“Send out for some pillars…

& Cecil B. DeMille.”

the “Stent” panel, early 17th century England

Yesterday Michael Burrey dropped off some maple bolts – so today I got to turn a pillar, either for the cupboard or for practice. It’s been over 20 years since I turned one of these big pieces.

Maple isn’t my favorite riving wood by a long shot, but every now & then you find one that splits well enough. This section was fairly cooperative.

the larger section is the one I need

I scribed a 5” circle on the end and rived & hewed away the excess. Somewhere in there, I trimmed it to about 18” long. 

To prep it for turning, I wanted to make it as even as I could without getting too crazy time-wise. Last time I did this, I didn’t know Dave Fisher’s great methods for prepping his bowl blanks. This time, I used some ideas based on Dave’s work. I struck a line through the middle of my 5” circle, and shimmed the bolt on the bench til that line was plumb.

line up this end & that end

Then struck a related line on the other end. From there, I could measure how high the centerpoint of the first circle was (3” off the bench) and scribe one in the same position on the other end. And strike that circle. Then shave down to those circles. 

roughing it out w a drawknife

I then struck a new 3” circle on one end, to hew and shave a taper to the bottom end of the pillar. 

hewn taper at one end

Then it went on the lathe. At that point, it weighed 11 lbs 6 oz. (5.16 kg they tell me). Wrapping the cord around something even 3” in diameter means you’re turning slowly at first. So my objective early on is to determine the location of a cove and start to rough it out. That way I can move the cord there ASAP. Get more revolutions per tromp, and a smoother cut as the piece spins faster. 

well underway

I spent a long time on this piece; between being out of practice, out of shape, taking still photos & video, and checking dimensions – I plodded along. Hadn’t turned maple in so long, and I’m always astounded at the long ribbon shavings you get, even from a pole lathe.

a horrible photo

I live in a fantasy in which I’m about one afternoon’s cleaning away from being organized. Nothing is further from the truth though. And using the lathe drives that point home. My shop is on the small side, 12′ x 16′ – the local building codes allowed me to do it without permits & inspections if I kept it under 200 sq ft. The price I pay is that the lathe is tucked against the back wall, and I have to pull it out about 2 feet when I need it. And I don’t do a lot of turning, so often junk gets piled on the lathe temporarily. So this photo above shows some of the mayhem that ensues when I dig out the lathe. It’s one of the worst photos I’ve taken in the shop in ages – too cluttered and the photo of the pillar propped up at the lathe is extremely helpful to me, but so disorienting to look at here, with the open door beyond.

the pillar roughed out

I got the pillar to a good point for quitting for the day. About 1/4″-3/8″ oversized for now. I’m aiming for a greater diameter of 4 1/2″ and the coves are about 1″ plus. The bits just inside the tenons will be 2 1/2″. Overall length between the tenons is 14 1/2″. At this stage, the general form is established. I put it in a paper bag with some of the shavings to hopefully dry it slowly and not have it crack apart. I’ll put it back on the lathe in a few days to turn the final size and the details. Weight at this point – 5 lbs. (2.27 kg). I didn’t weigh the shavings. Tomorrow is that cleaning day, I’m going to get organized this time…

Make a Joined Stool Video series – the pole lathe tour

Shaving horses and pole lathes – I’ve got lots of questions about both over the years. The next step after mortising in making the joined stool is turning the decoration on the stiles. So before I get to those videos, I’ll put this one here – a general overview of the lathe & its few parts. Thanks to Daniel for putting up with me having him edit one version of this, then I said, “No, I can do the look at the lathe better.” So I re-shot it, then he had to re-edit.

videos of joined stool work

Back when the book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree came out, I was making how-to videos with Lie-Nielsen. Made a bunch of them over a few years. For a couple of reasons, we never did one on the joined stool. I have a stool underway now, and a recent post brought a question about how the story stick is used. So I tried to cover it in a video – my video capabilities are limited and challenged. I am not going to try to learn video editing…there’s only so many hours in a day. I’m the camera man and the woodworker in these – so there’s your warning. I won’t cover every aspect of making the stool, but will try to hit many of them.

