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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

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seventeenth-century joined furniture; green wood, hand tools
Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

Bedstead panels

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 2:46pm

The bedstead’s headboard is moving along. Once I had the first free-hand panel carved, it was easy to carve the 2nd one. After marking out the margins and a vertical centerline, I used a compass to take a few markers – here noting where the S-scrolls at the bottom corner hit the vertical margins.

Then I chalked in a rough outline for that shape. This panel, like many from this grouping (and all 4 in this headboard) have a stylized urn at the bottom center of the panel. That shape I marked out with a square & awl to locate its top & bottom, and marked its width from the vertical centerline. The S-scrolls then fit between the urn and the bottom corner/margin.

My camera-boy (Daniel, 11 yrs old) came by & used the Ipad to shoot some Instragram stuff…here’s some leftovers. Carving this bottom corner S-scroll, in two snippets. (home-video caliber – no edits, shaky, etc – but worth a look.)

 

 

 

there are related S-scrolls across the top section of the panel. These reach from the corners to the vertical centerline. These top and bottom sections are the first things I block in with the V-tool.

 

then comes the stuff between. I sketch the vein in the larger leaf, it reaches from the centerline to the margin.

 

 

Then I carry on, doing first one side, then the other.


The whole thing is about filling in the spaces, and in this case, blending one shape to lay against another.


Here’s the V-tool outline almost all done.

Next I take a #5 gouge, in this case about 1″ wide or slightly less, and chop out between the V-tool lines, to begin removing the background.

 

Some beveling, some shaping. With a narrow #5.


People ask about the background punch. Mild steel, filed to leave these pyramidal points.

accents with a few #7 gouges.

And a narrow chisel. Bevel towards the waste when chopping like this.

Then pare down to the chopped mark.

Trim to length. 

Bevel the back, first with a hatchet.

Then 2 planes. Feather down to nothing.

Here’s the headboard thus far. There will be plain panels below this, and a carved crest rail above. And of course, two vertical posts.

Closer.

 

 


carving some oak

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 7:21am

I have several days, even weeks maybe, to work on oak furniture now. Some carving yesterday & this morning. here’s a quick photo tour of cutting one lozenge/diamond shape, with tulips in it.

After laying out a diamond shape on horizontal & vertical centerlines, I strike an inner diamond with a small gouge, approximately a #7 sweep. Maybe it’s a 1/4″ wide. Just connect the dots, hitting the vertical & horizontal centerlines with the corners of the gouge.

Then I use the same gouge to “echo” this making an outline around it, these do not connect.

A more deeply curved gouge now comes off these outlines, beginning to form the undersides of the flowers.

Then the same gouge reverses, making an “S”-curve going out to the border. Or just about out to the border…

When you repeat this step on all four quadrants, your negative shape becomes quite prominent – it reminds me of those Goldfish snacks small children eat –

 

Now a larger gouge, approximately a #8 – reverses again, forming the tops of the lower flower petals.

 

Then a #7 about 3/4″ wide does more connect-the-dots – reaching from where I left off to the borders. that’s the whole outline. This one is quite small, the piece of wood is 6″ wide, and there’s a 3/4″ margin on both edges. You can use the same pattern on a panel, then some of this outline is cut with a v-tool instead of struck with the gouges.

 

Then I cut out the background. In this case, it was tight quarters in there, so I used a couple different tools, depending on where I had to get..

The end result. about 15 minutes of carving for the lozenge/diamond. This is going to be one of three muntins for the footboard of a bedstead I’m making.

Here’s the top rail I started back at the Lie-Nielsen Open House…they always show up better once they’re oiled.

another view.

Yesterday I started painting a desk box I have underway; but found out I was out of red pigment (iron oxide) – ordered some, and did the black for starters.


