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Finishing Workshop @ CW – Undulating Surfaces

The Barn on White Run - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 5:10am

One of the frequent challenges for finishers is the undulating surfaced — carvings, moldings, and similar.  In reviewing the historic methods for the CW crew I emphasized the problems of square-tipped brushes for this process, as the corner tips of the brushes often squeegee on the raised surfaces being varnished, resulting in excess varnish and runs dripping down the surface.  This result often causes hair pulling and pungent language.

In the past the ancients often used oval or even round brushes similar to sash brushes, and thus reduced the problem.  In our time, we not only have these brushes to rely on but also a form used by water colorists, the Filbert Mop.  The tapers oval tip of a Filbert makes varnishing a vibrant undulating surface a piece of cake.  Not only are there no brush corners to deposit excess varnish where you do not want it, but the tapered oval tip drapes the surface excellently.

The preparation for carved surfaces is essentially the same as flat surfaces; good tool work followed by scraping as necessary, and finally burnished with a bundle of fibers.

After that it’s simply a matter of applying the varnish by brush, and not too surprisingly this crew tool to this like a fish to water.

After the initial application dries, the surface can once again be burnished with the carver’s polissoir, a tool I designed for my broom-maker to fabricate along with all the other polissoirs he makes for me.  This was followed by  second round of varnishing, and the pieces were ready to be rubbed out with beeswax and rottenstone (grey Tripoli).


the next project is.......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 1:03am
Been thinking about what the next project will be and I decided. I have 4 planes that I am rehabbing in various stages of done that I should be doing. I have my Record 53E vise that I should be cleaning up and getting it ready for the upcoming bench build. I am almost done paying Lowes off but I forgot about xmas being right around the corner. So it looks like the bench will have to wait until after the new year. The vise can wait too.  But I can start on the new project and that will keep me from playing in the streets.

Stanley 71 for Miles
I got this from Josh at Hyperkitten. I think this will be a good gauge for Miles. It has two independent moving arms that can hold two different settings. It can be used as a marking gauge or a mortise gauge.

Miles's Stanley 72
I thought that 71 I had the same features as a 72 except for being made of the same type of wood. They are basically the same gauge with one major  difference.

the 72 has a brass wear plates
The 72 has brass wear plates on the marking pins and on the fence. This is what I got confused with the 71. It is still a good gauge but if I see a 72 I'll buy it and swap it out with this one.

Miles gauge herd
This is as far as I'm going with this. He should be able to do everything with these 3. The top gauge is a Stanley 65.

the plumbline stick ready for string
I did good on drilling my line. I nailed it on the centerline on this face and the front edge. If I had missed either of them, I would have two options. Fill the hole and drill it again or drill a bigger hole in the errant one.

dull razor blade
It is dull but not so dull that it won't cut flesh. I used this to scrape the paint that spilled over onto the face here.

It is gone from the face and didn't effect the sides at all. Sandpaper wrapped around a stick will work too. But I think the razor blade scraper action leaves behind a cleaner surface.

back of the frog
Two coats of black and this is done. I can paint the entire frog and set it aside to dry on the frog seat. I'll scrape the face and the seat one last time when this coat is dry.

the next project
From the block plane on the left over to the leg on the right and backwards up to the #8 is the new project real estate. The plan is to make a small cabinet with two drawers to hold the 3 planes here plus some others.

about 9"
This restriction in the height isn't carved in stone. From the shelf to the underside of the bench is a little bit more than 12". I can inset the cabinet in so that the front face of it is behind the dog holes. Then the dog will only be in the way of opening or closing the top drawer.

a pattern board

This board is the size of the ID on the cabinet. I'm allowing an inch for the sides and I'll use it to find the optimum placement of the planes.

