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Renowned furniture maker Peter Follansbee presented two sessions at WW18thC, the first concentrating on the making of 17th century carved frame-and-panel chests, the second on making chairs. Peter looks like someone who planned on attending a Dead concert and found out he wandered into a woodworking shindig.
His comfort in front of an audience and well-deserved confidence in his ability is heartening. And his artistry with carving flows from his hands naturally, seemingly effortless.
His second session was an ambitious attempt to make a green-wood chair in 90 minutes. He got close.
…I mean, how can they get it so wrong? There I was, prepping a chisel, brand new, straight from the box, about to tell people you won’t go far wrong with a set of Faithfull (UK), blue plastic-handled bevel-edged chisels. I don’t vouch for all of their tools because they tend to be more an […]
|can we guess what this is?|
|holder set up|
|it is nose heavy|
|why it is nose heavy|
|flushed the back brace|
|piece of cardboard|
|should have done this before I glued them on|
|I had to use very short strokes|
|flushed the drawer slips|
|epoxy and sawdust to the rescue|
|packed it with epoxy/sawdust mixture|
Did you know in liquid beer measures that a firkin equals 9.8 gallons?
Thanks/no thanks to the turmoil in the world of woodworking publishing, we have acquired another editor to work on our books, blogs, videos and other projects.
This announcement should be no surprise.
All of you know Megan Fitzpatrick, the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. During the last 11 years, she’s always been happy to help Lost Art Press with editing, which she did on the side whenever she could spare the time.
Today, Megan joins Lost Art Press as a managing editor. Like Kara Gebhart Uhl, Megan will work on all of our titles on a daily basis. This addition to our staff will have profound implications for you, the reader.
Here’s why. Kara and Megan can already read my mind, and they were both an important part of creating the ethos that guides Lost Art Press: 1) Treat everyone with the same respect. 2) Give away as much content as possible.
With both of them on board, I can step away from doing every single task involved with publishing our books. Kara and Megan will manage the day-to-day tasks of book publishing. This frees me to research and write more books for Lost Art Press. This has always been my greatest (and perhaps only) strength.
Please don’t think that this means that I am stepping away from Lost Art Press. I work seven days a week (by choice and by joy), and Lost Art Press is my baby. Bringing Megan on as a regular ensures that I can continue to explore the unknown, while she and Kara ensure our books are of the highest editorial quality.
Don’t believe me? Just wait.
— Christopher Schwarz
It took until the first weekend in February for us to get any decent snowfall, and it did look lovely here in Shangri-La. It closed everything down for a couple days, but we were snug as a bug in a rug. We’ve had plenty of frigid weather (coldest temp this winter thus far was about -15F, wind chills to about -40F) but only a few light snow falls up to now.
Jögge Sundqvist’s “Slöjd in Wood” is in the final editing/design stages, and will be off to Suzanne Ellison in the next day or two for the index, and to Kara Uhl for a copy edit. In other words, it’s just a couple weeks away from going to the printer. (Look for another post when it does.)
As I was editing the translation, I was charmed by almost every project – but what I find most intriguing about slöjd is its bedrock foundation in self-sufficiency and using the materials at hand.
But Jogge says it much better than can I, so I’ve shared part of his introduction below. The images at the top and bottom here are the end papers of the sumptuously photographed and illustrated book, and show the tools and supplies he uses throughout.
There are many different ways of working and joining wood. In this book I will tell you how to work wood using hand tools. I’m dedicated to slöjd because of the tool marks and carved bevels, the worn colors, the idiosyncratic design and the self-confidence of the unschooled folk art expression.
Slöjd is part of the self-sufficient household, how people survived before industrialization. Slöjd is the work method farmers used when they made tools for house building, farming and fishing, and objects for their household needs. For thousands of years, the knowledge of the material has deepened, and the use of the tools has evolved along with the understanding of how function, composition and form combine to make objects strong and useful.
The word slöjd derives from the word stem slog, which dates to the 9th century. Slög means ingenious, clever and artful. It reflects the farmers’ struggle for survival and how it made them skilled in using the natural materials surrounding the farm: wood, flax, hide, fur, horn and metal. I have picked up a dialect expression from my home county, Västerbotten, that has become a personal motto. We say Int’ oslög, “not uncrafty,” about a person who is handy and practical.
In slöjd, choice of material and work methods are deeply connected to quality and expression. To get strong, durable objects, the material must be carefully chosen so the fiber direction follows the form. This traditional knowledge makes it easy to split and work the wood with edge tools. Slöjd also gives you the satisfaction of making functional objects with simple tools. When a wooden spoon you made yourself feels smooth in your mouth, you have completed the circle of being both producer and consumer.
