Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes
The kids are the real creative ones around here. Us grownups try hard to keep up. While I have been fooling around with spoons and things, Maureen has been knitting away for a craft sale she’s participating in. Here are some knitted and felted bowls she finished the other night. If you drop these bowls, they don’t break!
It’s great to hear her needles clicking away again; when the kids were really small she didn’t get much chance to knit. Now they are learning too -
Here’s a couple more samples of Maureen’s recent output. and the flyer for the sale. It features work of many friends and others, so if you are near Plymouth, Massachusetts and inclined the dates and times are on the flyer. Starts today, Saturday December 7th. Dig it.
Some stuff I have been finishing up. Got to photographing it on Thursday.
A small carved & painted box. I did one like this before, when I was working on the cupboard for the MFA. This one is not a copy of an existing piece, but based on a couple of examples we studied while researching that project.
Open showing the till inside.
And a detail showing the wooden hinge – a pin on the extension of the rear board, fitting through a hole bored in the lid’s cleats.
In keeping with the squiggle-painted decor – here’s a joined stool I built during the book project, but just painted this fall.
Then next stool was a customer-request. Carved aprons.
I’m also finishing up the bookstand orders I got – one more to go. I keep hearing about “oh, you can use an Ipad on them too!” – I don’t want to know about it!
I left the owl alone today, plus it was raining so I didn’t walk the beach. Went to the post office & sent out the last of the spoons/carved panels. Then was in the shop all day. First full-day in the shop for the off-season. Felt pretty good…but soon I have to pack it up & move it. More on that when I know more…
Meanwhile, I’ll try to address a question that I have never satisfactorily dealt with.. - “what carving tools do you use?” What brand, size, shape, etc. I have always frustrated people with my answers; often I would just strike the tools into a piece of scrap wood & say, get something like these.
Here is my latest attempt to help folks understand which tools I use for carved furniture. Doesn’t mean you need these exact sizes and shapes. These are just what I use. You can adapt carving patterns to suit your tool kit, as you collect and assemble a “set” of carving tools.
These two trays’ worth get me through most every carving I do. Sometimes I add one or two more (I’ll get to those.) Let’s start with these tools, with their profiles struck in a chunk of – surprise – oak.
from left to right:
Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #7, about 3/4″ width. I use this on EVERY carving I do…no exaggeration.
Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #5, 1/2″ width. I use this one for background removal, and shaping. Also in every carving, with just a few exceptions. Its end is slightly crowned, probably from sloppy sharpening -but it helps when meeting the incised cuts…
Swiss-Made (Pfiel) V-tool #15/6mm – I know because it’s marked that way. Mine’s old now, about 25-30 years. I think its shape is a bit different than what they make now. Tighter at the junction of the two “wings” – to make a crisp V.
Swiss-Made (Pfiel) #8, 5/16″ width. A very small, deeply curved gouge. I use it regularly, but not always. For small details. Larger #8s are too rounded for my taste…but the small one suits what I need sometimes.
Antique – W. Butcher – I don’t remember when I got this one, I think it was a Brimfield find. 11/16″ wide, part of a circle that’s about 1″ in diameter. I use it when defining medium-sized curves. It’s used a lot in my S-scrolls…
Not-new, not-antique Henry Taylor – 7/16″ wide, about a 1/2″ circle. Same as above, but for smaller sized details.
Buck Brothers, 9/16″ wide, c. 5/8″ circle. This one falls between the previous two. I sometimes combine two or more of these to create shapes that go from tighter to larger arcs.
Two Ashley Iles gouges – #5, 1″ wide, and #6 just over 1″ wide. I got two of them from http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/dept/TXQ5-6 - They are great for large sections of arcs. Heavy, stout tools. Maybe they are available slightly scaled down, I forget. These are big tools…but I’d rather big than too small..
In some carvings, there are more details, and I need to break into another tray, but not for much. Here’s the second stringers:
The first “extra” tool I am likely to reach for is a small Stubai gouge – #7, 1/2″ wide. I can’t stand the dinky size, but I just haven’t replaced it. It works fine, but I don’t like the way it feels.
The middle tool is an antique Henry Taylor – very small. 1/4″ wide, just a little more curve than the Pfiel #5.