I got most of them to fit here, the 140 was left off
I would rather lay the 073 (at the back) on it's side along with the bullnose plane.  I can do that but I can't fit the edge plane on here in a way I like. Looking at this, I'm also not to happy about the 073 being at the back. I don't use it often but it may prove difficult to get out of the drawer. It is looking like I will have to pull it out entirely to have access to it.

cut out another pattern board from cardboard
I forgot to factor in the dimensions of the drawer. I am losing an inch for the sides and another inch for the sides of the drawer. I might not get the 073 to fit in a drawer now. I have 12" to play with and the 073 is 11" long. I'm already down to 10" for the drawer ID side to side, so I may not be able to fit it.

bottom drawer
top drawer
I have already thought of an alternative placement. The 140 in the lower right corner with the 102 and 60 1/2 to the left of it. The other planes, which I don't use as much, can be placed at the top. Maybe. All of this is as hard set as Jello.

roughly 8"
I'll have to allow for the bottom thickness of the cabinet and the drawers so this will definitely be over 9" high.

the plywood scraps are too small to use
my first choice
I want to use this 1/2 stock to make the new plane storage cabinet. I am having my doubts about it being strong enough for this. These planes will weigh a lot and I'll need a beefy drawer bottom to support them. I also will need to make a strong drawer to be able to move it in and out without having it falling apart.

Food for thought and I'll sleep on this for now and attack it tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who is Soyean Yi?
answer - she was the first Korean astronaut

Picture This CXIV

Pegs and 'Tails - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 4:49pm
The fairly plain ash, elm and oak ‘country Chippendale’ chairs – with their silhouette vasiform back splats and wooden seats (fig. 1) – were popular during the last quarter of the eighteenth-century and were made in emulation of their more … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

Windsor Chair Making With James Mursell

David Barron Furniture - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 3:08pm

This week I'm learning how to make a Windsor chair, along with a few friends, from the expert James Mursell. All hands to the pump with the double bend on the chair rail.

Initial sizing of the spindles was done with a Veritas cutter and an electric drill, after that the fitting and tapering was all done by hand with spoke shaves, an afternoons work.

Through all the activity the workshop dog relaxed, keeping one eye open for the tennis ball!

Bern Billsberry very kindly brought everyone one of his ingeniously simple pencil gauges made from a design patented back in the 1860's. The oval hole and matching stock are locked with a small turn of the head and the small scale of the gauge is just right for the scale of marking. The execution is perfect as usual. Catch up with his Instagram posts at 'bern carpenter'.

Here's Bern modest as ever, looking a lot better on his long road to recovery.

Tucked away in his tool box was his little boxwood gem. Again beautifully made to a tiny scale and fully functional.

Categories: Hand Tools

Bridge City China Field Trip Report #1: Adventures in Eating…

Bridge City Tools - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 2:53pm

Drivel Starved Nation-

Your favorite Tool Potentate just returned from three weeks in China. I spent a week in Guangzhou, 3 days in Shanghai, a week in Nanjing, and 3 days in Beijing.

While in Shanghai I met up with the Bridge City China field trip participants. And while in Beijing we had the privilege of a private dinner with the American ambassador of China and his wife in their private residence followed by a private tour the next day of the American embassy, the largest American embassy in the world. In short, this experience was more than any of us expected and will take multiple posts to share all that we explored.

TRIVIA #1: “Jing” means capital. “Bei” means north. “Nan” means south. Nanjing is the old capital of China and Beijing is the current capital.

Before I dive into the details I am reporting that what is happening in China (over the past 20 years) is the largest renaissance in human history. The scale, the speed, and the importance of what is happening in China cannot be ignored. It is almost beyond imagination. It is also beyond my intelligence grade to judge, comment, disagree or approve of what is happening in China, this post is to simply share what I observed from my limited perspective. That means no politics in this safe space I call my Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog.

The Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou every October over a three week period and is the largest trade show on the planet. If you have ever been to a woodworking show in America, the attendance ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 and around 25,000 for the two big shows that alternate between Atlanta and Las Vegas. The week I was there the attendance was around 500,000. That is insane.

We were showing the Chopstick Master and other assorted Bridge City Tools but honestly, my jet lag was so bad I had a hard time staying awake. I did find it fascinating that several attendees asked me about Pencil Perfection which is crazy because we just released it for pre-order two days before I left for the exhibition. The speed of the digital world still amazes this old guy.

Our Chinese host and I arrived in Shanghai on Friday and that evening Bridge City hosted a get acquainted dinner for our field trip participants. We had several cancellations at the last minute so the group totaled 10 or so for the duration. The dinner was fun and I enjoyed watching Americans push the limits of their palette with the various Chinese dishes that have been perfected over their 5,000 years of cooking. My limits were pushed too — check out these menu items…IMG_1172





I asked our Chinese host if there was anything the Chinese would not eat. His response;


The next report will be the sights and sounds of Shanghai.

