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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

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seventeenth-century joined furniture; green wood, hand tools
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

carved box wth drawer, pt 2 or maybe 3 I forget

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:46pm

I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.

till is next

 

I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.

Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook. 

planing till lid

There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till. 

fitting till

 

I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar. 

 

 

 

till

 

Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun. 

drawer front begun

Shaping & beveling. 

carving detail

Relieving the middles. 

shaping

I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes. 

low bench

 

This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details. 

depth

 

I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes. 

carving detail 2

 

I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast. 

 

bevel bottom board

The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one. 

rabbet

 

A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end. 

bottom's up

 

Tap. tap. 

 

tap it over

Bang. Bang. 

nailed

 

Here’s where I quit for the day. 

first bottom board in

 


Yale University Art Gallery Furniture Study

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 12:20pm

I’m going to write up my Connecticut trips backwards. The 2nd stop was to a Friday afternoon demo at the Yale University Art Gallery’s Furniture Study. What a spot. Readers and students often want to know where they can see period pieces in person. The Furniture Study is just such a place.

http://artgallery.yale.edu/furniture-study

 

These are the works that are not on display in the museum, but are there specifically for study. Tons of them. Over 1,000 items maybe. 

aisle 3

Yale’s Furniture Study

 

down the aisle

Yale’s Furniture Study

You want to see some Guilford, Connecticut carved oak chests? Why not see 3 of them together – then you get to see what’s common, what’s idiosyncratic…

guilford chests

one of 3 Guilford CT chests

guilford w scratch stock molding

carved panel detail, Guilford chest

 

This one they had pulled out so we could look at it in detail; I have only generally studied Connecticut furniture, so it’s fun to look again at these. They are large, heavy stock – the stiles are over 2″ thick, by close to 4″ wide. Note the side top rail, how it has no relationship to the front one. Most often  the top rails are equal in height, but they don’t have to be. The linen is not going to leak out of the chest. 

guilford out front

Guillford chest

I always refer to these chests as prime examples of the use of a scratch-stock to produce the abbreviated moldings above the panels here. A plane would not be able to get the full profile then blend out and in so quickly. This molding was scraped – we just don’t know what the tool looked like, nor what it was called. I’ve been working lately on carving these designs, they are so simple, but very effective too. Maybe 20 minutes of carving? Notice the nail holes in the panels – not from a now-missing applied molding – the beveled framing means there was no molding applied; so I think it’s to fix the piece to the bench for carving. Didn’t see those when I was there, just picked them out in the photos. 

detail

carving & molding detail

 

The till lid detail is nice; I usually put the pintle/hinge pin way out on spine of the till lid. Here the joiner shifted it about an inch or more in from the edge. Makes boring the holes for it easier; might make the whole thing simpler. I had done some like this years ago, then forgot it. So next time I make a till for a chest….

 

till lid

till lid

till lid pintle

till lid pintle

It goes on & on. I had wanted to concentrate my carving portion of my demo on these patterns – they are quite simple, but I like the result a lot. Some go for this understated approach to 17th-century carvings; unlike the “every-blessed-surface-carved” approach of my usual inspiration.  

Let’s not forget these drawer fronts – always picked on because they show what can happen!

cupboard base detail

drawer fronts, CT cupboard

If you are in the area some time, contact the folks there through the website – once you start looking around, you’ll have a hard time leaving. My thanks to the staff there for such a nice visit. 


another piece of the story about my axe

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 11:39am

best fuchs hatchet

 

I know I’m lucky to have the hewing hatchets I do…I got mine from Alexander, and the legend is that Drew Langsner and Jennie (then-John) Alexander got them as partial payment for demos/lectures at Woodcraft back in 1979/80. I found this while down at Bob Van Dyke’s place this week: 

 

1971 Woodcraft catalog axe

 

 – a 1971 Woodcraft Catalog, that listed the limited quantity axe heads they were then offering. Says the first 100 orders will be filled, but 9 years later, they still had leftovers? $12 must have been too steep a price…

I have written about this/these hatchets many times – here’s one post about them http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-endless-look-at-hewing-hatchets/

Now, if there was 100 of them 40 years ago, where are they now? I had 3, gave one away….


