In the process of answering the question on pointed router cutters we continued on to undo any misunderstandings surrounding these essential planes. The plane remains one of the most essential tools for hand tool woodworkers and woodworking. The poor man’s router of course leaves you fully equipped should you need one not costing a fortune and not own one, but adjustability of depth of cut provides an added advantage and of course it’s often here that legalists try to lay down the law with regards to which one everyone should buy. I looked through my routers and counted around 20 before I stopped. The school itself takes up half of those so I don’t feel bad at all. I have bronze ones and brass ones, Preston and Tyzaks, Records and Stanleys and then wooden home mades and manufactured wooden ones made by planemakers of the past. Some you tweak-pinch with your fingertips and tighten with brass wing nuts and then others have micro-adjusters with screw stems and knurled nuts. Those I don’t own I have used at some point or at least tried. Fact is, I love router planes and can’t imagine life without them.
Modern makers have for the main part taken the basic shape of the old Stanley #71 and might be forgiven for then distancing themselves from creating an actual copy by changing some small features. The footprints of almost all the cast and engineered models is almost identical in shape and size and thereby are essentially the same as the old Stanley #71 and the Record #071. I have not found tighter tolerances in engineering to be of any great advantage, in fact, oftentimes the ‘stuck’ factor can be a little annoying and this is often due to those diminished margins. It’s a small thing to take a file and fettle whatever’s needed. One router I like the most is the Preston router of old, which was also made for a few years by Tyzak. I like the extra size of the platen and the positioning and overall height of the knobs, which gives optimal inline thrust directly at beside and at cutting iron level. That’s not too helpful because the prices have gone through the roof on eBay and anyone in bronze casting could make good money if they were to take that plane and replicate it. As can be seen here, almost all of the metal cast routers old and new use the Stanley mechanism which is a screw-threaded adjusting screw (C) that stands up from the cutter post (D) that then holds a knurled adjusting screw (C). Depending on the maker, the adjusting screw fits into a recess in the cutter (N) that lifts and lowers the cutting iron to the depth needed. A collar surrounding the whole assembly locks the iron to the cutter post. Dead simple and very effective. Until you get used to all metal routers they can seem a little awkward and especially so when it comes to loading the cutting iron into the collar and locating it into the screw nut adjuster, but you get used to it and so you load it more readily.
The Preston router presents the cutter to the wood from a square shank facing squarely to the work forward and so too both of the Lie Nielsen routers. More clearly, the stem of the cutter is square on and slots into vertical, forward-facing channels in the cutter post. This works fine as long as there is no slop in the engineering and of course Lie Nielsen are known for their tight engineering tolerances in making tools. My Tyzak has a little lateral play in the channel and though when locked it is immoveable, I must be conscious not to allow the cutter to misalign to the sole as this leads to slight steps in recesses I might be cutting as I move the plane across from side to side cuts. For dadoes this would generally be fine, but for inlays and such, where unevenness telegraphs through the thin veneer, it would not be acceptable. This leads me to a development in the Stanley version I think many might not see or understand at first glance. Veritas saw it and adopted it in their design. The cutting irons in the Record and Stanley models presents the stem of the cutter at 45-degrees and the advantage of this is the automatic locking of the corner of the cutter into a channel that always ensures a vertical alignment of the stem and thereby guarantees that the underside of the cutting iron, when sharpened accurately, aligns parallel to the sole of the plane. In the same way as fettling a regular plane iron or chisel needs flattening and polishing out only once, so too the cutter for the router. Any subsequent sharpening is usually done on the bevel alone. Working the bevel evenly and carefully presents the cutting iron parallel to the surface and it’s here that I would stress the value of taking care not to tilt the iron on the bevel as this alters the alignment of the very cutting edge in its presentation to the surface of the wood.
It stands to reason that you cannot present the cutter to the work without a relief on the underside of the cutter. If the underside were level it would ride the surface of the wood. Stanley and Record have quite an angle here. Others are less.
