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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes
Next birds will be western US birds.
Next wood will be Alaskan Yellow Cedar.
travel day today, tomorrow begins my Alaska jaunt.
These days, I tend to be out ahead of myself a bit. While teaching the chest class in Connecticut a week or so ago, I was thinking of preparing the next class(es), in Alaska. Those are coming right up (still room) and while I’m planning, preparing & packing for that, I’m thinking ahead to a spoon class at Lie-Nielsen and then the video shoot after it. Those are in early May, so right in time for spring migration in Maine.
THEN – comes the next of my offerings with my friends in Plymouth CRAFT. Rick McKee and I are teaming up to show how to split apart logs for various projects. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards This is a technique class, not a project. Rick has rived many thousands of clapboards over the years,and numerous other oak materials. We’ll look at how to “read” the log, what to look for, and what to look out for. Use of the wedges, mauls, froe & club – the riving brakes. It should be great. This is a one-day class, hosted at the Harlow Old Fort House, near downtown Plymouth Massachusetts. A rare chance to get together with Rick, you could even end up on one of his memorable blog posts at Blue Oak. https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/riving stiles with a froe
I’m off tomorrow to scout out some wood for this class. If I find a suitable ash log, I might add splint pounding to the lineup. That’s more fun than you can stand.
The Plymouth CRAFT scene usually is a multi-ring circus,and this one’s no exception. While we’re busting logs open, Charlotte Russell and Denise Lebica will be teaching drop-spinning.
“In this class, you will learn to use a simple tool — the drop-spindle — to convert fiber into yarn. Spinning is at the foundation of most of the textile arts. The ancient, inexpensive, portable, drop-spindle allows you to spin almost anywhere.
This workshop with long-time spinner and teacher Charlotte Russell will focus on developing a feel for creating quality yarn, and will feature hands-on evaluation of fibers such as wool, alpaca, flax, cotton, angora, quiviut and silk. Participants will gain an understanding of which of the various types of spindles are appropriate to spin which fiber.” – whole story here: http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=spinning-fiber-into-yarn
for me, having other classes under the same umbrella adds a lot to the fun, it’s great being surrounded by more crafty people and we usually have some time to spend seeing what the other half is up to…it’s sure to be interesting. Come join us, Rick & I will bring the tools & wood, you just come show up. the lunch alone is worth it.
Even sooner than that is a weekend class that I wish I was taking – make a wood-fired oven with Paula Marcoux. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=build-an-earthen-oven Paula knows ovens like I know oak. Coming right up, May 2 & 3, 2015. This will be a life-changing class – really.
As promised – fitting a wooden hinge on a cupboard door. Again, I think I’ve never covered this on the blog. Here’s the cupboard, sans door: note the rabbet in the muntin beside the door opening.
To hinge this door with wooden pins is easy. Bore holes in the upper and lower rails’ inside edges. Here’s the top rail – I haven’t finished pinning the joints in the frame, but ignore that. See the hole bored in the upper rail’s lower edge:
Corresponding hole in the upper edge of the door, note bevels on outer corners of door stile:
The wooden pin on the top of the door bottoms out in the stile, and protrudes up into the upper rail. Here it is in the stile:
here’s the bottom edge of the door – note the pin here fits (loosely) all the way up into the stile:
With my finger covering the hole in the bottom of the door, I tilt the upper pin in place, and then lean the door into its opening.
Then knock it about some with a hammer, to jar the pin loose so it drops down into the bottom rail.
The hole in the bottom rail is shallow, so the pin bottoms out in the rail and sticks up into the door’s hole –
I planed a rabbet in the door’s other stile, to overlap the rabbet in the frame. This stops the door from going all the way into the cupboard. You can (& I have sometimes) make rabbets on the hinge stile too – so the door is a little more snug = this one just butts up against the muntin.
door knob, couple of pins, linseed oil & this one’s crossed off.