The tool on the right is just another #5 Swiss-Made (Pfiel) – but wide. 1″ wide. I use it for outlining when I don’t use a V-tool.
I occasionally use some #2s, for shaping or outlining, but the #5s are best for that. I have a few other 5s…some wider, some bent. But I don’t use them for furniture carving much.
The mallet, which is on its last legs, is hickory. 3″ in diameter. About 12″ long, more than half of which is the head. Its weight is about 1 lb, 12 oz. I have a new one I turned back in the spring. It is dry now, I just haven’t dug it out of the shavings yet. They last me about 6-10 years, I’d say.
Any marine skeleton ID experts out there?
I walked the beach with our friend Marie the other day…we saw the owl, some very cooperative snow buntings, a lapland longspur and a few shorebirds. While walking, she had told me about a dolphin she’d seen washed up back in September, then all of a sudden we nearly walked into it. But is it a dolphin? Now I wish I had looked more closely. Snout seems long, but I’m strictly amateur at marine mammals or otherwise.
The crowds are gone now at work. My previous job that actually counted was as a picture-framer. Then, the month of December was insane. Long, harried hours. Now, I work regular hours, but very hectic ones from October through November. Increasingly larger crowds as those two months run on…
Then, it stops. While others head to the shopping fiascos, or football games, or what-have-you, I head to “where they ain’t” as Wee Willie Keeler once said…
Winter’s here, and the time is right for heading to the ….beach? Yup, no summer lolling on the beach for me. I like it best now. Low, raking late afternoon light. No crowds, heck – no people even. Here it was today…
And I was out there for two reasons – one to finally get out & walk a bit. Breathe some fresh air, and let the wind blow through my head. And to find this guy…
But a snowy owl is one bird you just can’t get close to.
Here’s one you can, the wrens love a woodpile.
Two of my goals this winter – continue making handmade stuff, and spend as much time as I can outside, someplace quiet.
Thanksgiving in the US is a big deal. But not for me in the usual way. I hate football, drinking & eating turkey & the “fixings” – always have. But Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, Plymouth – that’s the scene, whether it really started there or not. I can’t care, as my friend Pat would say. Working at Plimoth means huge crowds on Thanksgiving, maybe 4,000 people Thursday and the same or more on Friday. 20 years of working those days can also make you a bit dazed…
I split, hewed & planed lots of red oak – big movements are easily seen by big crowds…
Folks were nice, but kinda quiet. At least they weren’t breaking out in fist-fights like many shoppers were. So while I was working away, my mind was often on Bill Coperthwaite. I took his book with me to the beach, where I had lunch. Read snippets here & there. His tag line is often quoted, “I want to live in a world where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”
Back at the bench, I was speaking to a family/couple – I forget who was who. But one woman watched for a while, turned to her husband & said – “It makes me want to go home & make something!”
I thanked her. She made my day. Bill’s too I bet.
for more on Bill, see the following:
from Doug Stowe’s blog Wisdom of the Hands http://wisdomofhands.blogspot.com/search?q=Coperthwaite
Another, I don’t know these folks, found them on the web http://circlein.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/dickinsons-reach-sleepover/
I’m sure there’s more. Now, go make something…
This isn’t the blog post I wanted to write tonight. A few readers emailed me with the news that Bill Coperthwaite died in a car accident in Maine on Tuesday. Icy road conditions, lost control of the van. Died at the scene.
So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? Simple – having met Bill. About 10 years ago, the museum acted as training ground and consultants for a PBS program called Colonial House. I had little to do with it, other than making 4 housefuls of furniture. But my wife Maureen & I, along with several of our great friends and co-workers back then, were part of the clean-up crew. That meant we travelled to Machias, ME and stayed out in this glorious seaside house, while we worked at the site dis-mantling the innards of several 17th-century style houses…in absolutely perfect New England early October weather as I recall. We liked it so much that several of us, in one configuration or another, rented the same house for a vacation for several years after that.
Here’s the view out the front door of that house:
When we were there the first time, I remembered one of the young members of our building crew telling us about a guy who lived around the cove in a few yurts. I thought, “that’s Coperthwaite.” I had never met Bill, but we had several mutual friends, foremost Drew & Louise Langsner. Look in Drew’s early book Country Woodcraft, and Bill wrote the introduction.