Because of the relief, the front cutting edge of the cutter is affected by the top bevel of the cutter, so too much tilt lifts or lowers one side of the actual cutting edge. If we could present the underside of the cutter squarely and parallel to the underside of the plane to the surface of the wood we could skew all we want and not affect the presentation.
The best way to level the top bevel of the cutter is to start with the underside of the cutter first. Load the cutter into the plane and set the iron as close to level with the sole. We want a fractional protrusion of a thou or so. Though it is not necessary at all, if you are bothered that the surface could be marred, and mine have never been thus affected straight on the abrasive, use masking tape to cover the sole as a barrier if it worries you. Or you could put card stock on the abrasive too.
I now take the plane and place it carefully on the abrasive plate, in this case diamonds, and swivel it lightly on the surface.
The goal is to provide a registration face to the underside of the cutter, just to use the light from abraded steel to act as a guide and not so much to reshape it unless it has been badly shaped before. As soon as the iron traces the abrasive, lift it from the surface and look at the underside of the cutter. A white line should appear on the cutter right by the cutting edge. If the line is narrow and parallel, the cutter is aligned well and presented correctly and all further sharpening and remedial work can be carried out. Notice in the picture above that the white lines of abraded metal reflect out of squareness in two directions. The actual cutting edge and the new minor bevel we created. This means that somewhere between these two lines is the square across point we want to abrade to.
Placing the underside on the abrasive will now flatten the surface dead flat and this can be polished out to say 800-grit.
Now it’s looking square.
Once this is done you must work on the top bevel only and it will not usually be necessary to work on the underside ever again. The top bevel is always awkward but holding the blade sideways and rubbing the bevel along the abrasive plate now refines the bevel and you can sharpen to any level you prefer. Most router work can be finished at 800-grit even for the finest work.
Testing out after this work is simply a question of working it on the surface if the wood.
Adjustment by adjusters and tap tapping
With regards to mechanical adjusters, it is always assumed that improved engineering and mechanical adjusters improved our lot, but more and more my experience has proven this not be true.
Mechanical threads do ease adjustment but pinched adjustment on some more primitive routers work just fine too.
You can pinch to a thou easily and in actuality I find they are equal to more elaborate routers.
The router referred to disparagingly as the ‘old woman’s tooth’ or ‘hag’s tooth’ is a router that houses a plough plane iron instead of a purpose made shoe-type cutting iron. Above is the one I first used as an apprentice and through my journeyman years. They work fine but rarely give the type of clean surface we might want for veneer inlay and so on. These are adjusted by the same hammer-tap tapping method used generally on wooden-bodied planes on the iron or plane body. These too are effective and practical in general carpentry and joinery.
I have, inexplicably, received several questions over the weekend about cutting really big dovetails for workbenches, such as on a tail vise. That’s weird, given that most bench questions I get are about what kind of wood to use (whatcha got? use it), and how the LVL top is holding up (quite splendidly, but I’d not use LVL for a base again). Not to mention, we’ve not published a bench […]
Recently I was asked if I was ready to wash my hands of the Studley project, both the manuscript for the book VIRTUOSO and the upcoming Studley exhibit next May. I had to think for a minute, because the truth is I am a bit weary from the pace of working around the homestead, wrapping up Roubo 2, and completing the Studley manuscript and making all the plans and arrangements for the exhibit.
But no, I am not tired of H.O. Studley. How can you get tired of contemplating and exploring things like this?
Late last week the printers delivered the updated Split Top Roubo plans (they are beautiful) and we uploaded several updates to our downloads page. Here are the details.
Glide M/C Instructions and Crisscross instructions (click any of these for direct download)
As before, the installation instructions for the Glide M/C is the same document as the Crisscross instructions. We've updated the instructions and made clarifications to the templates (really just measured drawings) so those building a Split Top Roubo according the plans aren't confused by additional measured drawings at the end of the instructions.