Oak furniture from Dedham & Medfield Massachusetts

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 5:50pm

For a number of reasons, I was looking through some photo files here tonight. During the past year I have had a couple of chances to revisit some old favorite piece of oak furniture, and saw a couple related fragments for the first time. There is a group of chests and boxes made in Dedham and Medfield, Massachusetts during the 17th century. Years ago they were the focus of a study by Robert St. George, culminating in his article “Style and Structure in the Joinery of Dedham and Medfield, Massachusetts, 1635-1685” Winterthur Portfolio; vol. 13, American Furniture and Its Makers (1979), pp. 1-46. You can join JSTOR and read it here – https://www.jstor.org/stable/1180600?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

But like all oak of the period, our friend Robert Trent was all over them too – thus several examples were featured in the exhibition New England Begins at the Museum of Fine Arts too.   (Boy, did that set come down in price – https://www.amazon.com/New-England-Begins-Seventeenth-Century/dp/0878462104  -If you don’t have it, and you like the furniture and decorative arts of the period, get it. Used to be way more than $90…)

This chest is in a private collection, I had it years ago to make a new oak lid for it. Typical for this group, 3 carved panels, moldings on the framing parts. Not great work, but real nice. Black paint in the backgrounds, originally bright red on the oak, dyed with logwood or brazilwood dye.

This one was made for the Fairbanks house in Dedham, was illustrated in a late 19th/early 20th century article about that house. For many years it was MIA – then the Fairbanks Family was able to buy it at auction either late 1990s or early 2000s…I forget which. Has the only oddball center panel. (see the detail, top of the blog post) Refinished.

 

A reader sent me these photos once, shot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. These boxes are often pretty tall – maybe 9″ high. Pine lids and bottom, oak box. I made a copy of this one for a descendant of one of the joiners credited with this work, John Thurston of Dedham and elsewhere.

Now it gets really wiggy. I cropped this shot from an overall of a chest in a museum collection. Notice the panels on the left & right. They look good, right?

Here’s one – then compare it to its cousin below…

The other. Amazing what your eyes & brain can tolerate and still accept as a repeating pattern. I’ve carved this design a lot, and I can carve a panel about 10″ x 14″ or so in under an hour. I bet this guy was flying right along. Or old and infirm. Or somehow incapacitated, or compromised. Or something. Notice too the holes in the corners where I presume the panel was nailed down to hold it still for carving. I nail mine to a back board, and fasten that to the bench with holdfasts. That way I don’t have to move the holdfasts – they’re out of the way.

A related, but dead-simple version. Why all that blank margin? No applied molding, the framing is beveled around the panel. Ahh, everyone who knows why is dead.

These next two are the lynch pins for the attribution to John Houghton, joiner. These are fragments from a meetinghouse in Medfield from 1655/6. The town records cite a payment made to Houghton for work on the desk, a table and more. The “deske” in the records is the pulpit. These panels are believed to be part of that pulpit. This panel is about 6 5/8″ x 14″.

a detail of the  rectangular panel.

This diamond-shaped panel is nailed to a piece of oak that looks like some framing stock – but it tapers in width. Tradition says that these pieces were saved when the 1655/6 meeting house was demolished in 1706.

One more – this one’s in Nutting’s books, now at Wadsworth Atheneum. “Refreshed” paint, or completely re-painted. I forget which. Really nicely carved.


Carving today before I carve this weekend

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 2:52pm

I am working on another desk box; an oak box with a slanted lid. Mainly I need this for the photos, for an article in the works. The annoying part is that the photos I needed to shoot were the slots/dadoes/what-have-yous on the inside faces of the box’s end boards. But…I don’t like to do the carving after cutting voids into the board. So first, I had to carve them.

This time, I made up the design, drawing from my research (and others’) into the varied carvings coming out of Devon, England. The same style appeared in Ipswich, Massachusetts during the last 3rd of the 17th century. I carve this stuff more than any other grouping, mostly because of its variety. Once you learn the “vocabulary” it’s easy to make up designs willy-nilly.

The desk box ends are weird shapes though. Took a little sketching with some chalk, and some wiping away with a damp cloth – but I got something I like. So then the front board is simple enough – a plain ol’ rectangle. There are three boxes from Devon that seem to be the same carver, or the same general pattern anyway. One of these I photographed back when I worked at Plimoth Plantation, the other two are from a website I subscribe to, Marhamchurch Antiques – http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/ Paul Fitzsimmons there is a magnet for this Devon/Exeter oak furniture.