Now, go get a snack.


The post Bridge City China Field Trip Report #1: Adventures in Eating… appeared first on John's Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

Salvaged Lumber: Part One

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:49am

People use the term salvaged to describe a variety of lumber. Salvaged lumber can be cut out of beams, joists, or other parts of buildings, whether remodeled or demolished. It can come from cabinets, furniture, packing crates, or other objects no longer in use. It can come from a tree felled by a bulldozer to make way for new construction or uprooted by a storm. Using material from any of […]

The post Salvaged Lumber: Part One appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Perch Stool Part 3: Carving the Seat

The Renaissance Woodworker - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:41am

The audio is a bit low for the first 20 minutes as I review questions from last week, it gets much louder after that

Digging out a Hole for your Butt

I’ve discovered that this Perch seat is unlike the other Windsor seats I have carved in that I really don’t need a lot of extra wood around the perimeter to hold on to it since there will always be a flat around the back edge and the pommel. So I did go ahead and saw out the outer perimeter using both my turning saw and a regular hand saw to quickly cut away the excess. Because there is a lot of edge work done with the drawknife it is NOT necessary to spend a bunch of time perfectly refining the outer shape right to the line or cleaning up the grain. Save that work until the bottom chamfer is cut and you will have much less shaping to do.

carved Perch seatLayout is the key to making a seemingly free form task like this seat carving into a more controlled process. Boring depth holes and drawing a oval to define the bowl of the seat will help immensely. And keep feeling the seat and removing any bumps or inconsistencies that you feel as you blend the shape from the bowl into the leg hollows. As I say in the video, when done the hollows should feel as it they were scooped out in a single pass.

The carving of this seat perfectly illustrates the concept of “coarse, medium, and fine” where rougher tools do most of the work and more refined tools come back to blend and refine the shapes. In this video I only use the coarse and medium tools and in a future installment I will come back with a card scraper to blend and smooth all the shapes. That is my fine tool. Below you will find all the tools I used as well as some alternative tools that can work. Much of the dedicated Windsor chair tools can be very specialized and if you don’t intend to build further Windsors you may want to consider using alternate methods so you don’t have superfluous tools floating around your shop.

Tools Used in Seat Carving

  • Inshave: this is your rough removal tool, easy to hog out material and easily skewed to control tearing as your work across the grain with it. Available through Barr Tools
    • Alternative: a bowl adze or even a large carving gouge (40mm #8 sweep)
  • Travisher: your medium tool used for refining the bowl shape and blending the shapes through the seat. Much like a spokeshave but better the larger size makes it better at shaping larger surfaces. Available through Peter Galbert and Claire Minihan, Elia Bizzarri also makes a nice Travisher
  • Drawknife: your coarse (and medium and fine tool depending on your skill) for shaping the convex surfaces of the seat. Available everywhere from vintage to newly made, so abundant on the antique market you will trip over them. Lie Nielsen also makes a good knife though I have not used it personally.
  • Spokeshave: your medium tool for refining the convex surfaces on the outside of the seat. Available everywhere much like drawknives. I use several vintage shaves and newly made ones. My Boggs shave from Lie Nielsen leaves a super fine surface but I’m also very partial to the shaves made by Caleb James.

Next Live Broadcast

2 PM on Saturday 11/11/17

Let’s add stretchers and assemble the stool

Tapered Tenon Discrepancy

At the outset of this broadcast I talked about how the Veritas tenon cutters supposedly are designed to match the 12 degree angle of the Veritas reamer. Obviously that won’t match the 6 degree taper of the reamer I used yet I was still getting tightly fit legs and couldn’t see much different in the tenons I had cut vs my reamer. But if you look closely at this image you will in fact see and angle difference at the top of the tenon where the Veritas cutter formed a steeper angle as compared to the 6 degree cutter I used. So the moral of the story is to be sure that your reamer and tenon cutters match each other, or just turn your tenons on the lathe. Still I am surprised at how well my legs fit despite that difference in angles so it is obvious there is a bit of wiggle room.