Split Top Roubo Construction Notes
We've rewritten portions of the notes to further clarify the installation of the Crisscross. We've also added pictures of the new Glide M in a bench. Previous pictures showing the bench with a single-knob Glide are still there since we know some folks with those vises may have not started their builds.
Split Top Roubo eDrawing
The new eDrawing has also been uploaded for free download at any time. Yes, we get many requests for a Sketchup drawing of our bench. Sketchup is great, and we use it frequently, but the eDrawing serves its purpose allowing one to view the bench in 3d at your computer (the printed plans are what you want in the shop) And one huge feature that the eDrawing has over Sketchup is the ability easily view components as transparent without having to actually assign a transparent material to the component. Simply use the pointer tool, right click on a component and select "make transparent". Very useful to see exactly how everything fits together.
If you're building a Shaker bench, you can use the eDrawing to see how the Crisscross would fit in the "leg" of the Shaker bench. The dimensions will be a little different, but the configuration will be the same.
Why not a slow furniture movement?
An early aphorism I placed in our literature was a quote from John Ruskin: “When we build, let us think that we build forever.”
This is a sentiment I am fully in support of particularly these days when you see a “modern” building go up and 5 years later, they’re replacing the siding on it. There’s quality today for you.
But one of my Mastery students quoted Ruskin in a different way that I think is equally valid. Perhaps you’ll agree:
When we build, let us think that it takes forever.
Weekend projects do seem to take on a half life of their own. Some of mine are decades long now. Sigh. I keep plugging away at it.
Apologies for the abrupt stop in posting the goings on 'round here, but the fact is the goings on have been such that it has not left any time for anything, inclusive of the blog. I've been trying to make amends to an extent by posting photos on Instagram ( which I am still a little unsure about…. ) but I know that doesn't reach everyone.
But I haven't been sitting on my hands. In fact I've been spending almost every waking moment out at the old house at Tylden, removing the termite infested detritus and 60 odd years of terrible additions and repairs and replacing it with a solid frame, new floors, new windows, doors, internal linings, plumbing, roof and the list goes on. The carpentry work being steered by the talented Peter Murphy, who you have probably seen on the blog playing his Uke or guitar, which he plays ( and makes ) with equal measure.
In amongst the works at Tylden, we've had the usual chair, stool, box ( assisted by Brodie Noor - more to follow about this talented person ) and bucket making classes and also a change of school for young Tom, who is now attending Tylden Primary, in readiness for our move into the old house hopefully before the end of the year. The bar and shop too, which are thankfully picking up speed again with the onset of Spring and warmer weather.
Then there's the Lost Trades Fair, which Lisa reminded me just today, is only about 20 weeks away, which may seem a long time, but I know will rush up on us quickly. Applications have been sent out to over double the participants we had at the Fair this year and with the addition of a good handful of kids activities and and other interesting bits and pieces, it's promising to be a great event next year.
So while I can't promise I'll be posting something every few days again, I will ensure that I'll be here more often. But as usual its 1.28AM and time to hit the hay, but stay posted, I'll be back soon.
In the above video I share the special moment when I opened my very first set of Hollows & Rounds molding planes. I want to walk you through the advice that I received on how to choose the right features when buying hollows and rounds.
WHAT ARE HOLLOWS AND ROUNDS?
Hollows and Rounds are molding planes that are used to cut moldings for furniture and architectural elements.
But they are the most pure way of cutting the moldings and the most versatile, because they (along with a rabbet plane) allow you to create and recreate any conceivable shape in the wood.
The below photo shows a “dedicated molding plane” (also called a complex molding plane). It is called “dedicated” because it can only cut one profile. This one is an “ovolo” shape. Hollows and rounds, on the other hand, can cut any shape that you can draw. You just remove one hill and valley at a time from the wood.
