In between a few recent projects I made a new small toolbox. Pretty early in the year for me to cut dovetails. It’s white pine, 11″ high, 12″ x 28″ on the outside of that lower skirt. Made it to replace an open tray that housed my boring tools and jigs for making JA ladderback chairs. It was a great amount of blank space that bothered me, so you can see I started laying out some chip carving on the front.
But I can switch stuff out & travel with it too. Those snappy iron handles by Peter Ross make me want to pick it up.
There’s a till inside, for bits, line levels and other small stuff. Till lid is American sycamore.
One long divider inside, to separate the bit extenders we use in for boring the chair posts, the oak blocks for holding the posts when boring, etc. I’m going to make a removable tray to sit on top of that stuff next.
But I couldn’t leave it at that. I have two joined stools I’m coloring recently, so have been making a mess with milk paint. I had some mustard paint around that wasn’t going to make it on the stools, so I put some on this box. Then began the carving. I like chip carving, but don’t have the discipline to do the perfect job you see many doing these days. It’s too slow. Mine are best viewed from a distance.
Here is the toolbox with the open tray it’s replacing. And some of the stuff that’ll go in it.
It’ll never look that good again, it just got shoved under the other workbench. And there it will gather dust & get kicked around. That’s why I built it with the skirt to reinforce its construction. The chairmaking tools – braces, drawknives, bit extenders – are heavy. My mid-1980s Japanese-style toolbox is just to the left of it under the bench. In that are mostly student tools – extra spoon carving tools, random metal-bodied plane or two, extra braces, etc. Usually I move all that stuff to a temporary box when I travel. Now that will stay put & the yellow box will become the schizoid tool box. At home one thing, on the road another.
Here’s the toolbox that doesn’t move. I built it after Chris Schwarz wrote his book about them. And painted it too. I couldn’t bear to look at all that blank wood. I see from the links below that was January 2012. Time flies.
More goings-on in the shop. I took a dozen-plus chair rungs and set them in the kiln to “super-dry” them. I’m awful at things like making equipment, fixtures, etc. This kiln is bare-bones, insulation board and duct tape. cross-pieces poked through it to support the rungs, and a light bulb inside. Just a clip-light. The guts of it hang below the box, in the milk crate.
You can just see the rim of the light set in the bottom inside. The rungs are loosely piled in there.
145 degrees F.
The hickory rungs had been shaved months ago, and stored in the ceiling in the shop. When the batch went into the kiln, they weighed 3lbs/9.6oz. I weighed them repeatedly until they stopped losing weight – they finished at 3lbs/4.6oz. Once they kept that weight for a day or two, I then bored the chair posts and built the chair. The notion is that the chair’s rungs will only swell in time, they’ll never be this dry/shrunken again. The posts have a higher moisture content, not having been kiln-dried. They will shrink over time. Viola, a chair. Hickory, with white oak slats. I have yet to scrape and clean up the slats. It will get a hickory bark seat.
Today I spent planing some green wood for boxes and a chest. But took a half-hour to start the next carved box. This piece of white oak was planed in November – it’s surface is just right now for carving. The pattern, inspired by some of the many pieces posted by Marhamchurch Antiques, is almost entirely free-hand. Layout is just a vertical centerline. I’m right-handed, and I carve most fluidly to my left. So I start a carving like this just to one side of the center. Then the hard part is matching that on the right. I ran out of time, so that’s for another day. Once I finish that V-tool work, the background and some small details will be a snap. Height is 7″ width is 21″.
I did scribe two circles with a compass, these will become flowers in the carving. Then I can locate the same circles on the right half, which will help orient things there.
[Marhamchurch Antiques is a great resource for oak furniture in England. Just amazing quantity and quality… https://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/ I never miss a post, and I follow them on IG too. ]
I’ll be out of the shop for a few days, with Plymouth CRAFT hosting Tim Manney’s shaving horse class. So I stood these freshly planed white oak boards up to air out while the shop is empty. These run about 9″-11 1/2″ wide, 20″-22″ long. Perfect for chest panels, I’ll have to trim them narrower for box fronts.