Carved oak frame & panel class this weekend

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 9:57am

frame & panel

Bob Van Dyke (who doesn’t know which way is up) http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/bob-van-dyke-doesnt-know-which-end-is-up/

tells me we had some folks who had to drop out at the last minute in the class there this weekend. Saturday through Monday, we’ll carved and join a frame & panel. It amounts to the fundamentals of joiner’s work, but with less work than attempting to make some stupid joined chest in a week, like I tried this summer! 

Watch Bob coil in horror as everything we carve looks like a face to him. It’s gonna rain Saturday anyway, so why not c0me in & work some oak? This is a class with sawn stock; but the quartered oak we picked for panels is out of this world. I’ll show how I rive a piece of red oak too…

call or email Bob – I’ll be there Saturday bright & early…

bob@schoolofwoodworking.com

 860-647-0303

 860-647-0019

cupboard door test fit

cupboard door test fit


what if a chairmaker made spoons?

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 5:36pm

Curtis' spoon

 

Depends on the chairmaker, I guess. It starts with this spoon that arrived in my mailbox one day. I told you I have a great mailbox. Curtis Buchanan made it; sent it with no note, just the spoon. (great article by & about Curtis in Fine Woodworking recently – glad I stumbled into it)

Then Tim Manney posted stuff on his blog about some whacky idea about making spoon crooks by steam-bending the blanks. http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-few-spoons-and-dissection.html

Turns out that’s what Curtis did. And then Tim went totally full-tilt-bozo with the idea. And makes outstanding spoons this way; steam-bent, drawknife, shaving horse. Sounds like chairmakers to me.

Tim's spoon 1

 

tim's spoon bowl

Tim's spoon detail

tim's spoon

Tim gave us a run-down of his techniques. Says it starts with “it’s hard to find crooks” so he makes ‘em. Shaved green, tries to follow the growth ring, so very carefully shaved. Then steamed, and clamped to a form for 12 hours.

 

steambent crooks

 

Then, no axe – just goes to the shaving horse and gets his very sharp drawknife and goes to it. He draws the shape on there, and starts in defining the outline of the spoon.

drawknife work 2

 

Here he’s using the drawknife to come down the bowl, towards the neck or stem of the spoon.
drawknife stop cut

 

Next he shaves along the side of the handle, towards the relief cut he just defined. Very precise, deliberate cuts. One false move…

drawknife work

 

Then knife work. He hollows the bowl with a gouge, (see previous post) -

Tmi knife work

 

It’s one of those things that I don’t want to do; but I really admire Tim’s approach and his work. Both are great. It was a real thrill to have Tim around this weekend at Lie-Nielsen, I know the students dug it too.


Spoons in Maine

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:31pm

Just back once again from Maine – where we had a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in spoon carving. We turned 16-plus people loose with axes & knives. Yikes. It went very well, as long as I didn’t think about it at first. I had decided the theme for day one was  “A Moment of Doubt & Pain” – some steel & flesh collided. Nothing too bad; but you hate to see anyone get nicked.

