“Send out for some pillars…

& Cecil B. DeMille.”

the “Stent” panel, early 17th century England

Yesterday Michael Burrey dropped off some maple bolts – so today I got to turn a pillar, either for the cupboard or for practice. It’s been over 20 years since I turned one of these big pieces.

Maple isn’t my favorite riving wood by a long shot, but every now & then you find one that splits well enough. This section was fairly cooperative.

the larger section is the one I need

I scribed a 5” circle on the end and rived & hewed away the excess. Somewhere in there, I trimmed it to about 18” long. 

To prep it for turning, I wanted to make it as even as I could without getting too crazy time-wise. Last time I did this, I didn’t know Dave Fisher’s great methods for prepping his bowl blanks. This time, I used some ideas based on Dave’s work. I struck a line through the middle of my 5” circle, and shimmed the bolt on the bench til that line was plumb.

line up this end & that end

Then struck a related line on the other end. From there, I could measure how high the centerpoint of the first circle was (3” off the bench) and scribe one in the same position on the other end. And strike that circle. Then shave down to those circles. 

roughing it out w a drawknife

I then struck a new 3” circle on one end, to hew and shave a taper to the bottom end of the pillar. 

hewn taper at one end

Then it went on the lathe. At that point, it weighed 11 lbs 6 oz. (5.16 kg they tell me). Wrapping the cord around something even 3” in diameter means you’re turning slowly at first. So my objective early on is to determine the location of a cove and start to rough it out. That way I can move the cord there ASAP. Get more revolutions per tromp, and a smoother cut as the piece spins faster. 

well underway

I spent a long time on this piece; between being out of practice, out of shape, taking still photos & video, and checking dimensions – I plodded along. Hadn’t turned maple in so long, and I’m always astounded at the long ribbon shavings you get, even from a pole lathe.

a horrible photo

I live in a fantasy in which I’m about one afternoon’s cleaning away from being organized. Nothing is further from the truth though. And using the lathe drives that point home. My shop is on the small side, 12′ x 16′ – the local building codes allowed me to do it without permits & inspections if I kept it under 200 sq ft. The price I pay is that the lathe is tucked against the back wall, and I have to pull it out about 2 feet when I need it. And I don’t do a lot of turning, so often junk gets piled on the lathe temporarily. So this photo above shows some of the mayhem that ensues when I dig out the lathe. It’s one of the worst photos I’ve taken in the shop in ages – too cluttered and the photo of the pillar propped up at the lathe is extremely helpful to me, but so disorienting to look at here, with the open door beyond.

the pillar roughed out

I got the pillar to a good point for quitting for the day. About 1/4″-3/8″ oversized for now. I’m aiming for a greater diameter of 4 1/2″ and the coves are about 1″ plus. The bits just inside the tenons will be 2 1/2″. Overall length between the tenons is 14 1/2″. At this stage, the general form is established. I put it in a paper bag with some of the shavings to hopefully dry it slowly and not have it crack apart. I’ll put it back on the lathe in a few days to turn the final size and the details. Weight at this point – 5 lbs. (2.27 kg). I didn’t weigh the shavings. Tomorrow is that cleaning day, I’m going to get organized this time…

(pt 5 Essex County cupboard project 2021)

the brettstuhl continued

began carving the back

I worked some in the past week or so on the brettstuhl, or board chair. I didn’t want to copy my first carving exactly, so I just drew up part of it and dove in. The butternut carves like…well, butter. This board is quartersawn which makes it even more cooperative.

halfway there

In the photo above, I’ve made it halfway up the back. The designs and elements are taken from my 17th-century studies of oak furniture, just super-imposed on a different form. I didn’t shoot any photos beyond this one til I got one of the finished carving.

the carved back

Then I switched over to turning the leg tenons. I left them oversized and will turn their final dimension when they are dry.

roughing out

I followed that gouge with a skew chisel.

skew forming the tenon surface

I made eight of these legs, so if all goes well I’ll make another chair after this one. If all goes poorly, I have some extra legs just in case. Here’s set # 1. They’re in the kiln now.

