Drew comes north in 2015

drew's lowback chair

 

There’s lots of new readers here, so I can repeat something I’ve said here many times. When people ask me where/how I got started in this kind of woodworking, I always tell them about Country Workshops, the school down in western North Carolina run by Drew and Louise Langsner. Here’s a link to perhaps the most coherent post I did about it – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/

But tonight I’m writing because over the years I’ve had many people say they’d like to go there, but it’s a long drive (approx 20 hours for me; Massachusetts to North Carolina) – but in 2015 Drew is coming to New England to teach a course in making the chair pictured above. He’ll be at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, Maine in late September. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/73

If you’ve been wanting to meet Drew and take a class from him, here is a VERY rare chance to do so – I don’t think he’s ever taught in New England before. The chair is one of my favorites, rock-solid and very comfortable. I first met Drew in 1980, when he was hosting a class by Alexander in ladderback chairmaking. Drew’s been teaching chairmaking for almost that long…

Maybe Maine is a long drive for you too, but so what. Jump on it if you are inclined. Don’t wait for next year… It’s a small class for Lie-Nielsen’s program, and their facility is just a great place to take classes. Excellent venue, and great, helpful staff. I highly, highly recommend it.

crook with hook

more spoon carving today. One I’ve had hanging around a while is this, my all-time favorite of these “crooks with hooks” – this one in apple, but in the bowl is a bark inclusion that is essentially a deep crack. Oh well, I get to keep it that way…

apple crook

to make this spoon, I stopped looking at the photos of Wille & Jogge’s hooks that I was inspired by…and dove in. I really like the curves this one generated; exaggerated the hook and came up with a satisfying, if useless utensil. I guess limited use, rather than useless. I carved this one last summer at the Lie-Nielsen open house. It’s been around that long. For a sense of scale, it’s about 10″ long. I’m working on a new one in cherry today.

w bark

crack

 

Some bits & pieces

small chest

It’s been about 6 months that I’ve been “out on my own” (I think Roy Underhill called it “free at last”) but I still haven’t really settled into a woodworking routine like I once had…Today, I picked up where I left off over a year and a half ago – finishing a small joined chest I made for Roy’s show in 2013…  http://video.pbs.org/video/2365021510/ and http://video.pbs.org/video/2365079634/

I’ve only had it kicking around for I don’t know how long, and it took all of an hour to finish it off. Needed to drive four nails, trim the floor boards, and set one hinge.

trimming floor boards

hinges

inside chest

 

How stupid that I left it so long! It’s been on the blog in pieces a number of times, I even took it back to Roy’s this past summer, where it was the model for our week-long chest class. Now – it’s done. I copied its proportions from some English examples, it’s quite small. 30″ w x 20″ h x 17″ d. A mixture of sawn and riven oak, with pine floor boards and rear panel. No decoration other than the bevels around the panels. Paneled lid, interior till. It’s for sale if anyone’s interested; send an email if you’d like to talk about it. $2,000 plus shipping. or pick it up. 

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I finished this carved rail for the upcoming wainscot chair – started this carving as a museum demonstration at Historic New England in early December – at least it’s not waiting around 18 months. I’m working now on getting that chair moving along steadily; doing some joinery on it tomorrow. The panel is mostly carved, that should be done tomorrow too. 

carved rail 

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Updated the teaching schedule – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/  a couple of additions,

a hewn bowl class at Lie-Nielsen in late August, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/71

a splitting & riving class with Plymouth CRAFT in May in Plymouth Massachusetts; http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards

and we’re adding a 2nd 3-day class at Roy’s (it’s not posted yet) the first one sold out so quickly that we figured let’s add one…so mid-June in Pittsboro, NC. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/spoon-carving-w-peter-f/

Here’s some bowl shots from the other day. 

hewn bowl

hewn catalpa & birch

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While on the subject of classes – I was talking to the fellow who’s lining up the oak for the joined chest class at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking – this is oak like you won’t believe. If you’ve seen the posts I’ve done recently about the extra-wide oak – same source. Wow. This class is maybe half-full, or nearly so. A time commitment, but a project that will really be something. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/one-of-next-years-projects-a-carved-chest-w-drawers-at-cvsww/

panels

 

http://schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html

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Maureen is still willing to mail stuff in time – https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

What’s next? Smurfs?