Just two items right now, If you’d like to purchase the stool or box here, just leave a comment or write and we can go through paypal or a check… email is firstname.lastname@example.org I welcome custom work too, I often make boxes, chairs and more on order, Email me if you’d like to inquire about some custom work.
POST & RUNG STOOL
I showed this stool the other day – made during a photo shoot for Fine Woodworking Magazine. The nature of that work is to have extra parts on hand in case something goes wrong. I ended up with an “extra” frame, so stuck it up in the loft for awhile, then just put the Shaker tape seat on it last week.
H: 17″ W: 17″ D: 14″
$400 plus shipping
CARVED & PAINTED BOX – SOLD
And this oak box is one I made in December, and put the lid on it this month. White oak box & lid, white pine bottom. Till inside. Wooden hinge, red & black oil paint highlighting the background of the carving.
Right before Christmas, I threatened to finish a carved box with an oak lid. I came close, but at the last minute decided to take a break instead and leave that box for 2020. Once I let it slide, I decided to add painted background to the carvings. It’s been a while since there’s been paint on the blog, so here goes.
To paint a box like this requires a tiny amount of paint. I poured a bit of linseed oil/mineral spirits mixture into this shallow dish. Then squeezed a dollop of some vermilion artists’ oil paint. Next I dipped a wood shaving into a jar of iron oxide dry pigment. The vermilion is just a touch to brighten up the iron oxide. By itself it can be too brick-ish. Red lead was often used in the 17th century, which would be brighter too. If you have some Japan drier that will help the paint/oil combo dry quicker than usual. Mixing in a bit of raw umber can help in the same regard…I had neither the day I decided to do this. So my paint will dry VERY slowly.
Then mush them all together. I often use a glass muller and a piece of plate glass (sort of a flat mortar & pestle) if I have a lot of paint to make. But with this small amount there’s no need to get too carried away. The iron oxide is ground so fine that it dissolves pretty well.
Then it’s like an oak coloring book. A narrow round brush, thin paint and easy does it.
I did all the red first, then shifted over to black for the other color. A standard color combination for that period. Easily sourced colors. The black can be bone-black, lampblack and other sources too. All charcoal/carbon derived.
It’s easy to over-think the paint scheme. It’s pretty casual, just alternating the black and red as much as you can. Without getting too picky about it. This is the front, painted and now waiting to dry.
The ends of this box are carved too, so I painted them at the same time.
Clean-up is a pain. Rather than find a way to dispose of leftover paint, I have been highlighting the carvings in the shop. I had some red leftover and got up on the ladder and painted part of this tie-beam above my bench. I only made it halfway across the room. So next time I’m using red paint I’ll get at the other end.
Next Monday, June 4th, the Plymouth CRAFT crew and most instructors descend on Pinewoods Dance Camp in Plymouth Massachusetts to begin setting up Greenwood Fest 2018. We’ve been working pretty steadily prepping stuff for a couple weeks now – Paula wrangling schedules and logistics and Pret & I have been making the next batch of lathes for bowl turning. The first season, we used Jarrod Dahl’s lathes, then last year we built 4 lathes and Jarrod brought 4. This year, we’ll have 8 of our own, and we’re gathering all the necessary gear – hook tools, treadles, mandrels – Plymouth CRAFT will now have the necessary equipment to host bowl turning classes outside of Greenwood Fest. All we’ll need is a venue and an instructor. You can tell I made the poppets for the lathes – the wedges that secure some of them are carved.
I kept thinking I had loads of time, and at one point I did. But no more. So now I have a scramble to finish up whatever I can so I have something to show in the retail “Greenwood Shop.” Will it be the joined stool? The ladderback chair? The carved box? At least one of those things, I hope.