oversized and ready to dry

So while those tenons dry, I got out some very long-stashed 6/4 white oak to make the battens that slot into the seat board. There’s two options (at least) for these – one is a shouldered sliding dovetail, and one is just a long bevel to form the sliding dovetail. I’ve opted for the bevel. Below I set the batten between bench dogs and tilted it over so the planing was pretty much just as it normally is.

beveling the batten edges

Here’s one edge done. Next time I work on this chair, it’ll be time for the bottom board – to make the tapered, beveled housings for these battens.

checking the angle

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

Make a Joined Stool Video series – the pole lathe tour

Shaving horses and pole lathes – I’ve got lots of questions about both over the years. The next step after mortising in making the joined stool is turning the decoration on the stiles. So before I get to those videos, I’ll put this one here – a general overview of the lathe & its few parts. Thanks to Daniel for putting up with me having him edit one version of this, then I said, “No, I can do the look at the lathe better.” So I re-shot it, then he had to re-edit.

Joined stool videos begin

To elaborate on a post I wrote last week – the Joined Stool video series I’ve been shooting is now starting to get posted. It took me a bit to figure out some basic snipping here & there, but thankfully Daniel took over and sorted it for me. So he gets some credit. Curtis Buchanan gets the nod for the inspiration with all his chairmaking videos. When travelling to teach workshops came to a halt, I scrambled trying to figure out what’s next. I was almost going to do one of those subscription video instruction sites…but decided it’s not my bag. Too much pressure to produce in a timely fashion and to a standard that I am not up to, video-wise.

Then I thought of Curtis and how he developed his series of chairmaking videos. I love how those come across as if you’re in his shop and he’s explaining what he’s doing as he goes about making each chair.

For the joined stool, today I posted the intro and a 20-30 minute section on layout & mortising. There’s maybe 5 or 6 more to come for this project; some carving and scratch stock molding, turning on the pole lathe, tenons, test fitting & assembly, and more. From there, I plan on some carving patterns that haven’t made it to video before. Strapwork designs, panels, and more.

Watch them here, watch them over at youtube – many have subscribed there as I’ve been getting more active – but I doubt you need both. Anything worthwhile will get copied here eventually. There’s no charge – they’re free. That way there’s no pressure on me if they stink, and you won’t feel like you’re getting taken. There is a “donate” button here on the sidebar of this blog. So if you like the videos, and are in a position to help keep things running around here, I’d be very grateful. But I’m also perfectly happy having you watch without any obligation on your part. I have tried with this blog to always have content here for sharing – and these are no exception.

OK, enough explanation. Here’s the videos. Hope you like them.

videos of joined stool work

Back when the book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree came out, I was making how-to videos with Lie-Nielsen. Made a bunch of them over a few years. For a couple of reasons, we never did one on the joined stool. I have a stool underway now, and a recent post brought a question about how the story stick is used. So I tried to cover it in a video – my video capabilities are limited and challenged. I am not going to try to learn video editing…there’s only so many hours in a day. I’m the camera man and the woodworker in these – so there’s your warning. I won’t cover every aspect of making the stool, but will try to hit many of them.

Once I had that stile marked out, I put one on the lathe & set the camera up to try to catch that work. I AM NO GREAT TURNER! – but I can do enough for joiner’s work. So to really learn turning, find someone else. (I like Pete Galbert’s video on turning…) – but here’s my series on turning this stile on the pole lathe. I chopped it up into 3 videos – mostly so I could fumble around & get what I need as I was working. You’ll see, warts n’ all. For short videos, they’re pretty long. Tom Lie-Nielsen used to ask me if I could make a video shorter than Ben Hur.

Part one is mostly turning the cylinder from the square.

Now some of the details; cove, baluster, etc.

I re-jigged the camera for the foot, to try to get some detail. The sun came on very strong, and made things both better and worse.

