Some 2020 classes and links

I’m off to teach one last class for the year, the carved oak box at Lost Art Press. Then home for a few months before 2020 season really kicks in. My teaching schedule for 2020 is a bit scattered. Several classes filled before I could even write about them, like the JA chair at Pete Galbert’s. He thinks it’s me – I know it’s the chair and his avid students. I’ll post here if any openings come up in that class.   

https://www.petergalbert.com/schedule/2020/7/13/make-a-chair-from-a-tree-with-peter-follansbee 

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THE JA CHAIR W PLYMOUTH CRAFT

 

 

Like we did in 2020, we’ll run that class at Plymouth CRAFT – I think twice, once in May, once in August. We’ve not put them on the site yet, but are very close to ready. If you’re signed up for our newsletter then you’ll hear about it the minute it happens. We rarely send out news, we’re too busy or distracted. I’ll also post here on the blog before registration opens. I expect it too will fill quickly, we keep it at 6 students so I can keep an eye on everything that’s happening. I don’t know how Drew Langsner did it all those years with 10 or 12 students. Here’s the link to sign up for the Plymouth CRAFT newsletter – https://www.plymouthcraft.org/contact

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MAKE A SHAVING HORSE WITH TIM MANNEY

Tim.jpg

While on the subject of Plymouth CRAFT though – we did just post Tim Manney’s first shaving horse class. Not using one, but making one. A 3-day class with Tim guiding you through the steps to build the horse he wrote about in Fine Woodworking, July/August 2017 (issue #262) – there you’ll see a quote from Curtis Buchanan, who estimates that in over 34 years, he’s spent 21,000 hours at a shaving horse. “The one (shaving horse) I’m using now was designed and made by Tim Manney and it’s the best I’ve ever used.” Need more than that? Sign up here: 

https://www.plymouthcraft.org/build-a-shaving-horse-with-tim-mann 

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Also, while I think of it, there’s still a few spots left in Plymouth CRAFT’s classes working on the Plymouth Tapestry –

 

https://www.plymouthcraft.org/plymouth-tapestry-registration 

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CARVED DECORATION 17TH CENTURY ENGLISH STYLE

Image of Wood Week

I do have a couple things coming in 2020 about carving oak – I’ll be back at North House Folk School out on Highway 61. I’ll teach carving oak patterns twice during “Wood Week” – a series of classes that run the gamut. This place is right on the shores of Lake Superior (it’s like an ocean, but different) – an astounding experience that I’m happy to repeat. Looks like there’s room in my two classes, (most of my others are full, so this might be the one shot – and the setting & surroundings are amazing) so come join us. 

 

https://northhouse.org/events/wood-week 

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CARVED OAK BOX

The other is Roy’s. April. Make a carved oak box. Whoops – filled instantly. Sorry I’m late posting this stuff, but Roy’s place is really popular. I think he just opened registration yesterday. Not my fault, really. A lot can happen between now & then, so the waiting list won’t hurt  – https://www.woodwrightschool.com/classes/waiting-list-wish-list

https://www.woodwrightschool.com/classes/carved-oak-box-w-peter-follansbee-2020 

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I’ll try to squeeze in one or two more, but it’s getting tight. I have some custom work to do, but always welcome more. I also have a student or two coming here for one-on-one work. You can email me if you have questions regarding private lessons or ordering furniture.

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MAUREEN’S FIBER ARTS

Closer to home, at home, in fact, my wife Maureen has kept up her knitting/felting/shibori scene and has a number of things in her etsy shop. Just like my wooden stuff, when you buy some it makes room for us to make more. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

A couple of samples of her work; it keeps us warm all winter.

the Havoc of Displacement

This is the first chest of drawers I made – in 2003. Made it as a wedding present for my wife.

The new one bumped it upstairs. Before we moved it, I took a picture, pretending that our house was clean/clear and spacious. And that you could move around in it. Which is a complete lie.

We have an old 4 1/2 room house. There’s 4 of us living in it, and we’re home all the time. And we have so much stuff it isn’t funny. So me building  a chest of drawers that’s something like 46″ wide and nearly 60″ high is just plain stupid. It’s one thing to build that large chest of drawers. It’s another to make room for it in the house. The house leans toward the river, but not as much as this photo makes it seem. The new one fit in the same spot just fine. Just as before, I took a few lying photographs before things all went to wrack & ruin.

Here it is, with more oak junk on top.

To give you some idea of the mayhem, when we move one thing in this house, it ripples all through the house. So this day we moved three large pieces to shuffle things around enough to fit. I shouldn’t show this to anybody, but I took photos of the Havoc of Displacement.

And Maureen catching her breath after the move from one chest to the next.