Tapered Tenons???

tapered leg tenons
Categories: Hand Tools

Plymouth CRAFT – spoon carving in December and Sharpening in January

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:40am

The closer you get to the end of the year, the faster time goes by. Maybe the older you get the faster it goes too. Paula, Pret and I have started sorting out stuff for Greenwood Fest, who’s doing what, etc. But in the meantime, we have a few courses closer to the horizon. There’s a spoon carving class coming up in early December at Overbrook in Buzzard’s Bay.


We have held classes there a lot, it’s a wonderful place. 2 days, lots of spoon wood and Paula’s lunches. December 9 & 10, 2017. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/spoon-carving – plus both afternoons there’s a German Holiday baking class going on with Kirsten Atchison – maybe if you’re good they’ll let you sample some goodies https://www.plymouthcraft.org/german-holiday-baking and https://www.plymouthcraft.org/more-german-holiday-baking


Then the following month, after all the hubbub dies down, is Tim Manney’s sharpening class. This class is a deceptive thing. Sharpening classes are not as glamourous as a project-based class, but the skills you develop in this class reach into every aspect of your woodworking.





Tim gets things fiercely sharp, and is an excellent teacher.  https://www.plymouthcraft.org/an-axe-to-grind Last year, people were scooting around asking “what else can we sharpen?” – I’m going to be around for it, and I’ve been cleaning my loft out in the shop. I plan on bringing a box of tools that will be free for the taking – but you’ve got to sharpen them!

Hope to see some of you there…or beyond.

record 077 and libella done.....

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 1:01am
Had a good day in the shop. I still didn't have any idea what was going to be on my plate at on dark thirty but I managed to put three things in the done column. I got the Record 077 rebate plane all nice and shiny. It has taken up residence in Miles toolbox now. I also got the two libellas I made checked out and working.  I quit the shop around 1400 so I could catch up on my reading.

I found a hammer handle at the Hammer Source. This is the same place I got my Thorex 712 hammer and I bought one of them to put in Mile's toolbox. I ordered a replacement hammer handle and I was happy to find out that each order comes with the necessary wedges - included in the price of the handle.

I had a bit of confusion with it in regards to the eye of the hammer. The instructions on the site say to note the shape of it and then get the long and short measurements of it. What I found confusing was they didn't say which end of the eye to take the measurement from.  I tried to find something on line about it but I didn't find anything helpful. I measured the bottom of the eye, which made sense to me to do. The top is tapered/flared and with the wedges installed it will push the handle outwards against the walls. I'll find out next week whether or not I pissed away $10.

yoke hanging out
There isn't any rush to get this painted. I'll let this hang here for another day to cure out. On monday I'll put the second coat on it and it will be done.

the frog hanging out
I have the frog hanging out on the frog seat. That is not painted and provides a good seat for it while dries.

mineral bath worked
I came down to the shop at 2100 on saturday night (after I did the DST clock dance steps) and checked this. I ran this face over some 220 grit and it removed all the oily crap right away.

rip back saw
I got this too late to put in yesterday's blog post. My wife told me there was a box on the front steps when she came home. It was a nice surprise as I wasn't expecting this until next week. This saw sang as it made these cuts. I also made 3 cross gain cuts in the top. Although it wasn't as easy as the rip cuts, it still made them relatively easy.  I am going to refinish the handle because it looks like absolute crappola as is. I want it to look as good as the job Bob did filing this.

I was right
I knew I had read about the 077 having a shim on the nose that could be removed to close the mouth. One other thing I saw while cleaning this was it isn't symmetrical. Put in on one way and it is flush on the two long sides. Flip it 180, and one side is proud and the other is inset a tad. Something I'll have to remember to tell Miles about.

I was working on cleaning the 077 here. That entailed a lot of finger aching sanding with 220 followed up with 320, 400, and finishing with 600. I wasn't no where near done with it when I stopped to go run some errands.

Home Depot acquisitions
worth going to HD and finding these
I stopped at HD first before I went to BJ's warehouse to buy my coffee K-cups for work. I had time to kill so I wandered around looking at whatever caught my eye and these did. They had pair of them to try on so I did. They fit and the package has five pairs for $5.98 so I put them in the basket.

