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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes
Although I can recite my travel schedule like Rain Man, fat lot of good that does folks out there looking for it written down. so now, 4 months late, I have updated the list. here’s the link, in case you’re looking for something to do.
If you want to skip the details, here’s the Readers’ Digest version
Apr – Rochester Woodworker’s Society
May – Lie Nielsen – spoon carving
June – SAPFM mid-year lecture/demo
June – Historic New England, lecture/demo
July – Lie-Nielsen Open House
July – Lie-Nielsen 17th-century carving
Aug – Woodwright’s School, make a joined chest
Sep – Heartwood (MA) – make a carved box
Oct – Lie-Nielsen – Spoon carving
Oct – Ct Valley School of Wood Working – Make a carved frame & panel.
Winter is perhaps really over here – it better be, I put my hat & scarves away.
The day started out in the woods, looking for birds. Daniel & I saw many, he counted 18 species; but we only got a few shots of them.
Back home we ended up with spoon carving lesson # something-0r-other. I have to teach a bunch of students at Lie-Nielsen next month, so started practicing with Daniel. His knife work is excellent, given his strength. (the May class is full, so we added one as soon as we could – which means October! here’s the link
Working one-on-one meant I got some carving in too.
Meanwhile Rose did the 19th-century-Swedish-immigrant-in-the-garden routine. All around a busy day here.
When one of the household is a knitter and the other is a basket-maker, that means knitting baskets. I don’t get to make baskets much anymore, but have several that have lingered for quite a while. I finished this one the other day. It’s a form I have only done once before; a double-swing-handle design. Basket is ash, handles, rims, and feet are hickory. Lashing is hickory bark.
Then Daniel went in the house & started a self-portrait carving his spoon. Sometimes these pictures never get done, like my baskets. So I am posting it now in case it’s an orphan drawing.
Now onto another subject. If you’re inclined to help support some young people doing what they love, remember Eleanor Underhill? Maybe you know her father? In addition to illustrating Roy’s most recent Woodwright book, she did some drawings for mine & Alexander’s Joint Stool book – but her main gig is music – and she’s part of a trio making “heartfelt country soul” – they’re using Kickstarter to fund their next album. I’m in.
I usually do it this way:
But this spring I’m doing it the other way:
This ash log is a little weird. It has one large knot on one side, and someone started to cross-cut it with a chainsaw. Michael Burrey gave it to me, and I have been pounding & peeling it when I’ve had time. Ordinarily, I like to split the logs into billets, then pound those. That way I can harvest some wood from the log for furniture. But in this case, I don’t need the furniture wood, so just started in pounding.
after the first couple of layers are removed, it gets easier. Here, I’m prying (carefully) with my knife to start lifting the splint.
Then peeling it…
If you get to a part where it’s not lifting, you might need to hit it some more…
The knife is not doing anything here, except being ready in case it’s needed to snip some stray hangers-on.
Rick McKee shot that video in 2012, but now he’s been replaced by an eight-yr old photographer, my son Daniel. Who insisted that I pose…
He then shot a self-portrait. I refuse to use the word “selfie” – there’s only so far I’m willing to go.
People have asked about the chip carving on my spoon handles.
I mostly learned this through trial & error. I had seen Jogge & Wille demonstrate it in their classes, but as I recall we didn’t really spend much time on this aspect. I cut mine deeper than what I have seen on theirs…and there’s folks who do it closer to what Wille does. I think of Jan Harm ter Brugge - http://www.houtvanbomen.com/HoutvanBomen/English_text_spoons.html
Chip carving is something I’ve never addressed here, principally because it’s hard to photograph – all the shots I used to take in the workshop were easy to stage, then shoot with a remote to trigger the camera. Here it’s all tight shots, and hard to tell what I’m going to get because I hold the spoon and knife in my hands…and they shift around. Oh well, that’s my excuse anyway. I got some of it last night. so here goes
The tools first of all – from top to bottom:
Del Stubbs’ detail knife, 5/8″ - my favorite for this work.
A Frost sloyd knife I’ve had for 26 years. This used to be the only tool I had for the carved decoration. it works.
A Svante Djarv detail knife. I’m still getting the hang of this one. Called an “engraving knife”
another Del Stubbs knife – I don’t see it in this form on his website right now, maybe it’s the same blade as his kolrosing knife. I got it from Country Workshops, where Drew calls it an engraving knife.
First tool I use is a pencil – I know, I’ve chased some of you away in joinery class for using pencils, but here they’re allowed.
So I used the Frost knife just to show you can cut this stuff just with the tip of your knife. It HAS to be as sharp as you can get it, out to the tip. Usually I oil the spoon first too, that helps. This particular spoon is birch, and sometimes it almost looks like cow horn. The knife was working fine, I was not too thrilled with the texture of the wood… I wear a visor w magnifiers that I got from Lie-Nielsen. I get older every day.