My intention with this book is to give an inspiring and instructive introduction to working with wood the slöjd way: using a simple set of tools without electricity. There are many advantages to this. You can make the most wonderful slöjd in the kitchen, on the train or in your summer cottage. Simple hand tools make you flexible, free and versatile. And the financial investment compared to power tools is very low!
Traditional slöjd knowledge is vast, and requires many years of experience before you can easily make your ideas come to life. It also takes time to master the knife grips, essentials of sharpening and specific working knowledge of individual wood species.
As you work with slöjd, the learning enters your body. Through repetition, you will gain muscle memory for different tool grips. The ergonomic relationship between your body and the power needed for efficient use emerges over time. “Making is thinking,” said Richard Sennet, professor of sociology. In slöjd, the process never ends.
Because slöjd is inherently sustainable, it feels genuine and authentic. In an increasingly complex and global society, it is important for an individual to experience an integrated work process from raw material to finished product.
People from all walks of life benefit from the interaction between mind and hand. Slöjd affects us by satisfying the body and in turn, the soul. There is a kind of practical contemplation where there is time for thought – a certain focused calm, which is an antidote to today’s media-centered society.
I think we can use the knowledge of slöjd to find that brilliant combination of a small-scale approach to a sustainable society that doesn’t exclude the necessities of modern technology. Traditional slöjd is a survival kit for the future.
— Jögge Sundqvist, August 2017
Curious as to what it could be I opened it and found a letter from Saint Ralph. Ralph explained that he and Ken had collaborated on sending me a Bailey No 3 hand plane.
The plane was securely wrapped in cardboard and bubble wrap, and was disassembled.
When I started unwrapping the plane my heart sank. Ralph had mentioned in the letter that he had rehabbed the plane, and upon seeing the individual parts I became painfully aware how far from my own pitiful rehabbing efforts the job that Ralph had done was!
Ralph's rehabbing is nothing short of immaculate.
Ken had sharpened the blade, so all I had to do was to assemble the plane, and what a joy it was, to assemble a plane that was already rehabbed.
Right now the kids have a winter vacation, so I plan on giving Asger some instructions in how to adjust the plane, and then I will let him bring the plane with him to school, so he can show his teacher what a sharp plane looks like and feels like.
Thank you very much, Ralph and Ken for this very thoughtful present. It is deeply appreciated, and I am certain that the plane will see a lot of work in the future.
New Features on the Powermatic 3520C Lathe – Movable Digital Control, Integrated Riser Feet and More Mass
I recently received a press release that Powermatic brought a new version of their popular 3520 lathe to market. The new version, “C”, is the 4th generation of the 3520 lathe family. The new features really grabbed my eye, so I gave the product manager for this new lathe, Michael D’Onofri, a call to hear first hand about them. The movable control box allows the user to place the most important controls […]
I’ve been to several of Colonial Williamsburg’s annual confab Working Wood in the 18th Century (WW18thC), a gathering that always has a central theme of some sort. This year’s organizing topic was “Workmanship of Risk: Exploring Period Tools and Shops,” and it was my favorite of these conferences (although previous topics of “Surface Decoration” and “Oriental Influences” come in a close second tie). And not just because I was a speaker; that actually makes the experience less for me because of all the preparation work that consumes crazy amount of time and energy for me.
The presenters for this year included the crew from the Anthony Hay Shop, and their interpretation of a decorated tool chest; the Colonial Williamsburg joiners, demonstrating the consruction of monumental/architectural moldings; Jane Rees, the scholar behind the magnificent decorated lid of said tool chest; Peter Follansbee, recounting the processes of his work in carved 17th century oak furniture; Patrick Edwards, demonstrating classical marquetry techniques; and the inestimable Roy Underhill, with his keynote lecture and moderation of a panel discussion on historical primary sources; and me (more about that in subsequent posts).
There is no way to summarize the richness of the conference content without re-living it with verisimilitude, which could be accomplished only with a literal transcript and live video feed. But the next few posts will encompass my compressed take on the event.
As is the norm for this event, which normally sells every seat within the first few hours of opening the registration, every seat in the house was filled plus perhaps a few more. I know that often the deciding factor of whether or not some guest may attend a particular presentation is the occupancy limit established by the Fire Marshall. All the presentations are in the front of the auditorium on a small theatrical stage, making it difficult if not impossible for anyone beyond the front few rows to see the details of the proceedings. To alleviate that hurdle and enhance the learning experience for the attendees the entire performance is projected onto a giant screen behind the stage. It sometimes sets up the weird dynamic of us performing for the cameras, turning away from the audience.