I’m not ashamed, I can admit it – I now officially carve smiley faces. It’s Bob Van Dyke’s fault.

smily

I watched the new Mary May/Lie-Nielsen carving video last night – https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/basic-woodcarving-techniques-with-mary-may and wanted to pick up some tools & get carving. But it was 11:30 pm, & I didn’t want to wake up the kids. Had to wait for today. I started in on the next wainscot chair panel. You’ll see something you rarely see here; pencil and chalk. This was one of those 14″ wide radial panels – I didn’t want to mess it up. There’s no layout that I can discern on the original; so I sketched here & there, and started outlining with the V-tool. I spent almost 40 minutes to get it roughed out, but that included shooting photographs too.

I worked one half side at a time – and on each of those broke it into 3 segments that are not quite thirds. But it helps to establish the major elements.

outlining

 

This one below is the bulk of the pattern; missing a large flower in the middle. So then I just carried the same general scheme across to the other half.

outlining 2

 

Here’s the outline mostly done. Tomorrow I’ll add the flowers and then remove background & fit details.

full outline

 

Here’s a taste of the layering of this panel, showing some of these leaves falling under others. Simple and effective.

detail

 

preview of Wainscot chair video

No sooner did I mention making a wainscot chair, than I got an email from Lie-Nielsen’s youtube channel – they’ve posted a preview of the new DVD, (as well as a couple of others)

here’s the chair one – you can order it from them, or I have a few left as well. But from them, you can get the disc and all that other good stuff too.

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

Figured wood? Sliding dovetails?

Figured wood??? 

sycamore sample figured wood

sycamore figure

Sliding dovetails?

sliding DT

sliding DT 2

I remember when this blog had integrity…what’s happened here anyway? 

Nah…I haven’t sold out – it’s just another day in the 17th century. 

 

box with drawer, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706
box with drawer, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706; Bowdoin College Museum of Art

The 17th-century work of Thomas Dennis – and to some extent William Searle, but it’s a long story that I think might involve murder…has long been a huge inspiration to me. 

[Oh…what did I mean, about murder? You see Searle was a trained joiner from Ottery St Mary, Devon, England, living in Ipswich Massachusetts in the early 1660s. Then, 1666 or so, he died. Thomas Dennis then moved from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Ipswich, married Grace Searle, widow of William, and practiced joinery there until his death in 1706. There’s a group of maybe 4 or 5 pieces, all carved, that descended from Thomas Dennis – but were some of them his wife’s from her first marriage to Searle? When Searle died, his estate included the following:

“one bedsted & Cupboard £5  a trundle bedsted & a box & a little box £1  3 stooles & 3 little boxes —-   one Chaire £1  one table & 3 Chaires & one Cradle £1-5  2 wicker basketts 4s  one settle one meale trough & a Chest £2  one Cupboard £2-12  a box 5s  Tooles & Timber & board, 2 pikes £3-19”

Furniture scholars have tried to divide the group into Searle’s work & Dennis’ work – and some that are probably apprentices of Thomas Dennis – and on & on. I gave up years ago. But I have often wanted to write a murder mystery involving Dennis & Searle, and the widow Grace Searle…]

I went to Bowdoin College Museum of Art http://www.bowdoin.edu/art-museum/  to see the pieces from the Dennis family, including the wainscot chair that is the inspiration for the one in my new video. There’s a segment in the video where we look at the original; and hear its story from the curator Laura Sprague. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

bowdoin chair B

On another trip up there, I got a brief look at the carved box with drawer (above) that is the basis for one I am making these days. I had known this box from publications ever since I began studying 17th-century stuff. but had never seen it in the flesh. First thing I noticed upon walking into the gallery – the lid is sycamore (you Brits, think “plane tree”). There are very few instances of this wood in surviving works from 17th-century New England. Maybe two others? One I know for sure is a cupboard at Winterthur Museum that uses sycamore boards for drawer bottoms – a horrible idea if, as in this case, they are flatsawn.