We had no time to chase down Bill’s place that first season, but the next year we had no work to do, so my friend Tom & I decided to try to find him. Catch was we had no boat, so had to figure out how to get there by land. It’s Maine – the place that invented “you can’t get there from here.” When we finally did get to Bill’s trail, and started walking in, out came Bill, en route to a workshop. He invited us to come help, but that was the day we were headed home (an 8 or 9 hour drive.)
Life got in my way & it took me several years before I was out that way again. After working with the folks at Lie-Nielsen a bunch, I decided to tack on a trip to Machiasport after one of my stints at LN. I got to spend a couple of afternoons with Bill, no where near enough time, but glad I made it happen. What an interesting person! It was fun to watch & listen as Bill never answered a question directly, everything became a teaching opportunity.
When people ask me, I always say that A Handmade Life is my favorite book…some can’t stand it, but I take what I need from it & leave the rest.
Best poem in it?
Dead TimeBill Coperthwaite
“Why not get some horses?”
Comes over the water,
From a 30-foot lobster boat
With 300 horses,
To my 20-foot canoe with
A one-man cedar engine
It’s a two-mile paddle to haul supplies
By rock-bound shore and gnarled spruce.
Osprey “float” above with sharp cries.
A startled heron croaks displeasure
Waiting for the tide to drop.
If lucky – there may be otter kits
Playing in the shallows
At the tide rips.
An eagle perches on a snag,
Loon laughter lilts over the bay,
A seal looks me over.
A motor would take half the time –
But, what with mounting it,
Feeding it, and keeping it in tune,
Would there really be a gain in time?
True – I could go when the wind is
Too strong to paddle
But that is a non-problem.
The racket, the stench, the poisons –
There is the problem.
Oh – I could still see (most of) the birds
But not hear them
And the otters – they’d be gone.
The paddle – lovely yellow cedar –
Carved on a beach in the San Juans,
Has served me well these thirty years.
While paddling the brain does delightful things,
Each moment a surprise – a treasure.
Motoring puts all that on hold,
Thieving those precious minutes –
My brain turned off:
I saw from Drew Langsner’s newsletter today that Country Workshops has the reprint version of Wille Sunqvist’s book now available for sale. Here’s what Drew wrote about it:
“Carving spoons and bowls continues to be an area where more and more woodworkers find their special niche. The English version of Wille Sundqvist’s book “Swedish Carving Techniques” was published by Fine Woodworking in 1990. Perhaps 10 years later it was discontinued. Used copies became expensive, if you could find one.
We are pleased to announce that this classic book is available once again. Nothing has been changed, except for the inevitable price increase. Now available from the CW Store. You can purchase a copy by phone (828- 656- 2280) or e-mail.”
It’s a great book – I refer to mine continually. Here’s their website, http://www.countryworkshops.org/index.html you can contact them through there. The book is not yet on their website, but the newsletter says it’s available. I think it said $25 plus shipping…you can buy it elsewhere, but why not get it from the folks who brought Wille’s work to the forefront here in the US? While you’re at it, the video Jogge Sundqvist shot that was a companion to the book is available as well.
Thought you’d like to know.
I posted a new batch of spoons today. Might be the last one for the season. I have more spoons underway; but I am not sure how much time I’ll have coming up. For those new to this; if there’s a spoon you’d like to order, leave a comment…then I can send a paypal invoice or you can send a check. Either way is fine w me.
I have also added the next frame & panel, this one in walnut. (I used this artsy-picture before, but no one noticed it’s not oak!) Again, maybe the last of the season. Two boxes and a joined stool round out the offerings. As always, I really appreciate everyone’s response to this sort of thing. It helps keep things going, and gives me a great boost to have so much support.
Here’s the link, and it’s at the top banner of the blog. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-late-november-2013/
Art. Craft. Potato, Potahto.
I read Jarrod’s post, http://jarrodstonedahl.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-world-of-craft-without-being-art.html
It’s weird stuff. I have no idea where I fall in the discussion. I usually stay out of it. When asked what I am, (that is, what is my job…) I describe myself as a joiner – and here in America most folks don’t know what that means. At the museum where I work, I and others who make things with our hands are called “artisans”. Because of all the carving on my furniture, people often say, “You’re an artist:” – and my response is usually that I consider myself a craftsman.
