winter time & the living is easy

For green woodworkers anyway. In summer, working in the wood pile can be unpleasant sometimes. Buggy, hot, humid. The wood storage can get to be a problem. Insects can get in your wood, decay can set into some species pretty quickly.

But in winter….it’s another story. This pile is against a steep embankment in my yard. 

wood storage

 

4 footers and up

 

Storing green wood in the log this time of year is a breeze. It’s like suspended animation, even better than Ted Williams’ head. (this is a sure thing, Ted’s head, I doubt it)  I try to store the stuff I need the most upright. There’s a few benefits. You don’t have to lift and heave big heavy log sections around to get at the one that’s just exactly perfect for what you need. And when it snows, it’s easier to uncover the stash. The short stuff in this pile is just over four feet, the birch might be over 6′. (I don’t know what that is in the other measuring system)

split & rived & ready to go in

Here’s some I split out today, broke it down further at the riving brake, and now will bring it in to plane  the long stuff for some joined chests & a cupboard. There’s other less-pressing stock under the snow. It can wait. 

The kids took a jaunt around the yard to test-drive their new snowshoes. More snow on the way, we’ll hit the woods tomorrow or the next day. 

REF snow shoes

DRF snow shoes

Spooked a great blue heron down by the river. 

GBH away

Winter light

winter light

I do woodworking year-round. For me though, winter is the best time for it. I still don’t have a “proper” workshop, i.e. one that is mine, with all my tools and wood in it. But I have spent a lot of time in my head thinking about what it might be like. The borrowed shop I am using to shoot pictures is real nice…it’s on the 2nd floor – which at first I thought was stupid. But with windows at each gable end, there’s lots of light. Winter light can be quite amazing. I saw this chest front bathed in raking light today. Couldn’t resist. I was there to resume working on joinery stuff. This oak chest with 2 drawers has been underway for a long time. Today I started framing the sides. 

oak

I worked that project along some, and then picked up the walnut joined stool interruption. I had the rail stock planed, just had to lay and cut the tenons and do a test-fit. There was little I did differently than when I do these in oak. But some.

Not planing, it’s just the same in walnut as in oak, although easier. 

planing walnut

 

Laid out the tenons. Like I said, lots of light here. Sometimes I have a hard time seeing my lines in walnut, but not today. 

stool rails

 

I was thinking I’d chicken out & saw the tenon cheeks, but decided the stock was riven because it was straight-grained, so why not go for broke? Worked like a charm. 

split tenons

the driving point for me was the ease of working this riven walnut. Nothing like my first experience with its kiln-dried relative some years ago. Paring across these tenon cheeks was a snap. 

stool aprons

HERE”s the major departure from my normal practice – I put a piece of scrap wood between the stool & the mallet when I test-assembled! You can’t hit walnut as hard as you can oak. Period. (well, you can – but you’ll mess it up.)

assembly w block

The stool needs a little tweaking to clean up some wracking – but they all need that at some point. This is as far as I got today…

walnut stool

 

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FURNITURE SALE:

 

I won’t have spoons for sale until late January. I do have a few furniture items that I have discounted. Time to make some room in this old house of ours so I can bring these new pieces home when they’re done. So if you’d like to have a look, I’ve added a page here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/furniture-sale-winter-2015/

While we’re at it, Maureen is doing the same with her textile work – we’re overrun with stuff!  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

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

————

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 happening to my monoculture parts 2 & 3

not oak

well, I never really was a true monoculture anyway. But close. Mostly oak, lots of white pine, ash. some maple (mostly turned), but there’s even mention in the back pages of this blog of Spanish cedar, East Indian Rosewood, Atlantic white cedar – and the spoons are a range of woods that never include oak. That’s where you’ll see me use cherry and apple – not in furniture.

walnut bolt

But my recent foray further into walnut is really out of this world, for me anyway. Riven, radial, high moisture content. Now I have run the gamut with this wood, from my first experience with that awful kiln-dried randomly sawn lousy stock, to air-dried straight-grained clear stuff – now to the true beast – riven radial stuff. Wow. Hewing it is so much fun I almost just chopped it all up just for the thrill. It’s going to be a joined stool, which I need like a hole in the head – but the book needs joined work that’s not oak. And…the walnut was a gift. Thanks, Michael D.

hewing walnut

Here are the stool parts, planed. Why 5 aprons & only 3 stretchers? Because I had just a little bit of extra wood. This way, I’ll make the aprons. If all goes well, apron #5 will get chopped down to a stretcher. Something goes haywire, I make #5 an apron & return to the wood pile to hopefully scrounge a stretcher. Timid, I know. But I don’t usually have riven walnut around. This is New England, not the mid-west. 

walnut joined stool parts

Part 3 of the “what happened to my monoculture” is really out of this world – this wood was like nothing I have ever seen. I got a sampling of it in the mail – to test it for a carving class. 11 1/2” wide quartersawn stuff – with over 360 growth rings!

