I can usually swing with some general symmetry, or “approximate symmetry” as I often call it. This chest of drawers I’ve been building just fooled me, almost knocked me off my feet. I knew it was 2 different designs on the drawer fronts, but for some stupid reason I expected the carving on each drawer front to be symmetrical left-to-right. What was I thinking?
here’s the original – I didn’t even notice how random it is until I began to lay it out today.
I’m back from teaching two classes with the New English Workshop. It was my first trip to England to do woodworking, my previous visits had been for furniture study. It’s an amazing place, a rural little island filled with hobbits and badgers and twitchers and train spotters.
The classes were held at two colleges, my first at Warwick College in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Jamie Ward of the College was very helpful and the students there were quite flexible as we worked out the kinks. The first of which was some oak logs that looked like bad firewood. Poor Paul Mayon – he picked me up the first morning, brought me to the school, and we’d known each other for all of 20 minutes when I was telling him that the oak bolts they had were next to useless. Undaunted, Paul trucked off in his typically British tiny car and bought a new section of giant oak (2 really, the 2nd arrived the next day.) installed into Paul’s car with a forklift, I wasn’t sure it would ever come out. Paul’s car was riding low, for a 2-plus hour drive. Meanwhile the students dove in & split what we had so we could get started at least. They were great.
Our class was at one end of the room, while Tom Fidgen’s was at the other end. It was diffuse porous vs ring porous (cherry v oak) all week. You could hear our shavings hit the floor, while theirs floated down to the bottom.
Lots of camaraderie in the evenings, we even had a token American who had been traded to the RAF…
Boxes got made, carving patterns all over the place. Tricia was adamant that she would finish her box, I think her first woodworking project.
The English oak,which by habit I kept calling white oak, was different than our white oak. I know it’s sacrilege to say it, but it felt lighter weight, a bit softer, and certainly easier to split. Even the better logs had knots in them and we were able to split right through them like I never can in American white oak (Quercia alba)
On the weekend, I met up w Mr & Mrs Underhill of Graham, NC, who were there for Roy to teach week 2 in Leamington. We had dinner one night, then the old switcheroo was scheduled for that Saturday – Paul was bringing Chris Schwarz who had been teaching down in Somerset up to Leamington, then turning around to take me down to Zummerzet so I could do week 2 there at Bridgwater College. A too-short round-table lunch was had by all before we headed south…the only other times Roy, Chris & I had all been together had been WIA events, in which case we never saw each other. Hand tool freaks unite!
Bridgwater also boasted a great & helpful staff…and a group of students who were serious about carved oak. Ringers Jon Bayes http://www.riversjoinery.co.uk/ and Richard Francis http://www.flyingshavings.co.uk/ represented England well… I barely had to teach this crew any English terms at all. Like rabbet/”re-bate” or clamp/cramp. The first group insisted that some are clamps, and I insisted that you’re British dammit, call it a cramp.
One thing I was missing was old oak carvings, and the students took care of that. Joel, hewer extroidinaire, scouted out several churches and even arranged for us to get in them after 5 pm…130-odd steps up a circular staircase afforded us a heck of a view of somerset. One pulpit wasn’t oak, I said I wanted my money back. we saw three churches, carved pulpits, bench ends, a chest, and who knows what else. This pulpit is oak:
Tim came down from County Durham, and lent me binocs and a good bird book…I had a simple little bird guide book with me…I saw some nice birds, some well, some fleeting. This’ll be the only time you’ll hear the word tit on this blog. As in blue tit, long tailed tit, willow tit, etc. I didn’t see a great tit. Then of course the day we drove over/down to Heathrow we saw several kites, much larger than I thought…musta seen 6 of them. No pictures, highway driving…
I was invited by Robin Wood to be part of Spoonfest, but that would have meant another week & 1/2 away from home. So, another time. Thanks to all who made my trip a success, especially the ones who waited at home. Why did it take me so long to get hip to Skype?
well, I was going to have some spoons for sale this week, but now I’m shuffling off to Lie-Nielsen for a box-carving class. Figuring I wouldn’t be around to pack & ship, so I’ll wait til next week. A couple of bowls too.
chests with drawers, spoons, bowls, boxes – baskets and more – I hardly know which tools to pick up in the morning. Coming up on a year since I went out on my own, woodworking-wise. what fun…thanks to all of you out there who help me make it happen.