Just hold it like a pencil, and make two cuts angled towards each other to create a V-shape shaving coming out of the wood. I stab in stop cuts at each end of the line first.
Here I’m using the Stubbs detail knife to cut 3-sided chips, this is what I think of as “real” chip carving. This knife has a very thin blade. Fragile, but outstanding.
Between the previous photo and this one below, I have swung the knife along the line.
and here’s the shaving I removed.
A couple of spoons are left from last week. I’ll then have more soon. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-march-pt-2/
here;’s the links to where I got my knives
The Great Horned Owls are sitting higher up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the chick(s) have either hatched or are about to… I haven’t had much time to hang out there to see what’s up.
And have it on Highway 61.
Yup – i’m going to Minnesota this June to meet Robin Wood & learn some bowl turning. Got my packet from North House yesterday.
If you’ve read my blog awhile, you know I’m a fan. If you’re just getting here, be sure to read Robin’s blog. His was the inspiration when I started mine back in 2008.
Great stuff. Well done & very thoughtful. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/wood-craft-blog/
The school looks to be a gas, I’ve heard great things about it. http://www.northhouse.org/
Won’t that be something.
Well, I just got March pt 2 in under the wire. But tonight I posted a bunch of birch spoons, with one or two others besides. If you’d like one, leave a comment about which one you’d like. Then we can do the paypal business. I will accept checks too, if someone wants to go that way. Here’s the link, and it’s at the top of the blog front page.
There’s always more coming, so don’t worry if you miss out. I keep on carving. Some folks have asked about ordering spoons, and if you’d like to do that, we can work it out.
Thanks as always,
3 Landing Rd
Kingston MA 02364
Our friend Martha is studying local ceramic history for some degree or other. She sent this note the other day. Me, I’m a vegetarian. But I do use a fore plane from time to time, so in the interest of tool-use, I will post it here…
“I was reading in an 1851 New England Farmer journal (as they frequently preach against the evils of lead glaze there). There was a sausage recipe submitted by “a subscriber” who makes sausage meat by freezing it, then “I take a fore plane, set rank, and plane it to shavings” Apparently the meat needs very little chopping after that. It wouldn’t hurt the blade, only add some grease- rust prevention through sausage! Yikes! They didn’t actually leave a name so you don’t really know if it’s by a man or woman, but they put the recipe in the “Ladies Department.” What exactly is a “fore plane” ?
So – we all use Moxon’s description to understand this tool:
It is called the Fore Plain because it is used before you come to work either with the Smooth Plane, or with the Joynter. The edge of its Iron is not ground upon the straight, as the Smooth Plane, and the Joynter are, but rises with a Convex-Arch in the middle of it; for its Office being to prepare the Stuff for either the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, Workmen set the edge of it Ranker than the edge either of the Smoothing Plane or the Joynter; and should the Iron of the Plane be ground to a straight edge, and it be set never so little Ranker on one end of the edge than the other, the Ranker end would (bearing as then upon a point) in working, dig Gutters on Surface of the Stuff; but this Iron (being ground to a Convex- Arch) though it should be set a little Ranker on one end of its edge than on the other, would not make Gutters on the Surface of the Stuff, but (at the most) little hollow dawks on the Stuff, and that more or less, according as the Plane is ground more or less Arching. Nor is it the Office of this Plane to smooth the Stuff, but only (as I said) to prepare it, that is, to take off the irregular Risings, whether on the sides, or in the middle, and therefore it is set somewhat Ranker, that it may take the irregularities the sooner off the Stuff, that the Smoothing Plane, or the Joynter, may afterwards the easier work it Try. The manner of Trying shall be taught, when I come to Treat of the use of the Rule.
One of my best moves in recent years was to finally make the time to go visit Bill a couple of times. They are having a celebration of his life in May. I’ll miss it, my schedule is full-tilt already. But you might be able to fit it in…
I know what you’re thinking…
What if Salvador Dali was a 17th-century turner…
Here’s what you’d get…
Here’s the machine. Now someone get to it, please. Reference for this image is: Theatre des Instruments Mathematiques,
Jacques Besson (c.1571)
I have much to write about, but this one’s easy for tonight…
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, just get over to Roald’s blog & see the Skoklosters Slott tools in detail like you’ve not seen them before. If you are new to the story, it’s about a castle built in Sweden 1650s-1670s. They ordered a slew of woodworking tools from Holland, and they are still there. with the paperwork.
