back at it

I got back to some bench work the other day. Began fitting bottoms to three boxes that have been waiting around…

Sharpened the planes, thicknessed some white pine (above) and trimmed it to size. Jointing the edge here, prior to planing the bevels where the bottom will overhang the box’s sides & front.

Here’s the bevels, and pilot holes for the nails that will secure the bottom in place.

This small, 4-square reamer is one of my favorite tools. Here I used it to open up those pilot holes from below, to match the tapered shanks of the hand-made nails.

Nailing the bottom on – two in each side. Sometimes I add a 3rd in the front edge. Depends on how nail-rich I feel.

This one gets iron hinges too. Here’s the holdfast pinning the box down to the bench so I can bore and install the hinges.

A detail of hammering the gimmal/snipe-bill hinges in. That same reamer opened up this pilot hole as well.

Bent on the inside, about to be clinched.

Lids for these boxes before too long. Here’s a snapshot of the three underway…that desk box goes all the way back to my book Joiner’s Work. I needed a few photos for that book, and had to make this box to get the shots. It’s been waiting to get finished since then, maybe 3 years?

No photo description available.

All the details about making boxes like this are in my book Joiner’s Work and a DVD I did with Lie-Nielsen – and scattered throughout this blog over the years too. If you need to know more, here’s links and don’t forget the search button in the sidebar –

Joiner's Work

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/products/carved-oak-boxes-with-peter-follansbee?path=home-education-videos&node=4243

Then yesterday I took some time to go birding with Marie Pelletier & Paula Marcoux – lousy light for photos, but a nice day down at the beach. Saw piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), including 3 chicks. Here’s one of those chicks. Paula’s been one of the monitors for this beach, these chicks are now just shy of 3 weeks old.

There’s maybe 3 pairs of killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) nesting there too. Here’s one of them.

On our way out, we saw a black & white warbler (Mniotilta varia) feeding a chick – deep in the bushes it was hard to get enough light for a shot. This is the juvenile.

 

Speaking of  Paula – she’s done a couple videos recently, one about making chive pancakes and the other about brown bread – see them here – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbDDMEyH2wQ57gpgS1gDv8Q 

Strapwork

I haven’t been carving lately, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I work on the patterns’ drawings. Earlier this week, it was “strapwork.”

That’s a term art historians apply to a group of carvings (& other decoration) that mimic iron straps bound around woodwork. Or so it seems to me, anyway. This style of engraving by de Vries is often cited as an example when discussing (the few) New England examples, or the English ones – but it is only related in concept, not in details.

I first carved it about 20 years ago, one of my early attempts is incorporated in the headboard of this bedstead; two large horizontal panels:

bedstead headboard

My most recent example went into this wainscot chair that’s now in the loft waiting to be finished. 

 

The most extensive research into this particular pattern is Anthony Wells-Cole’s 1981 article “Oak Bed at Montacute: A Study in Mannerist Decoration” in Furniture History. That article runs down a lot of examples in and around Exeter, England. Recently, I sat down with some of the illustrations from that article and searched the web for newer photographs of some of the monuments Wells-Cole cited. (if you have access through JSTOR you can read it here https://www.jstor.org/stable/23404733?seq=1 )

(I’ve not seen any of these monuments – I clipped all these photos off the web. Some wikipedia, some travel blogs, etc)

Carew family monument, 1589 Exeter Cathedrel

Fulford monument, Dunsford, Devon – Thomas Fulford died 1610.

 

Sir Thomas Harris, Cornworthy, Devon, died 1610. Monument said to be erected in 1611.

A pulpit from Iddesleigh Devon –

Many, many years ago I did see some excellent examples in Totnes, Devon:

carved panel, Totnes pews

carved pews, Totnes, Devon

The only person I know of in England these days studying this work in detail is Paul Fitzsimmons, owner of Marhamchurch Antiques. He’s a magnet for Exeter/Devon carved furniture in general, and has clustered together a great group of strapwork examples. Sadly, these days you can buy original oak furniture from him cheaper than you can buy reproductions from me! https://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/current-stock/

 

Working on Drawings

I’m on a lower-back imposed hiatus from working in the shop. (after thinking I felt better, and hewing a Dave Fisher-style bowl for a couple of days – turns out I wasn’t better yet…)

A few times here and on Instagram/FB I have mentioned a drawing project I’ve been picking at for a couple of years. During hands-on classes in carving designs, a question I often got was “Where can I get more patterns to carve?” – and I never had a good, easy answer (until my book Joiner’s Work came out).