I had a visitor from Germany one day this year. She was looking at some carved panels I had on the bench. In her hesitant English, which was very good although she had little confidence in it, she said “It is very artificial.”
I thanked her greatly, and stressed that she had just used the term right out of the 17th century; and there weren’t many places where she would be understood using that old meaning of the word. I pictured people being upset or hurt that someone thought their stuff artificial.
But its roots are in artifice – someone who makes such things is an artificer. I dug out the OED & got these snippets:
artificer 1. A person who makes things by art or skill; an artisan, a craftsman.
▸a1393 Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) vii. l. 1691 Artificers, Whiche usen craftes and mestiers, Whos Art is cleped Mechanique.
1445 Petition in Rolls of Parl. (2005) Parl. Feb. 1445 §44. m. 6 Þe wages of..a maister tyler or sclatter, rough mason and meen carpenter, and other artificers..by the day .iij. d. with mete and drynk.
a1475 J. Russell Bk. Nurture (Harl. 4011) in Babees Bk. (2002) i. 187 Worshipfulle merchaundes and riche artyficeris.
c1517 King Henry VIII Let. 3 May in Camden Misc. (1992) XXXI. 32 A great number of..malicious jorneymen of theire..rancorous disposition against aliens and strangers, artificers and others..soddenly assembled themselves withein our..citty.
1592 T. Nashe Pierce Penilesse (Brit. Libr. copy) sig. C4v, A base Artificer, that hath no reuenues to bost on.
1659 Milton Considerations touching Hirelings 147 From the magistrate himself to the meanest artificer.
1671 Milton Paradise Regain’d iv. 59 Carv’d work, the hand of fam’d Artificers In Cedar, Marble, Ivory or Gold.
artifice †1. The action of an artificer; the making of something by art or skill; craftsmanship, workmanship. Also: the work of an artificer; manual or mechanical work. Obs.
1526 Grete Herball sig. Qiii/1, Hony is made by artyfyce, and craft of bees.
1646 Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1686) v. v. 195 Adam immediately issued from the Artifice of God.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost ix. 39 The skill of Artifice or Office mean, Not that which justly gives Heroic name To Person or to Poem.
a1682 Sir T. Browne Certain Misc. Tracts (1683) i. 4 The early artifice in Brass and Iron under Tubal-Cain.
2. Human skill or workmanship as opposed to nature or a natural phenomenon.
1526 Grete Herball sig. sig. Pvv/2, There be yt are naturall without artyfyce or craft & they be ye best & whan ye fynde perles in receptes it is them ytbe naturall perles.
a1533 Ld. Berners tr. A. de Guevara Golden Bk. M. Aurelius (1537) f. 79, As ye se a thynge made by artyfice peryshe, and a naturall thynge laste.
1593 J. Eliot Ortho-epia Gallica 153 No artifice of man can tell how to counterfait her note.
1774 G. Marriott Estimate of Human Life 355 Nature..infinitely excelled human Artifice.
a. Of a thing: made or constructed by human skill, esp. in imitation of, or as a substitute for, something which is made or occurs naturally; man-made.
c1425 Lydgate Troyyes Bk. (Augustus A.iv) iii. l. 5678 (MED), Bawme natural, Þat ran þoruȝ pipes artificial.
c1475 tr. H. de Mondeville Surgery (Wellcome) f. 157, Close þe lippis of þe wounde &..binde hem & hele hem wiþ wiyn and stupis & pressuris & plagellis & artificial byndynge.
1547 C. Langton Very Brefe Treat. Phisick ii. vi. sig. Gviv, Artificiall bathes, be made by mannes witte.
1588 T. Hariot Breife Rep. Virginia sig. E2, Their houses are..in most townes couered with barkes, and in some with artificiall mattes made of long rushes.
