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.
The spoons, a frame-and-panel and one spoon rack for sale now – the top of the blog, or this link. . https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/ If you’d like to order something, leave a comment. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can send a check. As always, I appreciate everyone’s interest in my work.
Meanwhile, but here’s today’s blog post. I have some stuff underway that I haven’t put on the blog much, because I haven’t made more than a few baskets a year in 2 decades. This is the scene these days. Baskets, and more baskets. I used to make these a lot, before there was joinery. It really is exciting to explore them again; but I’m having to re-learn stuff I used to know pretty well. Today I had to make a slitting tool too, to slice up the narrow horizontal weavers. I’ll shoot it tomorrow when I use it again. I had one once, but it got lost in the shuffle 20 years ago I guess.
I decided to dedicate a whole week, maybe more, to making baskets. It’s been so long since I made more than one or two…and the only way it’s going to come back to me is for me to do it over & over.
Earlier in the week, I was shaving and bending some white oak for handles & rims. I’ll fit those on this weekend. I like the white oak even better than hickory for bending. The King of Woods, Daniel O’Hagan used to say…
My family & I took a quick trip to visit friends in Maine. No class, no workshop, lecture, etc. Just plain fun. Scattered about the self-proclaimed “house of chairs” is a great mis-mash of ladderback chairs. When I began woodworking in 1978, I started with this book.
It showed how to make a “shaved” chair. Same format as a turned chair, but no turnings.
Here’s a turned Shaker chair –
Many years later, I learned some about furniture history & found references to “plain matted chairs” and “turned matted chairs” – matted referring to the woven seats. (See American Furniture, 2008 for an article on shaved chairs – “Early American Shaved Post and Rung Chairs” by Alexander, Follansbee & Trent. )
Here’s a nice $15 version, from French Canada. Through mortises all over, rungs & slats. Probably birch. Posts rectangular, not square. Did they shrink that way, or were they rectangles to begin with?
Rear posts shaved, not bent.
Tool marks, sawing off the through tenon, hatchet marks from hewing the post.
Small wooden pins secure the rungs in the post. Did not see wedges in the through tenons. Tool kit for a chair like this is pretty small, riving & hewing tools – drawkinfe, maybe a shaving horse? – tools for boring a couple of sizes of holes. what else? A knife? a chisel for the slat mortises…
Here’s an armchair – also shaved. Big. the curved rear posts angle outwards. the arms meet the arris of this post…one front post has a nice sweep to it. I forget if the other does…
It was a tight spot that had enough light…so I had to tilt to get the whole chair in this shot.
The side seat rungs and the arms both have this bowed shape…
Although the arms have been moved down in the rear stiles.
I couldn’t get high enough to really capture the shape of the rear stile… I’d guess these stiles are bent this time, not shaved.
The front stile, swept outwards.
You should see the cheese press. A masterwork of mortise-and-tenon joinery. Next time I’ll empty it and shoot the whole thing.
You’ll remember I used to constantly badger people about a blog called “The Riven Word”. Well, it is no more. My friend Rick McKee is no longer at the museum, as they say. But the good news is he has landed with some old cohorts of ours and is up to some pretty interesting hijinks. And has started a new blog about it. Right now, it’s off to a slow start, but I know he’ll bring some interesting stuff to the web…so sign up and drop Rick a note. Maybe we can guilt-trip him into writing frequently. Of course, I should speak, with my one-post-a-week of late.
Lately I’ve been able to use some of my all-time 2nd-favorite local hardwood. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog a while know that it isn’t walnut.
It’s ash. Down here in southeastern New England it’s white ash. My whole furniture career I have used this wood, at first I made JA-inspired ladderback chairs out of it quite often. Way back when…
At the museum, I have mostly used it for turned chairs, like these three-legged monsters.
Four legs too.
It turns so nicely, not as well as maple, but the combination of strength, dead-straight grain, great splitting ability, and good turning details makes it well suited for chair work.
I have done some joinery with it from time-to-time, recently I put up some photos of my bedstead at home, and it has lots of ash components.
I have a joint stool frame made from ash too. Historically, you find some joiner’s work in it. Not a lot, but some. It has little decay resistance, especially compared to oak. Victor Chinnery told me that this chest at the Wadsworth Atheneum is made of ash. It’s eaten alive, so maybe Vic was right.
But there were several years, maybe 6 or 8, where I made lots and lots of baskets from ash, in addition to the chair work.
Traditionally, basket splints were pounded from the whole log, crushing the early wood pores to separate the growth rings into splints for weaving. Here is the end grain, showing the ring-porous growth rings. It’s the open pores of the spring wood that crushes, leaving the more dense growth as the splint.
That’s the best method to use if all you want from the log is basket splints. There’s very little waste that way. But if you want to make some chair parts from the same log, it’s best to rive out blanks and work them this way & that – some shaved & turned into chair work, tool handles, and others pounded apart into splints.
Many visitors to my shop comment on the smells of the wood. I don’t notice them as much as most folks just walking in. But this ash log I can smell, mostly because it’s not that often that I have some. And the scent of it brings back great memories of my earlier days at green woodworking. Funny how olfactory stuff is so tied to memory.
With the onslaught of the Emerald Ash Borer problem, I have often thought of how much I like ash timber, and how I would miss it if it disappears. Such a shame if future woodworkers won’t get to use wood like this. To that end, I am trying to make the most of each log I get from ash. Hoping that somehow the objects can stand if the tree is gone…it has made me re-think my feelings about the romantic sound of a wooden baseball bat making contact with the ball. Ash is the “traditional” wood for bats, ideally suited for it. But given the dubious lifespan of a bat, I think we’re better off with chairs, baskets – let’s aim for something that’ll be around a while
This log is going into some tool handles, a cupboard, a joined stool and some baskets. I guess I should make some shaved chairs from it for old times’ sake too…
Here’s some video shot by my friend Rick McKee from the Plantation showing how I pound apart the splints.
I have said it before, but be sure to go read Rick’s blog the Riven Word. I don’t miss a post – great tone, filled with fun and information.
Here is a simple riving brake we used in the box class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. It’s the first kind I learned on, a forked section of a tree, supported by crossed poles. Works fine. Price is right.
A pine tree fell in a storm this spring. My riving brake took the hit. Crushed & mangled.
I used a borrowed one for months, til I finally got around to remaking it. This is the new one. I prefer this over the forked tree brake, because it puts the riving stock in an easier position to get at…
I have been un-packing, sorting and generally getting settled back in the shop after a hectic July. I finished the sample box that I took with me to Maine. I got the bottom on during my demos at the class, but I didn’t get around to the lid. So I finished it in the shop on Monday. It’s extremely white pine, so I think I might stain it with iron oxide/linseed oil.
Here you see the wooden pintle hinge arrangement.
The pin(tle) is a continuation of the back board’s rabbets; it requires some careful planning. Then the cleat that fits under the lid has a hole bored in its rear section. This cleat fits over the pintle and when all goes well, you have a hinge. It’s one I have found in a couple of variations in period boxes; but all in all, pretty rare. I use it a lot, folks like the idea of a wooden hinge. I have another version that I am going to use on a very small box coming up next.
I’m also shifting around here at home, working with a new computer. So some desk shuffle. I will have more posts about the CFC class. And then some new boxes.
Another batch of spoons for sale in a day or two.