HOLLOWS AND ROUNDS SIZES & SETS
Hollows and rounds were made in numbered sets, with each number consisting of two handplanes (a pair). For example, a #12 pair would include one #12 hollow (that cuts 60 degree hills) and one #12 round (that cuts 60 degree valleys):
Every plane cuts 60 degrees of a circle, just a different sized section. Think of pizza slices; a large slice and a tiny slice have the same arc at the top.
A full set of hollows and rounds includes 18 pairs (36 total molding planes…wowzers!) numbered 1-18. My friend Bill Anderson recently purchased his first full set ever:
But most people that get a “set” will get a “half set”, which covers just about anything you would ever need to make. The most common half set is an “even numbered half set.” (pairs 2-18). “odd numbered half sets” are less common (pairs 1-17).
I really wanted an even “matched set”, which is a set that was all in an original set when it was made and didn’t get scattered over the years. But budget-minded woodworkers (good boys) can also purchase a “harlequin” set or a “mixed” set. A set that is all “harlequin” is a set where none of the planes came from the same original set. A “mixed set” contains some plains and pairs that were originally together, and also some “harlequin” planes. But of course, it isn’t necessary to have a matched set like mine. You just have to be careful that a harlequin set of hollows & rounds has an accurate transition because not all plane makers had the exact same sizes.
WHAT SIZES OF HOLLOWS AND ROUNDS TO START WITH?
You can cut a whole lot of moldings with just a few pairs of hollows and rounds. Some experts recommend starting off with one or two pairs that fall inbetween sizes #4-#12. Matt Bickford is one of the few people who currently makes & sells hollows and rounds, and he’s the author or “Mouldings in Practice” (you can buy it here and download a free chapter here). He shared his recommendation here:
“…I often recommend starting with either pairs of 6s and 10s…or 4s and 8s…”.
Here is a video preview of his recent DVD called “Moldings in Practice” (yes, the same name as his book):
I purchased this DVD (from Lie-Nielsen here) and really found it incredibly helpful.
Matt also wrote this article “The Case for Hollows & Rounds” in Popular Woodworking Magazine.
But if you are on a tighter budget (can’t afford $3,750 for his half sets), you should purchase some antique hollows & rounds like me (see links at the bottom were you can find antique sets). But believe me, if I had more money then I would most certainly purchase a crisp new half set from Matt.
WHAT PITCH OF HOLLOWS AND ROUNDS?
The angle at which the iron sits inside the plane, in relation to the horizontal workbench, is called “pitch”. Here are the following pitches that you’ll encounter in hollows and rounds molding planes:
- “Common pitch” (45°): This pitch is like bench planes, and is more suitable for softwoods.
- “York pitch” (50°): Works for woods that are inbetween soft and hard
- “Middle pitch” (55°): ideal for a wider range of hardwoods.
- “Cabinet” or “Half” pitch (60°): Good for very hard and difficult woods.
I followed the recommendation of some friends who suggested that I purchase a set of hollows and rounds that were either “cabinet pitch” or “middle pitch”. Funny enough, my set has 58° pitch, which is right in the center!
HOLLOWS & ROUNDS IRONS: STRAIGHT OR SKEWED?
I purchased my hollows and rounds with skewed irons, because I want to be able to cut profiles all the way around a board (like on a table). But straight across irons also have their strengths. They cut a bit more cleanly when you are cutting along the grain. But I wanted to have more of a hybrid style that could cut both with the grain and across the grain.
CAN YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HOLLOWS & ROUNDS?
If you have the time and interest to make your own hollows and rounds, then you’re in luck! Larry Williams released an excellent DVD called “Making Traditional Side Escapement Planes” which shows how to make hollows and rounds planes. You can purchase it from Lie-Nielsen here. See the preview of the DVD below:
WHERE CAN YOU BUY HOLLOWS & ROUNDS MOLDING PLANES?
