Once you have sawn a great pile of equilateral parallelograms with the jigs from the last post, you need to arrange them into the final pattern. Next post will go through the nuts and bolts of assembling a finished parquetry panel to adhere to a substrate, but for this post I want to diverge for just a few minutes and talk about the pattern layout itself. I feel justified in doing this because I have yet to teach a workshop where everyone does not make some layout mistake that has to be undone, often with great damage to the glued up pattern or at the very least loss of a lot of time and a raised level of frustration.
The key is to remember that in most instances, this exercise included PARQUETRY IS A REPEATED PATTERN. In fact, this simplest exercise is really about a dozen patterns superimposed on each other, and you must be mindful of their construction in order to avoid catastrophic mistakes that might deter you from finishing or continuing.
The pattern Roubo illustrates in the plate above, Figures 4 and 5, is simple and to my aesthetic taste, garish. I prefer to adapt it to my own preferences by using all the same wood for all the lozenges, and establish the shimmering pattern only through the changing grain patterns of the lozenges via laying them out.
The simplest unit of the design is the cubic die. It is repeated ad infinitum until the panel is complete.
All you have to do is make sure you lay out each and every one of them with the grain pattern like this.
Or perhaps more simply, just remember to make it a whorl like this. But in truth, this is like George Costanza getting hypnotized by a poster on the wall of the bathroom. Hopefully you do not proceed only partially robed.
Such would be the risk when you realized suddenly that the dice overlap each other, and your eyes start to spin around. Let’s see if there are other approaches that might help.
Another, second set of patterns is the pinwheel with a center point.
They are simple to lay out, just make sure that each opposing pair of lozenges is aligned to each other and the overall pattern. Like this,
Unfortunately, the pinwheels also overlap each otherand there is the risk of visual confusion. Arrrrgh!
There are a third set of simultaneous patterns at work on the panel that are easy to keep in mind, running always in the background like a security system on your computer. It is the most straightforward pattern set, and this is often where I begin, laying out a horizontal row of lozenges tip-to-tip, each with the same grain orientation.
But, since we are working with a six-sided form, there are two additional complimentary patterns identical to the first one, each of these two off-set by 60-degrees.
So, you can see the advantages of thinking about complex complimentary rows.
If you keep all these things in mind while you are assembling your panel, success is at hand.
I’m a firm believer in re-visiting work after some time has passed. Be it writing or woodworking, a few years allows for a more disinterested judgment. If it holds up, you may be onto something. If not, there may be lessons to learn. About fifteen years ago I began to venture beyond printed plans. I built this little maple table for Barb. Although the joinery was solid, the design – not so much. It’s largely a failure in details that add up to mush to my eye. It began with a nice chunk of bird’s eye maple that I glued up for a top and aprons. I didn’t just do a poor job of joining together pieces for the top (cut from the same board no less), I managed to make them look like they were two different species of maple.
Instead of using a crisp moulding profile for the edge, I settled for a simple round-over that always had a feeling like some rolled out pizza dough. The curved apron patterns were based loosely on some pictures from a book on period furniture but I had no eye for curves and I fell into the mire that plagues so much massed produced “Early American” furniture. It has not the grace of the fine urban originals or the folk of the back country originals. It screams, “ I don’t know Jack about curves!” Finally I topped it of with an oil varnish finish that couldn’t take spilled beverages and hot coffee mugs. Game, set, match.
What is one to do?
Perhaps I can salvage the legs and build Barb another table.
More to come.
George R. Walker
|Marking the shoulders way too fat to be on the safe side|
|Laying out tenons (again with extra for paring later)|
|Began cutting shoulder and tenon cheek|
|Cleaning out mortise of severed tenon fragments|
|Check to see shoulder to shoulder distance|
|Little by little cut shoulder line back|
|Almost close enough to make it fit (still a little long) but the angle is wrong|
|Corrected angle and length between shoulders|
|Hey, it fits now!|
|Pulled it back out and proceeded with pigments, dyes, and shellac, rottenstone, wax, etc.|
|It's the top one (below the crest rail)|
|Detail to compare original stile versus new slat|
|View from behind to compare sheen|
Someone asked me to write about my past works and I am reluctant because I have no decent images of what I made nor pictures of me making what I made. I am a dinosaur from the pre-digital era. If I go back too far, say the 1970’s and 80’s , I have almost no photographs, and the ones I have are now stored in Texas in the USA. In the next lines I will describe making a chest of drawers I made and eventually to a man in Houston. I will describe my doubts and my emotions and try to express something you and others might or might not understand. It’s a series. Too long for one post given my always ever-diminishing time.