Once I had that stile marked out, I put one on the lathe & set the camera up to try to catch that work. I AM NO GREAT TURNER! – but I can do enough for joiner’s work. So to really learn turning, find someone else. (I like Pete Galbert’s video on turning…) – but here’s my series on turning this stile on the pole lathe. I chopped it up into 3 videos – mostly so I could fumble around & get what I need as I was working. You’ll see, warts n’ all. For short videos, they’re pretty long. Tom Lie-Nielsen used to ask me if I could make a video shorter than Ben Hur.

Part one is mostly turning the cylinder from the square.

Now some of the details; cove, baluster, etc.

I re-jigged the camera for the foot, to try to get some detail. The sun came on very strong, and made things both better and worse.

Links –

the book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree

The video series from Lie-Nielsen; https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos

Pete Galbert’s video on turning – https://lostartpress.com/collections/dvds/products/galbert-turning

Curtis Buchanan’s video series – he’s got turning in there somewhere. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2QCOxzGYG6gAqtF-1S7orw

Plymouth CRAFT’s weekend of spoons & bowls

It’s taken me a while, but here’s my post about Plymouth CRAFT’s recent weekend of woodworking. We had JoJo Wood back for her Pocket Spoon class; and Darrick Sanderson came back to help folks dive into bowl turning on pole (really bungee) lathes. That’s JoJo’s students above, deep in concentration, also following the sunshine as the day went on.

If Plymouth CRAFT had a spiritual home, it would be Overbrook House. http://www.overbrookhouse.com/  It was here that we had our first workshops, and we’ve returned many times. In real life, it’s a wedding venue & more, but we turn it into something altogether different. The Ingersolls, our tolerant hosts there, are the greatest. The students know they’re close when they see this sign by our board member David Berman http://trustworth.com/index.shtml

It points them up to the house; which is the center of our world there. Paula’s lunches happen here…

All right, back to the woodsy bits. JoJo’s pocket spoon is a revolution in the making. Go read what JoJo says about it, I don’t need to repeat all that. She started the whole idea of pocket spoons, as I recall…  https://pocketspoon.co.uk/

Here, she’s showing (at my request) the 7 blanks she just split out of this one quarter section of black birch. She squeezes out a lot of spoons from a small section of wood.

Hewing the shape with her hatchet.

A new pocket spoon in the making.

Meanwhile, down at the dance hall, the bowl turners were hewing out blanks

Darrick Sanderson showing them how to rough-turn the outside of the bowl.

A shot showing the hook as Darrick comes up toward the bowl’s rim.

We (well, Pret really – I had nothing to do with it) recently adapted our 8 lathes so they could work without a pole. Two uprights are dropped into mortises in the bed, then heavy-duty bungee strapped between them. The lathes worked very well, and the students worked very hard. Two full days of kicking that treadle is no joke.

Our friend Marie Pelletier always shoots photos at our events, and they end up here: https://www.facebook.com/PlymouthCRAFT/

Shelburne Museum square table

square-table

I’ve been lots of places in recent years, but somehow hadn’t made it back to Vermont since 2003. So I combined a family trip with a research visit to Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT to see this square table. The museum is great, Maureen and the kids saw more of it than I did, but what I saw I really liked. Hope to get back before 15 more years go by…

The table is a great example, all oak, all riven. The feet have been worn and/or cut down, and as you see the top is missing. But what is there is very nice.

One of the first features is the integral brackets on the aprons, and the corresponding central scroll. Here’s one of the brackets, set off nicely by the ogee molding run along the apron.

ogee-and-bracket

This is the part along the center of each apron, essentially a back-to-back bracket. The total height of the apron is about 4 3/8″. The brackets are about 1 3/4″ of that height.

scrolled-apron

You can see the inside shoulders of the rails cut away, leaving as the only contact point  the front shoulder. Makes a nice neat looking joint. Enlarge this photo and you can see some joint ID marks done with a narrow chisel, on the inside of the apron. This one is number IIII.

joint-id

In addition so various peg holes, etc there are many channels dug by wood-eating insects. This damage was not done to the table, but to the timber before the joiner worked it. I think we found evidence of this on just about every part of the table. This view also clearly shows the brackets as integral to the rail, not attached with joinery and nails like many are…

integral-bracket

The symmetrical turning on the stiles, a related but different turning is used on the stretchers.

turned-stile

All four stretchers are turned squares; some have the radial face forward, some have it upward. I was surprised by this…I expected them to all agree one way or another.