1611 S. Rowlands Four Knaves 22 An artificiall flie of silk.
1663 Marquis of Worcester Cent. Names & Scantlings Inventions xlvi, How to make an artificial Bird to fly.
In sixteenth-century England rules concerning the trades’ management were created. These were called the Statute of Artificers. http://www.ditext.com/morris/1563.html
I remember Jogge Sundqvist using the term “handycraftsman” – but like the German visitor, this is a case of having Jogge’s idea being translated into English…
But “handycraftsman” is an old term, think of Moxon’s book’s title, Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-works. I ran into this phrase when Trent & I studied Boston joiners too. Here is an excerpt from the Bulletin of the Boston Public Library, vol. 4, #4, Jan. 1894, pp. 305-6:
Fac-Simile of a Petition of the Handycraftsmen of Boston in 1677, Against the Intrusion of Strangers
On page 426 of his “History and Antiquities of Boston” the late Samuel G. Drake gives an account of the accompanying Petition. The original document, of which a fac-simile is now presented, was once owned by Drake, who thus describes it:
”May 29, 1677. At the may session of the General Court, the Handycraftsmen, a very considerable part of the Town of Boston,’ to the number of one hundred and twenty-nine, put in a petition, praying for protection in their several callings, `whose outward subsistence,’ they say, `doth depend upon God’s blessing, and many of us not having estates any other way to advantage ourselves; that by the frequent intruding of strangers from all parts, especially of such as are not desirably qualified, find ourselves under great disadvantages, and prejudicial to the Towne; and many times the stranger drawes away much of the custome from his neighbor, which hath been long settled, and in reality is much more the deserving man; whereby it has already come to pass with many, that severall inhabitants that have lived comfortably upon their trades, and been able to bear publick charges in a considerable degree, now cannot subsist, which is very pernicious and prejudiciall to the Towne; and some that never served any time, or not considerably for the learning of a Trade, yet finding wayes to force themselves into the Towne, and then sometimes by hireing or buying a servant, they doe set up a Trade, and thus draw away the custom of the Petitioners belonging to the Town, as above has been set forth. They, therefore, `conceiving that the foresaid disadvantages do arise, either for the want of power to make orders, or due execution of orders, ask that power might be granted to the Selectmen,’ or others, `for a regular and effectual execution of all such orders as are, or may be made, referring to the admission of inhabitants; that Tradesmen shall fulfill a sufficient apprenticeship, and be (proficients?) before they set up Trades, etc.
For “artist” I think of Heather – http://heatherneill.com/
the good thing about starting too many projects at once is that when you finally get around to dealing with them, it looks like you build stuff in record time, knocking off projects on a two-a-week basis.
Here’s what’s coming down the pike:
This chest – it falls in the House of the Rising Sun category – I started it in April or May, left it alone until July or August, then picked it back up in Oct. Only to leave it til now. So it’s all over the map. But it will work out. I have to panel the other end, then fit the till. That’s tomorrow.
I have a bunch of book stands underway. And this is the last joint stool to come out of this shop in its present configuration.
Here’s one that will fall by the wayside – it’s aiming to be a box; but it will have to wait. there’s priorities you know.
This one should be do-able. Just some funny paint left to finish up.
Those are all I could get near with a camera today. there’s more in there, I think. Two more chests, the chest of drawers will wait – it’s a long-term project. And lots of stuff rattling around in my head.
I’m reading some big books lately. One is the deluxe edition of the Roubo book from Lost Art Press. I sold a lot of spoons to buy a book like that; but I knew I wanted volume 2, so it made sense to get in at the beginning too. The book is intoxicating; it makes me want to fiddle with inlays and other foreign (to me) ideas. Great great accomplishment from a host of people to produce this book. It will take time to really digest the scope of it; some of the images remind me of Serlio’s books on architecture. http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300113051 . See Jameel’s take on it, he wrote a nice piece about it. http://benchcrafted.blogspot.com/2013/10/to-make-as-perfectly-as-possible.html
I’m also reminded of a giant reproduction book I viewed some years ago, one of two manuscripts by Thomas Trevelyon – a bunch of early English images; including patterns and designs. Now there’s been a third manuscript of his discovered http://collation.folger.edu/2012/12/a-third-manuscript-by-thomas-trevelyontrevelian/
Another biggie is Adam Bowett, Woods in British Furniture Making 1400-1900: An Illustrated Historical Dictionary.
I had seen this book back in the spring while at Winterthur’s Furniture Forum. I also had the opportunity to hear Adam speak on the last day of that seminar. His presentation was great- it generally was the subject of the book, what woods are found in British furniture. Could be pretty dry, but Adam made it quite interesting. So I saved up, & got the book. His introductory essay is the best discussion about Britain’s timber situation; use of domestics, importation, etc. There’s several pages on “wainscot” so that in itself made it worth my time. Great book.