16 people loose w axes

 

The 2nd day, it all began to click in, and out came spoons galore. Real spoons. Nice work. Here’s some photos, I didn’t get enough, I was too busy running around.

matt

SE using hook

There were lots of spoons coming out really well, I only wish I had shot more..

spoon

 

 

I remind new carvers (and old carvers too) to look a lot, carve a little. Dave looked:

looking 1

But I guess he didn’t like what he saw…

looking 2

I was helped as usual by Deneb, but we also had Tim Manney come for the weekend, (thanks again, Tim) – he was a huge help. Tim doesn’t make a spoon like I do at all, but he knows how to…so he worked & worked as well. Here, he’s teaching the old method of using a standard gouge for hollowing the bowl. This is how we first learned how to hollow them, from Drew Langsner’s book Country Woodcraft.

tim & sarah & gouges

It amounts to a flick of the wrist. Hold the tool by the shank, not the handle. Then, brace your off-thumb against the heel of your gouge-holding hand; and…

gouge 1

flick o’ the wrist – it’s a short travel for the gouge – but it works well Tim uses this method a lot. Maybe exclusively?

gouge 2

 

Most of our wood was straight-grained birch, but Dave brought his own apple crook to split

dave & the crook

 

I live in Massachusetts, not in Maine. Some think I should live in Maine. Sometimes I think it. But for now, I still drive up when I work there…and for the third straight Maine trip, I had car trouble. Dead starter it seemed. I ended up an extra day in the mid-coast Maine area, with 65-degree temps, under bright sunny skies. Nothing at all to do except sit & carve more spoons. Deneb, ever the charmer, said “why don’t you work down in the showroom?”

Here, I am using my new Nic Westermann twca cam and a neck strap. A great deal of leverage on this arrangement. I put a very long handle on mine. I saw a very brief clip of Barn Carder using one, shot by Robin Wood. Thanks, Robin & Barn – though I have only used this tool briefly, I really like the neck strap idea. The strap is just a loop around my neck. Then I twist the shank of the twca cam in one end. Then pull back a bit with my neck, while levering my right hand away from me, to bring the hook tool across the spoon bowl. Short move, big chips. Reminds me of the short time I got to try a block knife…

twca cam 2

twca cam

 

 

Then, it all became clear – Thomas Lie-Nielsen came by and admitted to tampering with my car, so I had no choice but to demonstrate in the showroom. He’ll stop at nothing. It was fun though…one woman came in & once we talked about what I was doing, she asked if I would mind if she took my picture – I thought about 20 years’ of working in front of the museum visitors, and wondered how many photos I’ve been in. A whole lot; what’s one more?

the tamper-er

here’s the link to Barn using the large hook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rybANi3lX2M

thanks to Robin Macgregor for the last 3 photos.


Back on the road – spoon class here I come

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 6:32pm

Getting ready for tomorrow’s trip to Lie-Nielsen for my very full spoon-carving class, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/18   I tarted up some of my spoon tools – the excuse is that I will be able to distinguish my tools from others’ tools. I started by cutting rows of gouge-cut patterns on the handles of my knives by Nic Westermann, these handles are ash, so I used a mallet to drive the gouge. Had to be very careful not to bump into the blades, either with my gouge or my hands. One could wrap the blade in duct tape, but I hate trying to get that junk off…I always feel like I’m going to slip & cut myself. I held these in a vise to carve them. 

 

carved handles

carved handles 2

I had been using these knives since the spring, so the handles had some patina to them; once I cut into them, the carved bits came out very bright by comparison. Time will blend it all together. 

Next, I decided to make some woven sheaths for the straight knives. I have kept several knives in a canvas roll,  but even then they can get banged around. I have one small straight knife by Del Stubbs, and he supplied a nice birch woven sheath with it. His website has a very clear photo essay on making these – to me, more  readable than the piece in Wille’s book.  http://pinewoodforge.com/sheath.making.html

del sheathe

 

I made two with some scraps of birch bark, and lashed them with ash splints from my basket work. the dark-handled knife is my first spoon carving knife; late 1980s. Its most recent use is by Daniel, age 8 1/2. (HA! When I went digging for photos I shot the other day, he’s got one of Nic’s knives in his hands – so much for continuity…)

birch & ash sheath

sheath on knife

straight knives

 

Daniel

I also made a couple completely from ash, and tried some in hickory bark. The bark had been harvested quickly, and was too thick really. Good hickory bark is great for these things.  The material I have in the best supply is ash splints, so I will bring some along in case some students want to take the time to make a sheath for their knives. 