I’m going to carve the box front at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Sunday July 9. from noon to 3pm. I’ll be demonstrating the carving, and some joinery and other oak-y stuff.  http://www.mfa.org/programs/gallery-activities-and-tours/early-american-furniture-carving

 

Here are a few details from the Devon boxes that were the inspiration for my sketch – (the first two from Marhamchurch Antiques, thanks Paul, the 3rd is my photo).

This one had a later escutcheon on it, covering up the pattern. I took it off, so we could see the shape. At that time, I had never seen the previous two.

 

But before I go to Boston to work  on Sunday, I’m off to Maine for the Open House at Lie-Nielsen Friday & Saturday. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/146

These events are legendary; the lineup this summer is killer. I try to do this show every July…it’s like old home week, seeing all my friends from the hand-tool circus. I guess I was there last summer – found my picture on their Facebook page –

 one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoor

This time I’ll mostly be carving oak for a bedstead I’m working on. But I have a talk on Saturday about green woodworking, so I’ll do some spoon carving too. See you there I hope.


chip carved box for bowl gouges

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 5:30am

I spent some time yesterday hewing and carving out a bowl from a too-large-for-a-spoon crook. Cherry. It was great fun, so now it will dry and perhaps I’ll even finish this one. I dug out another that is now dried, and worked that along a bit too. I have collected a range of bowl-carving gouges, and recently I re-purposed an unfinished box with a drawer to house them.

The box is from a few years ago, and involves much conjecture. Not my favorite way to build furniture. Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). It’s about 8″ high, 10″ wide and 15″ long.

Here is the sliding lid slud back a bit…

 

Inside this section is a cross-piece with slots to fit individual gouges. this piece is just friction-fit into the box right now.

 

Here you see there are two end boards nearest the camera – the carved one slides upward to access the drawer below the box compartment. It has a tongue/rabbet at its back face – riding in a slot cut on the inside faces of the box sides. A little hollow gouged out gives a place to grab it to lift it up. 

 

here is that piece removed, showing the bottom of the box compartment, and the drawer below.


 

Now a view showing the gouges in the box and those underneath in the drawer. No divider in the drawer. (yet, or maybe never)

 

requisite drawer detail.

Unfinished chip carving. it’s all over the box…some finished, some not.

someone will have fun when I’m long gone trying to figure out what happened here. Why was this box not finished, but it looks like it was used…

If I get to make another of these sort of boxes, I’d like to see an original first. One thing I’d change is I’d plane the stock just a bit thinner. This is 3/4″ standard issue boards – I’d aim for 5/8″ thick. this seems clunky. Part of why I gave up on it. But it makes a nice place to keep the bowl gouges…


Shaving horse book available through Plymouth CRAFT

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 4:17am

Shaving horses are in the wind it seems. On the wind, maybe. That’s how Jennie Alexander used to refer to her book Make a Chair from a Tree. “The chair was in the wind…” meaning if she didn’t write the book, someone was going to.

The wind is carrying shaving horse ideas a bit lately. A year or so ago, I shot a video with Lie-Nielsen on making my (simple) shaving horse. To be released sometime in the semi-near future.

An old one of me & Daniel shaving white cedar

Recently, Tim Manney had an excellent shaving horse article in Fine Woodworking, accompanied by Curtis Buchanan’s piece on how to use one. It makes me want to build a new shaving horse!  Tim’s also selling detailed plans for building his, http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2017/05/shaving-horse-plans.html

 

 

Sean Hellman, a green woodworker over in the UK, has a new book out about shaving horses, Shaving Horses, Lap Shaves and other Woodland Vices: A Book of Plans and Techniques for the Green Woodworker.

Plymouth CRAFT ordered a few copies of Sean’s book to sell at Greenwood Fest, but they arrived the day the Fest ended. They are up on the website now, so for US orders it’s an easy way to get Sean’s book. It’s 130 pages, showing a multitude of different shaving horse designs; the dumbhead style, English style, spoon mules, and methods of use, some riving brakes, and other “woodland vices.” Large format, 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”.

Here’s the link to Plymouth CRAFT’s shop, selling a few odds and ends leftover from the Fest. https://www.plymouthcraft.org/online-store

 


“warts and all” workshop views

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:33am

I had this foolish notion that at some point, my new workshop would be all organized and tidy. Presentable. Then I was going to photograph it and post a tour of the shop here on the blog. But…it keeps gathering junk in piles, only to be cleaned up so I could work – and make another mess. I guess that means my shop is “done” as much as it’s going to get. I did write a short piece in Popular Woodworking about it – but here is a short glimpse of what it looks like these days.