Bowdoin box w sycamore lid

The lid of the Dennis family box is sawn very near the heart of the tree. In this shot, you can see splits running down the middle of the board. Mine are 3 quartersawn boards, edge glued together. I got the sycamore from the website http://www.curlymaplewood.com/ – the boards were just as described, arrived in just a couple of days, and all around a good experience. Thanks, Kevin. Now you know why the figured wood in the opening photo.

lid done

We’ll save the sliding DTs for another day…(quite a term, sliding DTs…)

Spoons in Maine

Just back once again from Maine – where we had a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in spoon carving. We turned 16-plus people loose with axes & knives. Yikes. It went very well, as long as I didn’t think about it at first. I had decided the theme for day one was  “A Moment of Doubt & Pain” – some steel & flesh collided. Nothing too bad; but you hate to see anyone get nicked.

16 people loose w axes

 

The 2nd day, it all began to click in, and out came spoons galore. Real spoons. Nice work. Here’s some photos, I didn’t get enough, I was too busy running around.

matt

SE using hook

There were lots of spoons coming out really well, I only wish I had shot more..

spoon

 

 

I remind new carvers (and old carvers too) to look a lot, carve a little. Dave looked:

looking 1

But I guess he didn’t like what he saw…

looking 2

I was helped as usual by Deneb, but we also had Tim Manney come for the weekend, (thanks again, Tim) – he was a huge help. Tim doesn’t make a spoon like I do at all, but he knows how to…so he worked & worked as well. Here, he’s teaching the old method of using a standard gouge for hollowing the bowl. This is how we first learned how to hollow them, from Drew Langsner’s book Country Woodcraft.

tim & sarah & gouges

It amounts to a flick of the wrist. Hold the tool by the shank, not the handle. Then, brace your off-thumb against the heel of your gouge-holding hand; and…

gouge 1

flick o’ the wrist – it’s a short travel for the gouge – but it works well Tim uses this method a lot. Maybe exclusively?

gouge 2

 

Most of our wood was straight-grained birch, but Dave brought his own apple crook to split

dave & the crook

 

I live in Massachusetts, not in Maine. Some think I should live in Maine. Sometimes I think it. But for now, I still drive up when I work there…and for the third straight Maine trip, I had car trouble. Dead starter it seemed. I ended up an extra day in the mid-coast Maine area, with 65-degree temps, under bright sunny skies. Nothing at all to do except sit & carve more spoons. Deneb, ever the charmer, said “why don’t you work down in the showroom?”

Here, I am using my new Nic Westermann twca cam and a neck strap. A great deal of leverage on this arrangement. I put a very long handle on mine. I saw a very brief clip of Barn Carder using one, shot by Robin Wood. Thanks, Robin & Barn – though I have only used this tool briefly, I really like the neck strap idea. The strap is just a loop around my neck. Then I twist the shank of the twca cam in one end. Then pull back a bit with my neck, while levering my right hand away from me, to bring the hook tool across the spoon bowl. Short move, big chips. Reminds me of the short time I got to try a block knife…

twca cam 2

twca cam

 

 

Then, it all became clear – Thomas Lie-Nielsen came by and admitted to tampering with my car, so I had no choice but to demonstrate in the showroom. He’ll stop at nothing. It was fun though…one woman came in & once we talked about what I was doing, she asked if I would mind if she took my picture – I thought about 20 years’ of working in front of the museum visitors, and wondered how many photos I’ve been in. A whole lot; what’s one more?

the tamper-er

here’s the link to Barn using the large hook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rybANi3lX2M

thanks to Robin Macgregor for the last 3 photos.