While we’re looking at spoon knives, now is a good time to show the hooks I’ve been using most often lately. Here’s three, Robin Wood’s “open” hook, the Nic Westerman one I mentioned, and in the back, a lefty by Hans Karlsson.

hooks

 

Next up after this trip is Columbus Day weekend at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, make a frame & panel in oak – carved. Bob says room for one more. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/bob-van-dyke-doesnt-know-which-end-is-up/


why did this take 30 years?

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:43am

I just spent a week back at the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts  http://www.heartwoodschool.com/ – after being a student there in 1984, I finally returned to teach a small class in making the carved boxes. What a treat! Run all these years by Will & Michele Beemer – Heartwood is a great place. Woodsy, small-scale, friendly and exciting all at once. They have done a great job with this school – it was such a thrill to be there and see how it has developed. When I was first there, I was as green as the wood; but by now I know my way around woodworking schools, and this one gets very high marks. In many ways, it reminds me of my friends Drew & Louise Langsner’s Country Workshops. Both schools are a husband & wife endeavor, very homey (although Will & Michele commute about a mile to work – one of the nicest commutes I have ever taken), and both have a community of supporters and involved participants. I know I will be back before another 30 years. Hopefully next year. Lots of pictures & captions. I wish I had shot the surrounding Berkshire hills…but was sorta busy. 

 

heartwood 2

Heartwood school building

heartwood

from the framing yard

wood storage

some wood storage

splitting

splitting w wedges

brett hewing

Brett hewing

shop view

inside the shop

planing in shop

planing and

planing

more planing

ed carv ing

carving

carving

carving

v tool

V-tool

student carving scroll

carving in progress

A few things set this box class apart from previous ones – because there were only 4 students, we made larger-sized boxes. More like ordinary period ones; about 20-22″ long, 6″ high, 12″+ front to back. And we made tills. Added some fumbling & headache – but they really add a lot to the finished box. 

till notches

notches for till side and bottom

4 hands till

even with 4 hands, it can fall down during test fit

till parts

till side & bottom in test fit, till lid being prepped

box w bottom & till

assembled box, w till & bottom – next is lid

Heartwood’s lunches are legendary – thanks to Michele’s hard work. 

lunch 1

lunch w will

no wonder Will is so happy

lunch 2

lunch 3

Scattered throughout the shop are mementos from previous classes, and apprenticeship grads – going back quite a ways…

student gifts

student gits 2

And projects from specialty timber-framing classes – here’s an example of how to scribe and cut a post to sit on stone. Look at that fit. Will says “now it’s Art”

scribing

scribing fit

 

we didn’t get to it, but there’s a pizza oven. Need I say more? (the frame is a class-project; fitting square timbers to round, round-t0-round, etc – like a sampler)

pizza oven & shelter

pizza oven

 

I didn’t shoot enough the last day; we had lots to do, fitting the wooden hinges, making lids and so on. I wish I had shot some of the local landscape as well. I always joke about those of us from eastern Massachusetts, and how we never go to western Massachusetts (& vice-versa, mostly) – ask my sister who lives in Springfield. But I was thrilled to be there, and reconnect to Will & Michele. BUT…the very next day when I got home, it was off to a perfect fall day at low tide. 

 

sea


2015 workshop dates, first batch

Sun, 09/28/2014 - 6:41pm

box 2013 finished

 

Before I tell you all about last week’s class out at Heartwood, (a great time. what til you see it) =  I have a bit of stuff to run down about next year’s classes. First off, two new places. Three new places I mean. All begin with vowels. 

