First off, my thanks to my friend Rick McKee https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/ for helping me at Gurney’s Sawmill last week – we picked out & split up a red oak log & hauled it home. Now I’m back in the thick of planing stuff for the cupboard I’m building. I shot some video & photos there & here at the shop, showing how we split it, then how I choose & plan one of the pieces…
There’s noise at the sawmill (imagine that…) and wind like crazy here, so some caveat emptor with this video. There’s more in the works.
Well, I told you this was a practice piece. yesterday was one of those afternoons when all craft skills evaded me. But I can show you the steps to finish the so-called “small panel” decoration. Just not a neat job of it. This first photo is using the same molding cutter, now mounted to scrape the profile on the edges of a thin strip (1/4″ or less in thickness) to be cut into the inserts.
Holding that thin strip is tricky. I simply nailed it down to a piece of scrap pine. That gets it up high enough to clear the fence portion of the scratch stock. Cutting the first two miters on a blank is easy – there’s a length of material to hold. I got this miter box from Jennie Alexander umpteen years ago, tried to sell it. No dice, but glad now I didn’t get rid of it.
Once those two miters are cut, I lay the piece in place, and scribe its length based on the distance between two rows of molding. Ideally, it’s the same from row to row. Mine aren’t. They’re close. When I do a box front like this for keeps, I’d cut up a number of blanks and scribe all the housings in one pass. I was going back & forth for the photos & videos I was shooting. So a bit clunky and inefficient.
I didn’t shoot photos of cutting the 2nd set of miters, on a piece that’s now about 1″ to 1 1/4″ long. Hard to hold that little devil in the miter box. I fumbled around with a couple of options using clamps. Too cumbersome. Finally just pinned it in place with my left hand and LIGHTLY sawed. Key word is lightly. Any extra pressure shifts the blank aside & ruins the miter. Next, I used a square to line it up, as preparation for scribing its placement.
Make sure it doesn’t shift on this next step either, scribing its edges and miters.
Then comes the chisel work. Chopping down to sever the fibers. I’m working inside my scribed lines. I’ll sneak up to them.
Now, bevel down. chop out the waste. Some back & forth with chopping down into the fibers, then cutting out the waste.
Once you’ve got that bottom flattened out, and all the bits removed it’s time to cut to the scribed lines. Set the chisel right on the line, and chop it.
It will take some practice to get to the point where I can cut the inserts spot-on, then the housing ditto. But this shot gives you the concept of alternating these faux muntins to divide up the rows of moldings.
In many cases, it seems that these mini-panel frames were painted black. To me, that seems to defeat the effect of the molding. But it does hide a multitude of sins. Here’s a chest of drawers I made back about 2002, showing that black paint scheme. (the low light in that room is giving the black that blue cast…) Paint might save yesterday’s efforts, but I still think I’ll do it over.
It’s been quite a few years now that I have been researching the Boston joiners – and Trent’s been at it about 3 times as long as me.. he and I are down to the wire to finish an article about the joinery & joiners there…
I went & shot the gravestone of Henry Messinger, Jr the other day. He died on November 17, 1686. Age 32 years 2 months and 17 days. The stone is in the Granary Burial Ground, just past the Park St subway station. I was above ground for all of 7 minutes. Jumped up from the subway, walked for maybe 3 minutes, shot the picture. Turned around to look at some more carved stones, and before I knew it, Messinger’s stone was in shadow. I jumped back on the subway & beat the rush hour by a hair…
Messinger’s death at 32 years old was of course sad for his family, but ideal for us. It means he was still working at his trade, unlike an older man who might have lessened his work load. Thus, the probate inventory should have all his tools. But in this case, they are not itemized. Still, over £11 worth of tools and timber. Plus, in the house there’s 20 upholstered chairs. Did he make the frames himself? Ahh, we’ll never know.
Here it is:
Inventory of the Estate of Henry Messenger late of Boston, Joyner decd taken & apprized by us whose names are underwritten, 30th Nov 1686
Impr. His wearing Apparell, hatts, shoes, stockins, shirts etc and his Armes, given away by will amongst his Brethren
It: his small wearing Linnen
In the Halle:
1 doz. Russia Leather chaires at 11/8
2 Tables at 24s a ps
1 pa of brasses for the chimney
Glasses & Earthen ware
In the Chamber over the halle:
8 Turkey worke chaires at 14s
1 Chest of drawers
1 feather bed, boulster, pillows, ffurniture of coverings, curtains, vallents and bedestead