Saw this guy this AM on my walk –
Last weekend was the 2nd session (of 5) of the joined chest class I’m teaching at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. These guys are working pretty hard…here’s pictures and captions –mortising the front stiles – 6 mortises per stile mortising from on high
test fitting a front frame a student tried to butter me up, showing me his joined stool (nice work, Larry)
The 2nd day we met at the yard where we’ve been splitting the logs into parts. Time for the students to do some heavy work.I kicked it off, a 10′ log, nearly 30″ in diameter. We need lots of oak as you can see, you gotta watch these logs.
the first split in a long one is often tough this view shows its true size – it’s big. marking out panels then split along the dotted lines later we got to some froe work
I guarded the wide panel stock closely. we need panels 11″ and 13″ wide at least
a whole bunch of stinky smelling cars left that site. Back in 6 weeks for round 3
This weekend we worked on the joined chest project at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ll write a post about it tomorrow, but in the aftermath of that weekend, I had a few wide oak panels to rive out for planing this week. As they were busted from the log, they were grossly thick for one panel, but most were too thin at the inside edge for two. This calls for some tricky froe-work.
these bolts were 22″ long or so. and in this photo, just over 13″ wide. This one was thick enough to split in two, one panel might come out just narrower than 12″ = once I hew & plane them, they’ll be in the range of 3/4″ thick.
The others weren’t quite the same original thickness, so I had to split them off-center. This gets one wide panel, and one narrower panel. It saves wood, saves hewing, and is all-around well worth it. When it works. Below you see I’ve driven the froe in parallel to the wide face, but it doesn’t reach all the way to the inner edge. To split successfully this way requires the straightest grain, and most agreeable oak. This inner, narrow panel will finish about 6″ or 7″ wide.
I did about four of them this afternoon, while unpacking the car & tools from the weekend. Here’s a detail showing a 14″ panel and its 12″ neighbor.
Once I drive the froe into the split, I jam the bolt in the riving brake – I wouldn’t like to attempt this without one. When it goes right, you hear a SNAP when the froe is twisted and the oak breaks free. I’d only try this on short lengths in these widths.
Earlier in the day, look who I found – the redtail hawk from the other day:
If we hadn’t seen him drop down to the ground, we’d never have found him among the beat-down grass –
He caught something there, and we watched him for a while. Then decided to leave him to his brunch… (or her…we don’t know. It is a good size bird, might be female…doesn’t really matter, to me anyway.)
Later, a kestrel, lousy photo though. Can’t get anywhere near them.
ditto for a bluebird.
But almost every year about this time, I photograph & post a picture of a snipe. Usually I pair it with photos of the hinges I use for boxes and chests. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/ (Ahh, that post was from Dec, but I found photos of snipe from April 5, 2013. everything is late this year)
Maureen found this one (then a 2nd one) right in front of us in the blind at the Audubon place where we were walking…
Two snipes. they blend in more than the hawk did.
New DVD from Lie-Nielsen – showing how I carve wooden spoons. Knife, hatchet, hook knife – fresh hardwoods. All fun stuff. Details here:
Often when choosing a subject for the blog, I sound like a broken record (we can use that expression now, because people are using vinyl again) – spoons, carved oak, chests, boxes, chairs. Birds. After 7 years, it’s pretty rare when I have a woodworking project that I haven’t covered before on the blog. I tend to make the same things over & over. Mostly. But I know I haven’t made one of these cupboards in all that time, so here goes nothing. These are simple affairs; a combination of a carcass like a six-board chest, but with a joined front. Here’s one I did 12 years ago, when we worked on PBS’ Colonial House.
For the new one, I had worked the oak frame up last week, then took it to the shop to saw out & fit the pine ends, shelves and back. I have some nice wide pine boards to use, here I’m ripping the sapwood off, to bring it down to 18″ wide. I tend to do ripping like this, at the workbench, upright. 2 hands. Easy to see my line this way, and I like not being hunched over.
then I marked out the cut-outs for the feet. These are just based on looking at several board chests, but aren’t specific copies of any one foot pattern.
The resulting end board.
This photo goes backwards in time; I’m rabbeting the inside face of the front stile, to insert the edge of the end board. This cupboard will have a central door, opening on wooden pintle hinges. Here’s the mortise for a muntin; and to the left of it, a hole bored for the pintle the door will swing on. To the right, a panel groove.