stretchers

All four stiles are cut right through the joinery. There’s no step cut down on the tenon. Usually the mortise height here is not the full height of the apron. That configuration leaves the top of the stile “closed” so the joint doesn’t show. Once the top is fixed to the frame it doesn’t matter anyway. But another surprise. I expected otherwise…

joinery

another weird puzzle – what is this little block of riven oak nailed to one apron?

nailed-on-bit

There’s several patched holes bored in the aprons’ upper edges. And there’s  mortises like this in three aprons. Yes, three, not four. They look like sure-’nuff mortises, presumably for tabs that attach to the underside of the top. Or are they later additions? There’s no holes I could see in the stiles.

inner-mortise

My thanks to Tom Denenberg and Katie Wood Kirchhoff from Shelburne Museum, they were very helpful. And Rob Tarule came to help measure and examine the table, it was fun to look at stuff with Rob again, it’s been a long time…

3-footed turned stool

 

It feels like a long time since I’ve written about furniture-making. Shop-building & spoon carving have taken up a lot of space here. This week, I’m building a stool that reaches back to the beginnings of this blog in 2008. Here’s one I made many years ago for the museum where I used to work.  These things don’t exist in the wild – not 17th century ones anyway. Chairs built along these lines are common in England and elsewhere. Not New England. These stools are found frequently in Dutch paintings. Note that the three stretchers are at different heights. The seat rails are all at the same height. More on this below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am a joiner who does some turning, not a turner by any means. Especially these days. My lathe had been packed away in storage for 18 months. That’s a long hiatus between turnings! This is almost where the lathe will be in the shop, I plan on moving it further back into the corner when the real setup happens. The pole is up in the peak, about 14′ above my head.

turning

These turnings are pretty basic, just a large gouge & a couple of skew chisels. Wood is straight-grained ash. Riven & hewn before mounting on the lathe.

gouge

skew

one main feature of these stools, and the related chairs, is the joinery at the seat level. All the seat rails are at the same height, so the joints intersect. A large rectangular tenon gets pierced by a smaller turned tenon. Like this:

joint-detail

Here I am scribing a centerline on the end grain of the seat rail. This is the basis for the layout of the tenon.

centerline

Sawing the shoulders.

sawing

Splitting the cheeks.

splitting

Paring to the finished dimension.

paring

The seat rails get a groove plowed in them to receive the beveled panel that is the seat. Here’s how I held it to the bench for cutting with the plow plane. The rectangular tenon is pressed into the teeth of the bench hook, and a notched stock pressed against the round tenon. Holdfast keeps that stick in place. I eyeball that the rectangular tenon is parallel to the benchtop, then the groove goes in the resulting top center of the rail’s surface.

setup for plowing

groove

boring and chopping joinery next time.

here is the same information, in one of my first posts  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/three-footed-chair/

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/board-seated-turned-chair/

 

what to do with all this inspiration?

After Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2016, the biggest problem I have is what to do with all that inspiration. I remember the first evening all the instructors were on-site- it struck me that we had a great lineup assembled, and that I wouldn’t be able to see much of it/them. It’s the nature of working an event like this, rather than attending it. But it was so exciting seeing everyone, and comparing ideas, thoughts, plans – and then the snippets I did see really got the juices flowing.

Dave Jogge & JoJo

We had Beth Moen and Dave Fisher carving bowls with axe and adze, contrasted with Derek (non-stop) Sanderson and Jarrod Stone Dahl turning them on Jarrod’s pole lathe. The spoon contrast was between the Woodland Pixie and the Viking – JoJo Wood and Jögge Sundqvist. Two very different approaches, but both so engrossing that I wished I had eight arms, so I could carve more spoons every day. I showed JoJo a large crook I was going to make a spoon from. “What would you do?” I asked. “Throw that out and carve some straight-grained spoons” came the reply. And yet I hear Jögge talking about “form follows fibers” – there ain’t no one way, I guess.

dave w students

turned bowls

After the event, a bunch of us were talking about what worked, and what could stand some tweaking. April Stone Dahl said earlier she wondered why she was included, not being a spoon carver. Nonsense, says me. I wanted basketry to be a big part of the Greenwood theme, and April’s are some of the nicest baskets I know, without being precious and dainty.

april

Tim Manney’s approach to both spoon carving and chair making are so different from my own, but he has a tremendous grasp of both crafts. I really like Tim’s work, and his teaching style is very engrossing. He always had a crowd around his bench.