 

Here’s the old one, now installed on the upstairs landing. The moving-stuff-around necessitated some yarn storage switcheroo. Still working that out.

Somewhere in there, I made a carved picture frame for the print Heather gave me of the painting she did of me. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/im-speechless-if-you-can-imagine-that/ Hanging that did the same thing on the walls that moving the furniture did on the floors.

Scout didn’t want to miss any of it, but he also wanted to be safely out of the way. He found just the spot on a railing upstairs.

 

a small joined & carved chest for sale

I’ve taught the style of carving I do many times, shot a few videos about it and included a slew of it (almost 50 pages) in the book Joiner’s Work that was published this year. https://lostartpress.com/products/joiners-work The first “pattern” I have students do is a simple exercise that uses one tool and two moves. If you go crazy with it, it can look like this:

That’s a detail from a small joined chest I started many years ago. Ah, I can check – it was 2013, because it was preparation for a pair of episodes on Roy Underhill’s show – https://www.pbs.org/video/woodwrights-shop-paneled-chest-peter-follansbee/  Roy always wanted backup materials in case something went wrong, so I started two of these chests prior to going down to shoot.

They both ended up in the book, the first one was a dead-plain one that’s in the section on fitting lids to a chest. This one, sans lid, is on page 40, in the carving section, complete with a caption that says “Someday I hope to actually finish this chest…”  Today was that day. Thankfully, unlike the chest of drawers, this one only took the morning to finish. The pine lid is quite bright, but given time it catches up to the oak in tone. I’ve just given the whole thing a going-over with linseed oil. I don’t usually go on about the figure in oak, it’s always there in my stock, but I never think about it. This chest, though, has some really nice red oak. The two-tone effect in the front panels was there the day I split the log, something in the tree, I guess.

 

Here it’s open, with the till lid propping up the chest lid. The lid is a single-board of white pine. Red oak chest, white pine bottom board too.

When I turned it around, I saw more practice carvings re-used, here one of the rear panels and the bottom rail. Iron gimmal (snipe-bill to many of you) hinges. I forget who made them, either Peter Ross, Tom Latane or Mark Atchison.

The till lid inside, molded edge.

I opened the lid & saw that the side & bottom to the till are American chestnut. Leftovers from a restoration project I did that year.

I really like this little chest, but I’m supposed to making this stuff to make a living. So it’s for sale.

Dimensions are H:  21″  W: 30 3/4″  D: 16 1/2″
$3,000 plus shipping.

Finished the chest of drawers

The chest of drawers is too large to photograph in the shop, I was outside the front door to shoot this one. And I see I left a can of WD-40 in the window. Oh well. It feels good to have this done. Forget the notion that I started it 10 years ago; I feel like I was working on it forever this summer & fall. But, I can tell roughly how long I worked on it, thanks to Chris Becksvoort. I bought his book Shaker Inspirations from Lost Art Press https://lostartpress.com/products/shaker-inspirations. Not because I care about Shaker furniture, not because I want to convert my shop to a mixture of hand & electric tools. Not because of any reason except I really admire Chris’ dedication and skills and was sure there’d be stuff in there that’s useful, regardless of his minimalism and my horror vaccui. In that book, he notes that he keeps records of all his time on a given piece. Careful detailed notes…

I used to many years ago write on a calendar what I worked on each given day, roughly how much time, etc. When I was in the museum world, the most common question we ever got, no matter what, was “how long does that take?” I realized the question was not going to go away, so in the winters, I would carefully keep track of my time for making a piece, a joined carved chest – 75-85 hours; joined stool, 12-14 hours. And so on. 

But after a while, I got out of the habit. After reading Chris’ book, I started at least writing what work I did each day, and roughly how much time I was in the shop. So  I was able to go back and calculate that I worked on the chest of drawers 14 full days and 17 partial days this year. Some of those “partial” days were 1/2 days – in other cases, I listed three or four projects I flipped back & forth on a given day, so might just be an hour or two. But let’s call them all half-days to simplify the math. That comes out to 8 1/2 more days. So just over 3 weeks to make the lower case entirely; and finish work on the upper case. Umpteen zillion pieces of wood. Plenty of mistakes, poor miters, irregular moldings – but no blank spaces to speak of.

A slew of photos; with captions.

The cedar base molding mitered and applied to the end rail.

And pegged w a square peg. I did this to all the large moldings.

this turning blank is the first of many steps to make the final 2 pieces of decoration – 2 oval applied turnings. 3/8″ thick rosewood glued to sacrificial oak.

On the lathe, you just turn beads of various proportions; here’s the initial shaping. Ordinarily, I’d apply thin pieces to every face of the oak & end up with lots of these things. I just needed 2, so I got on with it.

You see them taking shape now.

