I’ve been trying to finish off this chest with 2 drawers lately. I’m close, but have to go to North House Folk School soon, so the last bits will be in 2 weeks. Today I spent making the last 12′ of moldings – out of a total of over 45 feet! Rabbet plane first…
…followed by hollows & rounds….
Late in the day I still had some daylight. I have been using the last 30 or 45 minutes each day to hew some spoons for evening carving…but today I split some reject joinery-oak and started shaving the rear posts for some ladderback chairs. Must be because I’ve been thinking of Drew Langsner lately…
Here you can see the chest with a couple of clamps holding the drawer’s moldings in place. Shaving the chair posts was like old times…
Here’s the inspiration – one of the last chairs from Jennie Alexander’s hand…and Drew’s book The Chairmaker’s Workshop. I had to look up a few things to remind me of what I was doing.
The last time I made these chairs was some shrunk-down versions for when the kids were small, December 2009. These chairs are put away in the loft now, outgrown…
I hope to bend the posts Friday, then leave them in the forms while I’m away. Hopefully there will be some chairmaking going on in March…
I have lots of new tricks I learned at Spoonfest and Täljfest, so come to Maine & we’ll explore all kinds of ideas. I also have some new spoons by outstanding makers to study, as well as a couple old ones.
This class is the best way to learn all the steps in making a joined chest with drawer.
This year, we’ll include a trip down to the Yale University Furniture Study, to examine the chest we’ll base ours on. Riving, hewing, planing, joinery, carving – the whole thing. One weekend at a time. First class is coming up, Oct 1 & 2.
Later in October, we’ll do the riving class with Plymouth CRAFT – right now we don’t have it listed yet, but a weekend in October, I think the 15/16 . (I’ll post it here, and Plymouth CRAFT will send out its email as well, if you’re not on their list, you want to be, even if it’s just for Greenwood Fest next year! http://www.plymouthcraft.org/ )
In this class, we split apart an oak log, learning how to “read” the log for best results. Then using a froe, we further break the stock down, and make garden hurdles. So, riving, hewing, shaving at a shaving horse, mortising – a busy weekend full of old techniques still applicable today.
THEN – Paula Marcoux reminded me about the spoon carving at Plymouth CRAFT on Dec 10 & 11, at Overbrook house in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts.
Well, that post brought me a new connection the other day. I got an email from Tamás Gyenes of Hungary. His note said “ I myself build similar chests – from riven beech with medieval methods “ When I asked for photos, he quickly sent some amazing shots.
Great, great stuff. I first saw one of these chests at the Brimfield (Massachusetts) Antique show. I passed on buying one for $300 and kicked myself ever after. I had the money and the space then, have neither now.
Tamas & his wife splitting out some beech:
Grooving the framing parts – an ancient method.
The shaving horse – an indispensable piece of equipment.
Tamas with a work-in-progress
a couple of shots of the original chests that Tamas studies for his inspiration:
These are old ones he owns, from what I understand.
One of his before color & decoration.
Tamás’ shots of his working on them are so inspiring – and look timeless, don’t they? Thanks so much for contacting me & sending photos, Tamas. Keep in touch,
Our local inspiration was Pret Woodburn’s gate at the Harlow House:
Great clear red oak logs (thanks Michael D) – we had almost no waste at all. Could have used every split, but got picky..
One objective was to get the hang of the riving & steering of a split with the froe & brake.
The drawknife is a simple tool to learn, but then to get the real technique down takes some practice:
Sometimes there’s people you don’t want to have sharp tools. Pret’s work was well-burnished (it’s a joke – he had just finished his 60-minute shaving horse, and I asked him to show me how it worked, but that wasn’t a drawknife in his hands…)
Boring the holes to start the mortises.
Thankfully, I can project my voice, because I had to yell across the yard to Matt, “the block plane is not the tool to trim the rails…get a hatchet”
One of the many hurdles, test fitted. Laying out the braces.
The moody-shot, complete with old-timey cooperage.
I was all for posing on our hands & knees, but the general consensus was we’d not be able to get up again.
I’ve been working this week on prepping the carved chest with drawers so I can teach the final session of that class this weekend at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. Thanks to the group who made that class possible – it’s a huge commitment of time & resources (polite-speak for money) to come there for a weekend-per-month for 5 months. I appreciate it, guys, Now get back to work!
My teaching schedule is still going, and there’s spaces left in these classes. If you’re inclined, follow the links:
I missed going to Maine this July (pesky England got in the way!) so I am glad to be headed back that way in a couple of weeks. We have a 2-day class in carving hewn bowls. Dave Fisher is going to have to go back to school soon, so come learn my way of making these bowls. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/71 I’m looking forward to trying a Nic Westermann adze. We did these bowls (& spoons) at Roy Underhill’s earlier this summer, and the bowls were a huge hit. People carved excellent bowls in that class.
Beyond that, September is my turn to be a student, I’ll be part of Jogge Sundqvist’s class at Lie-Nielsen. So I’m not teaching that month. Then other than the Marc Adams gig, my classes are closer to home for the remainder of the year. I have a few at Plymouth CRAFT –
We did an introductory riving class a while back, now we’ve expanded it to 2 days. We’ll rive open some oak logs and learn how to coerce them into garden hurdles – (think moveable fencing). It’ll be Rick McKee & I, and I bet Pret Woodburn will be around to join us as well…splitting, riving, hewing, drawknive work & more. Great food, perfect fall weather. Come to Plymouth. October 10 & 11: http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=riving-now-two-days
some years ago, I had two projects making copies of wainscot chairs. Both were projects based on chairs from Hingham, Massachusetts. First, a copy of a wainscot chair at the Brooklyn Museum, here’s the original:
I can’t find my shot of the finished repro right now, but here’s an in-progress shot:
I called this chair the Edvard Munch chair, because these designs on the vertical panels reminded me of “The Scream.”