Might as well start at the beginning. here’s the view to the door:

Looking through the door, into the room. The carving over the door is a place-holder. there’s a new one coming.


The main workbench. 8′ long. shelves underneath for large planes, boxes of tools like chalkline, hammers, mallets, bench hook and other bench accessories. Racks in the window for marking gauges, awls, chisels, squares – etc.

Same view, but extended to the left – showing the neglected lathe. More later on that.

Looking back toward the door – showing my version of Chris Schwarz’ tool chest.  I couldn’t bear to paint it a solid color…small shelves wedged between the braces and corner posts. Auger bits, sharpening stuff, other odds n ends.


Here is that corner straight on – spoon knives and scratch stocks in boxes… random junk sitting on ledges til I figure it out. Could be years…

The view into the corner beyond the workbench. Cabinet for hatchets, chopping block below.

Patterns and story sticks. they’re everywhere.

I’ve taken this picture many times – it’s just beyond my workbench, the cabinet that houses the hatchets. Recycled wall paneling for the doors.


Half of a Connecticut River carved panel – couldn’t leave that stored in a box…

Inside the cabinet – hatchets, adze, twca cam in 2 sizes –

Like I said, the lathe has had little attention. The current plan is to make a set of shorter beds for it. Right now I can turn a 48″ chair post, but most of my turnings are under 32″ – so I’ll store these beds, make shorter ones, and save a bit of space. Right now, it is a place to pile stuff out of the way. Well, it’s not really out of the way. It’s just a mess. Books and notes to the left.

The old Ulmia workbench is not much better off than the lathe. There’s a shaving horse stuck behind the bedstead-in-progress. The oak desk box will go out of here soon. The baskets too. this junk-gathering place at least changes a lot, unlike the lathe.

that’s it mostly. A stove just after the Ulmia bench. A 12′ x 16′ building doesn’t require a lengthy tour…there is the loft, but I’m not going up there right now. It’s a rabbit hole…


Moe Follansbee knew what’s what

Sun, 06/25/2017 - 1:54pm

Over two months ago, I lost my everyday knife. I looked everywhere and came up empty. I decided it either broke off the strap, and fell, or got dropped into a bag of shavings & went the way of all things. I have lots of slojd knives – so I could keep carving spoons without any discomfort. But usually I like wearing one for everyday use. I finally gave up looking, and ordered some new blades.   I tried to be positive about it, thinking maybe someone found what would become a really good knife for them.

everyday sloydbefore it was lost

I had the blade since about 1992, it was on its 2nd handle. (I split the first one using the knife like a little froe). When I replaced the handle, I made the sheath. That was about 12 years ago. A friend at the museum made the leather work. Once the new blades arrived, I made a new knife and sheath. It was OK, but not the same.  This one, I tried my hand at the leather, but for one thing my model was gone! Here I am boring out the blank for the handle, to fit the knife’s tang.

Paring the new handle.

here is the end result, works fine. But doesn’t feel right one way or another. The leather I used was too thick for one thing, so it didn’t conform quite as well as I wished. Handle is the only piece of boxwood I had. Why did I try that?

Here’s the knife out of the sheath. It works, I was carving spoons yesterday with it. Clicks into the sheath like it’s supposed to do. I was thinking I’d do it over at some point, but things are getting busy around here right about now. 

Today I was sorting & cleaning inside & out. In the shop, it came time to climb up & hang this year’s Greenwood Fest poster. I’m not a huge poster fan, but Greenwood Fest is a pretty special affair for me, so up it went. Right above last year’s version. While I was there, I grabbed that basket for the tools & materials in it. I made some basket rims & handles from the hickory I wrote about last time, and this week I’ll install them. Needed the clips and other bits in there.

 

And don’t you know – in the basket was my old knife. Made a good day a great one.

It’s always the last place you look, my father used to say.