I have 3 kinds of gloves
These gloves are ok for painting or applying a finish. They suck out loud for anything that involves a even a teeny bit of finger work. The tips rip and tear just by thinking about it. They are useless for doing plane rehabbing.

can't wait to try them out
I'm hoping that these will at least last for one plane rehabbing. If they do that, this will be well worth the price of admission.

mason's line and degreaser
Simple Green doesn't sell a cleaner that has 'degreaser' on the label like this one. I checked all 3 different bottles for sale at HD.  Because I want to use this in the shop where I have a lot of grease and unknown grunge to clean, I want the bottle to say it is a degreaser.  This is the only mason's line I found at HD. There was a bigger reel but I settled for this smaller one.

my strops are all stuck together
I was worried about this one
This one came apart and both strops remained where they should be. I wore the gloves for a while here to get a feel for them. They felt pretty good. They weren't slippery and the nitrile covering lends a bit of a sticky effect to things I touched. More importantly, I did not give off 4 gallons of sweat wearing these for over an hour. I had a good feel for what I was grabbing and pulling apart here. I could pick up a razor blade off the bench so that is a good thing.

the white/dark spots are hide glue (I think)
gave them a haircut on the tablesaw
Other then a bit of stink, the tablesaw had no problems sawing the plywood and the leather.  I am going to treat all three of the strops with mineral oil.

crosscut feather left by the tablesaw
mineral oil darkens them

Some more than others. This I don't understand because all three strops came out of the same piece of leather. So why 2 dark and one light? I trimmed the four edges with a razor blade putting a small bevel on them.

big kudos for the gloves
All that crap on the gloves is what usually would be on my fingers. I finished sanding the 077 with the gloves. I did 99% of it with them without any hiccups. All the fingertips are intact and there are no rips, tears, or gouges on any of them. These are definitely a keeper and there is still a lot of life and a few more rehabs left in these pair.

flattened the back, raised a burr, and sharpened it
the before pic
Even I was impressed with how well this rehab came out.

port side
bow shot sans the decal
starboard side
stern shot
The hardest part of this rehab was the two knobs. Both of them were black and I didn't think I would be able to get any part of them to shine.  The Zep cleaner and a wire brush cleaned up the knurling a little and sandpaper raised a shine in the other spots.

I was a little surprised by how rough this was in spots. I was expecting this to be a lot more uniform and precise. The handle had four rough spots on the outside edges. Two at the front and two at the back. I couldn't sand them out completely. Another rough spot was the bed for the iron. I could not only see it but I could feel it with my fingertips.

The hook part of the plane where the pins from the handle engage were rusted and very rough. The tops of them weren't finished and both are uneven and have a different shape. That part doesn't effect the fit of the handle but I would think this would be finished a bit better than this. I already mentioned the shim in the nose isn't symmetrical.

My overall impression of the plane is still highly favorable. The areas that matter the most appear to be dead nuts on. The sole is flat and square to the sides and the nose is in line with the sole too. All the areas I'm quibbling about won't interfere with the plane making rebates or being used as a chisel plane. These areas are cosmetic at best but they also show the care and workmanship of the person who made it.

can't put these in a drawer

hanging out here until I need them again
Binder clips just aren't for holding paper. I use them in the shop for things like this, as clamps for small glue ups, and more importantly for keeping the potato chip bag closed once it's been opened.

time to saw off the proud ends

chip missing
I missed getting this on the outside. I had seen it during the dry clamp run and I was going to put it on the outside and remove it by chamfering the legs. Obviously forgot to pay attention to that detail during the glue up.

last side flushed and cleaned up

used a stick to mark both legs for the 45 saw cut
handy having the miter guide on the bench hook
check of where I'll do the libella
I didn't know that my workbench was level. This is the first time I've ever checked for that.

unraveling like crazy
I cut the string with a razor blade and 3 inches of it instantaneously unraveled. This is nylon or a nylon like string and I had to light the end with a match to keep it from doing this.

ready to see if the libella says I'm level
I have two of these to check and I haven't come up with a way to secure the top end of the string. The tape will work for checking these out.

I couldn't see my black mark on the tape
It looked like it was on the line but I wasn't sure. It was hard to see the black mark on the blue tape.

 a pencil line
I squared a line across the brace by lining up the square with the apex at the top. The plumb bob line is dead nuts on that.