The other muntin with a rabbet planed in it, to stop the door from swinging into the cupboard.
I cut notches in the inside faces of the ends, for shelves at the bottom & halfway up the height of the cupboard. I rarely make these, so don’t have a router plane. I just make two saw kerfs, and pare out between them with a chisel. You can see I lean the chisel this way & that, to come down to the saw kerf, then I’ll remove the peaked middle. Not as neat as a router plane…
Here’s the cupboard front and one end leaning side by side while I worked on the other end.
Then I bored pilot holes, and nailed the front to the edges of the ends. You can either assemble the front frame around the door, or insert the door afterwards. Because I haven’t made the door yet, I chose option B. All in all, a little bit of joinery, a few rabbets, and a bunch of stout nails.
Later today I got the shelves in, and cut out the board for the top. I’ve had to change the way the back will fit, because I cut one shelf 1″ too short! So had to switch some stock around. I had zero extra pine boards. Friday and next week I’ll finish this up & show you what happened.
Saw a book at the library the other day – Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do – but I didn’t take it home. I already know I like living within sight of the water.Looking down the Jones River
As an added bonus, the borrowed shop I’m using has a water view as well. As you might know, I had a great time this winter. But…I’m not sad to see it going away now…today was the first day I could sit outside and feel warm enough in just a sweater. So I sat by the edge of Town Brook and ate my lunch. And watched the water.Up the Town Brook
For ten minutes, I was transported. I was Huck Finn, drifting down his Mississippi. Then I was Henry David Thoreau, philosophizing beside Walden Pond. I heard Garcia singing Brokedown Palace. I was that red-tail hawk, floating above the Brook…then I was me, thinking of the Jones River at home…was the tide low or high?that way to the sea
Then an emergency vehicle came screaming down the road, my reverie was snapped. Water view or not, it was time to go back to work. But it sure was a great ten minutes.
I took today off, which means I only did woodworking for half the day so far. A few things rambling around during the last week. We made it out to the beach the other day for the first time since the winter hit hard.
The usual beach-combing, sand-building, and scenery-viewing. Then on the walk back, Daniel noticed this skull. I put the keys in the shot for scale.
My what lovely teeth you had…really small, but fierce teeth. I woulda brought it home for the skull & bones collection, but it was still fleshy in places…
Saw this in the yard today, it was cause for excitement.
The view up the river, no ice.
I finished this bowl yesterday & today. Mostly finished, I’ll carved some stuff along its rim. Butternut, (Juglans cinerea)
Here’s one way I hold it for final shaping of the rims’ edge. Just some scrap blocks inside the bowl, to keep the vise from pressing against the upper edge.
Like the spoons, I lean towards odd-ball shapes. This one’s a bent limb, which results in the pith being off-center. So I made the centerline of the bowl ever further out-of-whack. That results in some unusual shapes. Which can be good, or can be fatal. Worked this time, I think.
If you are at all interested in hewing bowls, two things. I’m teaching it this August at Lie-Nielsen, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/71
and otherwise, you might if you haven’t already look at Dave Fisher’s new blog about his carvings. Dave’s stuff is really inspiring. https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/
One other Lie-Nielsen thing – we have decided to try something new(ish) for my carving class this June. Usually we rive and plane some oak, and carve patterns based on the 17th-century stuff. This time, we’re attempting to carve and assemble a small box.
So instead of riving the stuff, it will be riven & prepped ahead of time. Then we’ll concentrate on carving and cutting & assembling. 2 days – whew. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/61
I’ll be doing the whole-soup-to-nuts version of the carved box at Marc Adams’ school as well as the New English Workshops in England. I’ll write in detail about those workshops later this week.
but I do it with oak all the time. I have three active oak projects going right now. Active means I’m working on them all at once. A couple more are semi-active. Like the desk box, that got back-burner-ed for a video shoot this spring. I’ll save the final assembly for the cameras.
This chest has been around a long time, but it’s going forward now at a regular clip.