Hickory Bark

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 3:16pm

Post-Greenwood Fest – finally getting going. I have a few spoons, some copies of the Joint Stool book and a few DVDs left for sale. Here’s the link – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/june-2017-spoons-book-videos-for-sale/

There’s Paypal buttons for the books & DVDs, if you want a spoon, leave me a comment.

———————-

Meanwhile – Hickory Bark. No waiting when there’s a hickory sapling cut in the spring. You gotta get right to them. So two of these were first priority once I unpacked.

This work takes me way back. Way, way, way, way back as Van Morrison would say. I grabbed the leftover hickory saplings after Tim Manney’s demo at Greenwood Fest (one got stripped before I got to saving it – Tim? Pete?) to harvest the bark. I’ve only have a few chances to strip hickory bark in the past many years. Not making chairs or baskets with any regularity meant I didn’t need to pursue it. But, these were right there, and I have some ladderbacks underway, as well as some baskets that need rims & handles.

First off, I shave the outer bark off with the drawknife. This is thick, hard crusty bark.


Here is a detail, showing as I shave off the outer bark, the inner bark we’re after is exposed. In this photo, the first strip is removed. That way, I can see the thickness of the inner bark (or “bast”) – this becomes important.

so next is the task of thinning the inner bark to the appropriate thickness. This is a finesse move. Below the drawknife here (bottom left of the photo) the bark is just about the right thickness – above the knife you can see the yellow/orange striations – I use those as a visual guideline – shave them away & you’re there. Just about.

Then I score through the inner bark down to the wood with the tip of my knife. I make the strip about 3/4″ – 1″ wide.

It can wiggle with the grain of the tree…try to keep it pretty straight. But they are wider than I’ll use them, so I can trim them some when I get to weaving with them.

Then peel the strip up. Never ceases to amaze me.

 

I keep close watch for stray fibers that might stick to the tree. Usually means the scoring wasn’t deep enough. You can slip your knife under there & re-establish the peeling. 

Some strips are too thick when you take ’em off the tree. You can sometimes split them apart. I scored across the bark to form a tab, then pulled them apart. This is slow, careful work – you have to watch to see if it’s going evenly. Any thick side, pull towards it. Just like riving. I hold the strip between my knees, then use my thumbs & forefingers to peel them. My other fingers help keep things peeling evenly.

If a strip is too thick, but not thick enough to split, I put it on the shaving horse, and shave it with a spokeshave. I put a support stick under it. You can shave this later, once you’re using the material – but I find it best to do it right off the bat.

Coil ’em & store to dry in an airy place.

The first log was clear enough for some long riving & bending wood. I made some basket rims, then shaved two of these bows for firewood carriers. This one is shaved to shape, steamed & bent onto this form. I took no pictures of any of that. I shoot my own photos, and steam-bending requires complete attention. This firewood carrier is detailed in Drew Langsner’s Green Woodworking – as is peeling hickory bark.

The base will be an open framework,  this board is just the drying form for the bend.


more video snippets from Greenwood Fest & after

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 1:49pm

all right – let’s try a couple of short videos this time. From Greenwood Fest 2017.

 
an overview of the woodpile area, with Rick McKee ducking through…

Kiko Denzer turning bowls during Jarrod’s class:

and a long one from Roy, more from Roy Underhill’s Big Box of Woodworking Fun


Roy Underhill never stops

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 1:24pm

I’m video-challenged – but because of Instagram I shoot many short ones with an ipad. Just spent a godawful amount of time figuring out how to get them here. Let’s see if this works:


Greenwood Fest 2017

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:15am

Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2017 is now a  thing of the past. I vividly remember the feeling last year after the fest, I was so overwhelmed I just floundered around for a couple of days, not being able to concentrate on anything.

This time, it still is overwhelming, but in a good way. I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen – Plymouth CRAFT’s board & volunteers, the crew at Pinewoods, all the instructors and most of all, the folks who travelled from Australia, Turkey and places in between to come join us in the woods for carving and camaraderie. Astoundingly great time, thanks all.

