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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

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seventeenth-century joined furniture; green wood, hand tools
Updated: 2 hours 10 min ago

March – time to get going

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 7:12am

March. Hmm… it means two things to me right now. One is turn the page on the Yurt Foundation calendar, the other is to march, get going, quit fooling around. This is the month that my schedule picks up. So rather than just picking up whatever project happens to catch my fancy at any given moment, it’s time to knuckle down and get some stuff done.

Oak:

oak lunette

spoons:

spoons

 

oak:

partly done 2

spoons:

ignore these spoons

I keep shifting back & forth. I have to ignore these spoons in the daylight right now, and get to work on my desk box, and the 2 chests with drawers I have underway. At least by having these spoons roughed out, I can carve them at night.

Spoons and baskets for sale today – here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-baskets-bowls-for-sale-march-2015/

Daylight is for heavier bench work…so the goal for this week is to get the desk box all cut and ready to assemble, then work on cutting joinery and laying out carving for the chest with drawer that’s the focus of my class beginning later this month.

desk box parts

Enough. Here’s details on the 2 classes coming up this month. The first is a 2-day class in spoon carving at Plymouth CRAFT – 2 spaces left they tell me. The class is March 14 & 15 – details here. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee  There’s knitting, cooking & egg decorating classes at the same time – http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events


The other class is the first entry in the 5-month “build a chest with drawer” class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. We can squeeze another joiner or two in…If all goes well, I’ll be showing you some of oak for that class tomorrow. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes/29-speciality-weekend-classes/534-build-a-17th-century-joined-chest-with-peter-follansbee.html

and the rest of the schedule is here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/ including two weeks teaching in Olde England – I’ll write about that next week. 

 

 

 


Lie Nielsen event at Goosebay Sawmill & Lumber

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 1:12pm

I’ve spent a chunk of today unpacking from the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event I did at Goosebay Lumber & Sawmill, in Chichester, NH this weekend. It was a small show by some standards, but very nice venue. here’s some photos I got.

goosebay sign

Both days were bright & sunny. Didn’t snow. Goosebay is a very nice place. Lots of sawn lumber, both local and otherwise. http://goosebaylumber.net/index.php

I saw many logs there, red oak, ash, maple, pine and more.  Both Carl and young Carl assured my that if you are looking to buy a green log for riving, they can help you. You just need to give them some advance warning.

logs

 

Sawn stuff too.

stickeed

 

Here’s the Lie-Nielsen crates – these things have a lot of miles on them…

crates

crates going in

 

When you go to the upper level to look for wood, you can view down where the action was/is. I was carving spoons off to the right in the 2nd photo. But not while I was shooting these…

 

aeriel view

aeriel view 2

 

spoons & stuff

 

Thanks to Carl, Carl, Ted, Kirsten & Danielle – and to the folks who came out to see us. Next time, the rest of you can come too! We had a great time.

I almost forgot – this one’s for Chris, made by “Down to Earth” = I forget the whole story… I’ve made several, but never a paneled one. Ahh, another project. picture it carved.

down to earth

Tomorrow some spoons, baskets and hewn bowls for sale. About 10AM my time, east coast US.

swing handle

 


no eagles…

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 1:43pm

Back in the good ‘ol days, I was on the payroll, but no one knew what my job was. So I could spend 4 or 5 hours at a time, watching for bald eagles in the winter… Now that I’m on my own, time’s a bit tighter. I gambled a couple hours today, came up empty for eagles, but got some shots of a red tail hawk shrugging off some crows.

crow & hawk

rt hawk

hawk & crow

hawk & crow behind

When the hawk is  over-exposed, the crow comes out with some detail.

good crow shot

This one’s got a nice diagonal symmetry to it.

neutral corners

While waiting for the eagles that didn’t show up, this great blue heron flew in front of the sun…bg heron


a challenge for Jennie Alexander re “green woodworking”

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 4:12pm

devon chest front view

devon chest w distorted stile

Devil’s Advocate time for me.

Jennie Alexander wrote today commenting about the recent post “what is green woodworking” – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/what-is-green-woodworking-2/

Here is her comment:

“I am fascinated by the continuing dialogue about green woodworking crafts. They are crafts where wood of substantial moisture content is initially processed by riving, not sawing, in the direction of its long fibers. Glossary, Make a Chair from a Tree, Third Edition, Lost Art Press…..when it gets published. So there. Jennie”

JA – by your definition today, the chest above is not green woodworking. i.e. it’s sawn stock. Not riven.

just to keep things lively…on a cold winter day.

By the way, I can’t remember the last time I mentioned it, but if readers want to see lots of oak furniture of this period, do sign up for Marhamchurch Antiques emails. I always stop and look at what Paul Fitzsimmons has churned up over there. Great stuff. I swiped these photos from him. Thanks, Paul.

http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/

 


My Back Pages

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 7:17am

carving detail 2

OK for those of you who wrote, and now mostly for those who didn’t – yes, it’s a technical mixup…

I edited the sidebar of the blog – to do a little housekeeping, and to add some new stuff, Instagram for example. In doing so, it seems that now the sidebar (widgets in WordPress-speak) right now only appears on the front page of the blog. If you open just a post, then all you get is some blather about that particular entry. So something went haywire when I updated the widgets…

My intention is to keep some links there, a search button (that’s how I answer most of your questions, by the way…) and I forget what else.

It’s all still here, going back to 2008. I’ll sit down tonight to try to get it back on track. Daylight is for woodworking, or, I wish, birdwatching.

If you know what I did, and how to un-do it, let me know. Otherwise, I scroll through loads of the help forums on wordpress.com

bald eagle


They weren’t kidding when they made February a short month

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 5:41pm

carving detail

I can’t believe how fast this month is going by. I guess all that playing in the snow is catching up with me. Tweaked my back a little, (I think it was a sledding incident) so for the past 2 days have had light duty… so some blog updating was due. I wrangled with the sidebar to this blog. I doubt any one actually uses it; but there is a search button down there somewhere, as well as links to order the wainscot chair DVD; Maureen’s knitting/felting site, and Plymouth CRAFT. You will also see I have, much to my own shock, joined the 21st century and added an Instagram link. There is also a Facebook something-or-other out there with my name on it – all of this is down to Robin Wood and Jarrod Stone Dahl, those cursed bowl turners. I’m astounded by these things. Robin showed me his Instagram site – and while I was creating one, people were finding it…I don’t want to know how that works!

Here’s the facebook link – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009003798086

and the Instagram  https://instagram.com/peterfollansbee/

I’m trying both of these things. Who knows how long it will last? I still like the blog – that I know I’ll keep.

desk box side

I’ve been carving some parts for a desk box lately. I’ve only made this type of box once before. The original is from the Braintree, Massachusetts group, William Savell and his sons John and William. These are the first patterns I ever learned how to carve. Working on them now is really so much fun; makes me look back on the whole joinery trip. I shoveled out some oak the other day; so more work coming.

Next Friday/Saturday, I’ll be at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Chichester New Hampshire. I will be carving spoons and hopefully talking to hordes of visitors. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/74 

Maureen has added some stuff, and now in the depths of winter, her knitting looks spring-ish. that’ll come…

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts


what is “green woodworking”?

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 6:02pm

Some time ago, I wrote a column for Popular Woodworking and asked the question “what is green woodworking?” (December 2014, #215) I’m not going to repeat the article here, but want to look at the subject. The column stemmed from a talk I gave at Lie-Nielsen’s Open House last summer.

I used to know pretty clearly what “green woodworking” meant. But the older I get, the more I realize the less I know.

spoon 14-109 new photo side viewMaking a carved spoon is a great example of green woodworking – you can make them from dry wood, (I wouldn’t) but the best ones come from trees, and are worked while the wood still has a high moisture content. More direct, easier to cut, exploiting the fibers of the riven/split form – all of these are hallmarks of green woodworking. Hewn bowls, and many turned ones fall into a similar category. But bowls and spoons are single pieces of wood. what about furniture, when you put stuff together?

Robin Wood's bowl

Robin Wood’s bowl

When I first learned of this method of woodworking, it was Drew Langsner’s Country Woodcraft, Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s Shop – and the book that coined the term for the modern day – Make a Chair from a Tree: An Introduction to Green Woodworking by John (now Jennie) Alexander. What puts the green in green woodworking? Is it moisture content? Is it riving the wood? Is it “country crafts” like the British books that inspired all of the authors listed above – Jenkins’ Traditional Country Craftsmen” and Edlin “Woodland Crafts in Britain”. Alexander felt left out of the “country” aspect of this traditional woodworking, living in the heart of the city. Hence her book’s subtitle has “green woodworking” – not country anything.

JA chair

The ladderback style chair Alexander learned even got a great deal of its strength from the moisture content manipulation – dry tenons in wetter mortises. the mortise shrinks, the tenon swells. Presto! You’re a chairmaker and have never been to a lumberyard. The way I remember it, in the 1980s  green woodworking was ladderback  chairs, some bowl-turning (I remember folks used to turn them green, let them dry, the re-turn them round again!) and a few other disciplines. Timber framing comes to mind.

cooperage

cooperage

I think about coopering – is that green woodworking? Usually riven stock, worked with a hatchet, drawkinives, shaving horses – but the critical parts are either executed or at least assembled when the stock is bone-dry. Or else.

c a chair

Windsor chairs? In America, these usually had, and have, softwood seats. Often white pine. That ain’t worked green. But the hardwood components are often riven from green stock. They’re selectively dried, like parts of Alexander’s ladderback chair, before assembly. Even the hardwood seats of British Windsors can’t be dead-green…

Some approach the “green” like the modern use of the term, renewable energy; careful use of resources, that sort of thing. Coppice crafts, are perfectly aligned with this idea. This work has long been very popular in the Old World, yet to my knowledge, never caught on here in the New World.

 

joined & carved chest, 2010

joined & carved chest, 2010

Starting in 1989, Alexander and I explored another furniture craft, seemingly more complex, until we got through with it & stripped it down – joiner’s work of the 17th century. It had riven stock, high moisture content – but some of it was not “country” in its format – some were very elaborate forms; with lots of decoration. This work has been my main focus since then. It does not fit the eco-groovy definition at all. I call it “Imperialist Swine” woodworking – you need a whole new forest to sustain it. The oak trees I want take 200 years to grow to size. And I will only use a small percentage of the tree. The rest goes in the fire.

In the end, I decided I don’t think of myself as a “green woodworker” although probably three-quarters of my stock is riven from green logs, and primarily worked up while it has a high moisture content. Trees are wood, I’m a woodworker. Sometimes I use stock fresh from the log, other times I need stuff that’s air-dried. I work the wood at various stages between wet & dry. Most of my furniture is a combination of the two. I think that’s a traditional approach….

Oh, no! What’s “traditional” woodworking????

 


I’m lucky

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 7:11am
view upstairs

out the living room window

I am really lucky. Last year, my wife & I decided to concentrate our efforts on things we really believed in, contrary to some of our actions at that time. So I quit my job, and we began home-schooling the kids this past fall. A large part of my income is from travelling to teach workshops, but some of it happens here at home. I’m lucky that so far, we can get away with it. So far. It could go bad at any time.

What does this have to do with the weather? Simple. I have always liked winter. But I used to complain loudly about summer heat & humidity. One beastly summer day I decided that if I kept up complaining about it, then there were odds that each year, for upwards of maybe 15-20 or so days, I’d be in a bad mood right off the bat. Seems stupid to let something so out of my control steer my days, so I quit feeling that way. Threw the switch in my head that said “I hate this…” and  just slowed down on humid days, and expected things to take longer than “ordinary”.

But as long as I can remember, I have liked shoveling the snow. In the storms we’ve had this past month, it’s been great work. Hard physical work, that warms you up on a winter day. Bright fresh air like no other time of year, and almost no traffic. quiet like we don’t often get around here. I had a very nice offer from a neighbor the other day – “I can bring my snowblower over & get this done quickly.” – I thanked her, and told her I was lucky, I don’t have to go anywhere for a few weeks. I can take my time & spread this work out. Didn’t have to do it all today,…thanks just the same. It took some convincing, she offered too to have her husband sweep through with the plow. Nope – thanks, it’s OK. Really, it’s all right. I told her if it was wet snow, I’d take her up on it. That made her feel better.

People just can’t conceive that I might like this. The kids were out playing in the snow, the bird feeders were busy as all get out. There were hawks circling high overhead. The sky was blue like no other. It was fine really. I am lucky. Temporarily able-bodied, one person once said. While that’s the case, I’m going to enjoy it. I work at it til I’m tired, then I rest. There’s a lot to take in…dark-eyed juncos, (Thoreau’s “snowbird”) everywhere, common goldeneye in the river; a little wren working its way in & out of the ivy on the side of the house. The kids romping in the snow. When I start to get cold, then I know it’s time to work again. I understand other folks have different challenges and that this weather makes it hard for them. But I am sure that many are just complaining out of habit, rather than hardship. If they could just throw that switch in their heads…

I am lucky. I don’t have to be anywhere. I’m not complaining.

view downstairs

view from downstairs

 
goldeneye 2

junco

kids


Chairs

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 6:32am

cod 2003

At my house, the carved joined stuff is in every room. I have tried many times, and always failed, to count the pieces of furniture in this 4 1/2 room house. You’d be amazed at how much stuff you can cram in here. (I’m in the kitchen right now – 9 pieces of free-standing furniture, 3 hanging on the wall, and all the built-in cupboards above the counters)

 plain chair

This week, I have been making this little, big rush-seated chair. Little because it’s a low seat, generally small-size chair. Big because it’s not subtle – the posts are almost 2” square, the rungs fit in holes that are 15/16” in diameter. So little big chair. It’s based on 17th-century chairs that we mostly know from Dutch artwork, more-so than from surviving examples. (next up for it is trimming the posts here & there, weaving the seat…) These are ancestors of the ladderback chairs that I first learned back in the late 1970s/80s. Here’s one that I did about 1984 or so. A more recent kid’s version too.

ladderback

kids

 

I began as a chairmaker. Made ladderbacks, rockers, Windsors – then got into the 17th century & made wainscot chairs, 3-legged & 4-legged. Turned chairs ditto. Leather chairs. Chairs w boxes in the seat. Kid’s chairs, high chairs. My semi-latest chair was the walnut brettstuhl.

But at our kitchen table, the chairs we use at every meal and then some are Windsor chairs I made 20-25 years ago.

c a chair

At my desk too. I once had one of those stupid office chairs, then I came to my senses & remembered that I am a chairmaker. Windsors are lightweight, comfortable, attractive. Sturdy. Fun and challenging to build; carving, turning, shaved work, sculpted seats. good all around projects. And so much variety.

Two things happened this week to remind me of how much I like good Windsor chairs. Lost Art Press announced the release of Pete Galbert’s long-awaited book on Windsor chairs. You already know about that…

One of the days that the mail got through here, I received Curtis Buchanan’s next installment in his printed plans for his chairs, this one a fanback side chair, one of my favorites.

Curtis Buchanan fanback side chair

c b plans

I learned Windsors from Curtis, starting in 1987. I really like his approach, both to his chairs and to his life. If you’ve seen his youtube series on making a Windsor chair – then you’ve seen Curtis’ style, very human, simple, direct – and he makes especially beautiful chairs. This set of plans is 4 pages; some 1/2 scale, some full scale. Two different turning patterns, bending forms, seat profile & plan. Boring angles – a course in Windsor chair making in 4 pages. I’m ordering Pete’s book, but I’m keeping Curtis’ plans too – you never know when I might reach into my past & make some more chairs. We must be able to squeeze one or two more in here…

links:

Curtis’ plans & videos http://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Pete’s book: http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/chairmakers-notebook

my wainscot chair video  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds/

 

plain chair c a chair rush chair sans rush wainscot chair TD chair overall walnut high chair, 2011 Lincoln chair, red oak, walnut & maple Lincoln chair, rear view board-seated turned chair plain matted chair, PF turned chair, ash w rush seat turned chair detail wainscot chair, side view ash chair, oak slats. Hickory bark seat wainscot chair 3-sq-chair-overall

 

 

 


Why do I make spoons?

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 7:13am

 

spoons

Why do I make spoons? people ask me, but I ask myself as well. Not for money, the way I make & sell them is cumbersome at best. I do sell them, and it brings in some money, but the time I spend at it negates some of the “profit.” I am always appreciative when someone buys one of my spoons, it means a lot to be to have that sort of support. I am not interested in pursuing production runs, efficient sales, etc – that’s not my bag. If I were to get serious about that, I should do it with furniture, which is more lucrative. I’m faster at it, and it’d  be a better return for my time. But for me, that’s not what woodworking is about.

It’s not as if a household needs dozens of spoons. sure we can use a lot of them in cooking, serving & eating – but be serious. we have way more than we need. And the ones from the dollar store could serve us just fine, and we’d be none the wiser. Indeed, the great majority of the population will never know the difference.

But there is this craze about wooden spoons and spoon carving in full bloom right now. Why? Why now?

I think the internet/computer use is behind it, in two ways. As we as a society use screen-devices more and more, it has driven us further away from human contact, but conversely connected us more, if that makes sense. The notion of making a wooden spoon with a hatchet and knife has been around in the US woodworking arena since the late 1970s at least. The principal influence I remember is Wille Sundqvist, but also Dan Dustin got a short feature in Fine Woodworking back in the 1980s. Dan is an original, his spoons have nothing to do with Wille’s work. I’m sure there were others, but maybe they got less coverage. Maybe I wasn’t looking. I learned from Wille, Jogge & Drew Langsner. Thought not much about it for many years, just usually kept some spoon carving in tandem with my furniture work. they made great gifts, “Oh, look – a wooden spoon!” then on the shelf it goes…

Robin Wood has cited, correctly to some degree I think, that the spoon work is attractive because you need no shop, or certainly limited space. Someplace to hew the blanks, then the rest can be done in your lap. Small quantities of wood. And they don’t take months to do like some large case furniture for instance.

For me, there’s more to it than that. There’s a connection between people and raw materials that is now rare. Maybe not in my household, or in yours, but I’m sorry to tell you that we are on the fringes of society. The general population doesn’t even think about these things.

At our house, we like to increase the handmade items we surround ourselves with. Woodenware, ceramics, woolens – as much as we can, we prefer to have people-made stuff around, handmade. There;’s a connection that you think about as you reach for that bowl, that spoon – pull on that sweater.

I’m thinking of these things lately for lots of reasons, but one is because I just finished reading A Man Apart: Bill Coperthwaite’s Radical Experiment in Living by Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow.

Picture

I only knew Bill a little bit, but his influence reached across decades. If you carved a spoon in America based on Wille Sunqvist’s work, Bill was the one who shoved that snowball down the hill. The book is not about spoon carving, nor really about woodworking. It’s about the relationship between mentor & mentor-ed. And about how to live, as Bill saw it…

After I finished the book, I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was swirling around about how to live, what is important, what is dross. The only book I could pick up in the days after finishing it was Thoreau’s journal.

I can’t wait to carve my next spoon.


I save the finishing touches for last

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 5:47pm

hewn bowl 14-04 catalpa

Today I was thinking a lot about hewing a bowl with an adze. I was swinging a tool up and down, chopping into a large hollow shape, getting out the innards, and pulling out the chips. Getting more & more open = chop, sweep, chop, sweep. But instead of the confines of my home shop, I was on the ladder, chopping ice out of the old house’s gutters. Now the melting snow flows, but soon it will ice up again. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon up there in the heavens- but  the only woodwork was in my head.

paint

I did get a first coat of paint on the oak box I made. I checked the schedule, and decided I’d try to get it painted before I ship it off to Alaska. It looked too bland as it was. After this part dries, I’ll put some black squiggles & dots, then a coat of thin red over the oak. the paints are linseed oil/turpentine with iron oxide (red) and yellow ochre; and bone black. I mixed some raw umber in to help the drying too. The lid looks like it’s painted white in the photo above, but that’s just all the light from the snow. It’s a white pine lid, so very pale.

The layout for the oval on the lid, and a view of the till inside – recycled chip carving practice.

oval

till

The cedar box just got linseed oil and turpentine. Helps highlight the carvings. Two comments yesterday from stitch-women (up-graded from stitch-girls; i.e. textile arisans – thanks Denise & Mary) praised the odd-proportioned box, one suggesting a sewing box. So now I know how to market it.

cedar box side view

cedar lid

 

Here’s one many of you have seen before, related to the oak one I’m doing now.

carved oak box

 

 


A box and a Box

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 12:41pm

yc box

I finished making the two carved boxes I’ve been working on. The first one is this yellow cedar “sampler” box for my class in Alaska. Jonathan and the rest of the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association sent me some Alaska yellow cedar so I could test it out before we ordered it for the class. The wood will work fine, and I carved this one with a range of patterns – hence “sampler.” The side, and the pintle hinge:

yc box open

The inside of the lid:yc box open carved lid

What’s weird about it is the proportions. Not weird really. Just ugly. there’s a reason you don’t see 17th century boxes this size – because they’re both ugly and stupid. But it maximized what I got out of the boards they sent down. overall size is 6 1/4″ H, 11 1/2″ W and 7 1/2′ D. So I made a proper oak and white pine box, just to make me feel less unsettled.

oak & pine box

 

Someone yesterday commented that this design reminded them of Northwest coast work – well, it is northwest – but northwest of Boston Massachusetts, c. 1680s/90s. Look at the side I carved = even more so. This one is H: 7″  W: 17″  D:  11″

oak box side

 

Here are some of the period carvings I was following somewhat

box ad

concord detail

I’ll paint mine, but maybe not right now. I have to send them by dogsled to Anchorage – whoops – we have more snow than them. I’ll use UPS I guess. Here’s the two side-by-side.

 

 

both boxes

 

 

 


I almost knuckled down & worked a full day

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 3:02pm

I set out to work on a couple of boxes the past few days. I have one in oak and one in Alaskan yellow cedar underway. This is the front of the oak box. set in a vise to drive the wooden pins in the corners. It’s going to be painted in addition to the carving.

box w pegs

 

When I peg the corners instead of nailing them, I glue it too. So while this one set for the glue to dry, I went back to one from a while ago in Alaskan yellow cedar. I am teaching in Alaska this spring, http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/registration-for-the-peter-follansbee-classes-is-open/ and the guys there sent me some amazing wood to test. I carved a bunch of sample patterns in it, to get the hang of it. So I cut a few of them out to make a box. This one is unlike any box I have ever made – it’s carved on all four sides; inside on the ends, and the lid, inside & out. That way, I get to bring as many different examples in one item as I can. Usually I have a large box full of sample patterns I bring to classes – but I usually drive too. Alaska is VERY far away from here. So this box is going to serve as a sampler. Here’s what I carved on the lid:

yellow cedar

lozenge

lozenge pt 2

done

B side

b side done

 

I got the bottom cut, then the lid & its cleats. But I stopped right before final assembly. If I kept going, I’d be out of time – & wouldn’t get to go outside to play with the kids. The boxes can wait until tomorrow. This photo wasn’t today, but a day last week. Same idea, go out & play in the snow:

bay farm walk

 

 


nostalgia at a shaving horse

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 8:09am

Starting last year, I took up writing a regular column for Popular Woodworking Magazine, called Arts and Mysteries. It’s 2 pages in each issue, and it’s fun to do. The lag between writing and seeing it in print is lengthy, so I forget what’s been done and what’s not. I think there’s been about 4 columns so far, maybe 5. I’m working on the next batch now. http://www.popularwoodworking.com/

shaving oak

Today I had to get out my shaving horse for some photos I was shooting for an upcoming piece about chairs. Once the photos were done, I figured I’d do some drawknife work that I’d been meaning to get to. I have some baskets to finish, got to make rims and handles for maybe 5 of them.

Nothing is as nostalgic to me as working with a shaving horse and drawknife. I hardly use them anymore, but when I do it always reminds me of where I began; making chairs, baskets and other shaved work. For a few years, it was the only work bench I had…

At one time I had several drawknives, but now I’m down to two and one of those is put away. The one I favored over any other I tried is this old drawknife made in New York; White is the name, but I think they’re the same shapes at Barton drawknives. Mine’s 8″ long, I have seen them up to 12″ or more. Original handles, and tight. It’s not as clean and bright as it might be, but I try to keep it sharp.

drawknife

A year or two ago I saw Tim Manney demonstrating Peter Galbert’s drawknife sharpening jig. The way Tim cut the end grain of white pine – I felt like a rube from the country, because next time I was at Lie-Nielsen, I plunked down the cash to get one. It made me want to get a bunch of drawknives and re-hab them..but I’ll stick with this one.

http://www.chairnotes.blogspot.com/search/label/Drawsharp

While I’m looking at tools – one more I splurged for some time back, a few years now I think. When I make spoons, I use a pencil, but if you’ve been around when I make furniture, or carve furniture, you know I hate pencils. I use an awl every day I work at the bench.  For many years, I used an awl Alexander made from an alignment tool, ground & sharpened, fitted with a wooden handle. Then I met Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Toolworks at a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool event. I decided to order an awl and marking knife…and never looked back. The best part? Dave asked what kind of wood I wanted the handles to be, and I said I don’t care. He made the from oak. It’s a tool that’s a real pleasure to use.

bllue spruce awl

http://www.bluesprucetoolworks.com/

Here’s some of what I shaved, basket “ears” – white oak, my favorite for bending. These are for swing-handle baskets. The ear in the orange clamp is a perfect bend; the one in the red clamp is completely un-perfect.

perfect & not perfect

Here’s the detail:

detail

 

 

These are notched for the basket rims, and tapered to weave down into the basket.
ready to go

 

 

like this:swing handle basket

swing handle detail

swing handle detail

 

 


Spoon carving class in Massachusetts, Mar 14 & 15 Plymouth CRAFT

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:29pm

not much of a view

More snow, but it’s fine with me… I don’t have to be anywhere for quite some time. I get to stay right here, working, writing, playing with the kids and generally having fun. (except I should be paying bills instead of writing this post).  Today’s view was a bit blurry, due to sleet mixed in with the snow. That kept me from sitting by the window all day, and got me to try some work . I opened a small window to see the view, but others in the house get discouraged when I leave a window open on a day like this. 

snow

 

I did get some carving done, back in this spot for a short while…

indoor work area this week

But mostly I messed around with chores. I did take an hour or so to work with the kids, they learned some of the Fibonacci sequence, and we drew spirals until we ran out of paper. They especially liked the idea that this sequence could go on forever.

fibonacci 1

fibonacci 2

I’ve been preparing oak for the joined chest with drawers that I have to make, and it’s a warmup for teaching that class. But I am also carving spoons here and there.

spoons in basket

There’s some left for sale; and more underway. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-a-bowl-or-two-jan-2015/

If you want to come to a spoon class with me, I found out today that my spoon class at Lie-Nielsen in May is full. Ditto the 2 sessions at Roy’s. The only other spoon class I am scheduled to teach in the lower 48 is with Plymouth CRAFT at Overbrook House in Buzzards’ Bay, MA. Dates are March 14 & 15. This class is newly added…here’s the link to the blurb,  http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee

and another to the reports from our first go-round. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/spoon-carving-at-plymouth-craft-last-weekend/

If you are way up north, there’s a class in Alaska – here’s that link: http://www.alaskacreativewoodworkers.org/registration-for-the-peter-follansbee-classes-is-open/

for my full schedule thus far, here’s another link. Some box-making, bowl-carving & furniture carving. I doubt I’ll add much, if anything. Once I get travelling, I’ll be glad when I hit a gap & get to stay home again. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/

 

 

 

 

 

 


ready, set, go

Sun, 02/01/2015 - 2:59pm

My wife is all right. Among the tons of junk she brought here all those years ago was 2 pairs of old, but not antique, snowshoes. So today after I finished planing oak for the afternoon, I went for a walk in the snow. Found this red-tail hawk. He landed on this branch while I was standing nearby.

Ready:

ready 1

 

Set: 

ready

Go:

 

go

Landed again, all of about twenty or thirty feet from where I first found him. And there he sat, til after the sun went down. 

done

He’s in the middle of this picture on the tall pole. As I was walking back to the car, I heard but did not see 2 great horned owls hooting. 

still there


winter time & the living is easy

Sun, 02/01/2015 - 7:36am

For green woodworkers anyway. In summer, working in the wood pile can be unpleasant sometimes. Buggy, hot, humid. The wood storage can get to be a problem. Insects can get in your wood, decay can set into some species pretty quickly.

But in winter….it’s another story. This pile is against a steep embankment in my yard. 

wood storage

 

4 footers and up

 

Storing green wood in the log this time of year is a breeze. It’s like suspended animation, even better than Ted Williams’ head. (this is a sure thing, Ted’s head, I doubt it)  I try to store the stuff I need the most upright. There’s a few benefits. You don’t have to lift and heave big heavy log sections around to get at the one that’s just exactly perfect for what you need. And when it snows, it’s easier to uncover the stash. The short stuff in this pile is just over four feet, the birch might be over 6′. (I don’t know what that is in the other measuring system)

split & rived & ready to go in

Here’s some I split out today, broke it down further at the riving brake, and now will bring it in to plane  the long stuff for some joined chests & a cupboard. There’s other less-pressing stock under the snow. It can wait. 

The kids took a jaunt around the yard to test-drive their new snowshoes. More snow on the way, we’ll hit the woods tomorrow or the next day. 

REF snow shoes

DRF snow shoes

Spooked a great blue heron down by the river. 

GBH away


partly done, mostly done

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 9:56am

Partly done.

partly done

 

mostly done. mostly done


enough fooling around

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 7:00am

It’s raining instead of snowing today. No fun watching rain fall, thus time to learn this carving design, so I can teach it later

carving begun

 

center panel

http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes/29-speciality-weekend-classes/534-build-a-17th-century-joined-chest-with-peter-follansbee.html


Snowed, so I had fun…

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 5:32pm

Very little woodworking tonight. Some pictures from this week thus far. 

When you have 2 young kids in New England, there should be snow in winter. Took a while this year, but we got it. 

snow sample

 

 

The river’s been full of slush and ice floes for 3 days. Maybe tomorrow we’ll see ducks. 

RIVER VIEW

 

This is where I have done a lot of my work since June of last year, there’s 3 long benches there, for working at & on…but you can’t see ‘em. Beside the stump is a large pile of hewing chips, and I think some bowls under there. 

OUTDOOR WORKSHOP

A stake-legged bench, shot it just for Chris. One of 5 or 6 in the yard. Range in height from 12″ to 20″ – lengths from 15″ to 5′. This is a small one the kids use for something. 

stake legged

 

I’m trying to learn sparrows this week. It was great, for 2 days, not an English sparrow in sight.

lbjHouse finch. 

house finch

 

a lead-up to a great leap of faith – that there’s no logs under there! 

about to leap

 

 

Earlier, I had shoveled the car out, even though I hope to go nowhere in the near future. All that work gave the kids a great place to play. 

heap o snow

top of heap

rose heap

 

Inside, I got to catch some more winter light. Our napkin holder. 

chip carving

 

 

I shuffled some stuff around earlier this week, and before it all went to wrack & ruin, I shot this chest of drawers I made back in 2003. 

cod 2003

 

My mother’s clock. Inside the covered pot is a slip of paper with a quote from my mother “Oh, dear, bread & beer; if I was dead, I wouldn’t be here.” But it’s not really true…

clock

 

Here’s where I have carved spoons since the snow fell… with a view of the river & feeders. 

 

indoor work area this week

 

The big fish eat the small fish. Late day visitor to the yard, one of the local red tail hawks. 

 

redtail in sun

 


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by Dr. Radut