Our start on the first evening was RoyUnderhill, undertaking the unenviable task of decoding philosopher/craftsman David Pye’s influential book The Art and Nature of Workmanship, a book, which Roy avers, has been read by few if any artisans (I think he is correct in this; I ground my way through it some 40+ years ago and never felt the desire to return to it. It’s on my shelf if the impulse ever emerges).
As always Roy was an engaging speaker even given the difficulty of the topic, and demonstrated some of the concepts contained within the risk vs. certainty discussion. Beginning with a mallet and froe to rive out some lumber workpieces, moving then to a hatchet, and finally to a sabot’s shave, he began the steps of workmanship that might not be “risky” in the hands of a skilled craftsman but certainly have a component of “uncertainty” to them, that uncertainly diminishing with each incremental step.
Roy ended up with an inventory of a complete tool box from ages past, using it and its contents as focal points for the soliloquy.
Rooms are virtually never square, level, or plumb. Ceilings tend to sag toward the middle of their rooms; floors usually do the same. Plaster walls are rarely flat; drywall builds up at interior and exterior corners. You get the picture. Designing built-ins is an art that takes contextual imperfections into account and makes dealing with them as easy as possible. A common way of handling these points of intersection […]
The post Scribing, Part Two: Making Cabinets Fit Seamlessly into Irregular Surroundings appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
You can now register for the “Build a Traditionally Styled Fore Plane” class via this link.
Note: Registering for the class or the waiting list is free – they won’t ask you for a credit card to register. After the dust settles, Jim McConnell will invoice the six attendees.
If the six slots are filled, please consider signing up for the waiting list. That way, if someone is unable to make it, Jim will have a list of other interested parties – and we’ll know that if the wait list is robust, it might be good to offer the same class again at a later date.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
Check out the excellent use of a Japanese saw in the background. I can only imagine what the other guy is hammering.
|found my braces|
|nice piece of chrome|
|pretty looking but useless|
|metric ball driver|
|hex driver fits|
|hex adapter from LV fits|
|the phillips driver that came with the screwdriver|
|drawer glued up|
|diagonals re best|
|front internal corner|
|the other front corner|
|shined it a bit more|
|used this wheel|
|this wheel stalls the motor, why?|
|found the problem|
|thought I had only made one mistake|
|the first mistake|
|my second mistake is the pencil line is toast|
|I used the drawer slip to mark the pencil line|
|but the wrong way|
|stopped at home depot|
|2 points for Krud Kutter to 1 point for Zep|
|new drawer stock|
|I'll make this one wider|
|fitting the first drawer slip|
|back end fitted around the back|
|gluing them in with hide glue|
|1/4" brass set up bar|
|used one at the back too|
|slips glued and clamped|
|put it here|
|or underneath the drawer|
|drilled some pilot holes|
|road tested my new hex adapter|
|sweet action - better then using a drill|
|this is out|
|this is the winning spot|
|routed to depth|
|made a notch for the back brace|
Did you know that the Five Kingdoms of Living Things are Animals, Fungi, Monera, Plants, and Protists?
Returning from the regular Bible Study earlier this evening and reviewing the upcoming topics for the blog (I rarely do any work on Sunday, and generally aim for a couple dozen posts in the bullpen in varying states of development) I noticed that the blog had exceeded 800 posts last week without my even noticing. I guess I must have a lot of verbal effluent in me.
I used to host a regular monthly luncheon for think tank mavens and opinion columnists trying to influence the shenanigans in Mordor, and at one of these off-the-record soirees a columnist wailed about “writer’s block” and the impossibility of having to grind out 300-400 “interesting” words twice a week. I was unconvinced of the problem, and for the next year as an exercise I wrote that output just to show him it was not that tough. It really wasn’t.
Admittedly, I was assisted by the fact that was the year the nation’s Commander in Heat was hound-dogging his way through the intern pool and eventually committed perjury to escape accountability, with his political adversaries tripping over themselves like clowns. So, the 100 short essays almost wrote themselves.
I’m hoping that blogging continues the same easy path. If I could get the time to easily be at the laptop, I would probably post every day. When I don’t it just means that I am fully occupied with something, somewhere, or someone else.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my start in woodworking. Forty years ago I made my first “real” pieces of furniture; ladderback chairs from John (Jennie) Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree. The book came out in 1978, I remember when I first opened that package. The chairs I made then, from that book, would really make me cringe now – but that’s not the point. (thankfully, I have no idea where those chairs are, but I have this drawing of one saved in an old sketchbook. That chair was made before I met Alexander and Drew Langsner in 1980.)