Here’s pictures. there’s more. later. 

the group shot:

Surolle was here: 

Jarrod Dahl turning what can’t be turned

JoJo Wood was back with her big knives:

The one-armed veteran of the Battle of Shiloh with his sawing machine

Tim Manney & the sharpeners

Me & him

Barn’s spoons

The Greenwood shop, just prior to opening:

Barn the Spoon & his new sheath for the big hook knife:

Jane Mickelborough helping hinge a folding spoon:

 

Dave Fisher working on his bowls:

Darrick Sanderson never stopped

Jogge & I with our special guests, Drew & Louise Langsner


line ’em up

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 4:49am

The dust is starting to settle. I’ll get to the whole thing, but in the meantime, here’s the group of instructors from Greenwood Fest.

Back row, left to right – Jögge Sundqvist, Jarrod Dahl, Pete Galbert, Peter Follansbee, Jane Mickelborough, Barn the Spoon, Louise Langsner, Drew Langsner

Front row, left to right –  Dave Fisher, Tim Manney, Darrick Sanderson, Paula Marcoux, JoJo Wood, Roy Underhill


Spoon carving: knife work & Barn’s book

Sat, 06/03/2017 - 5:17am

As I’ve been getting ready for Greenwood Fest 2017, I have carved a few cherry spoons. Last blog post was about hewing the shapes from “crooks” – the curving wood where one branch meets another. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/hewing-a-spoon-crook/ 

At the end of that post, I coppped out, and went to dinner. Got several requests to “continue after dinner” – but I finished those spoons the next morning. So when I started another, I shot some of the knife work. It’s hard to get this in photos, and equally hard to shoot these without a photographer, but here goes.

I tend to start at the area behind the back of the spoon’s bowl, transitioning to the handle. It’s usually too thick there, so I go there first to remove excess wood. This cut starts at the knife’s “butt” – right near the handle. The fingers of my left hand help push & guide the knife’s blade through the cut. Both elbows are tucked against my torso.


I bring my right hand towards my gut, and bend my wrist a bit too. My left fingers extend as far as they can, the knife blade is slicing toward the knife’s tip. This cut moves from the bowl through to the side of the handle. It’s a scooping cut to some degree.

 

Similar thing, but more to the middle of the bowl. This cut goes somewhat across the grain. 

More scooping, working toward the knife’s tip.

 

the other side of the bowl, I use a different grip. My thumb is on one side of the spoon, the knife on the other. Then I close my hand, pulling the blade toward, but not at, my thumb. 

The blade ends up in the space between my thumb and fingers. The knife handle is held by curling my fingers around it, not in the palm of my hand.

This one I use along the handle. It starts with my left thumb pushing on either my right hand, or the knife handle. The thumb is extended pretty far, and then I slide the knife from tip to butt.

My right hand moves forward, my left thumb acts like a hinge, swinging up toward the spoon handle’s top end.

There’s lots of references for these cuts and many others – the newest is Barn the Spoon’s new book, “Spōn: A Guide to Spoon Carving and the New Wood Culture” (next week we’ll ask Barn how to pronounce the title of his book)

No automatic alt text available.

https://barnthespoon.com/courses-books-gifts/spon-learn-to-spoon-carve-by-barn-the-spoon

It’s well worth getting; Barn has been pretty deep into spoons, I mean who else has changed their name to “…the Spoon”? Here’s a detail of a couple of his spoons at our Plymouth CRAFT exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum – (thanks, Rick…)

No automatic alt text available.


hewing a spoon crook

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 6:39pm

Getting some spoon work in, prepping for Greenwood Fest coming up in early June. Cherry crooks are the greatest…so photos with captions.

This is the crook I chose this afternoon – split off 2 chunks above the pith. So the bottom third of this is trash, but the other two will be fine spoons.

Here’s the top one, near the bark. It just about makes itself into a spoon.

After hewing off the bark so I can see the shape better, I hewed a bunch off what will be the top or rim of the spoon bowl.

Slicing across the grain to bring it down to the shape I want.

Starting to define the neck between the bowl and the handle.

This is the one I always call the first chance to completely ruin the spoon. Thankfully it’s only a few minutes into the work. So if it fails now, not much is lost.

Then hewing away some excess off the back of the handle.

With a hard wood like cherry (Prunus serotina) I often mount the hewn shape in the vise, and work with a bent gouge & mallet to rough out the bowl. Working directly across the grain.

here’s the gouge – might be about 1″-1 1/4″ wide, the “sweep” or curve is the #8 in the Swiss marking system.