Roald Renmælmo posted his photos from a recent trip to study the tools. I have linked before to his workbench blog; along with his colleague Tomas Karlsson. Good stuff, they’ve even posted some stuff in English for us uni-linguists!
here’s the link - http://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/verktoy-pa-skokloster-slott/
I’m out the door in the AM heading off to MESDA (the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, that is)
so I had no intention of posting a damn thing tonight. Until I opened the physical mail & in it was a tube from Curtis Buchanan – more chair plans. This time his continuous arm chair. I made one of these (I made quite a few of them, but we only have one) in 1992 following plans Curtis gave me then. This photo’s his -
For those of you keeping track of this sort of thing – I didn’t order these from Curtis. He just sent ‘em to me. We’re old friends, and he’s a generous guy. So yes, he sent me freebies, and I write about them so you can know about it. BUT he did’t ask, “hey will you write these up?” – he’d never do that. But, I figure you want to know about great hand-tool woodworking. that’s why you’re reading here. If you don’t know Curtis, you will enjoy getting to know him. By now, many of you have seen his home-made videos on Youtube. He just added a slew of them about sharpening. Curtis’ approach is real straightforward. His work is outstanding, just beautiful.
go. you’ll be glad you did. Here’s the links:
youtube videos https://www.youtube.com/user/curtisbuchanan52/featured
Here’s Curtis telling you about the continuous arm plans.
The reason I haven’t posted about furniture is because I’m not making any lately…and without photographs, this blog is going nowhere.
so I have been sifting through some old and not-so-old photos and thought we could just have a random-thoughts sort of post. Like Rick does http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/a-cinnabon-in-omaha-2/
“Abe said, Man, you must be puttin’ me on.” An overmantel in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Time to give another nod. Maureen’s felted stuff is getting going. She’s added new bits, stop by & get yourself some knitted and/or felted goods. More coming soon she says. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts
Thinking about turner’s work, for the upcoming visit to MESDA this week. Here’s a few rather rough photos of one of 2 examples of great turned chairs from either Wales, or the west of England, late 16th/early 17th century.
Look at the detail of the back – all those horizontal connecting bits had “free” (sometimes called “captured”) rings. How can they be captured & free?
Imagine how good this photo below would be if it were in focus. This chair, badly restored in its bottom half, and another from the same workshop are at Cothele, a National Trust house in Cornwall. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele/?p=1356297446549 - if youwant to see their mate in America, go to Harvard University’s commencement. They have one they used to use for the Prez to sit in at commencement.
Here’s a simple version, this I shot up in Yorkshire years ago. It might be all-shaved, might have some few turnings. It would be nice to learn more about this chair and its kind.
If you want to see carvings, get some raking light. MFA, Boston.
This house (torn down 1890s) is reputed to have been William Savell’s in Braintree. His 1669 will mentions, “house, shop, etc” – if that’s the shop on the right, I hope there’s windows in the back wall…
Here’s a “road-kill frog” hinge…1630s in Derbyshire.
“We’ll see summer come again…gonna happen every time…we’ll see summer by & by.”
(I’ll miss being at Drew’s this summer, but you can go - http://countryworkshops.org/ )
well, this is stupid, but how much time am I going to spend doing this over & over? The blog wants to flip this photo (the one w paint below) on its side…might be why it’s never been here before. (HA! Joke’s on me – I had given up, wrote that sentence – added it one more time. It came in right side up & brought another with it. So you get 2 for 1, right side up) The first one’s from Marhamchurch Antiques - http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/current-stock/all/
Well, I gotta finish my lecture for Friday. Then look at flight & bus schedules…
I’m getting more & more spoons lately. The first batch for March is just now posted – here http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-march-2014-pt-1/ or the banner at the top of the blog’s front page.
If you’d like one, leave a comment & we’ll get it sorted. Payment through paypal is easiest; but you can send a check if you’d like. Just let me know. Woods this time are birch and cherry, and one each of apple & lilac. Flax oil finish. If for any reason a spoon is not as you envisioned, you can return it to me for a refund. No questions.
Thanks for all the encouragement,
Well, I’ll get to do some woodworking at least – I’m going down to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) on the 20th of March, to get set up for the Furniture Seminar on the 21/22 of March. The subject is turned work, so I’ll be taking a shot at the lathe from Old Salem. It’s a nice lineup, 2 days’ worth. Includes my friend Brian Weldy from Colonial Williamsburg/North Bennet Street and once from my shop too!
Look at the raking light that Brian and the other guys in the Anthony Hay shop get - http://anthonyhaycabinetmaker.wordpress.com/
…it’s just that I haven’t made any lately.
But I have been sticking my nose into some furniture books.