200 to 300 yrs

300 yr mark

Alaskan yellow cedar – is not a cedar and might be from British Columbia…but it is yellow. http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/softwoods/alaskan-yellow-cedar/

I just could not wrap my head around the growth rate of this tree. Turns out as I read more about it, the tree grows for upwards of 1,000-1,500 years. That’s old. It’s a tree that has been in decline for 100 years, dying off due to climate change. Seems it’s so warm these days that the trees are freezing – sounds like Stephen Foster wrote the story of it. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/research/climate-change/yellow-cedar/yellow-cedar_and_climate_change.pdf

We’re hopefully using this for the box class I’m teaching in Alaska next spring. Thanks to the guys up there for sending it down…

carvings

It carves very well, planes to a beautiful finish, except for some tearout difficulties. I’m mesmerized by it. Density is a bit softer than the black walnut; specific gravity is .42,  as compared to the walnut at .51. I did much of the carving without the mallet. Once all the V-tool outlining was done, I used hand pressure for a great deal of this design.

detail

spandrel

panel full view

 

But I have been working up some oak stock recently to replenish what I have used. I only have about 6 or 8 more of this crazy-wide oak panels to prep…the offset handle on this hatchet is especially useful when working wide stuff. this one’s 14” wide. That’s knuckle-scraping wide if you’re not careful.

oak

 

Couple of spoons left, the bowls, etc. The wainscot chair video too – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-december-2014/

over at Plymouth Craft – if you’re thinking of the spoon class, it’s about half-full now. So don’t delay…  http://plymouthcraft.org/  (3PM – Eastern time, that website is having a problem. We’ll get on it, or it will fix itself miraculously…) 

 

what’s happening to my mono-culture? part 1

bretstuhl 3

I guess I am throwing in the towel – and admitting that I use walnut. I used to often joke that I was a mono-culture – all oak. I’ve made enough full-fledged pieces in walnut by now, and several incidental small bits so I guess it’s part of my bag. This chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking back in Jul/Aug 1981. I used black walnut with hickory heartwood legs. Oak cleats housed in sliding dovetails underneath the seat; these receive wedged round tenons at the tops of the legs. All the chair needs now is two small wedges to secure the through tenons from the backboard where it fits through the seat & cleats. The carvings I based on Dutch work from the 17th century; stuck with what I know, I guess. so the chair is a hybrid for sure. 

I had made one of these chairs years ago, and had always wanted to try another. So this was the year to go ahead and make a non-English chair. I’ll shoot it for real in a day or so…

there’s more mono-culture-breaking to come…one wood in particular you won’t believe is on my bench. I’ve never seen anything like it. Next week. 

bretstuhl 2

bretstuhl side view

 

There’s a few spoons left, some bowls and one panel. I hope to have more in a couple weeks. 

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/late-november-spoons-bowls-for-sale/

 

my kids complain when we draw

My kids complain when we draw together, they say all I draw is patterns & designs. (Here’s them painting; I can’t find them drawing right now…)

kids painting

 

I’ve been doing some drawings lately. It’s somewhat new for me to draw before I build something, usually I make it first, then I draw it… 

I’m finishing up a few projects, which means it’s time to start the next ones…I’m real good at starting them…it’s easy. I always have more ideas than time. A further challenge is when one thing leads to another, and a project comes up out of nowhere, and jumps the queue. I’m right now struggling to keep that from happening. I’m losing that struggle. But that’s OK.

brittany

I had a visit from Chris Pinnell from Montreal recently, and we were talking about joinery in New France. I had remembered some photos sent to me from a reader, and dug out pictures of joined work from Brittany. [It was Maurice Pommier, author of Grandpa’s Workshop – here’s my original post from a few years back –   https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/bretagne-joinery-an-english-book-stand/ and the book is here http://lostartpress.com/products/grandpas-workshop  ]

 

Afterwards, I went back & started drawing this carving over & over. I’ve probably drawn five versions of it since yesterday. I plan on carving it just to get it out of my system, so I can get on with the other stuff I really should be doing.

bowdoin chair panel

One of the projects I have to do next is a wainscot chair. For this project, I’ll be using some of that really wide riven oak I just got in. The panel is 14” wide x 16 3/4” high. I decided I’d draw this design a few times before picking up the tools, that way I know the shapes I’m after. Those size panels don’t grow on trees, you know. This is slightly different from my usual approach. Typically, with this Ipswich/Devon stuff I carve my own versions of the panels…it’s easy enough to make them up using various elements from existing patterns. This time, I’m trying to copy the existing chair …)

dennis wainscot panel no grid

Dennis wainscot panel

 

 

I’ve drawn it about 3 times, including one that’s half the panel, full size. I won’t lay out a grid on the panel, but I will work from the scaled full size drawing. I want it to have irregularities in it, and those are easy to get. 

 

One last drawing – this thing jumped in front others, should be done this week. A bretstuhl – in walnut. Here’s the carving design I made up for the shaped back board to this chair. the chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking in the early 1980s, from Switzerland. The carving designs I adapted from Dutch work of the 17th century. 

bretstuhl stabelle

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/