Then comes the last big book I’m currently reading – vol 2 of the Autobiography of Mark Twain. (Not about woodworking of course, but hickory bark is mentioned in vol 1.) He rambles through whatever crosses his mind, knowing he can speak freely. His instructions were for the book to by published 100 years after his death. So no one would be offended by him telling the truth. The books are not linear in any way, he’s all over the map. So I didn’t read it with any concern about keeping pace, or trying to follow the narrative. I picked away at vol 1 whenever I thought of it. By the time I was done fiddling with it, vol 2 came out. Perfect timing.
THE SAW WRIGHT AGAIN
I stink at sawing. I can use a hatchet pretty well. Can do some oak-ish carving in a particular style easily. But saws I struggle with. Just not enough practice. I’m working on it. Matt Cianci has helped a lot. When he visited my shop one day, I showed him a new saw I had from the folks at Lie-Nielsen. I told him that I held it funny to get it working the way I wanted…I grabbed it low down on the handle. Matt suggested re-fitting a newer handle with different “hang”. So I handed him the saw & that’s what he did.
I’m sure lots of people use this saw just as is, with fine results. But I didn’t want to treat it like a relic, and I felt that I wasn’t getting what I could from the saw. I was interested in learning how it would behave with the lower fitting handle.
I like it, and use it regularly these days on the chest of drawers I am building. Matt brought the original handle back so it can be reversed if ever I wanted to…
Here’s Matt’s take on what he did… http://thesawblog.com/?p=2312
MOTHERS, TELL YOUR CHILDREN NOT TO DO WHAT I HAVE DONE…
It’s not that I have frequented the House of the Rising Sun, but that I have left half-finished furniture around for months & months. It makes it very difficult to pick up the thread & see where it’s going. Here’s a couple more shots of the chest of drawers’ upper case. I have not really begun the lower case yet. Here it is with some ornament applied, but the case not yet fully assembled. This one is not a copy, but truly an “inspired-by” situation. That means I am making it up as I go along, and that I didn’t measure and examine the originals in detail enough to copy them. Red oak frame, cedrela panels on the side. Drawer fronts are pine, with figured maple inserts. Surrounded by cedrela moldings. Rosewood turnings.
Rear view just before I inserted a single pine panel. The drawer back is a re-used sheathing board; this side-hung drawer is about 10″ deep, so gets 2 sets of runners. I have yet to install the lower drawer runner.
Here’s a clear shot of the smaller upper drawer back; this time oak. Riven, sawn-off drawer bottoms scarred the drawer back. Just like some old ones I see. The rear joints are rabbets, nailed. Fronts are half-blind dovetails. Glued. Sometimes nailed.
When the upper case is tipped on its back, you see the mortise in the bottom edge of the side rails. This is for a registration loose tenon that will align the lower case & upper case. The front lower rail is only 1″ high, maybe 1 1/2″ I forget. It has a rabbet in its inner lower edge, for dust boards that will seal the bottom of this case. The tenon runs the whole height of the rail, so when I cut off the excess end of the stile, the tenon is exposed.
Now I have to put it down again, & finish some stuff for the museum. It’s a hard life wherever you go…
Speaking of which, wherever I go to set up shop, I intend to have a sign. So I started carving one like I did for Lie-Nielsen a couple of years ago.
Here’s the beginnings of mine, the piece of red oak courtesy of Bob Van Dyke:
Hey Marie – your screech shot was the highlight of my autumn-armchair birding season…
but today I got my own luck. After spending a couple hours trimming & digging by the riverside; we were putting stuff away & coming up to the house. I saw what I thought was a creeper in the pear tree, but it turned out to be a golden-crowned kinglet. He stuck around long enough to get his picture took, here with his crest puffed up:
For a split-second, he sat still out in the open:
Most of the views were like this, of course…
I haven’t taken many photographs lately, so I have little to post about. So two things, no, three from others.
A few weeks ago, our friend Marie photographed this screech owl in a tree – a good shot, Marie
She also, while suffering from MLB (Major League Baseball) withdrawal, sent this link to the highlights of the Red Sox/Cardinals World Series. If you missed the Series, here it is in just a few minutes. I could have saved several hours’ worth of time.