I turned a few so I’d have some to choose from…

Not the best skew work, but it will do.

The rear of the lower case. Pine panels, oak frame.

End view of the lower case – Spanish cedar panels, resawn, bookmatched. Same wood for the moldings.

Lower case, empty. East Indian rosewood turnings.

 

Looking into the empty lower case. Tenons in end rail engage mortises in lower edge of upper case to keep the two pieces aligned.

Drawer construction. Side hung, half-blind dovetails at front, nailed rabbets at rear. Pine bottoms, ship-lapped. Beveled at front into groove in drawer front. Nailed up to drawer’s bottom edges.

First two drawers inserted, the only carving thus far, a recycled box-front-as-drawer-side.

The lower case, filled w drawers now.

The upper case. Empty. Here’s the oval turnings applied on the top end rails.

Bottom edge of upper case. Mortises for those tenons to align the cases. Another recycled carving, as drawer runner for side-by-side upper drawers. I left out a dust board that should be in rabbets in the lower front & side rails. I ran out of 1/2″ pine boards, so let it go.

the WD-40 shot again.

The sunlight on the rosewood is something else. I had heard nightmare stories about using this wood. Too hard, allergic reactions, etc. I got lucky, had no problem. It turns like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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.

 

Two new boxes for sale: SOLD

UPDATE:

Both boxes are sold. More are in the works, thanks as always for the interest and support,

PF

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I finished up two boxes in the past couple of weeks. Both are white oak, the one on the left with a pine lid, the other with a white oak lid.

They’re for sale – $900 for the white pine lid example, $1,000 for the oak lid one. Plus shipping. Leave a comment if you’d like to order one. I’m making more in a week or two.

These came about because a friend gave me some fabulous white oak; the best oak I’ve had in ages & ages. Both use wooden hinges (like most of my boxes, and a few period boxes…) – carved on the fronts & the ends. Till inside each. (click the pictures to enlarge.)

Here’s a look at each. The pine lid one first. A pattern on the front that I really like. I’ve never seen the original carving; it’s in Victor Chinnery’s book Oak Furniture: the British Tradition. I’ve done it a few times; it works best with a pretty wide piece of stock. Both of these boxes are 8 1/2″ high, the oak boards that make up the carcasses are 7″-7 1/2″ wide. Overall dimensions for this one are:

H:  8 1/2″  W: 24 1/2″  D: 15 1/2″

Here’s the general form:

And the end view, showing the pintle & cleat wooden hinge. This carving is based on some I saw in a Wiltshire church w Chinnery almost 20 years ago.

This is the one with a figured sycamore till lid. Flashy.

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Now the oak lid example. I had some nice quartersawn white oak to glue up to make this lid…more work than a pine lid. Heavier, but tougher too. I like both, I more often use pine lids, just to conserved the oak for carving.

This pattern is one I copied from a photo a student brought to the Lost Art Press workshop in the summer. He got the photo off an auction site…I think the original was part of the Devon group of carved oak that I have studied so frequently. I adapted the pattern to become a running band, then added S-scrolls below it.

Just a plain ol’ red oak till lid.

Is

I stood the S-scrolls upright on the ends. This is a common pattern from that group…


a few period details in oak

I didn’t take any photos in the shop this week. So I sat down & looked at folders that I haven’t seen in ages. There must be stuff there we can look at.

Here’s a scan I made from a book that fell part – the Gate on the Stairs at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. this picture is from Henry Tanner’s book “English Interior Woodwork of the XVI, XVII & XVIII Centuries” Batsford, London, 1903.

Here’s the actual item, I shot this at Haddon Hall over 10 years ago.

This one was maybe the same trip, a row of spindles above panelling – a church at Great Durnford, Wiltshire. The arcading carving is what I was after today; but then I noticed there’s a row of punch marks just above the spindles, between the dentil carvings. Shows how many teeth the punch had…(but I didn’t measure the impression.)

That reminded me of this detail from a New England chest, showing the punch used on the background, also used as a decorative accent on the solid. That one is about 1/4″ x 1/2″ maybe a bit fatter, 5/16″?

From a related New England chest, here it’s on its head showing the bottom boards. They fit into a groove in the front rail (top of the photo) and the side rails (on our left) and are nailed up to a higher rear rail. Riven oak, tongue & groove between the boards. Note the sawmarks where they trimmed these boards after installation. Also visible are the layout lines locating the mortises on the faces of the stock.

chest bottom 

This next one is a rear rail of a chest, missing its drawer runner, thus the empty notch. That’s a side lower rail coming down into this stile. It features a barefaced tenon – no rear shoulder. Stock needs to be accurately planed to thickness. But fun to do sometimes…

rear stile 

One more – scribed layout lines remaining on a Lake District carved panel.