detailed and clear images. The last two pages are the carving patterns on the top rail, drawer front and panels, as well as diagrams of the geometry used in the layout for these carvings. Scaled drawings, a stock list and construction details throughout. There’s even some filler showing how to make it as a chest with two drawers, I was able to measure two of those when I did the research about these chests many years ago.
You could build the chest from the plans, but they also serve as a companion to the series of videos I’ve been making on vimeo. That series is not yet done – I got laid up with lyme disease and missed 2 months of shop work. I’m getting back to it – there will be at least 2 more, maybe 3 more videos. The lid, some sharpening of carving gouges. Maybe installing a lock.
One minor blip in the printing resulted in one drawing (bottom left image below) coming out lighter than the rest. Rather than scrap 600 pages of paper – I decided we could live with it. It’s still readable, just light.
The plans are $90 and come rolled in a cardboard tube. Shipping in the US is $9.00
International customers, I’ll send you a PDF and you can take it to be printed. $70 for the PDF. Email me at Peterfollansbee7@gmail.com
Chest Plans; Braintree Chest with a drawer, 6 pages, 24″ x 36″ rolled in a cardboard tube, $90 plus $9 shipping in US.
Here’s a short video showing what’s included in the drawings.
I’ve been in the shop part-time lately, just hadn’t taken any photographs. I have been spending part of my time making chair parts from a section of hickory I brought home from my bark-trip in July. Still trying to relearn what I used to know 30 years ago. I can’t find stuff I had last week, but I knew just where the old plans for these chairs were. This is a comb for a comb-back armchair.
And an arm for it. Not the best bend, but the best I’ve done this past week. The few wrinkles will plane out when I go to use the arm.
But yesterday was my first day back to joinery in nearly a month. Started making the drawer parts for the joined chest video series. I cut the drawer front to fit the opening. Looks like it’s all done, but those are the drawer sides tucked under the chest.
I want the front to have some space all around it so it doesn’t stick. This is why I had business cards printed all those years ago.
I plowed a groove in the drawer sides to match the runner that’s set in the drawer opening.
This test-fit is too tight. Needs a couple of shavings off the top edge of the drawer side.
Next up is half-blind dovetails, rabbets and nails.
I finished work on the next video in the Joined Carved Chest series. This one I’ve been looking forward to – Carving the Drawer Front.
Some simple geometry and only about 5 or 6 carving tools combine to create a very full pattern across the drawer front. I’ve always liked this design and have used it as box fronts a number of times. I put together a lengthy sample (5 minutes) of what’s in the full 90-minute video. The video series is at vimeo.com/ondemand/follansbeejoinedchest
When Jennie Alexander and I studied these chests in preparation for our article about them, we sorted them into two main groups attributed to John Savell (1642-1687) and his brother William Savell (1652-1700). Our findings were that John used a different pattern than William – but only slightly different. This drawer, from the chest at Wadsworth Atheneum is, we believed (& I still believe), the work of William –
But the drawers from chests we felt were John Savell’s skipped the pinwheels around the middle of the drawer. A very small distinction, but one that requires some extra thought in the layout.
The video shows how to carve the one with fewer pinwheels, but it would be easy enough to adjust the geometry to do the other instead. Here’s one I did years ago for a chest I restored.
I just uploaded to vimeo-on-demand the most recent video in my series on making a carved joined chest. This one is carving the panels. It’s about 90 minutes long and took me a ridiculous amount of time to put together. These chests have 4 panels of the same pattern across the front. So I shot video of carving 3 of them. On 2 cameras. And had a crazy number of clips (over 80!) to choose from, trying to get just the right angle, just the right detail, etc.
I always say this, but these chests are my certified favorites. Back in the late 1980s when Jennie Alexander first hooked me into studying 17th-century oak furniture, the subject was a cupboard by these joiners – William Savell and his sons John & William.
Since then, I’ve acquired and restored a beat-up one and seen a few other beauties.
The first carvings I learned to do were the lunettes and panels in these chests. And I’ve carved them here & there ever since. There’s a section in my book on carving them – but I’ve never carved the panels on video until now.
When I started this video series last winter, after seeing Pete Galbert’s series, I expected it to run about 12 videos and maybe 20 hours. RIght now this is the 11th video and it’ll be up to about 12 1/2 hours thus far. So much for my estimates – the chest isn’t even assembled yet. Videos to come include cutting & fitting the floor (next time), ditto the till, fitting the rear panel, then assembling the chest. Making, carving & fitting the drawer. Making & hinging the lid. I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two. Sharpening carving tools – I can’t believe I agreed to that, but it’s about time I dealt with it.
Meanwhile here’s today’s trailer about the Panel-Carving video. The video is available as a stand-alone (each episode is) for $15 or as part of the whole kit and caboodle for $100. See vimeo.com/ondemand/follansbeejoinedchest
Roy Underhill is a bench-clutterer. There, I said it. But, I am as well. As hard as I try to not be – I am. Once I asked Roy about Peter Ross’ shop – it’s so neat & organized. “Why can’t we be like him?” Roy told me he asked Peter the secret one time and got the answer:
“Never put anything in a temporary place.”