It’s still very blocky, so the next step will be to hew off the back corners.

I start this cut up in the bowl, and it carries all the way down to the top end of the handle.

It’s hard to read in this photo, but I’ve begun to form a rounded under the bowl.

Then it was time for dinner.


birds, not woodworking. again.

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 9:57am

Even home-school kids have field trips, and I tagged along on one today to a place called Manomet – https://www.manomet.org/ to see a presentation about banding migrant landbirds. The winds finally shifted about 2 days ago, so now the southwest winds are bringing warblers up to New England.

Trevor Lloyd Evans and Maina Handmaker were our hosts, and gave us a lot of their time & attention. Here’s some of the birds we saw up close, as they were ready to be released, after having been weighed, measured, and recorded…

well, this first one wasn’t captured – it’s a flyover during our intro – an osprey.

this one I shot a lot, because I had never seen one before – a mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)

Maina & one of the kids releasing a female American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

This might be that redstart, or a young male we saw after..

Showing some of the kids how to tell the age of this catbird, based on feather color…

Northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

female magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia)

Least flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) – I could never ID this bird beyond “flycatcher” –

Rose got to let this one fly…

Right near the end of our visit, we got to see this chestnut-sided warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)

 

And one whose name makes some sense – the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Trevor and Manomet’s mascot, the gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

thanks to all for making this trip possible. I had more fun than I could stand.


They’re so 20th century…

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 6:44pm

I have been trying my hand at some at 20th-century woodworking. Going back to where I started, making a ladderback chair like the ones I learned from Jennie Alexander and Drew Langsner. I made them quite often back in the 1980s, but by 1992 I probably made my “last” one. The only ones I made since then were two small ones for the kids when they were little, December 2009. Here’s Daniel showing how much they have outgrown them.

This is one of the late-period chairs Alexander made with our friend Nathaniel Krause. Slender, light, but strong. Very deceptive chair.

But for years, I was swept up in the 17th century – and chairs, turned or shaved, were HEAVY. Here’s one of my favorites I made back then, maple, with oak slats. The posts for this are probably almost 2″ square. The rungs are 1″ in diameter (same as JA’s posts!) with mortises bored 3/4″ in diameter.

 

Some of the turned ones are even heavier, and this is not the biggest. All ash.

So today I shaved the rungs down to size, with 5/8″ tenons. The rungs are not much heavier than that – they don’t need to be. The rungs have been dried after rough-shaving, in the oven until the batch of them stopped losing weight. Then shaved down to size.

I bored a test hole in some dry hardwood, then jam the tenon into that hole to burnish it. then spokeshave down to the burnished marks. I skew the spokeshave a lot, to keep from rounding over the end of the tenon.

Long ago, I learned to bore the mortises at a low bench, leaning over the posts to bore them. Later, Alexander and Langsner started doing the boring horizontally. Use a bit extender to help sight the angle, and a level taped to the extender too. It’s so sophisticated. I’m sure today’s ladderback chairmakers have passed me & my brace by…

it’s a Power Bore bit. Was made by Stanley, I guess out of production now. I have an extra if something happens to this one. 

Then knock the side sections together, check the angles, and bore for the front & rear rungs.

Still needs to go a little to our right..that’s a level in my hand, checking to get the side frame oriented so the boring is level.

Then more of the same.

Then I knocked it together. Yes, I used glue. Probably not necessary, the oven-dry rungs will swell inside the somewhat-moist posts. but the glue doesn’t hurt anything. I never glued the larger chairs pictured above.

I got the frame done. Next time I work on it, I’ll make the slats from riven white oak. I’ll steam them & pop them in place. then weave a seat. Either hickory bark or rush. Bark is best.

Small tool kit – those pictured here, plus riving tools, a mortise chisel. Saws for trimming things to length. Not much else. Oh, a pencil. Yikes.


Pre-Fest spaces for Greenwood Fest – “One man gathers what another man spills”

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 5:00pm

Pret & I are building lathes for the bowl turners, our friend Chris is cutting more wood than you can shake a stick at, Paula Marcoux is making schedules, writing emails & answering questions morning noon & night – Greenwood Fest begins in just over 3 weeks.