Its purpose is to illustrate in the joinery book how to make & fit drawers. Hence, “chest with drawers.” The front is mostly pinned, the sides are test-fitted, I have to finish cutting and fitting the till, and a little more work on the rear frame. Mortises are cut, need to cut the tenons; plow grooves, etc. I’d say this chest is about 8 or 10 hours’ work from final assembly, including the floor. Then comes the drawers. And lid.rear rails & stiles
A related chest with drawers is the model for the joined chest class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ve cut the front frame, and started the carving the other day. It too will have 2 drawers, there are drawer rails not yet fitted in this photo…
I used to like to start the day with large movements, like planing. Then I’d save the carving for late in the day, when I wanted to take it easy. But here in the (walk-out) basement, the light is best early in the morning – so I carved yesterday AM. But it’s a lousy way to begin your day. Too tight a posture. So this carving got left for later. and today I planed and mortised the front rails for the NEXT joinery project!
A cupboard for Plimoth Plantation. This one will have a joined front fitted to a board carcass. No decoration to speak of, other than chamfers, etc. So the opening in the middle is for a door. Below are off-cuts from the panels in this cupboard; 10″ long, they have a limited use. Usually they would just get tossed, but these will get planed to 1/4″ thickness for drawer parts for the desk box. Good use for such wide, flat stuff that is otherwise firewood.
Next week I hope to move all of these over to the shop I’m doing my photography in, and get some good pictures going. Goal is to have the first chest with drawers and the cupboard all assembled this time next week. we’ll see.
I’m back from the first weekend of the chest class – and it went very well. Now I have to plane a slew of oak, like the students were doing all weekend.
But the family took a walk on bare earth today, and heard a bunch of loud crows – kept looking up to see what the trouble was…but it turned out to be right in front of us – this juvenile red tailed hawk, sitting on a fence post. We walked right near it, without spooking it. Here’s when I thought I was really close to it –
then the hawk just wouldn’t be spooked. So we left, and when we turned for home – still there.
closer still. I’ve got close to juvies before – for some reason, there’s times when they don’t care about us.
well there’s a lot going on here, it just doesn’t look it according to the blog. Much of the activity is in my head anyway. Let’s see…recently I’ve been preparing to teach classes, or teaching them. The spoon class at Plymouth CRAFT went very well, at least I think it did. some of the students thought so too. It was a hoppin’ scene, and I’m too out of breath to run it all down. here’s some pictures I swiped from Marie Pelletier who shot a bunch for us. One or two are mine. spoon carving, knitting, sausage-making (well, my shot was cooking some…) and egg-decoration. And lunch. http://plymouthcraft.org/
At the same time as that, I was (with help, thanks to Michael Doherty) prepping material for the upcoming chest-building insanity coming up at Bob Van Dyke’s. I hear today the first 150 or so pieces have been delivered and are ready for students tomorrow to begin planing them. when Roy Underhill & I tried a chest class last summer, we both said within 15 minutes of being underway, “this is nuts” and we’d never do it again. Then Bob called, cooked up his scheme, and the log piece fell into place…so here goes again. Impromptu riving brake:
but all the while, I’ve been thinking about workspaces. it’s 8 or so months since I left my shop at the museum. Luckily I was lent a shop where I can work & shoot photographs for the upcoming book on joinery. That’s a great space, but it’s not mine…
and then the winter struck. I loved it, but one thing that much snow did here was make anything you want to do take longer. So I stuck close to home, and worked at the workbench I have in the basement here. That space is multi-purpose to say the least. Effectively the part I work in amounts to about 7’ x 10’ – with a little extra if I move stuff out of the way…but then it’s in the way for something else. I counted one day – I needed a chisel, and it was 9 steps to the tool chest, 9 steps back. I know I’m not alone in this regard, but it sure is crazy-making.
that’s one reason why there’s been so little on the blog – no room to take decent pictures. Here’s one I shot with an Ipad, of a chest test-fitted. I’d have to go out the window if I had to move quickly. And I had to move stuff just to shoot this with an Ipad!