The period furniture is found in expensive, usually out-of-print furniture history books, this blog, (un-indexed, randomly place photos of carvings) – and other less-than-ideal places. But one thing I do have is a great example/inspiration from Curtis Buchanan. For years, Curtis has had free videos on his youtube channel, showing how to make his Windsor chairs. And over on his website, measured drawings available for sale, showing all the details for each chair.

and Curtis put me onto Jeff Lefkowitz. In addition to making excellent chairs, Jeff is a drawings/plans wizard. He’s been doing Curtis’ drawings for a while, Tim Manney’s shaving horse plans, Dawson Moore’s Spoon Mule, Pete Galbert’s curved leg stool. Jeff makes everybody look good…

BUT – I don’t use measured drawings! I might carve this design today on stock 5″ wide, and next time on stock 4″ or 7″ etc.

 

 

 

I wrote to Jeff, sent him some sketches, and asked if he’d be willing to try something different. I’m doing the drawings and he’s working on the layout, format, etc. Together we’re working on getting the first set of these drawings in a coherent form that carvers can then adapt and adjust according to their needs at hand. Some of the challenges will be to convey the low-relief carvings in the drawings, but there will be (free) youtube videos accompanying the drawings.

To make them, I approach it just like I do the carvings – centerlines, compass-work, etc – but many (or most) of the shapes are achieved by tracing the gouges themselves – (this one is part of round-two, was working on it yesterday)

There will be some step-by-step outlines, some short sections of text/captions – but mostly full-scale drawings of panels, box fronts, framing members  – all meant to be a guide, not a template. The reasons I don’t use templates are principally that’s not how period work was carved. You’d then either need uniform stock from one object to the next, or a host of templates to fit different-sized panels for instance. It’s quicker to learn how to compose the designs. I’ll show you that you don’t need to be artistically-trained or gifted to do these drawings. I think it’s easier to do the carvings than the drawings. Some designs do require some free-hand lines, probably the most frightening leap of faith. I’ve brought students through it in person. That’s where I’ll use the step-by-step outlines to walk you through the difficult parts. Then things like the leaves inside this diamond-shape here are just struck with gouges:

One key is learning what I call the “vocabulary” of these patterns. The first two sets I have planned all stem from oak furniture from Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. When you study these details, you’ll see various forms repeating and combining lots of ways – thus you’ll be able to fill all kinds of spaces. Here’s a drawing I did before I carved the spandrels around the doors to my shop:

 

We don’t know how long this part of the process takes, so I have no information for you about availabilty & timing. But you’ll hear about it when I know more. Jeff just got a test-printing yesterday of a sample, so we’ll know what we’re aiming for. Now to work on composing, formatting and figuring out what goes in, what gets tossed.

Lots of links so I put them all down here –

 

Links:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2QCOxzGYG6gAqtF-1S7orw

https://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

http://www.jefflefkowitzchairmaker.com/

https://www.timmanney.com/work/shavinghorseplans

Spoon Mule Plans

https://www.petergalbert.com/books-and-plans

Joiner's Work

Hewing & beveling a framed panel

Daniel & I finished a video today. It’s not a new series, it’s just a stand-alone about how I hew and bevel a panel for framed work, in this case, a wainscot chair. But the steps are the same no matter what the frame & panel is for..

I’ve shot a whole multi-hour video with Lie-Nielsen about making a wainscot chair before, so for those who want to make one of these chairs, I’d aim you to LN https://www.lie-nielsen.com/products/17th-century-wainscot-chair-with-peter-follansbee?path=home-education-videos&node=4243 

thanks as always for watching, I appreciate it.

Joined Stool Video series finale – Molding & Pegging the Seat

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…

 

Joined Stool video series – prepping the seat board

Winding down the joined stool video series. Prepping the seat board took more time, both in reality and in getting this video done, than I wished. Some days it’s like that.

After this one comes making the molded edge & pegging the seat down. I expect that to be one video, but we’ll know more when Daniel & I sit down to work that one out.

After that, I have a few stand-alone videos I shot a few weeks ago, and right now I’m starting to shoot a series on making ash baskets. I had a couple of requests too, and I’ll try to get to those.

Thanks, everyone, for watching, commenting, supporting. I appreciate it.


The book version is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

Joined Stool video series: Trimming the tops & feet

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.

Joined Stool video series – Assembly

The next video in the joined stool series is up & running. Assembling the stool. There’s a lot of repetition, but somewhere in there is what you need to know about pinning these joints together. And some of what can go wrong.


We’re closing in on this set being done, there’s maybe two more. Three I guess when I re-load the one about carving & scratch stock molding.

If there’s something you’d like to see addressed in future videos, I can’t promise anything but it won’t hurt to ask.

And thanks to all who help to make this go. I appreciate it.

