Over the past I don’t-know-how-long I got a lot of questions or notices that JA’s website “greenwoodworking” was down. Turns out the domain name had expired & someone bought it up. I spoke over the weekend to Anatol Polillo – he’s the one who shot & produced JA’s chairmaking video and built and managed the website – and he just bought a different (slightly) domain – and now the site is back up & running.
There’s a collection of Alexander’s articles, one on riving stock, one on drawbored mortise & tenon joints, etc. Many of these had been in Woodwork magazine in the 1990s. So if you’ve been looking for it, or hadn’t seen it before and want to know what the fuss is about – off you go.
I have lots of JA content here and plan on posting some of it over the winter. I’ve been researching a book that will draw heavily on the notebooks Alexander kept starting back in 1973 or ’74. Those are now at Winterthur Museum’s library. I always used to say I never knew anyone who read more than JA. Nor anyone who wrote as much.
In between rounds on the cupboard I have got some other joined and carved things done. And now with the cleaned sensor on my camera, photographing them is a treat.
This one is a box that is headed tomorrow to New Hampshire as part of an exhibit/gallery show at The Two Villages Art Society called “Into the Woods” https://www.twovillagesart.org/into-the-woods a new venture for me. Dave Fisher, Kenneth Kortemeier, Dan Dustin and many others have submitted pieces as well. Worth a look if you’re in the area, opens Sept 17.
A couple of joined stools for a patient customer –
The other – he asked for two stools that didn’t have to be a pair. Good thing…
This box you’ve seen here before, I shot a video of carving its front. Now it’s done & delivered. It was a retirement gift for a curator I’ve known for eons – Dean Lahikainen at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. It’s based on a box in their collection.
That box and the tops of the two joined stools finished off my stash of quartersawn oak. So today I ventured out into the world to get some more. Thanks to Rick for letting me be so picky. Sunday is white pine day for the same reason – my larder is empty. I guess Monday is stacking & stickering day. Then it’s back to the cupboard full-time. Assembly is on the horizon.
While I wait for the legs of the brettstuhl to dry, Daniel & I worked on catching up at the beginning of the joined stool video series. This one will do it, planing the stock. It’s got a couple of blips in the video, I had some trouble with one of the cameras. And some fumbling around on my part – had I been watching Daniel I probably would have had him edit some stumbling out – but in the end, it’s probably good to show it. Yes, I fumble around some too, looking for tools, setting the cap iron too close to the cutting edge & more.
I’ll organize the joined stool playlist when I think of it – now it should be the whole project. When I get going full-tilt on the joined press cupboard there’ll be a lot of videos about that – I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t have a log yet, but some ideas in the works.
Well, I finally made a video that is short enough to actually watch. Back last year, when I began shooting the video series on making a joined stool, I got the idea for video after I had begun making the stool. So that series starts in the stock all prepped. I made a stool a month or so ago and got around to shooting some of the splitting-through-planing process.
This one is splitting with some wedges, a bit of froe-work, and some hatchet work. I shot the planing at the bench, that’s next on Daniel’s to-be-done list.
It is January, so it should look like this. And now, for a little while, it does.
Down by the river. It’s not much snow, but at least it’s something.
I’ll go light the fire, and pretend to work – while really I’ll be watching the bird feeders. This joined stool is ready for assembly, I guess I can fit that into my busy day.
Masashi Kutsuwa sent me a link to another video of the Spanish chairmakers. This one is more recent, and has amazing detail of some of the process. That push knife and spoon bit action is out of this world. The chair work starts at about the 11:00 mark.
from Masashi’s note: “The young chairmaker in the video, who made and assembled those chairs at incredible speed, is Mr. Manolo Rodriguez, who I met at Guadix in 2015! He appears in my book P132-135. (I realized the young man on youtube was Manolo after my book was published!) “
Masashi also tells me that Amazon JP does international delivery. So if you’re interested in his book about the “Van Gogh” chair – that’s one way to get it.
I think I made about 6 carved boxes in the last month. I love making them, but some variety is nice too. So it was fun to go into the shop today and pick out some squared stock for a joined stool I have coming up next. At the end of the bench you can see 4 of 5 blanks for the stiles. I’m checking the first one against the story stick for the stool I’m making. I’ll pick the best 4 of the batch, and put the 5th one back in the pile.
Some of these 2″ squares were planed from green wood in late September and they are just right now for working further. Not bone-dry, not sopping wet. In the photo above, I’m truing up the two outside faces. I called them 2″ squares, but they’re initially planed a bit over that, 2 1/8″ or so. That leaves room for this step, getting them nice & straight, with the outside faces at 90 degrees to each other.
After I like those two faces, I mark the 2″ dimension, and plane down to that.
From there, I go ahead to layout and mortising. I didn’t shoot any photos of that today. I’ve covered that at length here, in the book with Jennie Alexander and in the video series I shot last spring on making a joined stool.
Here’s the real thing I want to talk about – case hardening. I might be the only woodworker you’re going to hear extol the virtues of case-hardened oak. I trimmed about 2″ off the end of this stile – and could clearly see the darker middle of the blank, surrounded by lighter-colored, drier outer edges. A nightmare for some, heaven for me.
The next step for me is to chop four mortises in this piece – two of them 5/16″ wide by 3 1/4″ long, the other two only 2″ long. About 1 1/2″ deep. I can chop mortises in dry stock, but it’s easier when that stock has more moisture in it. (Usually a mortise takes me about 4-6 minutes – unless I get distracted by action out at the birdfeeders.) In this stock, I’ll quickly chop past the drier wood into the slightly wetter interior.
So why not just chop those joints back in September when it was sopping wet? I used to do so, but it’s a bit trickier. Really wet wood is a bit fuzzy to cut, the fibers mush around more so than cutting cleanly. And that touches on the really great feature of this in-between material. After mortising, I’m going to turn these stiles on the lathe – and that drier, outer wood cuts more cleanly – allowing more crisp detail (as much as you can get in red oak) than if the wood were just out of the log. (here’s a photo from way back when I was working on the book w JA )
2012. That’s when the Joint Stool book appeared with Lost Art Press. I forget, but I think it was one of their first “outside” books, i.e. authors other than Chris/or reprints. It is a book that is near & dear to me, representing 20-plus years of my collaboration with Jennie Alexander – I learned so much in that period it’s always fun to look back on the whole ride.
Chris wrote to me recently, saying it’s time for the 2nd printing, and would I write something about JA for it. So I added a new short intro – that’s all that’s changed for content. Chris made some changes in paper choice, and we switched it to a board cover. The aim was to lower the price of it from here on out.
In my back & forth with Chris, I mentioned that I had wanted to add a shaved baluster instead of a turned one. But never had the time. So I said maybe we could do it as a blog post – then I searched & realized we had already done it! I knew it was a good idea.
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…
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.