Below you’ll find links to the best places to look for hollows and rounds (both sets and pairs), along with links to other resources:
- View antique Hollow & Round molding planes on ebay
- View antique Hollow & Round molding planes at Jim Bode Tools
- View new Hollow & Round molding planes at M.S. Bickford
I hope this has helped! You’ll see my set of hollow & round molding planes in plenty of future videos!CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO JOSHUA’S FUTURE ARTICLES & VIDEOS!
This weekend my wife and I traveled down to Franklin, Tennessee to check out a pop up show called The City Farmhouse Market. If you’re not familiar with a pop up show, it’s basically an antique show where nearly all the vendors specialize in shabby chic decor. While a show like this may be a very boring show for most men, women tend to love it.
We were checking out the show to see if it would be something Anita would be interested doing next year. She was offered to set up a booth this year, but we wanted to scope the show out first to see if it would be worth the effort.
There were plenty of vendors, about 150 in total, but nearly all the booths were the same. Plus the prices for the items were very high. Nothing to buy if you were a picker trying to resell something.
Here is a close up of a particular booth. As you can see, the style is shabby chic to farm-house style. If you subscribe to Country Living magazine, you’ll know all about this style. If you subscribe to Wood magazine, then you probably have no idea what this crap is all about.
During the day, I was able to spot a few old workbenches for sale. I have no idea what people do with these things. The only thing I can think of, is that they could be used as a display table in a small business that’s going after an industrial look. Whether or not people actually sell these things I have no clue. I have seen plenty of them for sale, but I’ve never seen anyone load one up in their truck if you know what I mean.
These workbenches don’t come cheap either. They were $795 and $1,295 and neither one of them came with a BenchCrafted tail vise.
The next day after the show, we decided to head into Nashville on our way home and check out American Picker’s Antique Archeology store. If you watch the History Channel then you’ve probably seen their show. Mike and Frank pick through random people’s property buying items so that they could resell them. I’ve followed the show since the first season and firmly believe that the current seasons are more scripted than actual reality, but that’s another topic for another day.
The store is rather small and filled with more American Picker t-shirts and coffee mugs than antiques they’ve picked for sale. Plus, if it was an item they’ve picked, you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. The place actually reminded me of a gift shop at a Hard Rock Cafe. It’s a very popular stop as the line to get into the store was fifty people long. Luckily we got there 20 minutes before the store opened and were the first customers at the door.
After viewing the items in the store, I bought my $27 t-shirt because I knew I’d never be back. After that, Anita and I headed out of town stopping at antique stores on our way back home.
Last week a coworker asked if he could borrow one of my handplanes to add a back-bevel to a new door he had installed. I figured that my #7 would be the best tool for the job, so I inspected it to make sure the iron was sharp before I lent it out. I noticed that the plane had a bit of a neglected look to it. It was a little dusty, there was some grime on it along with a few spotty patches, and I also noticed that I hadn’t ever cleaned up the handle of the plane like I had planned on doing. The truth was that I hadn’t used it in a while, and it was about time to reintroduce myself to old #7.
My friend returned the plane letting me know that it had worked perfectly, and I gladly took it back, like finding an old friend again. I decided that I would give the plane a good cleaning and work on the handle a little over the weekend, so that’s what I did. On Friday night after work I took the plane apart, removing the tote and handle, the frog, and every screw and washer. I soaked the frog and all of the hardware in WD40. There was quite a bit of grime on the plane, a combination of oil, dirt, and wood dust. So on Saturday morning I filled a bucket with soap and water and gave the plane body a good bath, scrubbing every inch of it with the brush I normally use to clean my car’s tires. Once I was satisfied with the outcome I wiped the plane dry, used some q-tips to clean out any of the threads, and then wiped the entire body with oil.
I used sand blocks on the iron, cap, and chip breaker, removing any build-up and polishing them up. When finished I oiled those parts as well. I let the hardware soak for one more night, and early this morning I cleaned the parts with an old tooth brush, as well as filed away any burs that I could feel. With those parts clean I turned to the plane handle.