Links –

the book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

The video series from Lie-Nielsen; https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos

Pete Galbert’s video on turning – https://lostartpress.com/collections/dvds/products/galbert-turning

Curtis Buchanan’s video series – he’s got turning in there somewhere. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2QCOxzGYG6gAqtF-1S7orw

it depends who you ask…

 

Here’s how I make these applied turnings. Other people use other methods. I did not devise this method, but I think a few of us came to the same conclusion at the same time. I first stumbled onto this method in the mid-1990s, and I recall discussing it with Alan Miller back 20 years ago when he, Trent & I wrote a long article about Essex County (Massachusetts) cupboards that use lots of applied decoration. http://www.chipstone.org/article.php/554/American-Furniture-2001/First-Flowers-of-the-Wilderness:-Mannerist-Furniture-from-a-Northern-Essex-County,-Massachusetts,-Shop- 

The concept is: How to get a pair of turnings that consist of just under-half-cylinders. There’s lots of ways to get there, but when using period style tools, including a pole lathe, there are challenges. Some turn a solid, saw it in half, then clean up the flat backs with a plane. That’ll get you there, but how to hold the piece for sawing & planing?

I do it this way. My first step is to glue up a turning blank with a spacer between the two halves. The spacer’s true function is to provide a solid material for the lathe’s center points. Without it, the centers are driven right into the glue line, and acting like a wedge, they can split the piece apart too soon. I know this for a fact. Remember, “Good Judgement is the Result of Experience, and Experience is the Result of Poor Judgement.”

I don’t use hide glue enough to bother keeping a glue pot running. The past week or so there have been some damp and some cool mornings, so I lit a fire in the stove. Perfect, I’ll heat up some glue while I’m at it.

Once the piece is glued up, I mark the center in the middle of that strip, in this case oak. Then scribe a circle.


Next, I make it octagonal; these short ones I find it easiest to hold them between bench dogs in the cabinetmaker’s bench. I’ve done them loose on my joiner’s bench, but this way is easier.

and then turning. I used to do some turning every day at my old museum job. Visitors to the museum would want to see the lathe work, so I’d stop what I was doing and show them. Now, weeks can go by without me touching the lathe…makes for rusty skills. I can see why people would like turning rosewood, it takes detail very well, and burnishes like no native wood I know.

But like I said, I’m out of practice. These two are OK, but need to go back on the lathe to be thinned down. For their length, (6 1/4″ long) they’re too chunky. Makes their proportions out-of-whack.

 

Plymouth CRAFT’s weekend of spoons & bowls

It’s taken me a while, but here’s my post about Plymouth CRAFT’s recent weekend of woodworking. We had JoJo Wood back for her Pocket Spoon class; and Darrick Sanderson came back to help folks dive into bowl turning on pole (really bungee) lathes. That’s JoJo’s students above, deep in concentration, also following the sunshine as the day went on.

If Plymouth CRAFT had a spiritual home, it would be Overbrook House. http://www.overbrookhouse.com/  It was here that we had our first workshops, and we’ve returned many times. In real life, it’s a wedding venue & more, but we turn it into something altogether different. The Ingersolls, our tolerant hosts there, are the greatest. The students know they’re close when they see this sign by our board member David Berman http://trustworth.com/index.shtml

It points them up to the house; which is the center of our world there. Paula’s lunches happen here…

All right, back to the woodsy bits. JoJo’s pocket spoon is a revolution in the making. Go read what JoJo says about it, I don’t need to repeat all that. She started the whole idea of pocket spoons, as I recall…  https://pocketspoon.co.uk/

Here, she’s showing (at my request) the 7 blanks she just split out of this one quarter section of black birch. She squeezes out a lot of spoons from a small section of wood.

Hewing the shape with her hatchet.

A new pocket spoon in the making.

Meanwhile, down at the dance hall, the bowl turners were hewing out blanks

Darrick Sanderson showing them how to rough-turn the outside of the bowl.

A shot showing the hook as Darrick comes up toward the bowl’s rim.

We (well, Pret really – I had nothing to do with it) recently adapted our 8 lathes so they could work without a pole. Two uprights are dropped into mortises in the bed, then heavy-duty bungee strapped between them. The lathes worked very well, and the students worked very hard. Two full days of kicking that treadle is no joke.