Every winter, it’s time to re-new membership in the Regional Furniture Society. I have written about their organization before, it’s a great one. Their journal goes back more than 20 years – while you’re poking around, look at their website http://regionalfurnituresociety.org/
I like the newsletter as much as or more than the journal – it’s there I found out about this next book – “Coffres et coffrets du Moyen Age”. What a book. 2 volumes, great photos, including details of construction, decoration, wood ID, tool marks – it’s all there. In French! It’s mostly chests and boxes (I know that much) but also includes some trestle tables, a folding chair & other bits. These pieces are, as we say in southern New England, “wicked” old. How’s 13th century? They go up to the 17th or 18th century as well. The objects are Swiss; just astounding stuff. I forget where I eventually bought it, but found it on the web somewhere. It took some doing.
Remember it was through RFS that I found out about a similar book last year http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/der-henndorfer-truhenfund/
Another annual journal that is a stand-by is American Furniture, edited by Luke Beckerdite. I got the most recent one the other day, & it’s not brown! A first. It’s the usual production that we’ve been spoiled with since 1993. I always urge furniture makers to buy their copies of this journal, don’t be lulled into reading it on line. Even when it’s furniture I don’t particularly care for, I read it & keep it. You never know…
The big one at the bottom of the pile is the Lost Art Press edition of Roubo’s book. If you missed it, where’ve you been? I read this one standing up, but they have a smaller version, for a smaller price too. http://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/to-make-as-perfectly-as-possible-roubo-on-marquetry
For those keeping track, there will be spoons for sale this coming week…I’m aiming for Tuesday.
AND, here’s a red-shouldered hawk I found the other day, just up the road from the house.
I keep thinking about Richard Nixon. I don’t want to, but it happens. Remember when he famously stated “I’m not a crook.”? Well, of course he was lying…
but I have been splitting & hewing crooks into spoons lately. Right after that cherry haul (and another cherry haul) I got 2 small piles of birch.
Most of these are just one spoon in each bend; there’s knots underneath the crook. splitting them is a combination of froe & hatchet work.
Then I start in hewing to begin to “see” the eventual shape.
Placement of the bowl is the hardest part to wrap your head around. The mistake I usually make is to place it too far forward. Here you see how the bottom of the bowl flows along the curved grain.
Then it’s back to more axe work. The more you take off here, the easier life is later.
Megan Fitzpatrick swiped a photo of mine from last time; here’s her teaser about an article I did for Popular Woodworking:
We had some heavy wet snow a week or so back. I found a broken cherry limb down by the river & made some spoons from it. Then the other day I found 2 more, but way up high. I borrowed a pole saw & cut them down. Then started to cut them up.
Around here cherry is the most common wood useful for spoons. It’s quite hard though, comparatively speaking. Birch for instance is much softer & more cooperative. but I love the cherry spoons. They are worth the extra work. I cut a few crooks out of this stuff to get started; but left lots in the limbs, to be dealt with later.
Here’s a whole mess of pictures; not the whole spoon – I didn’t finish it yet. Started some others instead. To really see where the spoons are in crooked timber like this, you have to view them from all around. More than once. This is 2 limbs, twined around each other in this heap.
I started here; there’s one good sized ladle/serving spoon between that end grain & the small branch in the bottom of the photo.
After cross-cutting, I hew away the bark to see where the piece wants to split.
The bottom of this crook is trash; it has a large broken-off limb, & resulting knot.
After some initial hewing, I like to start these large deep bowls with a gouge & (borrowed) mallet. Borrowed shop too.
The gouge can also be “hand” pressure, but it’s much more than my hands driving it. Here’s the top of the stroke, then my whole body moves to bring the gouge across the spoon’s bowl.
(hat courtesy of Maureen. She’s working on her 2nd custom hat-knitting project. Contact her for next year’s winter hats… https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts )
More hatchet work.
Then knives from there. I’ll get it on the blog at some point.
Went walking at one point – going to leave this one alone for a while, I’ll stop back when the eggs hatch, then we’ll see some owl action.
Out to the beach in a bracing wind. Dunlin & sanderlings in flight.
Took one last haul out to the end of the beach to see the snowies; only found one, but didn’t look hard. Soon, they will head north again.
Back home, the local redtails are keeping company. Time for them to nest too.
Poor Matt Bickford. There I was, gobbling up his new DVD from Lie-Nielsen about how he uses hollows & rounds to make moldings, when the video about Wille Sundqvist arrived. Eject, went Matt. In went Wille.
Now, some time has passed & I’m back to Matt’s disc.http://www.lie-nielsen.com/dvds/moldings-in-practice/
As you can imagine, I’m partial. I’ve got to know Matt & his family through Lie-Nielsen events; took a weekend class with him once to boot. His teaching method is excellent. The way he breaks down these moldings is simplicity itself. Things are presented very clearly on this disc, you’ll find it a great companion to his book of nearly the same name. It’s almost 3 hours’ worth of instruction. Makes me itch to get out some planes & make moldings…
here’s an earlier look at Matt’s work: