I think I have too many tools

It gets better & better. I forgot to add a short television clip Tamas Gyenes sent me; so here is that.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B48s8ERHyYTwZEJBWE1keU4wOUk/preview“> https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B48s8ERHyYTwZEJBWE1keU4wOUk/preview
But I also received a short film about another Hungarian making one of these riven beech chests. Frederik Uijs (whose blog is here: https://frischesholz.wordpress.com/) sent a link of this 1955 film, that to my mind could almost be shot in 1555. Watch it & count the tools – probably less than 10. Axes, hammer, saw, chisels, that twybill-like tool, compass, drawknife, auger – not many more than that…astounding.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/3V0gQ9M45G8“>

more about the riven chests of Tamas Gyenes

More photos from Tamas Gyenes, See the first post here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/tamas-gyenes-riven-beech-chests/

Carving through the surface to expose the lighter wood –

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Here’s how the surface is prepared for that work:

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The grooves aren’t cut with a plow plane, but with this tool. It seems to me like a small twybill. Detail of the grooving follows.

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Shaving of the week right here:

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cutting the groove
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hewing

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His note told me he’s working on his 69th chest! And that’s in addition to working a job, having a family, restoring old pieces and writing & researching about the chests. Hmm. seems familiar. Thanks again, Tamas. I’ll keep in touch.

Tamás Gyenes’ riven beech chests

I continue to be amazed at the connections we can make so easily these days. Remember way back when I stumbled across references to these chests:

Der Henndorfer Truhenfund

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/der-henndorfer-truhenfund/

That ultimately connected to another blog post about some visitors to my old shop,

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/a-good-day-at-the-office/

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.

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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:

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Grooving the framing parts – an ancient method. 

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The shaving horse – an indispensable piece of equipment. 

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Tamas with a work-in-progress

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The decoration: 

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a couple of shots of the original chests that Tamas studies for his inspiration: 

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These are old ones he owns, from what I understand. 

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One of his before color & decoration. 

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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, 

His website is  www.acsoltlada.hu

Greenwood Fest, June 2016, instructor JoJo Wood

Spring of 2014. There I was. Just finished shooting my video Carving Wooden Spoons with Lie-Nielsen https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee. Just gave notice to my then-employers that I was striking out on my own. And, off for a great vacation to Lake Woebegon to meet Jarrod Stone Dahl and Robin Wood – enrolled as a student in Robin’s first bowl turning class at North House Folk School.

While farting around the shop there in the evenings, I got out my spoon knives and did some carving. After one particular dismal outing, up comes JoJo Wood – she looks at my spoon & says, “I can show you a good way to shape a spoon from a straight-grained blank” – so there & then I got a real eye-opening lesson from someone who was not even born when I first carved spoons! And glad I was. JoJo knows what she’s about…

jojo 2

The lesson? We can learn from all kinds of people, young & old. Woodworking instructors don’t have to be 60-yr old grey-haired men.

And, now – your turn. JoJo is coming to Greenwood Fest to show us what’s what. Her work is great…she puts more thought into spoons than you can imagine. She really breathes these things. AND – she’s hoping to be able to bring some of her clog-making tools to show us some of that as well. Here’s a blurb she wrote up, at great personal cost to herself.

“A second generation green woodworker, JoJo Wood has been making almost since she could walk. She spent her early years travelling the world with her father, meeting craftspeople and amassing woodwork skills and knowledge, building the perfect foundations for mastering her chosen crafts. She is now one of the UK’s leading spooncarvers, and is training under the last of the English clogmakers, Jeremy Atkinson. JoJo hopes to inspire more women and younger people to get into woodworking, teaching that technique wins over physical strength every time.”

www.jojo-wood.co.uk

https://instagram.com/jojowoodcraft/

Here’s pictures:

and yes, JoJo – I wanted you to be a part of Greenwood Fest because you inspire young people and women to take up edge tools, but also because you’re good at it.

 

 

 

 

 

Greenwood Fest June 2016

I’m home. For a good long while now. I have lots of sorting to do, so I can get ready for some woodworking, and some local workshops with Plymouth CRAFT. http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events

While trying to catch up on a few things, I noticed this on their Facebook page:

 

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Plymouth CRAFT created an event: June 10-12, 2016:  Greenwood Fest

Paula Marcoux included a little snippet, in effect just trying to get you aware of the dates. Then meanwhile, you’ll have to take our word for it that it will be worth your time.

“Three days of hands-on learning, with a dreamteam of international instructors, in a beautiful piney woods camp setting. Okay, so we don’t even have a website up for this event yet, but it’s time to mark your calendars. Much more coming soon.”

 

I’ll let you know more when things are ready, should be pretty soon. Worth the wait…

http://plymouthcraft.org/

https://www.facebook.com/CRAFTPlymouth

 

Riving, hewing & drawknife at Plymouth CRAFT

craft

Riving, hewing & drawknife class at Plymouth CRAFT is done. Great group of people, I didn’t even need to be there today, except there were some of my tools. Weather & food were excellent too.

thanks again to our hosts, Plymouth Antiquarian Society, at the Harlow House. (Iron work on the sign by our friend Mark Atchison, timber work by ditto Justin Keegan.)

sign

Next woodsy ones are baskets in November and spoons in December. Website is here: http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events

here’s photos of this weekend:

Our local inspiration was Pret Woodburn’s gate at the Harlow House:

pret's gate

Great clear red oak logs (thanks Michael D) – we had almost no waste at all. Could have used every split, but got picky..

hammer

One objective was to get the hang of the riving & steering of a split with the froe & brake.

riving on a fall day 2

The drawknife is a simple tool to learn, but then to get the real technique down takes some practice:

shaving

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…)
sometimes we don't let him have sharp tools

 

Boring the holes to start the mortises.