Alphabetically, Alaska comes first. I think I won’t drive to this one. Late April, just a  tiny bit early for migration, but there should still be lots of stuff to see. Oh, & we’ll make some boxes, but from boards, not logs. Might do a one-day spoon class there too…

http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/peter-follansbee-is-coming-to-alaska/

Another in the series of classes in places that begin with vowels, England. http://www.newenglishworkshop.co.uk/

Seems I’m there for 2 weeks, teaching the log-to-box version twice. Once in Somerset, once in Warwickshire. WOW. These classes are part of an I-don’t-know-how-many ring circus. Me, Chris Schwarz, Roy Underhill, Jeff Miller, Tom Fidgen – mostly all at the same time. I know Chris & I are on the same schedule – I got lost eventually trying to map it all out. I haven’t been to England since 2005 – can’t wait. Somerset – where they carved stuff like this:

somerset chair detail

Somerset wainscot chair, detail

The last vowel destination for now is also a new one for me, Marc Adams (Indiana) – so the only venue in the lower 48 where we’ll do the carved box from a log in 2015. They’re working on the schedule now, I’m there in late Oct, the 19th-23rd. http://www.marcadams.com/ 

There’ll be more of the usual places; Lie-Nielsen, Roy’s, Bob Van Dyke’s – I hope to be at home some too. And I’m working on more new places too. I’ll post more of it soon so we can get 2015 sorted. As always, thanks to the students who put aside time, money etc to come out to these classes. It makes it possible for me to have fun for a living. 


Chip carving details

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 2:56pm

 

 

pine lid

to add a bit more to the previous post about chip carving, here are some details. When you isolate parts of the designs, you see things differently. Here is just one repeat of the  compass-generated motif.

 

pine detail close

 

Then when you shift it another way, and look at the squares instead of the circles, voila.

pine cropped

 

I have have great fun with these ideas, and I always joke about my high-school math teacher rolling in her grave when I teach geometry. I was the typical wise-guy “what do I need this for?” -incredulously. Nowadays I like to think if there had been an application for it, a use for it, I might have listened better. Maybe not. Here it is drawn out on paper first, something I rarely do with gouge-cut 17th-century century carvings.

drawing

 

. This shot is for Bob Van Dyke.

for Bob


a box distraction

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 10:16am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

butternut

It begins with this little box I made. Had been practicing chip carving in butternut & pine. Turned it into a box that right now holds small sharpening stuff. Nailed construction. 

butternut top

That led to this one. Not very practical for holding carving tools; which is what it’s doing right now. they slide around when you open the drawer. It will be re-assigned soon.

pine closed pine partly open pine fully open pine drawer detial pine lid

 

Then, two things happened. No, three. I finally met Winston James Burchill, who has been kind enough to send me some of his chip carvings – and I saw these two boxes; the Pennsylvania one in a book, the Swedish one on the web. 

chip carving

chip carving by Winston James Burchill

detail

detail

The minute I saw this box in the book Paint, Patterns & People I knew I would make some. It’s just taking me a while to get to it. http://villagecarpenter.blogspot.com/2011/03/paint-pattern-people-book-review.html

 

PA box

painted box, Pennsylvania; early 19th century

This Swedish one is slightly different; its removable end board is at the same end the lid slides out from. Makes construction  a little easier, I think. 

 

27797

pained box, Sweden, 1806

Now, I have one underway that will be chipcarved instead of painted. But I am going to make more; and will paint one too. Because I have never seen one in the flesh, I am making up the construction. I haven’t made the drawer yet. 

poplar w dts

poplar open

poplar end off

poplar workings

Gotta run out to Heartwood & teach the oak boxes. I still love them, too. Don’t worry.