I’ve been busy with Instagram and Facebook, but to me those aren’t as satisfying as this. to me, this becomes like a journal or record of my work..
but I’m cautiously optimistic that 2015 will change some of that. Sounds like I might be able to build a shop (whoops – not a shop, an “auxiliary building”) – I have more checking to do, but the first round with the town sounded hopeful. I did not tell them what it was for, just a “tool shed”. so in my mind, I’m designing a 12 1/2’ x 16’ building. I already am thinking of what to carve on the frame! I know – “nothing’s for certain, it can always go wrong” – but I said cautiously optimistic.
I always wanted to be this guy:
Or the joiner-equivalent of this British chair maker:
We’ll see how it goes.
Maureen has moved onto Spring, just like today’s calendar. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts lotsa colors…
This September, Jogge Sundqvist will be teaching a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME.. This will fill quickly; I am just posting it so you’ll know. I’ll be there, it’s going to be great. read the details here:
And now for all-too-rare posts with birds – cooper’s hawk in the sycamore tree next door. I saw him chasing a feeder bird on the wing, not usually his M.O. Everyone’s hard up these days.
A great blue heron on the ice on town brook in Plymouth – we have only seen a heron once this winter at home, not sure why. Usually they’re here all the time.
Everybody has to be careful on the ice. He eventually got a medium size rodent and choked it down, but it’s before breakfast here so I will spare us the visuals.
There’s a male wood duck who is fixated on a female mallard at Jenny Pond in Plymouth.
These ducks get fed, so are hideously tame. You can’t usually get near a wood duck in the wild, I can’t anyway. He stuck next to her on every move.
It’s easy to extrapolate all kinds of shallow human traits here = she must be very proud of herself, snagging such a showy male. He’s forever primping to keep up his flashy appearance. But they’re just ducks.
On the way home from Plymouth, I stopped to check on the screech owl. It was a sunny day, I’d be sticking my nose out of the box too if I was him.
At the end of last June, I left my job at Plimoth Plantation. I had been there 20 years, and it was quite a scene for much of that time. I miss having an audience (“sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me…”) and I miss having a shop that’s 16’ x 30’. But a big part of what appealed to me there was my co-workers. We had quite a crew of talent, ideas, execution – it was a very creative place. Over the years, one by one, sometimes in larger clumps, folks left the museum. Finally it was my turn, and things on the outside are great. I get to teach workshops at some of the best woodworking schools going – Roy’s place, Bob Van Dyke’s, formerly at Country Workshops = and beyond.
I was glad to be on my own – no rules, no bosses. Then – an opportunity to join a new non-profit? Out of the frying pan, into the fire? Nah, I jumped at the chance to be involved in Plymouth CRAFT. (Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades) It’s not a woodworking school, it doesn’t exist in space, and it’s still in its infancy. But it’s peopled with many of the craftsmen & women that I worked with at Plimoth. Having been with these people day in and day out, I tend to take them for granted; but their talents are extraordinary. This coming weekend we have several things going on at once –
My spoon carving class has 2 openings, semi-last minute. (my last 2 spoon class openings in the lower 48) If you can make it, I’ll show you how to use an axe, and two knives to make wooden spoons that hopefully will change the way you look at life. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee
Then there’s Denise Lebica’s knitting workshops – I and II. Denise worked in the wardrobe department there for decades; she knows her way around fibers. She & I worked side-by-side for several years, she knows all my jokes by heart. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=learn-to-knit-retreat-part-2
Paula Marcoux’s exploits are too many for me to go into, but her gig at Plymouth CRAFT is all-around top-to-bottom whirlwind. In addition to helping us all get going there at Overbrook House this weekend, after she makes us a lunch that has to be experienced to be believed, Paula will be teaching her class Sausage, Scrapple & Lard – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=sausage-scrapple-lardand me – a vegetarian! The things I do for CRAFT
And if that’s not enough, Martha Sulya is now going to teach some lucky students how to make the Ukrainian decorated eggs that she has astounded us with for years. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=pysanky-ukrainian-egg-decorating If you have read this blog a while, you know I like patterns and decoration – these eggs got it in spades. Everyone who sees them is amazed. This is not some “small-craft-warning” this is the real thing.