The handle didn’t necessarily look all that bad, but I had always planned on getting it back into shape. Firstly, I wiped the handle with lacquer thinner, and found it much dirtier than I had thought it was. Then I hand sanded it with 100/150/220/320 grit paper. I added one heavy coat of boiled linseed oil, wiped off the excess after a few minutes, and then let it dry for about six hours. After it was dry I added a coat of paste wax, letting it set, then buffing it off.
I have to say that I’m very satisfied with the outcome, and I’m glad I took the time to do the clean-up. The only disappointing part is the front knob. When I first purchased the plane the knob was in rough shape, so I removed it and sanded it down, and wiped it with three coats of polyurethane. While it didn’t look awful, it did darken the knob. Next weekend if I get a chance I will see if I can get the same results as I did with the handle.
In other news, Lee Valley was running a limited time offer for a small set of carving chisels, so I bit, spent the $60, and ordered them in. I don’t do much carving, almost none really, but the set seemed to be a good value, and considering that I had only one carving chisel, it would be pretty difficult to become any better at it without the correct tools. The set was advertised as “sharp”, but the really are “not dull”. I don’t own slipstones, so I will have to make do and learn to sharpen them on the fly with what I have. The handles are overly lacquered, and if somebody lit a match near them I wouldn’t be surprised if they went Gaylord Fokker and burst into flames. But, they seem to be very well made, and the steel appears to be of good quality. Furthermore, the chisels arrived just three days after I placed the order. I wouldn’t have cared if they had taken two weeks to come in, but, that quick ship time does show me that Lee Valley has top-notch customer service. I’ve spend many years dealing with tool vendors as part of my job, and Lee Valley has been among the very best of the lot time and time again.
I also picked up some maple and bubinga which I hope to turn into a block plane or two, one for myself and one for a Christmas gift. At that, believe that I have decided on my next project, though I won’t get into any details for fear of jinxing it. I’ll just say that it’s a small, but nice piece of furniture.
I've never been one to engage in the bloodsport that is the handtool-vs-powertool debate. We each come to the craft from a different perspective, with varying objectives, and with specific limitations on our time and budget. I have as much respect for the woodworking Samurai who shapes each mortise with a chisel, as the one who creates the flowing lines of a rocking chair with a keen eye and a bandsaw.
So it was only a matter of time before I embraced the Festool Domino (btw, I get nothing from Festool; I pay their cosmically stated rate on every purchase.)
And while I have no intention of of adding to the long list of breathless reviews for the tool, I have found that it works quite well in my shop where hand and power tools work side by side. I call it my Domino Work Triangle and I think that it is a good system for repetitive tasks such as attaching aprons on small tables, inserting slats in arts and crafts pieces, and constructing rails and stiles in frame and panel construction. You may already take a similar approach for slip-tenon joinery.
1. A Mitre Saw on the Bench
One of the happiest days of my woodworking life was when I exiled the chopsaw from the studio and sent it to the garage. Rough stock is cut to length with an old Disston, surfaced, and then cut to final length on my renovated Stanley mitre box. It rides in the tool tray, has an adjustable stop, and generates a tiny amount of dust. When stock is marked with a knife you can get very accurate, square cuts.
2. A Mitre Plane in a Shoot Board
A truly perfect joint requires that each edge be square and true. As the Domino creates the perfect internal bits of a mortise-and-tenon joint, you are left to focus on creating a perfect fit between the shoulder and its mating piece. Never has a tool that feels like such an indulgence proved to be so necessary. It is astounding. Because it weighs in at something like eight pounds, it glides through 2"x3" white oak end grain with ease. The shoot board attaches to the other end of my handtool bench and doesn't interfere with the mitre box. A few swipes takes me to the knife line.
