I jumped the gun back here a month or two ago, but recently Plymouth CRAFT announced that there will be no Greenwood Fest in 2019. (to read CRAFT’s notice, here’s the link. It includes a nice video put together by Ben Strano of Fine Woodworking. Thanks to Ben & FWW for that)
We love having that event, and will miss seeing everyone together next spring. Our goal is to bring it back in 2020, and we’ll keep you posted about that as things evolve. Meanwhile we’re planning more workshops than “usual” because we have some time on our hands. Well, in theory we have time on our hands. Paula & I compared notes the other day, and neither of us will see a break for over a month, if then…
There will be more to come. A couple of thoughts – don’t fill your June calendar yet. And, among the planned offerings for next year, we’re thinking of taking on a longer-than-usual class for us, a 5-or-6 day workshop in making the JA chair. (that’s not in June, just so you know…)
But before we can plan that, I have a trip to Australia to prepare for…
The weekend went very well, 10 or so folks making several birch bark cannisters under Jarrod’s tutelage. What amazing material he brought from Wisconsin. We never see birches that large around eastern Massachusetts. They might grow big like that out in the western part of the state, but that’s way out past 495.
After the opening session/slide show/demo, it was time for the students to get involved. Started off making knife sheaths after a demo by Jazmin. She & Jarrod make pretty tidy knife sheaths.
Jarrod distributed the bark, then it was up to the students to suss out where to cut it. “About here?” says Jake.
Some could be de-laminated. Sorta like splitting hickory bark. Just easier.
Mary dove in and started cutting the joints with a chisel. Their first cannisters had triangular joints, later ones had curved joints. The triangular ones were a good place to start.
I semi-Tom-Sawyered Pret into cutting mine. Until I got to decorating it, that is. Then he disappeared in a hurry.
This one’s not mine, mine was more decorated. “tarted up” is the phrase, I think. But this punch impression is my favorite of the pile Jarrod brought.
Here’s a few of the punches, antler I think.
There’s many details, but I’m not writing a how-to. Here, Jarrod demo-ing pegging the white pine bottom in place.
A student’s cannister, bottom & top in place, next up was making the top and bottom bands. I messed mine up today at home, made a two consecutive simple mistakes.
One of Jarrod’s handles. Toggles, he calls them.
here’s Marie’s group shot. Big Steve – where’s your birch work?
He showed some slides of harvesting the bark, and some historical inspiration, as well as examples of his own work. That was followed by a demonstration of cutting the joints for a simple cannister.
Here, using a chisel to stab out the slots and tabs for the connecting joinery.
I know from experience that wrapping your head around the layout of this joint is no joke. Here, he’s limbering the bark up for squeezing it so he can slip the tabs through the slots. Or whatever you call those bits.
Now to do it so all the components slide through in turn.
The body of the cannister fitted, a joined outside, and an overlapping liner slid inside.
I saw Jarrod make one of these, maybe a 20-minute demo, the year we first met. Since then, I’ve always wanted to delve more deeply into this aspect of green woodworking. So I’ve waited for this class for a long time. I greatly appreciate that Jarrod & Jazmin have traveled all this way; and have brought something new to us at Plymouth CRAFT. Looking forward to the hands-on part, starting tomorrow.
First – some business announcements – I planned on assembling one of my JA-ladderback chairs today. I only got half of it done, but had a good excuse. Pret, Paula & I spent the morning exploring details about Greenwood Fest 2019 – yup, you heard me right – it’s official, mostly. There will be GWF19. We pretty much knew there would be, but we actually all said it out loud today.
Some workshop offerings – then the woodworking part. There’s one or two openings in the spoon carving class coming up Saturday & Sunday Aug 11/12 with Plymouth CRAFT. A semi-new venue for us in Plymouth, the Wildlands Trust building on Long Pond Rd. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-carving
Same venue in September 14-16 for Jarrod Dahl’s Birch Bark Cannister class. That’s going to be a great class. I have had a 15-minute lesson from Jarrod on them once, so I’m looking forward to learning more about this material, and these ingenious containers.
Now – on to chairmaking. It’s been about 25 years since I made these chairs with any regularity. In that time, I have changed the way I make most any piece of furniture; and coming back to these chairs is funny. Things I used to sweat over are nothing to me now, and the parts I struggle with today I used to apparently do with some proficiency.
Slat mortising – chopping the narrow mortises in the rear posts for the bent slats. I remember first learning how to chop these from the book (MACFAT for short) back in 1978. Sitting on a low bench, the posts pinned between 3 pegs and a wedge, and driving the mortise chisel mostly with shoulder pressure. More like digging a mortise than chopping it.
Since then, I’ve chopped so many mortises in joined furniture that I can’t see the point of not using a mallet and banging away at it. One of the last emails I got from Alexander asked “how do you hold the posts when slat-mortising?” The answer, never given, is I now hold the chair post on the workbench, either with holdfasts or clamps. And chop the mortise while standing, using a mallet. JA got up off the low bench at some point too, I know in the DVD the post is clamped on the workbench.