I got the left leg propped up on piece of scrap
It isn't off the plumb line as much as I thought it would be. It would take some getting used to but I think I could use this.

the second libella
Marking my square line off the apex.

it's off the squared line
I held the plumb bob string here and marked that with a pencil.

hanging right on the line
propped up the left leg
This libella shows a big difference between the plumb line and the bob. I was expecting this on the first one but I can see why now it wasn't. The leg spread on that one is greater than the shorter spread of this one. It would take a bigger offset to move the bob on the larger one due to how far apart the legs are.

swapped it 180
I got the same reading so the pencil line I have is the plumb line. I did this with the first libella too but I forgot to snap a pic of it.

found my centers
I'll do this one on monday. I think I would use this one more than the libella.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is Leap-the-Dips?
answer - the worlds oldest roller coaster built in 1902 and is located in Altoona, Pa

Antique Food. Really.

The Furniture Record - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 9:15pm

For me, one of the highlights of the auction season is the Country Store Auction in Mebane, NC. Not much in the way of furniture but tons of interesting stuff. The focus of the auction is things found in a country store, the merchandise found there-in and advertising of all sorts.


Need a thermometer?


Does anybody know what time it is?


Lots of stuff of all varieties.


And tobacciana. Those were different times.

My favorites of favorites continues to be the foods or nominally edible products. Many unfamiliar products or familiar products in unfamiliar formats. Like soft drinks:


When you say NEHI, I think quality.


Orange flavored, yum!


A more familiar name.

IMG_1070 - Version 2

Possibly more information than you wanted.

Then the are some adult drinks (non-alcoholic):


Before there was Starbucks…


Chicory, the greatest coffee extender. And this from Josephine Cambre, Expert Home Economist.

There was also other the counter remedies:


No trip to the store would be complete without your gallon of Lucky Tiger, For Dandruff.

But, by far the largest category is something you don’t eat. Directly. I hope.


110 pounds of heavy-duty lard.


Quality lard.


Stabilized lard.


Cold lard.


Also available in smaller sizes for home use.


And seafood. Love them canned oysters. And lard.

One thing this display points out is that there are no longer local brand in the number there once were. Consolidation has killed off local and regional brands. That and people used to buy a lot of lard.

You would need to buy one of these:


Several to choose from.






A Walk in the Woods in August

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 6:15pm

Meanwhile, back in Ohio…

I was walking in the woods one day, as I am wont to do, when I came across this fruit on the ground:


I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve never seen a butternut tree around here, but this looks suspiciously like a butternut (Juglans cinerea). I looked up at the trees over the spot where I found the nut, but there were definitely no butternuts (or black walnuts, either), although there were several hickories.

A typical hickory fruit is more spherical, such as this shagbark hickory (Carya ovata):


Mockernut (C. tomentosa) fruit are similar, but they’re distinguishable when you open them up:


The mockernut, on the left, has a large kernel surrounded by thin flesh, while the shagbark on the right has a small kernel and very thick flesh.

I opened up the mystery nut, and on the inside it looks very much like a mockernut, albeit aberrantly shaped:


It’s definitely not a butternut, as the shell of a butternut is deeply grooved, much like this black walnut (J. nigra):



Here’s another hickory; I believe that it is a bitternut (C. cordiformis), but I can’t get near enough to the tree to pick one off and look at it closely:


There’s another kind of hickory around here that I didn’t mention back in the June installment, because I hadn’t come across an example. But now I have:


The shellbark hickory (C. laciniosa) has bark that’s peely like shagbark, but in smaller pieces. I probably would have passed right by this tree had I not noticed the fruit. The fruit of the shellbark is round and huge, almost the size of a tennis ball. Unfortunately, this one was standing in a swamp, and I was not willing to search for a fallen nut in the fetid water. (I will only go so far for you, dear reader.)

Other trees setting fruit in August are black cherries (Prunus serotina):


And yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava):


The fruit of Ohio buckeye (A. glabra) is more spherical, and sparsely covered with short spines.

Late summer is mushroom season in the Appalachian forests. There are mushrooms at other times of year, too, but the peak is in July and August. One of the most sought after is the golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius):


This is one of the few wild mushrooms that I’m willing to pick and eat. There are a few inedible and even poisonous species that are vaguely similar, but a telltale identifying characteristic of the chanterelle is the presence of small ridges, in place of true gills, on the underside of the cap:


This is a destroying angel (Amanita virosa):


You can probably guess from the name that it’s one you shouldn’t eat. It and its close relatives are the species most often responsible for mushroom-related fatalities. Its toxicity is especially insidious because by the time you experience any symptoms, your liver and kidneys are pretty much gone.