I forgot to add: Today’s warbler, a common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

For anyone new to the blog, The book about the stool

Make a Joint Stool from a Tree is here – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree 

wainscot chair angled joints

test-fitting the crest

Last weekend was supposed to be Fine Woodworking Live – an annual event that many look forward to all year. My demo this year was going to be building a wainscot chair. I can’t build one in 2 1/2 days, so I had much of the stock prepped when the gig got cancelled. I decided to go ahead & build it, rather than stash the parts in the loft…here’s a post about the angled joinery on the sides of the chair.

This one uses square front stiles. That means the mortises for the side rails need to be angled – here I have a full-scale pattern of the seat plan standing at the stile’s foot. An adjustable bevel set to the proper angle gives me something to eyeball my mortise chisel to when chopping these. You have to plan ahead with the mortise layout so when you reach your desired depth you don’t chop through the stile’s outside face. I’ve done that.

Same approach for the rear stiles. These are easier, you’re angling into the stile, so no risk of blowout. Here, I’m chopping the mortise for the arm-to-rear-stile joint.

The arms’ tenons at the rear are then angled in two directions – they slope down slightly from the rear to the front. And they mimic the seat plan.

Even with careful setting out of all the angles, I end up test-fitting the joint, and scribing the shoulders for trimming. The rear shoulder is hitting too soon here, and keeping the front shoulder from closing.

The tenon on top of the front stile is the only time I make a tenon that’s not in the radial plane. The outermost pencil line here will be shaved down to, once the arm is pinned in place. Rather than plane the whole stile to meet that angle, you just shave off a bit right near where the arm joins the stile.

The roughed-out tenon.

All the decorative bits on the arms are cut after the joinery. Now it’s all cut & test-fitted, I’ll pin the frame, but not the arms. The seat fits down over the front stiles. then the arms go on.

Then after the arms are pinned, the side carvings on the rear stiles….a detail from an earlier take on this chair:

This project is not going to be part of my video series, we shot it professionally at Lie-Nielsen years ago. If you really want to make one of these…

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/products/17th-century-wainscot-chair-with-peter-follansbee?path=home-education-videos&node=4243

Joined Stool videos – Turning the Stiles

About the Joined Stool video series. Some of these videos made it up to youtube before I fully hatched the idea of making this a connected how-to series. So far then, there’s been mostly repetition as Daniel & I work on cutting & piecing them together. I’ve been deleting the first uploads over at Youtube as he & I finish up each video. Don’t worry, the whole thing will come back, one-by-one. Today’s is turning the stiles. Then comes decoration – carving & scratch-stock molding together. Then after that, it’ll all be stuff that’s not been posted before. Tenons, test-fitting, drawboring, the seat, etc. 

Turning the stiles for the joined stool is a long one. First thing to know – I’m no great turner. I think of myself as a joiner who does some turning. I don’t get as much practice as I used to do. Somewhere I recommended two friends’ videos – Curtis Buchanan’s youtube series has some of his turning https://www.youtube.com/user/curtisbuchanan52/search?query=turning. And Pete Galbert did a nice video a couple years ago with Lost Art Press https://lostartpress.com/collections/dvds/products/galbert-turning 

Both will help a lot. If only I would practice more… so – if you have the stomach for it, here’s my assault on one of the stiles for this joined stool. Including some mishaps that are not fatal at all. 

I got a note from a reader who blew up a still shot of the stool stick – which made me realize some might want that information. This stool is one I made up, but some of the details are similar to one in the book I wrote on the subject with Jennie Alexander. I’m not going to draw up a whole diagram of the stool – it’s not necessary. The stiles are 2” x 2” squares – and here’s the stick against a ruler (in inches) so you can suss out the details. Change them at your will. Use the photo above for further reference. (I noticed that photo & this have the top of the stool in different directions…sorry about that.)


The aprons & stretchers on the front & back are 10 1/2” from shoulder to shoulder. I made the tenons 1 1/2” long. The short aprons are 4 1/4” shoulder to shoulder at their top edge. Their angle is 1:6 1/2. The rest comes from a test-fit. You’ll see those videos as Daniel & I work to spit them out. Thanks for watching…

here’s the book on the subject https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

——————

I have some carving videos planned after the stool series; (some are already shot) – like this strapwork pattern:

if there’s particular things you’d like to see, leave a comment. If I can, I’ll try to tailor things some…but my scope is pretty narrow. Oak furniture, carved decoration, mortise & tenons, beyond that…hmm.

The videos are free. There is a donate button on the side of this blog for those able & willing to help keep things running ’til classes start up again. Thanks so much for all the support, I greatly appreciate it.

Peter