 

 


test fitting the box w drawer

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 5:43pm

I did some more work on the box with drawer that I started the other day. First of all, this is as close as I get to having drawings to work from…and shortly after I begin, these are out the window. 

as close as I come

 

Today I had to finish cutting the housings for the till, and then bore the pilot holes for nailing the box together. These nails are the real thing, i.e. handmade nails. Rectangular in cross-section. Thin, wedge-shaped. Makes boring pilot holes tricky. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/for-some-work-cut-nails-dont-cut-it/

the real thing

One of the great things about oak is that it splits so well. One of the drawbacks of oak is that it splits so well. Here, I used a tapered reamer to open up the pilot holes. I wedged it back & forth more than reaming it around & around. Have to be very careful here, it’s easy to break out the wood beyond the holes. 

wedge em open

 

I have sometimes hit on the idea of installing the gimmals/snipebill hinges into the rear board before assembling the box. Makes it easy to get at them, and reduces the chance that you knock the box apart while setting the hinges.  (for more on these hinges, see http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/ )

the real thing pt 2

hinges

I didn’t get a lot further than this – I assembled the rear-to-sides, then temporarily tacked the front board in place so I can measure for the till parts.

http---makeagif.com--media-9-18-2014-76jcPp

Then I cleaned up & went home. Won’t get back to this til the 29th or so. Off to Heartwood School this weekend for next week’s class in box-making. Here’s the test-fit, with some Atlantic White Cedar that will be the till side. 

got this far

 

 

 


Oak doesn’t go bad…for the most part

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:20am

trimming scraps

 

I have a collection of bits & pieces of oak that I have carved over the years. One is a panel 7″ x 24″ – I wrote about this design way back when = http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/incised-wgouges-versus-v-tool/

When I started planning for my next spate of joinery projects, it seemed logical to warm up with something simple, a carved box. I’m off next week to teach a class in fact; so the timing was perfect. But then I dug through some oak I have stashed, and found the carved panel above; begging to be a box with a drawer. This is something I’ve never made, and have wanted to build for some time. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/i-had-been-wanting-to-see-this-box-for-years/

box with drawer, Thomas Dennis, Ipswich, Massachusetts, made between 1663-1706

 

So right away, I’ve made it more complicated than originally intended. Mine will follow the format of the Thomas Dennis box; but different decorative details. When I briefly studied the the original, I didn’t record all the pertinent details of construction. So I have to make some stuff up – I learned on another project recently that when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make mistakes. 

I gathered up some wood, carved new sides to go with the existing front.  

 

 

carved bits blog

Usually on a box, the carcass is fitted together, then the bottom nailed up to the lower edge of the carcass. In this case, the front is the same height as the side and rear. So I planed a rabbet in the inside face of the front board, for the box bottom to fit into. 

rabbet in front

Can’t have a box with this much pizzaz and not have a till, so I sawed & chiseled trenches for the till. Bored a hole for the till lid. 

till trenches

till bits

The front of the box is only 7″ high, but the sides and rear boards are 11 1/2″ high. On account of the drawer. The sides are glued up from narrower stock; as they were on the original. But the rear board I used a solid piece of 12″ riven oak – from this log http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/i-dont-have-time-for-this/

In this shot, I was fine-tuning the rabbets with a shoulder plane. I was going pretty quickly it seems. 

quickly trim rabbets

 

Then I plowed a groove in the rear board to further capture the bottom. This is one of the conjectural construction pieces – I didn’t handle the original box to see how the box bottom really fits. 

 

plowing

It’s a lot of fun being back at the task of joinery…and photography. 

old & new


It’ll look something like this

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:54pm

When I left Plimoth Plantation in June, I wrote that I would be pursuing other aspects of woodworking beyond 17th-century joined oak furniture. But I also laid out that I wasn’t giving up the oak stuff, just adding to it. Bowls, spoons, baskets, weirdo boxes (coming soon) and more…

test only a test

And I have had the best summer ever, picking away at aspects of woodworking both old and new to me…but now it’s time to bring back to the blog some joined oak furniture, carved all over.

I dug my “real” workbench out of storage, and some tools and borrowed a work-space from my friend Ted Curtin – who thankfully almost never makes joined furniture anymore, (he’s a school teacher now – that’s good, because he’s better than me at oak stuff!)