Once the Fest sold out, we started a waiting list. As we’ve got closer to the date, here & there some people have had to drop out for one reason or another, and people from the waiting list get contacted and some of them drop in. The Fest is still full, but the 7 pre-Fest courses have some spaces and no waiting lists. So for any last-minute people with flexible schedules – we have some openings you might like to jump on. If you missed out on the Fest and can come at the nearly-last minute, the pre-Fest is almost as wild an event as the Fest itself. Or if you’re in the Fest, quit your job and extend your stay forward with us. Mid-day Tues June 5- mid-day Thurs June 7th. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details
Spoon carvers – Jane Mickelborough’s folding spoon class (hinged spoon, we call it both names) has spaces. It’s an amazing exploration of a traditional form from Brittany. Something different from a lot of the spoon carving going on, but rooted in a local tradition. No one alive knows more about those spoons than Jane.
JoJo Wood’s eating spoon class. Someone can get into this fiercely popular class. JoJo has been part of both our previous Greenwood Fests. I’ve written lots about her work since we met in 2014, and I continue to be so impressed with her amazingly detailed and nuanced spoons. If you’ve paid any attention to spoon carving, she’s one of the top spoon carvers out there.
Tim Manney’s class in sharpening is a real eye-opener. In woodworking, sharp tools make everything better. Tim makes tools sharp, easily. He’ll demystify the processes to sharpen all kinds of tools; hatchets, knives, gouges, chisels, most any edge tool. I have often told the story of the first time we offered this class at Plymouth CRAFT – we had beginning woodworkers running around asking “What else can we sharpen?”
If you’re signed up for the Fest, there’s one thing I’ve been meaning to mention for some time. Paint – as far as I can tell, we’ve not addressed painted finishes in our Fest before. Although we have two masters of milk-paint; Curtis Buchanan and Pete Galbert in attendance, in addition to Jögge Sundqvist (who is not afraid of color) – we have a “new-to-you” artisan – Pen Austin doing some workshops and open demonstrations concerning paint; milk paint and distemper paint.
Pen is British, living in Massachusetts, where she is involved in restoration work in plaster and painted finishes. She trained in architectural conservation and she’s a member of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers of London. Pen was there for the first-ever Plymouth CRAFT event, back in 2014 https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/plymouth-craft/
I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work and also seeing people work with her. Should be something. I hope I can poke my nose into some of her sessions, I’d like to learn a bit more about manipulating paint. Back to my list of to-be-dones.
more pictures. the floor to the shop is more than 2/3s done, today I moved the main tool chest into place. I made this chest after Chris Schwarz’ book came out about his tool chest. There are links at the bottom of this post about building it, and painting it.
I took some photos as I put some of the tools back inside. Here is the chest in its new place, to the right of my workbench.
when I fitted the interior drawers, the runners I made were leftover carvings. Perfect quartered oak.
the bottom drawer is the deepest, has some backsaws & a plane on one end…
and a box-within-a-box of gouges on the other. Back in 2012 when I made this chest, I had cut some dovetails, but not enough to get efficient. This chest and its related tool trays/boxes got me plenty of practice. Here are the bowl-gouge boxes – the small one fits into the larger, deeper one:
and then the whole thing fits into the deep tray in the chest:
shallower trays go above this one. Starting with this chisel-tray. Some spokeshaves in it are bound for new placement soon…once I finish working on the shop.
my main carving gouges go in the top tray, along with some small stuff that fits there alongside them…
molding planes went in before the trays – bench planes will fit in the front floor…
There’s a saw till in front, this Disston saw, made for A.J. Wilkinson Co, sits in there, with others…
Later, I added some junk to the underside of the lid – marking tools, squares, some bits:
Then, the door-hanger came, so I switched gears. More later. Tomorrow, threshold and spandrels.
I mostly watched, as Pret hung the door. so I got out the camera & shot some raking light…
and Daniel’s sign he put on the shop’s peak:
It was going to say “Workshop” but he ran out of room…
Here’s more about the chest, back when I was making it.
It’s quite a festive year for some of us – Going in reverse chronological order, the circus I’m in has expanded so that I’ll be travelling to Sweden & England this summer, in addition to my usual East Coast wanderings.