Later this spring, Mark Atchison will teach a beginner’s blacksmithing class – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=the-fundamentals-of-blacksmithing-a-traditional-perspective Mark’s work appears on this blog every time I show any iron I work with…his work is great. You won’t see me pounding iron, because I’ve been spoiled by Mark all these years.
We have more planned, me & Rick McKee (blue oak blog – https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/ ) will help students learn some of the intricacies of riving parts right from an oak log… http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards and other classes too. Sign up for the newsletter – Plymouth CRAFT will keep growing. Come join us, you’ll have quite a time. Part of what I like about it is the exposure I get to other crafts, and other craftsmen & women – you start to see all kinds of connections between and across the trades. And you’ll meet some people you might never forget. Fun stuff. There’s some new content on the CRAFT website, look it over when you get a chance. http://plymouthcraft.org/
I’m cleaning & sorting. It’s just awful. I’ll spare you the gory details; but found these photos of an interesting board chest. It was probably 20 years ago I shot these, a few are worth seeing. Here’s the overall chest, pine throughout.
It was made in Plymouth, 1699 (the date is carved on the till lid) – an ordinary enough board chest, with a drawer. The real kicker for me is the mechanism for locking the drawer. Garish color here, but here’s the sleeve with the stick that slides through a hole in the chest floor –
And then engages a related sleeve in the drawer. Amazingly, it’s all there, a rare survivor. Seems like the drawer also was compartmentalized, note the notch in the inside of the drawer front.
Here’s the only detail I have of the decoration on the chest & drawer fronts:
The chest we’re building in class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking had a similar drawer-locking arrangement, so we’ll copy this sort of stick.
I didn’t set out to make this at all. I only saw the original once, back in the early 1990s when I was researching the furniture made in 17th century Braintree, Massachusetts, by William Savell and his sons John & William. But then recently I was given (thanks Michael) some really wide red oak bolts…so I rived & planed up stuff & decided to tackle this form. (10″ high, 22″ wide, and about 16″ deep) I had built one once but I think it had no insides, I forget.
In the photo above, I have test-fitted the fixed top board, it will be trimmed after attaching it with wooden pins. It won’t get installed until the hinges are attached to it. First things first.
Many English boxes are just plain inside, but New England ones often (usually) have a till inside. The Savell shop had tills and drawers inside theirs, even their flat-top boxes like this one, I forget right now if there were drawers under the till nearest the camera:Braintree box interior
It’s a particularly stupid arrangement – if you stuff things in the box, then you can’t pull the drawers out. But it has an obsessive compulsive appeal.
A desk/slant-lid box almost always is divided up inside. This one features two tills, a long open tray in the rear, and four drawers up above. One of the tills, closed – English oak for the till lid:
Same till, open:
The original is missing its drawers, maybe they were cubbies w/o drawers –
but mine will have small oak drawers. I just ordered the dovetail hinges for it, and some curtain rings for the drawer pulls. When I get this far on a new project, I always wish I could make the 2nd one first – just made some trial & error sort of mistakes. Nothing major, but next time….
Now while I wait for the hardware from the blacksmith, I’ll plane up the board for the hinged lid, then I can go back to the joined chests I was making.
Spoons & more for sale here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-baskets-bowls-for-sale-march-2015/
We are getting a real nice slow, heavy snowfall today, covering up the dirty snow that’s been hanging around. I saw a joint stool (22″ high) in the yard the other day, just poking its head out of the snow. Gone again now. Spent a chunk of the morning snow-shoeing, down to the beach at the Bay Farm.
The snow is still pretty deep, that’s a bike rack sticking up beside us here:
I was in the mood that around every corner was a photograph:
I made it out to the beach; the bay was filled with ducks; these are black ducks, but I saw mergansers, long-tailed ducks & who knows what else. Hundreds, I’d say.
Recently, I read the following timely passage from Thoreau’s journal – while the kids had been making tunnels in the snow.