And, just around the bend from here
are the other MLB guys, (Michael L Burrey & crew) as recorded in Rick’s Blue Oak blog - http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/next-stop-kingston-bay/
Me, I’ve been sorting stuff, thinking about moving the tools, and talking to school kids in droves. I’m wiped. Off to pack some spoons for shipping.
There’s a new page of spoons for sale tonight, the usual arrangement – leave a comment if you see a spoon you’d like and we’ll take it from there. Here’s the link, and it’s also found on the header of the blog’s front page.
I also added a carved framed panel for sale. This is something I have often thought of offering, after getting enough requests for them, I decided to give it a try.
Finally, I have two more carved bookstands ready to send out, but if anyone would like to order one of these, send me an email. They are $225 shipped in US. Here’s what they generally look like, although the carving is usually not the same twice…
Readers of this blog will be quite familiar with the oak furniture that I have made over the years, based on English & New England examples. These feature lots of carved decoration, along with some integral moldings, sometimes enhanced with paint as well. Like this:
Happening at the same time as this style is the “applied molding” style – for lack of a better term. Here in New England these are pretty common – many years ago I co-authored with Bob Trent and Alan Miller an article about a series of large joined cupboards in this style, http://www.chipstone.org/framesetAFintro.html These cupboards, made in northern Essex County, Massachusetts in the 1680s or so, were really some of the most involved constructions. Many feature jettied overhangs like timber buildings of the period. they have some carved work, but the bulk of their decoration is applied turnings and moldings. Here’s a plain one from this group – from the MFA, Boston
And this really amazing one from the Massachusetts Historical Society – look at the effect of the moldings on the door in the upper case.
I think we ended up with 13 cupboards or so. Numerous chests of drawers and chests with drawers were made by the same shop(s) – and some tables, etc.
Similar, but simpler examples were found made in Salem, Massachusetts and down in Plymouth Colony (later a county of Massachusetts, 1692). Here’s the best Salem cupboard:
and a typical Plymouth chest with drawers. These are distinctive because they use two narrow side-by-side drawers. Everyone else used full-width drawers mostly.
But by far the most articulate and finely executed versions were the works we now associate with 17th-c Boston. In 2010 Trent & I published an article that really for me only touches on what’s going on in Boston then…but it’s a start. Here’s a Boston chest from Chipstone’s collection.
And the cream of the crop – the chest of drawers with doors at Yale:
I keep thinking that making this stuff is so much more work than carving – on a carved chest, you make 30-40 pieces of wood, carve them, then fit them together. On one of these applied molding/turning jobs, you make the 30-40 bits that form the carcass – then make a slew more of other woods, and cut & piece them together. Maybe hundreds once you have them cut to bits…
Over the years I have built a few pieces in this manner; a Plymouth style chest with drawers back in 1995, then copies of the Pope family cabinet in the early part of this century.
I built a made-up version of a chest of drawers when my wife & I got married in 2003.
I’m fast at carving, but pretty slow at this stuff. So now my goal is to do enough of this so I can get quicker. That’s how it works. So I’m hoping we’ll see me making more work like this in the coming months…
a bunch of things underway, as usual. What’s different is now I have to get them done & out of here in the next 2 months. They’re going ahead w rehabbing my shop, so I have to move stuff out…well, it’s some motivation to finish up stuff & organize.
here’s pictures, in no particular order.
One of the projects is the chest of drawers I started last winter as part of the presentation I did at Winterthur. I picked it up again after about 6 months, and brought it to Historic New England last week. I really am enjoying this work; pretty new to me. I have only made a few examples of joined work with turnings & moldings for the decoration; and just one in the last 10 years. Matt’s planes & techniques are real winners. I’m slower than death, but give me 20 years of practice & I can keep pace with the carvings.
More to come on all these topics.
Matt Bickford’s book & planes http://www.msbickford.com/
It’s been some busy times. It seems distant now, but Woodworking in America was not too long ago. The Ohio, the Monongahela, the Susquehanna, the Delaware, the Hudson, the Connecticut, the Charles – I crossed all these rivers & more heading back to the Jones, my own little river. All that driving gives a person time to think. So I have lots of ideas for posts, if I can remember them.