The destroying angel is pure white, but other Amanita mushrooms are not. Like the other members of its genus, there is a distinct “veil” on the stem, and the base of the mushroom appears to emerge from an egg:


Here’s another veiled mushroom:


I wasn’t able to figure this one out; maybe Amanita or Lepiota. I don’t think I’ll eat it.

This one is a bolete; I believe that it is Gyroporus castaneus, the chestnut bolete, but I’m not 100% sure:


I didn’t get a good photo of the underside, but in place of gills, boletes are covered with tiny, close-packed pores.

Many Russula mushrooms, such as this short-stemmed russula (R. brevipes), won’t kill you but are not particularly good to eat:


Interestingly, they can become infected by a parasitic fungus, Hypomyces lactifluorum, which causes them to turn bright red, whereupon they’re known as lobster mushrooms. Apparently, in this form they are much better tasting (I’ve never tried), with a seafood-like taste (appropriately enough). I’ve seen lobster mushrooms in these woods before, but couldn’t find any this year.

The stalked scarlet cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis) is tiny, but is so brightly colored that it’s easy to pick out, growing on fallen twigs on the forest floor:


Not all mushrooms look like mushrooms. The jellied false coral (Tremellodendron pallidum) is closely associated with oak trees:


We can’t have a false coral mushroom without also having a true coral mushroom, so here’s a crested coral (Clavulina cristata):


I found these mushrooms growing on some hardwood mulch in my front yard:


It took quite a bit of research, but I think I’ve correctly identified them as Hohenbuehelia mastrucata, the wooly oyster mushroom.

I’ve avoided writing about grasses, mostly because there just aren’t that many that grow in the woods. They’re also usually pretty hard to tell apart. But one common grass that grows deep in the shade and is easy to identify is eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix):


I found this flower growing in my yard:


It’s an orchid, spring lady’s tresses (Spiranthes vernalis). Despite the name, it often blooms in late summer. While researching it online, I discovered that there was no record for this species for Athens County in the USDA PLANTS database, so I submitted photos and other documentation, and now there is.

I took the above photo ten years ago, and I haven’t seen it blooming since. I don’t know if the plant is still around or not. It’s very inconspicuous when it’s not blooming.

After a couple of slow wildflower months, activity begins to pick up again in August. Because it’s still pretty dark in the woods, most woodland-associated wildflowers are found either in open spaces within the woods, or along the margins.

There are many, many species of goldenrod (Solidago), and they can be very tricky to tell apart. One of the earliest to bloom is the aptly-named early goldenrod (S. juncea):


It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this one is easy to identify by its narrow leaves without toothed margins, along with small offshoot leaves that grow out from the bases of the main leaves.

The widespread goldenrod that we see along roadsides and in open fields is tall goldenrod (S. altissima). It’s sometimes called Canada goldenrod, but that name is also used for S. canadensis. You’re probably aware that there are many plants that have been imported from elsewhere into North America, and that have turned out to be extremely invasive. It works both ways, as Canada goldenrod has wreaked havoc in Europe and Asia, even leading to the extinction of several species in China.

The common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) grows in grassy openings in the woods:


The Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) is a member of the nightshade family, and shares the same five-petaled “beaked” flowers that all nightshades have:


Look closely, and you can see the thorns covering its stems and the undersides of its leaves. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the tomato-like fruits are the only part that might kill you.

I’ve mostly let nature take over the yard, and as a result, tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima) has started showing up:


At first, the deer would munch off the leaves before the plants got very far along, but now there are enough of the plants that I get lots of flowers. And it really is tall; this particular plant reaches well above my head.

It’s a stretch to call butterfly milkweed (Aclepias tuberosa) a woodland wildflower, but it’s one of my favorites, so you get a photo anyway:


– Steve Schafer

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Categories: Hand Tools

Quitting time

Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 3:40pm

I spend most of my time in the house, where my shop is, hunched over the bench, worried about bumps or awkward curves in my carving, thinking this new batch of varnish really isn't the right color.  Sometimes I'm practicing tunes, wondering if I'll ever learn how to play the fiddle.

It's nice to quit for the day, step outside, and see something that just is what it is.  Knocks me down a gear or two, and that's a good thing.

Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery


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