The last one is Täljfest at Sätergläntan in Sweden. Among the many participants are Del Stubbs, renowned knife-maker to the spoon world, working on his fan birds; Jögge Sundqvist, inspiring us all with his extraordinary work, Beth Moen, carver of giant bowls, (her favorite tools is the axe!); Anja Sundberg, whose work is almost as colorful (more colorful?) than Jögge’s; and Jojo Wood. (it’s the Year of JoJo). There’s more craftspeople to come, too. It’s my first trip to that part of the world, I’m beside myself with excitement. I cant’ believe I get to be a part of this. https://www.facebook.com/taljfest/?fref=nf and http://www.saterglantan.com/evenemang/taljfest/
It’s the reverse British invasion, four Americans coming for the pre-fest courses; me, Fred Livesay, Jarrod Stone Dahl, and Alexander Yerks. Among others are Magnus Sundelin- I’m thrilled to be in such company. that’s just the sessions beforehand, then the whole thing kicks off for 3 days…with Robin Wood, Barn Carder and I-don’t-know-who-else. Spoonfest is the legend, and this is my first time getting to it. I’m looking forward to meeting all those spoon-crazed people!
Spoonfest was our inspiration; some common threads are JoJo Wood, Jarrod Stone Dahl, Jögge Sundqvist, Beth Moen – but we have Owen Thomas, Dave Fisher, Tim Manney, April Stone Dahl and others coming too. Later this month, I’ll be getting some lists of wood needs, and other preparations. It will be here before you know it, and before I’m ready. Thankfully, CRAFT is in better hands than mine, so I just have to show up & introduce some people and cut wood…
Today I was thinking a lot about hewing a bowl with an adze. I was swinging a tool up and down, chopping into a large hollow shape, getting out the innards, and pulling out the chips. Getting more & more open = chop, sweep, chop, sweep. But instead of the confines of my home shop, I was on the ladder, chopping ice out of the old house’s gutters. Now the melting snow flows, but soon it will ice up again. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon up there in the heavens- but the only woodwork was in my head.
I did get a first coat of paint on the oak box I made. I checked the schedule, and decided I’d try to get it painted before I ship it off to Alaska. It looked too bland as it was. After this part dries, I’ll put some black squiggles & dots, then a coat of thin red over the oak. the paints are linseed oil/turpentine with iron oxide (red) and yellow ochre; and bone black. I mixed some raw umber in to help the drying too. The lid looks like it’s painted white in the photo above, but that’s just all the light from the snow. It’s a white pine lid, so very pale.
The layout for the oval on the lid, and a view of the till inside – recycled chip carving practice.
The cedar box just got linseed oil and turpentine. Helps highlight the carvings. Two comments yesterday from stitch-women (up-graded from stitch-girls; i.e. textile arisans – thanks Denise & Mary) praised the odd-proportioned box, one suggesting a sewing box. So now I know how to market it.
Here’s one many of you have seen before, related to the oak one I’m doing now.
The joint stool book has been out a while now, so once you’ve digested your copy http://www.lostartpress.com/Default.asp go get at some oak & let us see what you came up with. Hopefully summer will let go soon, so the heavy work of busting open a log won’t seem so daunting. I know I have cut back on what I have tackled during the heat & humidity…
Here is a stool sent in a while ago by Larry Barrett:
Here’s what Larry had to say:
“Hello Peter and Jennie
Attached are a few photos of joint stools, carved boxes and chairs – all made thanks to things I have learned from you both, either via your new book, Peter’s blog, or classes with Jennie. I have a good sized black (or maybe red) oak and a chestnut oak on the ground so there may be more to come. Thanks again,
We’re thrilled to see this sort of work = so keep them coming. If you are working your way through the joint stool book, send me some stuff. we’d love to see it.
If you don’t want to carve your stool like Larry did, and you need to liven it up, get out the brushes. I had an ash stool frame hanging around the shop for quite a while, and last week I put a sawn white oak seat on it, and then set about painting it. Here’s the initial result
The first step was the black squiggles and dots, then a thin coat of iron oxide mixed in linseed oil went over that once the black was dry to the touch.