Pret Woodburn and Rick McKee are not as well-known to the web-based woodworking community as our other instructors. But if you’ve been around a Plymouth CRAFT event, then you got to know them. Together they have hewn more wood & talked to more people than anyone except maybe me (well, Roy Underhill too…but you get the point) and they taught these skills for years beyond count. It was a great thrill for me to combine them with these far-flung friends. I knew the fit would be perfect, and it was.

pret hewing

When we decided to call our festival “greenwood” something seemed familiar…and that’s how I thought of having Scott Landis come give us a glimpse into the organization known as Greenwood, and the wonderful work they do, making the world a better place through woodworking and green wood. http://www.greenwoodglobal.org/

The classes afterwards were an added bonus, Tim, Dave and I hung around, while JoJo and Jögge had to work. So we got to rubberneck in their classes, and keep on exploring what to do with sharp edges and lignin fibers.

Back home, I’m working on oak furniture, spoon and bowl carving, a bench in catalpa and white oak, and Pret & I are about to resume some carpentry on the workshop. And I’m eyeing some half-finished baskets, too. If I could only skip sleeping….then I could utilize all this inspiration.

Here’s two views – first, the video our friend Harry Kavouksorian put together for us. Thanks, Harry.

Greenwood Fest 2016 from Harry Kavouksorian on Vimeo.

And the second, a very nice article with slides & video, from Frank Mand. Nice work, Frank. I appreciate it.

http://www.wickedlocal.com/news/20160615/national-audience-in-plymouth-for-worlds-best-woodworking-artists 

I heard we might just be dumb enough to do it again. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, go carve something!

Greenwood Fest article & various photos

run away

For two full weeks, I was surrounded by some of my favorite woodworkers…now it’s pretty quiet, trying to get back into the day-to-day. If you want to re-live Greenwood Fest, here’s some links:

http://plymouth.wickedlocal.com/news/20160615/national-audience-in-plymouth-for-worlds-best-woodworking-artists

That article and more photos are compiled on Plymouth CRAFT’s facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/CRAFTPlymouth/?fref=ts

a collection or two on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/greenwoodfest2016/  and

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/greenwoodfest/

I’m sure there’s more.

the summer of Fests

It’s quite a festive year for some of us – Going in reverse chronological order, the circus I’m in has expanded so that I’ll be travelling to Sweden & England this summer, in addition to my usual East Coast wanderings.

The last one is Täljfest at Sätergläntan in Sweden. Among the many participants are Del Stubbs, renowned knife-maker to the spoon world, working on his fan birds; Jögge Sundqvist, inspiring us all with his extraordinary work, Beth Moen, carver of giant bowls, (her favorite tools is the axe!); Anja Sundberg, whose work is almost as colorful (more colorful?) than Jögge’s; and Jojo Wood. (it’s the Year of JoJo).  There’s more craftspeople to come, too. It’s my first trip to that part of the world, I’m beside myself with excitement. I cant’ believe I get to be a part of this. https://www.facebook.com/taljfest/?fref=nf and http://www.saterglantan.com/evenemang/taljfest/ 

 

 

The middle festival for me is Spoonfest in Edale, Derbyshire, England. http://spoonfest.co.uk/

It’s the reverse British invasion, four Americans coming for the pre-fest courses; me, Fred Livesay, Jarrod Stone Dahl, and Alexander Yerks. Among others are Magnus Sundelin- I’m thrilled to be in such company. that’s just the sessions beforehand, then the whole thing kicks off for 3 days…with Robin Wood, Barn Carder and I-don’t-know-who-else. Spoonfest is the legend, and this is my first time getting to it. I’m looking forward to meeting all those spoon-crazed people!

 

Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest is the first, coming up in early June. http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?page_id=2189

Plymouth CRAFT

Spoonfest was our inspiration; some common threads are JoJo Wood, Jarrod Stone Dahl, Jögge Sundqvist, Beth Moen – but we have Owen Thomas, Dave Fisher, Tim Manney, April Stone Dahl and others coming too. Later this month, I’ll be getting some lists of wood needs, and other preparations. It will be here before you know it, and before I’m ready. Thankfully, CRAFT is in better hands than mine, so I just have to show up & introduce some people and cut wood…