Today I shuffled some stuff around, and will start in soon on shooting carved boxes, chests and more for an upcoming book on joinery.

Between travels that is…


Immortality

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 6:24am

I’m rendered in oils! It’s like having my name up in lights. While travelling this summer, I stopped to spend a day with my friends Heather & Pat in Pennsylvania. Heather posed me for this painting, part of her on-going teacup series.

Here’s the link to her blog; I’m always amazed at Heather’s work…

http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/

http://heatherneill.com/

PF as tea cup series

 

Don’t forget box-making http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/make-a-carved-oak-box-sept-22-26/


Make a Carved Oak Box – Sept 22-26

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 5:29am

We just had a cancellation in my up-coming class in making a carved oak box – so if you would like to tackle this sort of work, September 22-26 in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, Heartwood School is the place to be. http://www.heartwoodschool.com/

 

open, with till

open, with till

opposing lunettes

opposing lunettes

oak carving box side Sept

till

till

This is going to be a really small class – so we will be able to really delve deeply into these boxes. I usually do this with 10 or 12 students; this time we’re hoping for 5! Lots more attention to carving patterns, and come hell or high water – tills! Students always ask, “can we put tills in our boxes?” – and the answer is usually “maybe” which really means “no.” 

This time – yup. I bet we will. 

come on, fall in the Berkshires? Send Will Beemer a note – it’ll be great. http://www.heartwoodschool.com/coursefr.html

oak bolt

 

 

 

 


co-inspiration

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:04am

I greatly appreciate the notes & emails, etc that I get from readers, students and more. It’s nice to hear that my work inspires some folks to go shave wood. Woodworking has saved many a man’s life (woman’s too…) – and I am glad that my work sometimes gives others a nudge. Likewise, when I hear these things, it inspires me to keep posting my stuff here – someone might get something from it. Co-inspiration.

I’m very late as usual with this post. I owe some of you answers; and had promised to show your stuff to the blog readers. Keep ‘em coming, I like to show this stuff you folks are making. That way, someone else might be inspired to have a go at it. How hard can it be?

In absolutely no particular order – here’s a stool-in-progress from Jason Estes of Iowa. Look at his details; nice chamfers; and square “turned” decoration. Great work, Jason.

Jason Estes Iowa

 

Jason had a question about seats = it’s probably too late now (sorry Jason)  – but for next time here goes.

“If two boards are used for a seat, are they fastened to each other in any way, or just to the aprons or stiles?”

Alexander & I did them just butted up against each other in the book, but in period work, usually they are glued edge-to-edge, sometimes with registration pins between them. I have seen chest lids done with splines in grooved edges of mating boards. No tongue & groove in chest lids, table tops, etc –  they are used in chest bottoms, however.

When I make a wainscot chair seat, I usually edge glue two narrow riven boards together. sometimes w 5/16″ pins between them; maybe 2 in the whole seat.

“If I elect to go with a single board of quartersawn oak, it will likely be kiln-dried – does that require any accommodation, or can it go on like a tree-wet board?”

Nope – if it’s well-quartersawn, it should behave perfectly well.

 

Sean Fitzgerald (I think I got that right) of parts unknown made a joined & chamfered dish rack…why didn’t I make one of these? Here’s a case I often talk about – my work is 17th-century reproduction, but you can adapt these construction and decoration ideas in new formats; designs, etc – the mortise & tenon is timeless, as is oak.

sean fitzgerald chamfered dish rack

 

Here’s a bunch from Matthew LeBlanc – we finally met this past July up in Maine. We had corresponded many times, then finally connected. Matt’s made a slew of stuff – great going. For a teacher to have students like these, I’m a lucky person.

Matt stretched out his stool, made it wider side-to-side. Poplar & sawn oak. If you have no green wood, don’t let that stop you!