Here’s one example of the inspiration for this, a painting by Judith Leyster, early 17th-c in Netherlands:
Boy am I glad I’m a carver, not a painter. This takes forever.
but it’s getting closer. I decided to leave the ends of the chest plain. I mixed a thin yellow ochre paint for them; and have been adding more & more detail to the front & lid. I hoped it would be one more session – but I bet it’s two. Some more details in black coming up next, as well as some painted turnings between the drawer fronts.
But there’s been good ducks around Plymouth this week. It took a few tries, but my friend Marie & I found the ruddy ducks today, sleepy as all get-out…
I have only seen them in captivity before, at Buckingham Palace’s gardens…so these were my first wild ones. Well, to call them wild is an exaggeration. They barely moved their heads…at one point they sorta bumped into each other, then a two-second kerfuffle, and it was right back to tucking their heads in.
here is the male’s summer self, but as I said essentially in a zoo – so only here to show what this duck becomes in spring/summer. But not in the east…
for studying painted work of the 17th century, the trick is there are few surviving examples. Paint was often used as interior decoration. One good source for inspiration in James Ayers, Domestic Interiors: the British Tradition 1500-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). Ayers’ book goes well past the time period I am interested in, but he has a whole chapter on paint, and painted stuff shows up in other sections too; like doors, windows, walls, etc.
A sample from Ayers’ book shows a painted plaster wall, done in black & white. Imagine a room like this – you’d be hard-pressed to see any carved furniture sitting in it.
For sources of patterns like this, there’s great stuff done in the early 1600s by Thomas Trevelyon. He made 2 books of patterns, adaptable for gardeners, painters, joiners, embroiderers, etc. But, his were not printed books, but just 2 manuscript copies. So his work didn’t circulate enough to be an original source for much. But it’s based in things he’d presumably seen in various forms; drawings, patterns in gardens, needlework, ceramics, architecture, paintings on cloth, plaster, and more.
There are only snippets of painted architectural work surviving in New England, but here & there in old England there are numerous examples. Nothing like there once was… Here’s a room painted to look as if it’s paneled , late 17th-century, from Oakwell Hall inYorkshire.
For comparison, here’s an actual paneled wall, from the same trip my wife & I made in 2005. So the painting is not to fool you into thinking it’s a paneled wall, but just to give the impression. I think this is from Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. I can’t swear to it, but I’m close…
How about pinstripes? This is from the Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Note that the door doesn’t interrupt the scheme.
Painted furniture from the period is not unusual; it’s again hard to find surviving examples, but they are out there. Here’s a simple one. English again. What we don’t know for certain is the finish for the non-painted parts.
Remember, these folks were not afraid of patterns and colors. Here is a very high-style chair of the 2nd half of the 17th century, now displayed against a pale, plain wall in a museum – but in a period house? Could be totally lost against some of these walls.
and a detail
On my toolbox, I am not following any particular scheme; just sort of making it up as I go. To make matters more confounding, I have also looked at several examples of late 18th/early 19th-century Pennsylvania chests, seen in Wendy Cooper’s & Lisa Minardi’s book Paint, Pattern and People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850 , I never did make it to see the exhibition, I had seen bits of it when it was being researched. But Kari Hultman went for us::http://villagecarpenter.blogspot.com/2011/03/paint-pattern-people-book-review.html
Those chests and boxes really stuck me, and if I had room here at the house, I’d make some copies. In my spare time…
A favorite random piece of English decoration is this embellishment I found in the Carpenters’ Company Records in London – 1573.
As far as how I prepare the paint, several people wrote & asked. Yes, it’d dry pigments mixed in linseed oil. And I doubt I’ll put a finish over that. When it’s painted, it’s done. The stool book has a section about making & using this sort of paint. Any day now…
There’s stuff in a few books on paint in New England work. Abbott Lowell Cummings’ Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay has some architectural interiors with paint. And Jonathan Fairbanks has a whole essay about portrait painting, but it has great details about materials, etc. “Portrait Painting in Seventeenth-Century Boston: Its History, Methods and Materials” in Fairbanks & Trent, New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982)