There’s been a small flurry of last-minute cancellations from the Pre-Fest courses. I wrote a post the other day about a couple, and described how this is really like a mini-Fest on its own. 7 courses running side-by-side. “Down” time, meals, evenings, etc will be a woodsy-free-for-all.  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/still-some-room-in-pre-fest-courses-at-greenwood-fest/ 

In addition to one spot in Jogge Sundqvist’s knife-handle/sheath class, space in Tim Manney’s sharpening and Jane Mickelborough’s Hinged spoon, there’s one spot with Dave Fisher making hewn bowls, and one spot with Barn Carder making eating spoons.

I’m sorry for those who had to ditch out at this, nearly the last minute. One man gathers what another man spills, though.

Dates are Tues June 6-Thursday June 8.. .Price is $500 – Includes 2 full days of instruction; (Tues afternoon/Wed all day/Thurs morning) all materials; 2 nights lodging & 7 meals, plus admission to Fuller Craft Museum for the Thursday evening presentation of Jogge’s Rhythym & Slojd.

course description  https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details 

registration: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses


spring tradition pt 1 – Brimfield

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 6:29am

In some circles, all you need to say is one word – “Brimfield” and people know you mean the 3-times-a-year event in the Massachusetts town of that name. Flea market, antiques fair – not sure what to call it. Home-schooling means you can haul your kids to something like this & call it “cultural history”, “sociology”, “economics” or just a nice spring day looking at all kinds of who-knows-what you’ll see. we just stayed a few hours, which means we saw a fraction of it. May, July & September. Runs for days…a great slice of the world…

a very nice, small Windsor chair. $25. I left it there, we’re over-run with chairs at home.

Saw some very nice baskets – again, I don’t need to start collecting old baskets. This one I shoulda bought, though…

These southern ones are also very nice.

we used to see lots of eastern-European woodwork there, now there’s an influx of sub-Continental stuff. Or so a general overview seems. I’m mostly ignorant about this work, But these carved panels in this door were excellent.


There’s too many other pictures. if you’re inclined, they’re loaded here as a gallery.


still some room in Pre-Fest courses at Greenwood Fest

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 7:56am

The Greenwood Fest is long-sold out, with a waiting list. I heard from Paula Marcoux last night that someone had to cancel, and the next name on the waiting list flipped out –

But there’s still a way to get a big hit of greenwood fun in Plymouth next month. The pre-fest courses are running Tuesday afternoon June 6th to Thursday mid-day June 8th. Due to a cancellation, there’s a space in Jögge Sundqvist’s class “Swedish Slöjd Knife with Birchbark Sheath.”  If you’ve not been around Jögge, I can tell you, this class is about much more than making a knife handle & sheath. Working with him is a life-changing experience.


There’s room too in Tim Manney’s Sharpening class – a deceptive class. When we ran it the first time, people were clamoring for more tools to sharpen. It’s a tricky class to convince your family to let you go for a few days, you come home with a bunch of sharp tools – not some flashy woodsy object d’art. BUT…it’s an eye-opener, and forevermore your tools will be honed to a crazy keen edge. Tim is a great, great teacher.

Jane Mickelborough’s Folding Spoon class is the one I would take if I had the time. Jane’s work studying and learning about these historic spoons from Brittany is really inspiring. It’s so different from most of what we see about spoons, but rooted in tradition.

So if you missed out on the festival itself, this is a chance for a 3/4 festival experience There will be 7 classes running at the same time – just like the fest, you stay on site in cabins, all meals included from lunch Tuesday to lunch Thursday. So I think it’s close to 80 people in camp, counting attendees and instructors. That means all the “down” times; before class, during meals, after class in the evenings, you’re part of a huge contingent of like-minded greenwood-ers.

After class on Thursday, you go find some quiet place to digest what you’ve just been through, then that evening make your way to Fuller Craft Museum for the mind-blowing Rhythym & Slöjd performance by Jögge Sundqvist. http://fullercraft.org/event/rhythm-and-slojd/ – the Fuller evening is part of the pre-Fest tuition.

Come join us for the early festival experience.

course descriptions:    https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details

registration:   https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses

 

 


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