Carving video – upright S-scrolls

I uploaded the next carving video to go along with the drawings. This video builds on the previous one, now the S-scrolls are standing upright rather than running in a row (or rows).

I first saw this as a box front, and have used it that way many times over the years. Here’s one from earlier this year, I think.

It could just as easily be a horizontal panel in frame-and-panel work. Or a wide framing member in the same sort of construction. The example I carved is 6″ high, with a margin of 1/2″ top & bottom.

Here’s the video –

 

And the drawings are available here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

If you’re just getting to this set of drawings and videos – the previous posts for this batch are

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/carving-s-scrolls-video/

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/09/01/carving-drawings-for-sale-now/

and – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/09/09/carving-gouges-2/

 

 

Carving gouges

First, thanks for the quick response on the Carving Drawings – I have 6 sets that haven’t gone out yet; but the 2nd print run should be here today. I’ll get those out right away. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

I thought this would be a good time to look at the carving gouges I use everyday. I checked and it’s been 7 years since I last did this run-down (& 3 years before that…). My gouges are a mixture of modern and old, some made here in the US, some English ones, some Swiss-made. A couple of other odds and ends too. As you see above, I keep them in shallow trays. In use I bring the trays to the bench, and try to keep the gouges in the trays as I work. It might make for more picking up & putting down, but my goal is to keep from hitting the tools’ edges together on the bench. When not in use, the trays fit into the upper drawer in my tool chest.

I count 13 tools in that photo above. I never use that many in any one carving, or even one project. Typically it’s about 4-8 tools per carving. Because of the mixed-batch of tools, it’s hard for me to tell students what to shop for if they want shapes like I use. In person, I usually end up whacking each tool into a scrap of wood and sending them on their way with that as a guide. So these photos aim for that effect. (I just previewed this post, and for some reason I have to click the photos twice to enlarge them.)

Left to right here, a Swiss-made (Pfiel is the company name) V-tool. Sometimes called a V-parting tool. Mine’s their #15 6mm wide. I tried to measure its angle and it seems to be around 55 degrees. Next is also Swiss-made; a #5 I use for removing background and shaping some patterns. Then two antiques, so no numbers. These are similar to the Swiss-made #8s, maybe a little more curve than that. Below are the same tools, with a ruler just below them to give you an idea of scale.

Below are the marks on those tools – the top two the Swiss-made, then W. Butcher (English I think) and Buck Brothers (Massachusetts, here in US).

There’s a few small gouges that get tucked into that box; these are only used once in a while. The first two from the left are essentially the same size and “sweep” (a term for the curvature of a gouge’s edge) – the difference being the one on the left is ground straight across its end, the middle gouge is crowned – sometimes referred to as a fingernail gouge. The narrow one is maybe like a #5, I use if for shaping in tight spots. It’s a Henry Taylor, made in Sheffield.

Some of the larger gouges are in the next tray. These are all about the same sweep, the one on the left is a Swiss-made #7, about 3/4″ wide. I use it in almost every carving I do, probably 2nd most important gouge after the V-tool. Middle is Austrian, Stubai is the maker. And the large one on the right is English/modern by Ashley Iles – here in the States they’re from https://toolsforworkingwood.com/store/dept/TXQ

The English sweeps are I think one step off from the Swiss/Austrian ones – that Ashley Iles is maybe a #6, but it’s a similar curve to the #7s beside it.

A few more, like in the first tray, these are less-used than the others. On the left is another antique, of these three, it gets used the most. It’s W. Butcher again. Then another Ashley Iles, more sweep than the previous one, and an antique Henry Taylor small shallow gouge.

A detail showing the edges of the tools above.

While we’re looking at carving gouges, here’s a few #5s – I use them for background removal, shaping & beveling, etc. The one on the bottom is straight across its edge, the other two are crowned across their cutting edge. I much prefer this shape, I feel it’s more versatile, better able to meet curved lines – just all around easier to handle. My everyday one is on top of this batch.

These V-tools were difficult to photograph to show what I want here – my everyday Vee is on bottom, it’s cutting edge is angle up from the V to the tops of the “wings” – the German tool above is an excellent V-tool, but its edge is pretty much 90 degrees to the line of the tool’s shank. I find the angled end slices a little easier…I can carve with either, I prefer the bottom one.

You can go back & read what I said about the same subject 7 & 10 years ago…I skimmed it. Not much has changed. I’ve switched some tools out here & there. There might be some better photos there…

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/carving-tools-i-use-for-oak-furniture/

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/carving-gouges/

Carving S-scrolls video

First, thanks for all the positive response to the sets of Carving Drawings/Patterns. I ordered more, so they’ll be here soon. Daniel & I finished the first video associated with the drawings, so here it is. Hope it helps.

