Make a Chair from a Tree – Plymouth CRAFT workshop May 2019

Well. Here goes. 2019 marks my maiden solo voyage in teaching students how to make Jennie Alexander’s ladderback chair. My version of it anyway. We’ll be following the general format I learned from JA and Drew Langsner, who together and separately taught this class for decades. I learned a lot from both of them about this chair; and assisted in classes at both Country Workshops and Alexander’s shop in Baltimore. In the early 1990s I worked with JA on the 2nd edition of the book Make a Chair from a Tree.

Riving, drawknife work, boring with a brace & bit, mortise & tenon joinery, steam-bending. Lots to cover in this class, it’s where I began as a woodworker in 1978.

boring mortises
chopping slat mortises

 

drawknife & shaving horse

We’re going to do it as a 6-day class with Plymouth CRAFT, just 6 students in the class. Dates are Friday May 3- Wed May 8th. 6 spots, so if you think you’d like to tackle this (and 6 days of Paula’s lunches) best sign up early.

https://www.plymouthcraft.org/ladderback-chairs-with-peter-follan

(Two things – I wrote “solo” but Pret Woodburn will be there to assist much of the time. He just never wants credit for all his helpfulness. And May? – what was I thinking? It’s the pinnacle of the birding year – right after this class, I’m going to Mt Auburn Cemetery to see warblers during their spring migration.)

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the week in pictures

Just photos, and some captions.

mortising a joined stool frame

 

I bore the peg holes to mark it “done”

 

shaving rungs for JA ladderback

 

Mortised these posts, then shaved with a spokeshave to finish them

 

joinery tested for the 2nd joined stool frame

 

some spoon carving at the end of a day

 

new old shop stool by JA; pre-1978

 

unrelated – two scrolled & molded table rails and two bed posts

 

stile for joined table; 2 3/4″ square

 

turning one of the stiles

Thinking about self-taught turning – “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

turning detail

 

Jones River this morning

 

Nice to see the sun today

a few photos

thanks to Heather, I’ve got a new camera to work with these days. Here’s some photos, no particular theme or order. (if you want to see them bigger. click them. On a computer anyway. I don’t know how it works for you phone-heads.)

The shop from down by the river, just as the sun came over the trees. You can see Daniel’s wildlife camera, I’m trying to get a new blog post out of him.

From inside, later. Looking back toward the river. I’ll shoot this view again tomorrow, the sun is supposed to come out. Now all the cattails are golden brown. I like the way they look now better than this full-summer view.

 

These three baskets are full of split oak to be pins for securing mortise and tenon joints. I take short off-cuts from dead-straight stock and split them out & fill these baskets with them. I made the two on the left, the one on the right is a new/old one from Louise Langsner, came to me from the Jennie Alexander collection.

This basket is the one I keep down where I can get at it. The pins in it are dry/ready to use. When it gets low, I climb up and get the next batch. I made this basket in 1987. Ash with hickory rims & handle. Hickory bark lashing.

Here’s what that basket was out – I was pinning a joined stool today.

Oh, garish electric light. The cats in a white oak basket, at night in the house. Sophie, then Scout jumping out of it. These photos are a few weeks old, the cats are bigger. But still climb into stuff…

 

Last weekend, Daniel & I spent 9 hours in the car so we could spend 5 up in Maine w Jogge Sundqvist & Kenneth & Angela Kortemeier at the Maine Coast Craft School. http://www.mainecoastcraft.com/ 

Here’s Daniel getting a preview of the then-up-coming (now just-finished) class in making a book/box.

Later, out on the water we went.

Jogge & Kenneth lead the way…

I finished up the first three of these chairs.

Even got out to the beach here in Plymouth one day. Best place in town. Rose in the lead…

a semi-palmated plover. (Charadrius semipalmatus)

JA & PF 2007 joined stool demo, 2nd session pts 1-3

This is the second half of the presentation I did with John/Jennie Alexander in 2007 at Colonial Williamsburg. It gets us all the way through the joined stool; I think it covers turning, assembly and making & fitting the seat board. Then some slide lecture action from JA. The video just stops in mid-lecture – it’s all I have. Still better than nothing.

I’m going to make a static page on the blog with all these youtube clips, and keep it up there on the header. That way when I write more blog posts, it won’t get lost in the shuffle.

It’s been fun to view some of this (I haven’t watched it all…) – this was our last public presentation together, it was also one of our best, for which I was very grateful. The folks at CW were kind enough to give me a disc with the video on it, and I was lucky to find it after all these years. Enjoy.

JA & PF joined stool demo 2007 part 3

Here’s the 3rd snippet of the demo John/Jennie Alexander & I did back in 2007 at Colonial Williamsburg. This, together with parts one & two that I posted the other day, completes the first of two sessions we did during that program. I’ll load the rest as I get it sorted.

 

 

Here’s the first two in case you missed them –

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/ja-pf-joined-stool-demo-2007-pts-1-2/

JA & PF joined stool demo 2007 pts 1 & 2

I’m video-challenged. But every so often I take a stab at dealing with video files. I have started converting and posting a multi-part video of John/Jennie Alexander & I doing our joined stool demonstration at Colonial Williamsburg in 2007. In the early 1990s, Jay Gaynor was one of the students in our first-ever workshop on joined stools, yet he still hired us to present at the 2007 Furniture Forum.

Here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Bradford chair; the groovy bits

I hate making jigs. I am not set up for it. I make almost all of my stock by hand, so getting lots of parts carefully dimensioned and then assembled is a pain. Screws? Glue? I stink with these things.

But I made a jig the other day to hold the turned seat rails for grooving them with the plow plane. I’ve done it free-hand with the plow’s fence before, but it has its moments that way. Most plow fences won’t reach very far down the turned stock’s side for support.

This cradle will hold either turned seat rail; those with turned tenons, or those with rectangular tenons. It’s just over 1 3/4″ inside, so I can hold rails that are either just a tad too thick, or thin. Or even those that are just right. If it can wiggle in there, I shim it with 2 wedges. It’s important to use 2, so I can keep the centerline of the rail centered within the jig. So one on each side of the rail.

The front end of the jig has a small block in it that supports the rectangular tenon at the right height for running the plow plane. There’s a hole bored in this for the turned tenon, then the block is sawn apart so it’s only 1/2 the height.

Here’s the rectangular tenon sitting on top of that front end:

And a turned tenon nesting in the half-hole, You can also see the centerline scribed along the top of the seat rail:

In use, the plow plane’s fence rides along the outside of the box/cradle. I had scribed a centerline down the length of the rail, and set the fence accordingly. The back end of the cradle is held under a holdfast to keep it steady.

A good result – the groove is perpendicular to the rectangular tenon, just as it should be.