Jan 20, 1857
at Emerson’s this evening, at about 6PM I was called out to see Eddy’s cave in the snow. It was a hole about two and a half feet wide and six feet long, into a drift, a little winding, and he had got a lamp at the inner extremity. I observed, as I approached in a course at right angles with the length of the cave, that the mouth of the cave was lit as if the light were close to it, so that I did not suspect its depth. Indeed, the light of the lamp was remarkably reflected and distributed. The snowy walls were one universal reflector with countless facets. I think that one lamp would light sufficiently a hall built of this material. The snow about the mouth of the cave within had the yellow color of the flame to one approaching, as if the lamp were close to it. We afterward buried the lamp in a little crypt in this snow-drift and walled it in, and found that its light was visible, even in this twilight, through fifteen inches’ thickness of snow. The snow was all aglow with it. If it had been darker, probably it would have been visible through a much greater thickness. But, what was most surprising to me, when Eddy crawled into the extremity of his cave and shouted at the top of his voice, it sounded ridiculously faint, as if he were a quarter of a mile off, but we all of us crawled in by turns, and though our heads were only six feet from those outside, our loudest shouting only amused and surprised them. Apparently the porous snow drank up all the sound. The voice was, in fact, muffled by the surrounding snow walls, and I saw that we might lie in that hole screaming for assistance in vain, while travellers were passing along twenty feet distant. It had the effect of ventrilloquism.So you only need to make a snow house in your yard and pass in hour in it, to realize a good deal of Esquimau life.
Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909) wrote to her father on 22 January 1857 “Mr Thoreau was here night before last and Eddy illuminated his snow cave and called out to us; we couldn’t hear what he said though we were close at the mouth of the cave and Mr Thoreau said ‘Speak louder’ so Eddy spoke again and we could hear some very feeble words. Then Mr Thoreau told him to holla as loud as he could, but we hard only very weak squeaks. Then Mr Thoreau was very surprised, as he said he could hardly believe Eddy was calling loud, and he went in himself and shouted and it sounded as if someone was in trouble over the brook near Mr Stow’s. And Edie went in and peeped and that sounded very feeble. Mr Thoreau thought the snow sucked up the sound. Then he said he should like to see how transparent snow was, and we dug into the snow-drift a hole with one side 4 inches thick and one 14 and about 6 inches from the top, then we put the lamp in and walled it up with a block of snow eight inches thick, through the four inches one could see to read, through fourteen the lamp shone bright and shining like a lantern – a Norwegian would think it was a troll-mount. Mr Thoreau was quite delighted and so we all were with our experiments.”
Last night about 6-7pm the kids & I went down near the river to listen to the hootings of two great horned owls. Timeless fun.
March. Hmm… it means two things to me right now. One is turn the page on the Yurt Foundation calendar, the other is to march, get going, quit fooling around. This is the month that my schedule picks up. So rather than just picking up whatever project happens to catch my fancy at any given moment, it’s time to knuckle down and get some stuff done.
I keep shifting back & forth. I have to ignore these spoons in the daylight right now, and get to work on my desk box, and the 2 chests with drawers I have underway. At least by having these spoons roughed out, I can carve them at night.
Spoons and baskets for sale today – here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-baskets-bowls-for-sale-march-2015/
Daylight is for heavier bench work…so the goal for this week is to get the desk box all cut and ready to assemble, then work on cutting joinery and laying out carving for the chest with drawer that’s the focus of my class beginning later this month.
Enough. Here’s details on the 2 classes coming up this month. The first is a 2-day class in spoon carving at Plymouth CRAFT – 2 spaces left they tell me. The class is March 14 & 15 – details here. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee There’s knitting, cooking & egg decorating classes at the same time – http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events
The other class is the first entry in the 5-month “build a chest with drawer” class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. We can squeeze another joiner or two in…If all goes well, I’ll be showing you some of oak for that class tomorrow. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes/29-speciality-weekend-classes/534-build-a-17th-century-joined-chest-with-peter-follansbee.html
and the rest of the schedule is here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015-teaching-schedule/ including two weeks teaching in Olde England – I’ll write about that next week.