For years, I made these chairs, and then Windsors – before I made any oak furniture. Then once I started on the oak joined furniture, those chairs sort of fell by the wayside. I made a couple kid-sized JA-style chairs when my children were small, but that was it.
Otherwise, large oak carved chairs or turned (also large) chairs – all that 17th-century stuff. We saw one of my wainscot chairs displayed in the Hingham Massachusetts Public Library the other day. I made it based on an original made in Hingham in the 17th century.
But I’ve been planning for a while to “re-learn” how to make JA ladderbacks. These chairs are more demanding than my wainscot chairs – the tolerances are much tighter, less forgiving. I made a couple attempts recently that I wasn’t happy enough with to finish – so today I took the day off from joinery and worked on one of these chairs. First thing I did was to review Jennie’s DVD about making the chair. If you are interested in these chairs, I highly recommend that video. http://www.greenwoodworking.com/MACFATVideo
(yes, Jennie & Lost Art Press are working towards a new edition of the book – but get the video in the meantime. It covers every detail of making this chair.)
The part I had to re-learn is how to orient the bent rear posts while boring the mortises. That’s what I went to the video for; the rest I still had. Included with the video are drawings for a couple helpful jigs to aid in those tricky bits. This morning I made several of those jigs – but didn’t photograph any of that. I didn’t get the camera out until I was boring mortises…
In this photo, I’m boring the mortises for the side rungs into the rear post. If you get this angle wrong, you might as well quit now. I forget now who came up with this horizontal boring method – but I learned it from Jennie & Drew Langsner. They worked together many summers teaching classes to make this chair. The photo is a bit cluttered (the bench is cluttered really) so it’s hard to see. But the bent rear post needs to be oriented carefully. But once you have it right, then it’s just a matter of keeping the bit extender level and square to the post. there’s a line level taped to the bit extender. Eyeball 90 degrees.
Alexander’s non-traditional assembly sequence is to make the side sections of the chair first. So after boring the rear & front posts for the side rungs, I shaved the tenons in the now-dried rungs. Mostly spokeshave work.
I bored several test holes with the same bit, to gauge the tenons’ size. Chamfer the end of the tenon, try to force it into the hole. Then shave it to just squeeze in there. No measurements.
Once the tenon starts in that hole, you get a burnished bit right at the end. That’s the guideline now. Shave down to it.
Yes, glue. I don’t often use it, but this is a case where I do. The chair would probably be fine without it, but it doesn’t hurt. Belt & suspenders. Knocking the side rungs into the rear post.
Make sure things line up, and the front post is not upside-down.
Then bang it together. Listen for the sound to change when the joints are all the way in.
Then time to bore the front & rear mortises. This little angle-jig has the unpleasant name of “potty seat” – I wish there was another name for it. But there’s a level down on the inside cutout – so I tilt the chair section back & forth until that reads level. Then bore it.
It’s hard to see from this angle, but that chair section is tilted away from me, creating the proper angle between the side and rear rungs.
Then re-set for the front mortises.
I was running out of daylight – and any other task, I’d just leave it til tomorrow. But with glue, and the wet/dry joints, I wanted to get this whole frame together this afternoon. Here I’m knocking the rear rungs in place. That’s a glue-spreader (oak shaving) in the front mortise.
Expect to hear a lot more from me this year about making these chairs; their relationship to historical chairs, and also about the people who taught me to make them. It’s been a heck of a trip these past 40 years.
If you design furniture or work a lot with curved parts, it’s difficult to function without a “drawing bow.” This simple jig – a stick and a string – allows you to lay out precise and large curves with only two hands. Before I could afford a commercial one (Lee Valley Tools makes an excellent one that I recommended in my 2017 Anarchist’s Gift Guide), I made my own. While […]
I don’t know of many woodworkers who set out to have their glued-up panels warp. Warped panels happen to most of us at one time or another. It is reason to question your procedure and if you did something not quite right. Were your pieces dry? Did you allow the wood to reach equilibrium in your shop before milling? Did the humidity in your shop change between the time you glued your panels to when you got back to working them?
|sometimes you get lucky|
|1/2" oak plywood|
The smallest one is delicate. It came with 3 flat blades and I got a hex adapter to increase it's versatility. I haven't any problems with driving screws with the flat blades. Go figure on that. I was sure that I would be doing the hop and bounce dance steps with it for sure. Nope. The only problem I have had with driving slotted screws is getting the blade in the slot.
|my driver collection|
|the 3 flat blades|
With a pilot hole, the two biggest ones work well driving them in but not so well driving them out. That I can understand was there is no pressure exerted on the screw backing them out with these. The small one worked with a pilot hole with #6 and #5 screws. It struggled without success trying a #8 spax screw.