I have no idea if Peter really said that. (maybe he’ll let us know…or maybe it’s better just thinking it’s true.) But I think of it all the time. Like today when I spent easily 90 minutes looking for a plow plane iron. The chest I’m building has 2 different size grooves. One for the oak panels, about 2 1/2-sixteenths. And one for the floor of the chest and the rear pine panel – about 1/4”.
I was working on a video about plowing the floor grooves last week or even the week before. I switched out my standard panel groove-iron and put it in a safe place. Inserted the 1/4” iron, plowed the floor grooves, finished the video. And set up to work on some chairs I had kicking around.
Today I went to resume the chest project, shooting the next video segment – about framing the rear section of the chest. So I cut the joinery for the side frame & panels – where they meet the rear stiles. And went looking for my narrower plow iron. I thought I had put it in a top tray in my tool chest, tucked in with some carving tools. Didn’t see it. Maybe the window-sill. Nope. On & on. Pulled the bench out away from the wall & swept under it. Lifted the tool chest up on some blocks and swept under it – that never happens.So the whole time I spent looking for it, I kept thinking this is what I get for not putting things away. Wondered did it get swept into a bag of shavings. Thought about going in & ordering a new (old) set from Patrick Leach. Then gave up & plowed a slightly wider groove in the rear stiles – it’ll work but it doesn’t match what meets it.
Then I found it. I had looked right at it, right where I first thought it was.
Well, after a slew of headaches and support-emails with the vimeo people, I have uploaded my most recent video “Carving the Top Rail” – part of the series on making a joined carved chest-with-a-drawer. Just to complicate matters, the trailer is on youtube. I don’t have the strength to suss it out otherwise.
It’s a lengthy video – almost 90 minutes, so I made a lengthy trailer. The video covers how to layout and carve the lunettes on the top rail, hopefully in enough detail to get you there. Here’s the trailer:
The video series is at vimeo.com/ondemand/follansbeejoinedchest – each of these videos (there’s 6 1/2 right now, totally almost 7 hours) is available separately or as part of the whole series. $100 for the full set, $15 per video.
I just got back from teaching a class in making Jennie Alexander’s chair – next up in the shop here is some more chairmaking, then the next video which will cover cutting the mortise & tenon joints, some plow plane & more…and in the meantime – spring migration.
I’ve been doing a couple different things as I wait for this oil paint to dry on these pillars. This is the second coat, put on today. So these should be ready in 2 or 3 more days.
I spent today planing oak panels for the joined chest project and shooting video about cleanup & sharpening of the wooden planes after working green oak.
I hate talking about sharpening, but it has to happen. In for a penny, in for a pound – when I get to editing the video from today about sharpening I’ll write a blog post for here too. I’ve never done one in all these years. Maybe bits & pieces, but not a full-blown discussion of what I do.
The video clips will be for the joined chest series I started last month. Yesterday was going to be the day I upped the price, but I’ll keep the introductory price ($85 – about to be $100) for the rest of this week anyway. I’m finishing up the next video, which is the beginning of planing the riven pieces into chest parts. I plan on posting it on the weekend. If you’d like to know more about the video series, here’s the post where I introduced it. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2022/02/07/joined-chest-video-series/
Last year was probably the least amount of oak carvings I’ve done since 1994. That photo above is easily 90% of the output for the year! I have my first carved box class in 2 years coming up the end of March. So I’ve got to get practicing. I carved this one yesterday –
but totally ruined the first attempt, then planed it off & carved this. Not terrible, but not great either.
The class I mentioned is at Lost Art Press – and is one of only two classes I have scheduled for 2022. The other is a JA chair class at Pete Galbert’s in April. When I figure out if and where I’m adding more, I’ll be sure to post about it here first. I want to see how these two go first, then take it from there.
Sometime recently I dug out this old sackback of mine to repair it. I made it in 1989 and used it for years & years. Its form is from Curtis Buchanan’s sackback, which is from Dave Sawyer’s – but I shaved the legs, stretchers and arm posts instead of turning them. A mish-mash of woods – tulip poplar seat, ash arm, hickory spindles, white oak bow and cherry for the understructure & arm posts.
Over time the spindles poked through the bow – they must not have been dry enough at assembly. So I knocked them about some, split them with a chisel & drove in new wedges. Then trimmed them flush with the bow.
A bigger problem was a break in the back of the arm. It hadn’t popped apart but threatened to. I had seen old Windsors with braces attached outside fractured bends – so figured I had nothing to lose. Scrounged up in the loft for something I could cobble together. Raided some cheap hardware-store hinge, a bit of hacksaw work (I like it less than sharpening…) and two screws. Not beautiful, but you can’t see it when you sit in the chair.