I found the nails. they were in the chest’s till; safely stored where I forgot them. After boring pilot holes, I nailed the sides to the front. In most cases, the nails go through the drawer side, into the end grain of the front. They sometimes go through the front, then to be covered by applied moldings. I could have done that, (these drawers will have applied moldings framing them), but the original is nailed this way.
But at the back, the nails go through the back into the end grain of the sides.
Notice in this next photo, the drawer back closes the groove in the sides. So you have to open up a notch for the drawer to engage the runners.
start with a saw, then a chisel.
This one’s ready to drive the nails down.
The bottoms run front-to-back. here’s one installed, fitting behind a rabbet in the drawer front, nailed up to the higher edges of the sides & back.
Preliminary test drive of the drawer. Then I took it back out for the rest of the bottom boards.
There’s a false muntin glued onto the drawer front, then moldings surround the “two” drawer fronts. Here, the muntin is just placed there, when I glued it on, I made sure it was straight. Enough. (turned drawer pulls will fit into holes not-yet-bored in the drawer fronts. On to the next drawer.
I hope to post some spoons & boxes for sale tomorrow. we’ll see…
Somewhere around here is a small pile of hand-wrought nails that I hope to use to assemble the drawers for the chest I’m currently building. I just can’t find them right now. If I had any sense at all, I’d have learned years ago how to make my own. You can, with George Paré, another one of our Plymouth CRAFT friends. So Mothers, tell your children, not to do what I have done… learn to make your own nails.
Finally got to working on the drawers for one of the Connecticut chest with drawers. Inside the chest are slats for the side-hung drawers to ride on. One’s installed here, and below it are the notches where the lower drawer will fit. (above the drawer runner is the groove for the chest floor. It’s easier to see what you’re doing if the floor is not yet installed.)
the drawer sides are thick, nearly 1″. Even thickness makes them easier to handle too. Here, I’m plowing the 3/8″ groove that will ride on the drawer slat/runner. About 1/2″ deep. I’ve got the drawer sides stacked on top of one another, making sure the top piece’s edge is bumped out towards me, for the plow plane’s fence to run…
Next, I scribe the thickness of the side on the rear face of the drawer front.
Then saw & split a rabbet in the drawer front. Clean it up and test fit it.
The drawer side is not as tall as the drawer front. This rabbet is for the drawer bottoms to tuck behind.
Here is a test fit of the drawer side – the slat is in place, and I’ve hung the side on it & slide it in & out to see how it rides. It was at this point that I realized I’ve misplaced the handmade nails I’ll use to assemble this drawer. So I started making the 2nd drawer while I hope the nails miraculously re-appear .
Below is the “other one” – a dovetailed drawer. Similar time frame, late 17th century. Just another way of doing things.
Poor Russ. I have no proof that Bob Van Dyke dosed him, but there was Jefferson Airplane music playing much of the afternoon; I heard “White Rabbit” at least 3 times. When we got to the demo of me carving the central part of the design below, Russ struggled with the photograph – his eye & mind were seeing “innie” when it should be “outie” & vice-versa.
Here’s the same panel flipped upside-down. Sometimes the shadows being above the design make things weird. Right now, I can’t see it “wrong” – but sometimes I can. Russ couldn’t see it right at the time. Often I tell people to close their eyes, then look again. That often fixes it, but the best thing to do is put the photograph right-side up. Or like Alice, just bite from the other side of the mushroom.