3. A Domino on a Festool Work Table
In for a penny, in for a pound. With a couple of commissions looming and several ideas for spec pieces in my head, I just didn't feel like building anything else for the shop. I laid out the money for the mft system and I have no regrets. This third leg of the triangle sits to the right of my bench and is light, strong, and provides another dead flat worktop for the Domino. I know Fine Woodworking just did an article about jigs for the Domino, but I just clamp the work to the top and let it rip. Instead of referencing off the top plate, I often use the bottom of the tool riding on the worktop. On small pieces this provides more stability.
It goes without saying that this combination of kit comes at a price. It does save me a great deal of time and allows me to spend most of my mental energy on design and details -- and design and details are reasons why someone commissions a piece of custom furniture. But even if you are just building for yourself, there is something elegant about working with tools that do their jobs well and make your time in the shop successful and rewarding.
Yesterday was one of those days in the shop.
I had a few hours I could devote to woodwork, so I decided I would work on another pipe. As I began shaping it, I went to re-adjust the handscrew that was clamping the workpiece, and the whole thing (wood, pipe stem, and handscrew) fell to the ground, shattering the stem.
Not having time to assemble another stem, I decided to look in on that bit of dogwood I had salvaged a few weeks ago. I figured it would still be wet enough to carve into some woodenware. When I picked it up, however, I found it full of bug holes! So I treated it with some borax and set it aside for something “rustic.”
It’s something I can do quickly and confidently, though not without thinking about it. My tools and materials rarely let me down. This one is pecan–not easy to shape, but very strong and durable in use. This one is a narrow stirring spoon.
It’s all probably just as well. A recent spate of weddings has depleted my stock of wooden spoons, and need to build up my stock again.
What about you? What do you do when disaster strikes in the shop? Do you plow ahead, switch to something else, or just walk away?
The Sunburst fireplace is finally installed and painted. Here are the carvings just after I finished carving it. This was carved in poplar.
Here is the finished fireplace:
Unfortunately the photo is a little small, but it shows the general finished look. The customers are happy!
I’m going to write up my Connecticut trips backwards. The 2nd stop was to a Friday afternoon demo at the Yale University Art Gallery’s Furniture Study. What a spot. Readers and students often want to know where they can see period pieces in person. The Furniture Study is just such a place.
These are the works that are not on display in the museum, but are there specifically for study. Tons of them. Over 1,000 items maybe.
You want to see some Guilford, Connecticut carved oak chests? Why not see 3 of them together – then you get to see what’s common, what’s idiosyncratic…
This one they had pulled out so we could look at it in detail; I have only generally studied Connecticut furniture, so it’s fun to look again at these. They are large, heavy stock – the stiles are over 2″ thick, by close to 4″ wide. Note the side top rail, how it has no relationship to the front one. Most often the top rails are equal in height, but they don’t have to be. The linen is not going to leak out of the chest.
I always refer to these chests as prime examples of the use of a scratch-stock to produce the abbreviated moldings above the panels here. A plane would not be able to get the full profile then blend out and in so quickly. This molding was scraped – we just don’t know what the tool looked like, nor what it was called. I’ve been working lately on carving these designs, they are so simple, but very effective too. Maybe 20 minutes of carving? Notice the nail holes in the panels – not from a now-missing applied molding – the beveled framing means there was no molding applied; so I think it’s to fix the piece to the bench for carving. Didn’t see those when I was there, just picked them out in the photos.
The till lid detail is nice; I usually put the pintle/hinge pin way out on spine of the till lid. Here the joiner shifted it about an inch or more in from the edge. Makes boring the holes for it easier; might make the whole thing simpler. I had done some like this years ago, then forgot it. So next time I make a till for a chest….
It goes on & on. I had wanted to concentrate my carving portion of my demo on these patterns – they are quite simple, but I like the result a lot. Some go for this understated approach to 17th-century carvings; unlike the “every-blessed-surface-carved” approach of my usual inspiration.
Let’s not forget these drawer fronts – always picked on because they show what can happen!
If you are in the area some time, contact the folks there through the website – once you start looking around, you’ll have a hard time leaving. My thanks to the staff there for such a nice visit.