But as soon as I got home, I got scrambling around trying to catch up to where I was, or wasn’t. Then came the World Series, where I lost a bunch of sleep watching the millionaires with “Boston” on their shirts beat the millionaires with “St Louis” on their shirts. None of it made me want to go tip over people’s cars. Nor high-five anyone. But that’s me…
So I prepped & packed for a one-day demo/evening gig at the MFA in Boston, then unpacked, worked a couple more days, then packed for a one-day demo/lecture at Historic New England as part of the Four Centuries thing. So many more hours in the car, going around Boston rather than through it, so I could avoid the hysteric nonsense surrounding the millionaires’ victory parade.
One thing that I wanted to address is a compliment I often receive about my presentations. People are often remarking that I can work and talk at the same time, or that I can engage the audience well…I’m grateful for the compliment, but I know the truth. First of all, I get to practice full-time in front of an audience – for 20 years.
But the real truth is that I’m a second-rate copy. A cheap imitation. I trained at the foot of the master – and here I tip my cap to him. Yup. Roy Underhill.
I remember one day walking into work & getting a note from my co-worker Henry. It said “call Roy Underhill” and it had a phone number. “Yea, sure” I said, along with unprintable exclamations – in the vein of “get outta here!”
But somehow Hank convinced me that Roy had really been there the day before, and wanted to talk to me about shooting the show in Plimoth. This was about 2001 or so. Summer I think. So he came up & we shot stuff – it was really something. I remember watching his show & reading his first book to death back in the early ‘80s. So it was a thrill to work with him after all those years. Then a few more years went by, and we met up again at Colonial Williamsburg in 2007 – I arranged to hang around Roy as much as I could that session, whenever I wasn’t on the stage pretty much; and since then we have shot several more episodes.
What I have learned is that when Roy is around, I try to shut up & pay attention. But I’m not watching so much for the woodworking. He’s excellent at that, but what I get from him is the presentation…watch him work an audience, draw them to him & then pull a nickel out of their ears, so to speak. Ask Megan Fitzpatrick about the time we saw Roy teach Shakespeare to a little 10-yr old boy on the spur of the moment…
After WIA, me, Peter Ross, Patrick Edwards & Roy went to dinner across the street from the venue. Had to wait for a table – so Roy took over the maitre’d duties to kill time…and to engage the group hanging around waiting….it really broke the ice.
One of the real thrills of my woodworking career has been to work with Roy. Whenever he calls, I say “yes- let’s do it.” Knowing it’s going to be good. I know he doesn’t read blogs, so I can say all these wonderful things about him – he’s a real inspiration for me. Thanks, Roy.
If you haven’t seen it before, here is one of my favorite presentations of his -
I doubt I need to do it, but just in case, here are the links you need to get a hit of Roy’s gig.
I’ll be at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston this Wednesday afternoon/eveing, doing a demonstration much like my usual day job. Just a snappier venue…
Here’s the text from the website for the Four Centuries project http://www.fourcenturies.org/ai1ec_event/artist-demonstration/
Be sure to look around at that website = there’s lots going on in Massachusetts if you like furniture…
If you’re in town (maybe early for Game 6 of the World Series around the corner at Fenway) come by the MFA
Peter Follansbee began his woodworking career in 1978, learning traditional methods to build ladder back chairs. His study of 17th-century joiner’s work has led to numerous articles in the scholarly journal American Furniture, Popular Woodworking Magazine, as well as several instructional videos with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. In 2011, Lost Art Press published a book, co-authored by Mr. Follansbee, called Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to Seventeenth-Century Joinery. Since 1994, Mr. Follansbee has worked as the joiner at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
This past summer turned out to be a great spoon-drought for me. I had no time for any spoon work. I had to go back to July here on the blog to see the last time I had a batch of them for sale. That’s turned around now & I am carving most every day. New woods coming; lilac, Russian Olive, and old favorites like apple, cherry & sycamore.
Once again, thanks to everyone for helping support my work. The blog is well into its 6th year, sometimes it slows down, sometimes picks back up. I intend to keep it going with my joinery work/ideas, inspiration, etc. Coming up in 2014 I will have an article about spoon carving and will teach it at Lie-Nielsen (no dates set yet).
I have always been grateful to all the readers who have helped me keep going down this road. I met several of you at Woodworking in America – thanks for all your feedback & support.
Here’s the link, or the header at the top of the page