I like using these because in spite of my arthritis, these don't hurt to use. Sometimes I get twinges in my wrist and fingers when I use my battery drills. They are good addition to my shop.
|I keep the two small ones in here|
|it's home for now|
|drawer stock prep|
|the one board with the squirrely grain|
|squared up one end|
|just fits between the slides|
|the two drawers are ready for dovetailing|
|the 4 1/2 spitting out even shavings R/M/L|
|they all look a wee bit better|
|#4 needs a home|
|marking the pins|
|this part still revs my motor - will it fit?|
|yes and no|
|a frog hair from being tight between the slides|
|setting the depth|
|stock for the drawer slips|
|a saturday UPS delivery|
I tried the adapter in my brace and got a big disappointment. None of my 1/4" hex stuff will fit in the brace adapter. I'll have to email Lee Valley about that one.
|3/4 inch washer and cup magnets|
Did you know that 6 wickets and one wooden stake are used in tournament croquet?
When I sell my spoons and spatulas at craft markets, people always ask me, “Where do you get the wood?” I often laugh because, truth be told, practically ever piece of wood has a story behind it. More often than not, I don’t really find the wood; the wood finds me. This is the story of one such wood-finding event, which happened just last month.
We were pulling up to the house when we spotted two old dressers that somebody had dropped off in the neighborhood trash pile across the street. (It’s the spot where we dump yard waste for weekly pickup by the trash truck.) They looked pretty rough from a distance, but we decided they might be worth a closer look.
Upon first inspection, the dressers were indeed trash. The veneer was peeling off of every visible surface, and some of the edges and feet were rotted–evidently from being exposed to standing water. The hardware was gone, too. If I were a furniture restoration guy, I probably would have passed these up as lost causes.
However, old furniture often contains good-quality hardwood that is excellent for spoon making, so I put on my work gloves, grabbed my crowbar and claw hammer, and started pulling them apart.
A number of the drawers were stuck, so I began by removing the plywood backs so I could push the drawers out from the back. What I saw was encouraging.
Although the insides smelled pretty musty, the construction was nearly all solid wood. The only plywood parts were the backs and the drawer bottoms. And all the drawer sides and backs were solid mahogany, much of it with very pretty figure. (More on that below!)
As I took the dressers apart, I began to get a sense of their age. The machine-cut dovetails and mahogany-veneered case indicates mid-twentieth century construction. They were nice dressers in their time–not the fanciest you could buy, but well built and attractive. It’s a shame that they were neglected and allowed to get to this state in the first place.
After about an hour, I had disassembled both dressers entirely, picked out the pieces that might yield useful lumber, and discarded the rest.
I carried home two dresser tops (both laminated oak), four dresser sides (all laminated poplar), a bunch of mahogany-veneered plywood (from the drawer bottoms), and quite a few drawer blades (the horizontal pieces that separate the drawers).
Not to mention a whole pile of pre-finished 1/2″ thick mahogany boards in various lengths and widths. I think I’ll be making some pencil boxes and jewelry boxes soon!
But I’m mainly here for spoon wood, so on to the less-superficially-attractive stuff! The sides and drawer blades had the best spoon wood: soft maple and poplar.
But before I could start cutting spoons and spatulas out of this wood, I had to work carefully to remove all the nails and screws I could find. I also pried off as much of the veneer as possible.
The next step was to bring out my templates and start deciding on the best uses for each piece. Ideally, I would get a good mix of spoons and spatulas out of this pile of wood, but the nature of the material often dictates what I can and can’t do with it. Looking at every piece from every side, I had to work around mortises, screw holes, and rot–all the while paying attention to grain direction.
In many cases, I found I could nest different utensils within the same board. It became a Tetris-like game of optimizing the placement of each utensil on each piece of wood. Often it took me working through several possible configurations to get the most out of each piece.
Once I had the shapes laid out, I sawed each workpiece to length with a hand saw. Then I sawed out the rough shape of each utensil on the bandsaw. With each cut, I was careful to watch for stray hardware like embedded nails and other mortal enemies of saw teeth.
Back at my workbench, I went to work on some of the poplar. This is tulip poplar, which has a light yellow sapwood but distinctively green heartwood. The wood was very dry, but poplar works quite easily with hand tools, and in short order I was able to make some spoons and spatulas.
The green color is entirely natural. I think the shavings look like that vegetable-pasta that we sometimes have for dinner–except this has extra fiber.
I did end up having to discard a few blanks because of flaws that only became apparent once I started carving, but much of the wood has turned out to be very useful. So while I was sad to witness the end of what was once some nice furniture, I am happy to give some of the wood a new lease on life.