JA’s slats are incredibly thin, about 1/8” mortises. She was always pushing to get the chair parts reduced as much as possible. I know those are plenty strong enough, but I like the slats a little more stout. To me, the thin ones feel a little uncomfortable in handling. My chisel, which is English, is 3 1/2-sixteenths. Must be some metric dimension…so I’m making a chair that I know JA would call “wooden.” It’s not a compliment!
After mortising, I shave the parts round-ish from the octagons that I had in the bending form and mortising steps. Spokeshave work, at the shaving horse. This work requires a lot of “feel” – knocking off corners of corners, etc.
I use a JA-designed rack to test the rear posts’ positions in the finished chair. This helps to see where to bore the mortises.
Alexander’s chair is built out of order – the sides are assembled first, then the rear and front section are bored and fitted to do the final assembly. Most post-and-rung chairs were/are build front and back first, then tied together by the side assemblies. My large turned chair I have underway will be done this way, so you’ll see that sequence in contrast to this JA method.
The reasoning for making the sides first is that is the direction of the most stress the chair experiences. So the front and rear rungs will just slightly intersect these side rungs, pinning them in place. A double-dose of “belt & suspenders” construction, on top of the wet/dry joint that holds it all together to begin with. After using the rack to “see” the orientation, then I propped the posts in the vise for boring. A long bit extender helps to see the angle I’m boring at, and a level taped to it helps keep things aligned as well.
I have a bit-depth guide clamped onto the bit extender too. Stanley #47 bit depth stop. It goes “twangggg” when it hits the right depth.
Once two posts were bored, I shaved the tenons on 3 rungs and knocked that section together. Then repeat. Then quit. Tomorrow is another day.
I’m really enjoying these ladderbacks, it’s so much fun to explore what for me was my beginnings as a woodworker 40 years ago. I had been planning to delve in this work this year, and talked with Jennie Alexander about it a lot. Then her death a few weeks ago really spurred me on. The ones I’m making now are already sold, but later this month I’m planning on taking orders for them if anyone’s interested. I’ll write details about that later in August, after a trip to begin sorting out JA’s shop.
On that subject, we posted a notice on Jennie’s site that we’ll keep everyone updated when we know more about the upcoming edition of the chair book, as well as ordering information for the DVD. Once we know what’s what, you will too. I’ll post it on JA’s site as well as here and everywhere else we can think of. http://www.greenwoodworking.com/
Greenwood Fest is now a month behind us, and Plymouth CRAFT is jumping right back into gear. Paula Marcoux just posted notice for a spoon carving workshop coming up in August.
It’s a mostly new venue for us, The Wildlands Trust building in Plymouth, not far from where we have held Greenwood Fest. We hosted a lecture/demo there last year by Kiko Denzer, but now we’re going to make some chips fly. Come make some spoons, we’ll have a good pile of freshly cut green wood, lots of examples to study, tools to try and more.
The usual two-day format, featuring the Plymouth CRAFT crowd, Paula will run it, and make lunch, Pret Woodburn & I will guide you through the steps of spoon carving. Others will be around. Hope you can make it – Sat/Sun August 11-12, here’s the website: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-carving
We’ll have some Morakniv 106 knives for sale there, as well as Barn’s book Spoon. Jögge Sundqvist’s book Slöjd in Wood and more.
At Greenwood Fest, our friend Peter Lamb https://www.instagram.com/gerrishisland/ came in on Saturday night to make a presentation of the Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship award. The Fellowship aims to honor Wille and Bill and continue their legacy.
Here’s a blurb about the Fellowship –
“The Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship is awarded to craftspeople to further deepen the meaning, skills, and connections among those passionate about simple living and handmade objects. The Fellowship provides financial support to green woodworkers and other craftspeople to travel from their home country and share their thinking about handcraft, showcase their skills and design work, further their own research, and extend the international community of interest.”
This year’s recipients were Dave Fisher and Robin Wood, both well-deserving. Dave dressed down for the occasion, not wanting to show Robin up…
Today Jögge Sundqvist wrote on Facebook about contributions being made in Wille’s memory to the fund for this Fellowship – spurred me on to spread the word. You can also make a spoon to contribute to an auction in September.
“Memorial contributions in honor of Wille Sundqvist may be made to the Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship Fund at the North House Folk School, via check (noting “Slöjd Fellowship Fund”) and sent to North House Folk School, P.O. Box 759, 500 W. Highway 61, Grand Marias, MN 55604, USA …….or via paypal.me/Slojdfellowship
Also, craftspeople and other Slöjders from around the world are invited to make a spoon in honor of Wille and contribute it to North House (same address as above) in time for their on-line auction to be held in early September. All proceeds from the sale of spoons will be added to Slöjd Fellowship Fund.