 

boring

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”

trim w a hatchet not a block plane

One of the many hurdles, test fitted. Laying out the braces.

test fit

The moody-shot, complete with old-timey cooperage.

mood shot

I was all for posing on our hands & knees, but the general consensus was we’d not be able to get up again.

folded in

what does “tradition” mean in Traditional Woodworking?

outdoor classAfter the class at Lie-Nielsen with Jogge Sundqvist, I got an email from my friend Bryan MacIntyre. It was something I knew I wanted to tackle, but it took some time to sift through. Here’s the bulk of it:

“I’d like to start a larger dialogue about tradition…. Essentially Jogge recited his TED Talk, as requested, towards the ends of the Q&A… He talked about the four walls he’s aware of while he’s working: the materials, the tools/tool skills, tradition, and other people. (I’ve tried looking for the YouTube version now and can’t find it again… (PF – yup, it seems to be gone for now. Jogge was trying to see what’s the story)

I have been able to identify with all but one; the wall of tradition. Since we, as modern woodworking Americans, may not have knowledge to create objects such as the wooden spoon, knife, bowl, or distaff handed down from generation… How do we define our tradition? What object do we connect with if we haven’t been around it our entire lives?

So I’m asking how do you define your tradition wall? What do you look at as tradition, while you’re creating your furniture, wooden ware, houses…etc? What object of your creation do you most identify with and why?”

To which I say “well, look – a can of worms! Let’s open it.”

I’d say it’s generally true that modern American (& probably others too) woodworkers are part of what I call a “broken” tradition, in that the continuous link from one craft generation to the next died out. For various reasons, some through a general drift away from agricultural basis to a more urban setting; mechanization of woodworking – which led to a dumbing-down of processes (and a poorer product, when you think furniture), a cultural shift away from a small economy to a larger one, advertising – other reasons too.

But I am not sure that this is restricted to America. In fact, I’m of the opinion that it isn’t by any means restricted there. Starting with Sweden, because this question stemmed from the workshop we just had with Jogge Sundqvist, I look at his father’s work, and think that Wille set out to teach his knife & axe work because in his lifetime (the past 90 years) he saw those agriculturally-based hand-woodworking skills disappearing in Sweden. This trajectory is well-covered in the DVD about Wille’s career called The Spoon, the Bowl & the Knife. 

Wille Sundqvist
Wille Sundqvist

In England,I think about Robin Wood http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/the-craft/ wanting to learn bowl-turning on a pole lathe – and he had to learn it by studying George Lailey’s tools and lathe, and then piecing together parts of the story from various sources and lots of trial & error. George was already dead.

Robin Wood turning a bowl
Robin Wood turning a bowl

In America, my “green woodworking” started with ladderback chairmaking, taught by John (Jennie) Alexander, an urban hobbyist woodworker who set out to find out how “old” chairs were made…JA found few surviving chairmakers to learn from, but pieced together bits of the story here & there. So I think in some cases, the tradition was either broken, or nearly broken, and then revived. The  skills part of the tradition, that is.

Alexander's post-and-rung chair
Alexander’s post-and-rung chair

The tradition of having & using these “folk” forms – hmm. that’s another whole angle, too. When Bryan asks “What object of your creation do you most identify with and why?” for me it’s the 17th century style joinery that’s my specialty. I started studying this oak furniture back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and have continually worked at it. It really spoke to me for several reasons – the simplicity of the mortise & tenon work, the frame & panel – these techniques and forms are timeless really. But also, in a personal way, all the pieces I studied were made within 60 miles of where I have lived all my life.

joined and carved chest, 2010
joined and carved chest, 2010

All of this rumination gets wrapped up in other views, angles and outlooks too. It touches on why I work the way I do, hand-tools, and mostly using wood riven from the log rather than sawn. (I do use sawn wood regularly, but almost always as a supplemental, or secondary wood in furniture). The “why” there is simple. I like it. It’s how I want to spend my day. Working with machinery doesn’t have any appeal to me whatsoever. I watched a TED talk the other day, some guy using terms like “craftsmanship”, “hand-made”, “technology” and all kinds of other buzzwords that left me shaking my head. He & I were from different planets altogether. HIs idea of handmade & mine are quite far apart. Likewise, technology. I understand that languages are fluid things, and words’ meanings change, but when I hear people talk about “technology” today, I think electronics. To me, technology is using tools. Like hammers. I get that this computer I’m writing with is a tool, but calling all these related gadgets technology leaves out the axe, the knife, the plane – hmm.

This weekend Rick McKee & I will help a new group of students learn the age-old technology of riving wood, and shaving it with a drawknife.

 

 

shaving horse work

It’s one of our offerings with the group Plymouth CRAFT, http://plymouthcraft.org/ a small cadre of folks dedicated to teaching various skills at making things in many crafts. Our woodsy bits are part of what Jarrod Stone-Dahl calls the Wood Culture Renaissance. I like Jarrod’s philosophy. http://woodspirithandcraft.com/  It reminds me of a short essay written back in 1960, by one of my inspirations in hand-tool woodworking, Daniel O’Hagan. I met Daniel in the mid-1980s and he is directly responsible for me getting rid of my “power” (i.e. electric) tools.  

Back in 1960, Daniel wrote: “Slowly, imperceptibly, the handcraft revolution is coming. More and more people will find the inexpressible joy in making things from start to finish with simple tools, simple materials, and being content to live simply while doing it.”