 

You can order the drawings here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carving-drawings-17th-century-work-from-devon-england-and-ipswich-massachusetts-set-1/

And a video showing the content is here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/09/01/carving-drawings-for-sale-now/

there’s a full-length video I did with Lie-Nielsen than includes this and other version of S-scrolls – https://www.lie-nielsen.com/products/17th-century-new-england-carving-carving-the-s-scroll?path=home-education-videos&node=4243

It’s not that big a loft…

the loft isn’t all that large; only 12′ x 8′. But I manage to pull a lot of stuff down from there…lately it’s been butternut boards. I have operated essentially as a mono-culture in furniture work, maybe a duo-culture. Oak and pine. Every once in a while something slightly different; usually that means ash.

Years ago, I got a job to make a walnut high chair – customer’s wood. Big mistake. Then I built a chest with walnut I selected. Better. Then quartersawn walnut – now I started to get it. Riven- even better. But it’s still very dark, and for someone who relies on shadows to see what I’m carving, that gets tricky. I finally got the hang of it, but I don’t come across it very much.  I just finished this little walnut box – it was in the loft and just needed some molding here & there. And a cleaning…

I always joke that the best thing walnut does is sell. And I stubbornly keep making things from oak…then I went back into the loft and pulled down some butternut boards. I have often said, but maybe not often enough, I have great friends. In this case, Michael Burrey, https://www.instagram.com/mlbrestorations/?hl=en  who pretty much made me take these butternut boards from him. I might have paid him a pittance for one of them, but I think I got several in a couple of trips there…

Butternut (Juglans cinerea) is related to walnut, softer wood, lighter in color. On the left below is a board that has about 16″ of usable width, by 4′ in length. The narrower one I split apart from a wider board, to yield quartersawn material.

Looking at the end grain – the quartersawn one on top, its annular rings are perpendicular to the board’s face. It has very straight, boring grain. I love it, it’s perfect. The bottom one is the wider stock, flatsawn. You can see the growth rings wiggle this way & that. The fibers in the board’s face have a corresponding waviness to them…

The quartersawn face –

Even though this flatsawn face has some wild grain pattern, it planes easily and cleanly.

I had very limited experience with butternut before – this chip-carved box has butternut sides and ends, but a pine lid & bottom. I keep sharpening stuff in it. This butternut was radially riven – and worked like a dream.

I didn’t push the material too far, just the simplest of chip carving work.

I posted something on Instagram about butternut the other day, and Ouida Vincent reminded me that up in the loft is this not-finished sliding lid box with a drawer. So all the easy parts are done, now just the hard bits. This I made out of boards like the wavy one – I remember some of the carving digging in here & there, tearing things up when I wasn’t careful.

But I jumped ahead and started a new box from the quartersawn agreeable stuff. And I had the best time working this one so far…the detail at the top of the post is the ends of this box…

So, if you run across some butternut, grab it. Amazingly nice wood. Now, back to what I was doing…I’m not going up into the loft til these are done & gone.

The black walnut box is for sale – $800 shipped in US. Size is 11 1/4″ x 15 1/2″ x 4 3/4″ high. white oak back & bottom, blacksmith hinges.

a few ladderbacks & oak boxes for sale

Daniel & I are slowly working out the next basket video, but we’re on it. Today I made a page of a few ladderback chairs & two oak boxes for sale. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/ladderback-chairs-oak-boxes-for-sale/

If any of it catches your eye, leave me a comment, or send an email – peterfollansbee7@gmail.com

Two of the ladderbacks are at a slightly reduced price, details on the page – one of them is this slightly used Shaker-tape seat chair.

My cousin Paula came by recently, brought her husband Jim so he could buy her a carved oak box for her birthday. She had picked out this one:

But then when they got here, she chose a different one. (You should have seen that one! I almost brought it into the house…)

So now the one I had set aside is available…it’s a very nice box. Oak lid, nails & hinges by Tom Latane, till inside, etc.

I’ll make a separate page for the big-ticket items, I never expect them to fly out the door. But eventually someone finds them – chests, wainscot chairs, etc.

carving video posted

I’ve been working on a series of carving videos to go with the upcoming drawings/patterns (out for what we figure is the final test-print now) – I’ll write more about these series of drawings soon. One thing about them is that they are grouped according to bodies of work I have studied for 30 years now. The first set will be called “Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts – set 1.”  If things go well (polite-speak for “if they sell…”) there will be at least one, maybe two more from that group, and many others besides. There’s lots of groups/shop-traditions/locales – when I was studying surviving furniture, the goal was to see as many related works as possible, to better understand what is “normal” versus what is an aberration.

But there were/are times when I come across an object for which there is no known history and no obvious related works. My friend Trent and I used to use an informal shorthand for these – UFOs.

The carving at the top of this post is my version of one of these UFO patterns. It’s a typical format – the use of lunettes above and below a horizontal centerline – I carved a different take on it in my first Lie-Nielsen video years ago, and in the book Joiner’s Work. But this “infill” is slightly made up by me, using a photo from Vic Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition as a starting point.

So this one doesn’t fit into any grouping – thus I shot a video of it just because I had a wide enough board. And it gives us a carving video-tease until the real thing comes along… I shot some new footage for an opening sequence and Daniel put it together perfectly…we hope you like it.

We’ll still finish the basket-making series, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in carving lately and wanted to show some. Here goes:

 

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.