That led to making a chair for the town of Hingham. This one stood for much of the twentieth century in the Old Ship Church. Last I knew it was on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Here’s my copy, which I think is on display in the town library in Hingham:
Now comes another project, copying the well-known King Philip chair, or the Cole family chair, depending on what legend you believe. Maybe it’s southeastern Massachusetts, maybe it’s Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve known of the chair for many years, but had never seen it in person. It was published in Robert Blair St George’s book The Wrought Covenant in 1979, and Trent discussed it in the 1999 edition of American Furniture. I went yesterday to the Martin House Farm in Swansea, Massachusetts http://nscdama.org/martin-house-farm/ to see the chair and take notes & measurements. here’s some shots of it.
Front view, feet chopped/worn down. The bottom-most turned bits added at front.
Rear panel carving. Eight divisions on this one, the crest rail is divided into 7s.
How’s this for brackets? Amazing they have survived.
Molding detail, front apron
I find the back of this chair more interesting than the front. “Tabled” panel, sort of a variation on a raised panel. The field is then run with a molding around its perimeter. Molded edges to the framing as well…
A detail, including an early repair, iron braces nailed on.
Many nuances of using ring-porous hardwoods and splitting wedges and froes. (also helping us out was Michael Doherty, “the Source-of-All-Wood” – in the floppy hat. Thanks, MD)
Some hatchet work, some detours.
It was held at the Harlow house, part of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society. http://www.plymouthantiquariansociety.org/ Our friend Donna Curtin gave us a tour inside the c. 1670s Harlow house during lunch. We almost didn’t come back to riving there was so much to see inside.
As usual for Plymouth CRAFT, we had a 2-ring circus today, there was spinning going on inside too. I missed that, but Marie shot many photos, I’m sure.
There were birds in Maine, but grey skies…
Time for some non-woodsy bits, before I hit Connecticut next Saturday.
These days, I tend to be out ahead of myself a bit. While teaching the chest class in Connecticut a week or so ago, I was thinking of preparing the next class(es), in Alaska. Those are coming right up (still room) and while I’m planning, preparing & packing for that, I’m thinking ahead to a spoon class at Lie-Nielsen and then the video shoot after it. Those are in early May, so right in time for spring migration in Maine.
THEN – comes the next of my offerings with my friends in Plymouth CRAFT. Rick McKee and I are teaming up to show how to split apart logs for various projects. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards This is a technique class, not a project. Rick has rived many thousands of clapboards over the years,and numerous other oak materials. We’ll look at how to “read” the log, what to look for, and what to look out for. Use of the wedges, mauls, froe & club – the riving brakes. It should be great. This is a one-day class, hosted at the Harlow Old Fort House, near downtown Plymouth Massachusetts. A rare chance to get together with Rick, you could even end up on one of his memorable blog posts at Blue Oak. https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/
I’m off tomorrow to scout out some wood for this class. If I find a suitable ash log, I might add splint pounding to the lineup. That’s more fun than you can stand.
The Plymouth CRAFT scene usually is a multi-ring circus,and this one’s no exception. While we’re busting logs open, Charlotte Russell and Denise Lebica will be teaching drop-spinning.
“In this class, you will learn to use a simple tool — the drop-spindle — to convert fiber into yarn. Spinning is at the foundation of most of the textile arts. The ancient, inexpensive, portable, drop-spindle allows you to spin almost anywhere.
This workshop with long-time spinner and teacher Charlotte Russell will focus on developing a feel for creating quality yarn, and will feature hands-on evaluation of fibers such as wool, alpaca, flax, cotton, angora, quiviut and silk. Participants will gain an understanding of which of the various types of spindles are appropriate to spin which fiber.” – whole story here: http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spinning-fiber-into-yarn
for me, having other classes under the same umbrella adds a lot to the fun, it’s great being surrounded by more crafty people and we usually have some time to spend seeing what the other half is up to…it’s sure to be interesting. Come join us, Rick & I will bring the tools & wood, you just come show up. the lunch alone is worth it.
Finished building a box the other day; red oak, white pine. The original this is mostly based on had no till, but I’m shooting this one for the joinery book, so added a till. This box has a wooden hinge; a small extension is made on the rear board, so that it overhangs beyond the sides. Then this “pintle” is shaved round, and fits in a hole bored in the lid’s cleats to form the hinging action. Some shots of the process:
Here, the rear board’s rabbet is double-long. Much of this excess length will be cut away, leaving the pintle. This shows the saw cuts that define the pintle.
Then I split the waste off. Red oak splits very well.
The result. Next is just gets whittled to roughly round.
I jumped ahead and here I am nailing and clinching the cleat to the underside of the box’s lid. You can see the extended and rounded end of the cleat; with a hole bored in it.
There’s a little fumbling around to get the lid in place and nailed on. But here is the side view of the end result.
This box is a custom order, complete with initials. You can tell it’s modern, because the period way to render a “J” is to make it as an “I”. But the customer was leery of having this box read “IT” – so I made up a modern-ish “J”.