Our friend Marie Pelletier always shoots photos at our events, and they end up here: https://www.facebook.com/PlymouthCRAFT/

Upcoming classes in October

Last week we announced a couple short-notice classes with Plymouth CRAFT. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/events

The lineup is Pocket Spoons with JoJo Wood and Bowl Turning with Darrick Sanderson. Two great instructors, one weekend, fabulous venue – October 5 & 6, 2019 at Overbrook House, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.

JoJo Wood returns for 2 days of spoon carving. JoJo is a great teacher, and has spent a tremendous amount of time perfecting her techniques in carving. Noted for clear, distinct facets and beautiful shapes, her spoons are easily picked out of a crowd. She was here in June to teach two classes and those went over very well. This class will focus on her “pocket spoon” – it’s a social movement – you make great spoons and improve the planet at the same time.

Pocket Spoon

There’s still room in this class, so you can sign up now. October is coming soon. At some point, she’ll get sick of that trans-Atlantic flight and we won’t see her as much. Get it while you can.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Darrick’s class is essentially sold out – (there’s a waiting list) EXCEPT – we’ve kept a spot in both Darrick’s and JoJo’s for a scholarship applicant. Maybe we’ve been too quiet about this, but here’s the story, clipped from our website:

“We get it that registration fees can be a stretch for plenty of people. A community conversation about how to foster broader, more diverse, participation in green woodworking began at Greenwood Fest 2018 and is still ongoing; many present last June made donations to support that goal. Since then we at CRAFT have been trying to figure out the best way to extend the largesse of those generous folks who can afford it to those who cannot.”

Our audience has responded very well to our request for help in offering these scholarships, for which we are grateful.

Read about it here: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/craft-green-woodworking-sch

At the bottom of that page are two buttons – one for “apply” and one for “donate”

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My own classes – I have two left for this year that have space. Both at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. One’s a 2-day class in carving oak patterns; Sept 28 & 29;  https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/29-speciality-weekend-classes/626-carving-in-the-17th-century-style-with-peter-follansbee-2.html

carvings for new chest

the other is a 5-day class in making (& carving) an oak box with a pine lid; October 12-16.

https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/class-schedule/37-week-long-classes/635-make-a-carved-oak-box-with-peter-follansbee.html

 

 

sooner or later one of us must know

I interrupted myself today to take care of a long-put-off task. Earlier this year, I took my lathe apart so I could build a trio of over-sized projects; a queen-size bed, a 7-foot high dresser and a large settle. My intention was when I finished those projects, I’d put the lathe back. Sooner or later.

A  couple of months went by…til today. I was enjoying having some extra floor space in the shop, but the plan all along was to make a new, shorter bed for it. This one is ash and fits 30″ between the centers, so I can turn joined stool parts, the front stiles of a wainscot chair and any small stuff I might need, like tool handles, etc.

The original bed is stashed up in the loft. It fits 50″ between centers, so takes up considerable room in the end of the shop. I’ll switch them around when I get occasion to turn those giant 17th-century style chairs.

This next photo shows the upright that forms the “headstock” if a lathe like this has one. The bed is fixed to the uprights by large iron bolts with washers & square nuts. All the hardware; these bolts, the centers, and the tool rest brackets were made by Mark Atchison back in 1994 when I was first working at my old shop in the museum.

Here’s the moveable “poppet” with its tool rest bracket inserted through it. You can see the wedge just below the bed that fastens the poppet in place.

The tool rest propped in the brackets.

I have no turner’s work coming up, so for now the lathe is shoved back against the rear wall. It fits 2 JA chairs tucked under it; waiting to be finished. And junk collects on the chair seats, an unfinished basket in this case. The foot treadle is stashed behind the lathe, and the spring pole is up in the peak of the ceiling.

For the time being, there’s easy access to the notebooks and other reference works. Many of you didn’t even know there was a bookcase in the shop probably.

Also important is access to the window looking out over the garden and the river. One day last week we looked out from the house and a great blue heron was under the bird feeders. He spooked and took off, but shortly after that came back & hung around the garden. Wouldn’t want to be a chipmunk that day…

 

A couple of years ago, Maureen planted milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. Today she found a caterpillar on one of the plants…