 

Matthew Leblanc stool_edited-1

 

Matt also made one of Jennie Alexander’s post & rung chairs – or maybe it’s from Drew Langsner’s book. either way, all the same gene pool. Nice chair. Looks like red oak to me.

 

Matthew leblanc JA chair

 

And then he sent along this trestle table w carved stretcher. & these were a while ago – I bet he’s kept on going. Nice work, Matt.

matthew leBlanc table

Here’s Matthew making a pile of shavings while we were at Lie-Nielsen this summer..


Here’s where it’s at

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:40pm

this showed up last week. 

birch logs

and this. 

birch logs 2b

so here’s one direction I’m headed – some large crooks in these piles. 

spoons

and more. Some baskets & bowls to finish…

 

spoons & more

And soon, some furniture work! Imagine it…

For now, some stuff left from the last “for sale” posting – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/

 


Not all white herons are blue

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 6:27pm

I might have confused some folks the other day with the post about the young Little Blue Heron that is white (Egretta caerulea) – and I wrote a note/comment to one reader to steer him towards some heron ID work. Most of the white heron-type birds we see here on the east coast are egrets – small ones are snowy egrets, and the large ones are great egrets. Used to be American egrets, so when I’m birding with Marie, I expect her to call them that…

(some Great Blue Herons are white – but I think mostly just in Florida. Reddish egrets are white sometimes too…but I’ve never seen either up here. Them’s southern. Generally, white heron-ish birds are egrets. Except when they’re Little Blue Herons, who are southern birds, slowly becoming more common up here in New England).

then today, my day was book-ended with a great egret (Ardea alba) fishing in the river. One of many nice things about working at home now is I get to see a lot of what goes on here on the river. While lashing & fitting basket-rims and handles, I got these shots.

down river

down river view

Egrets like to fish in the shade. Sometimes you can see them spread their wings to shade the water…but this guy just hung out at the end of the wall…for over 1/2 an hour.

up river

up river view

I saw him get a fish this morning, then one or two in about 6 attempts this afternoon.

great egret stalking

 

great egret profile

 

great egret poking

 

Great Egrets have black legs; Little blue herons have greenish-yellow legs. But snowy egrets can confuse you too… I found a page by Sibley about the distinctions

http://www.sibleyguides.com/2012/08/distinguishing-immature-white-little-blue-heron-from-snowy-egret/


my, what semi-perfect ears you have…

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 2:30pm

For some reason, I have always referred to these things as “ears” – musta heard that term somewhere. They are the bits that a swing-handle fits on for a basket. I make them from white oak or hickory, white oak is the 1st choice. Those on the right in this photo are semi-perfect; those on the left are perfect; the middle ones might make it, they might not. They tore up on the outside of the bend. Might be enough wood to shave away & still have something left behind. Bending white oak basket stuff is what I did today; after running around doing chores first. 

semi perfect ears

I didn’t take shots of the process – it’s too hard to do it & shoot it too. This photo shows some ears and other handles. I rive & shave them from green wood, then steam them in a steambox, a pretty simple one I cobbled together back in my windsor chair days. 

handles & ears

 

Here’s an un-bent ear; for an idea – these are 3/8″ squares; the shaved portion is 3″ long. Quite small. 

unbent ear

 

 

Here’s my newest swing-handle basket = a big one, about 14″ in diameter; about 10″ high to the rim. White ash & white oak. 

 

 

swing handle basket

This style of swing handle is one I learned from a book – The Legend of the Bushwhacker Basket, by Martha Wetherbee & Nathan Taylor

Here’s mine with the handle propped up, as it will be in use…

 

swnig up

And here are the ears in detail; they cross the basket from inside to outside; and fit in a hole bored in the handle. Then the ears are notched, and the rims fit into the notches inside & out. the ends of the ears are shaved thin, and slide under the basket’s weaving. Then the lashing binds it all together. 

installed ear & lashing

installed ear

 


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by Dr. Radut