This piece is a piece I made and sold to a Houston lawyer; for his boardroom centrepiece. It’s not a large piece, quite diminutive for a Texas lawyer, but it had punch and spoke much about Texas wood so few can ever understand because it’s unlikely they will ever see it or know it as I have. I lived in south Texas when I met two men who were cutting mesquite trees and milling it into boards to sell as rough sawn lumber. These two men built my first USA home for me and were both carpenters cum timber saw millers at weekends. I regularly bought mesquite wood from the two men over the first months when I arrived and one day they came to me bright-eyed with a truckload of “something special.”
It would be hard to describe the wood without you thinking I was exaggerating. I don’t know if I could ever find such quality again. As we stood and examined the woodcut it was as if I invaded their excitement, got caught up in it and found myself twirling with them. I think that it was the first time I had seen two adult men, basically cowboys in the true sense of the word, who for the first time in their lives felt the extreme heights of discovery that was no different than those discovering the redwoods of California or the mahoganies of South America. My hands slipped quietly over the poser covered boards and the intense cat-claw figuring popped and popped and popped in 3D reality as I uncovered the grain beneath. Back then I [paid $2 a board foot for mesquite if it was nice and of course ot was always nice. The rough sawn boards were cut to 1 1/8”, 30” wide and sequence cut through and through. The stack was burl or cat-claw for about 40” long and I could see would yield about half of what I saw in useable wood. They invaded my space and sense of discovery with a swift interjection of, “We want $6 a board foot and there’s 120 board feet here.” $720 was hard to come by for me but we cut a deal of half down and half when I sold whatever I made from it or pay up in full if nothing was sold in six months. It worked. I made 10 meat boards and sold them for a $100 each from the non-usable sections because they “Shure looked purdy” to everyone that came by the studio over the next few weeks.
The wood had been dried in a solar kiln Bobby had and then acclimated in the Texas summer sun under tin. Mesquite is the most forgiving wood for drying there is. No other wood comes close. Distinctive features about mesquite is its canary yellow sapwood against the deep reddish purple brown heartwood. Even the sapwood was very highly figured and I was able to work some stunning centre book-matchings using the sap wood as the jewel in the centre. I have done this many times with this and other woods and it looks quite unique and lovely. Here below are some similar panels I used for the White House cabinets to show what I liked in the formation of panels but the woods shown in no way parallel the quality of what I had down in Uvalde and reagan Wells in Texas.
Mesquite panels made with book-matched centre field and skirted with an oak and ebony frieze and an outer band of mesquite crossbanding.
I continued the acclimation process for about a year under my carport where I stored other woods. it’s a mistake to use such wood too soon after purchase. Seasoning is something we have lost and most people call kiln drying seasoning but that’s really not what it is at all.
The White House pieces I designed and then made for the Permanent Collection in 2009
Often I would sit out in the car port and stare at my boards, pull them apart and stare at them. I didn’t want a commission piece to be made from them, I wanted to design a piece for them. I think the process often goes this way for me. processing the thoughts rather than the wood. making the thoughts fit the wood rather than the other way around. it’s something of a luxury to do this but it allows me to step outside of business and consider wood more than perhaps commission work does. All too often commissions have price limits and deadlines. making some pieces without a sale using wood no one else has ever seen allows a privilege to happen that can never be explained. I don’t say all pieces should be that way. Such things are the laughter and the joy that come periodically in life to separate joy from hardship so that contrast separates us from the monotony and the mundane to create spheres of happiness and to explore those unchartered realms of the unknown. Wood like this, and of course other precious woods are jewels where our mind explores passages over weeks and months until we plumb the depths as best this finite mind can and fathom hitherto unreached and untapped depths before we begin to consider how parts begin to fit together in dimensions of unity you felt but never knew existed. This was what happened when Joseph and I made a voice come from wooden parts in a cello we made. Your mind races as never before and your muscles and sinews flex and twist your arms and legs according to each beat your heart takes and makes and trembles for. The chisel, the plane and saw explore as no machine can ever explore. The rhythm starts like a fast pulse starts to pump and you embrace the straining conditions you might never otherwise embrace. And all the time this happens the wood is still; it just lies motionless, stickered in unconsciousness not knowing the plans you developing and forming shapes by every impulse in your sensing mind.
Drivel Starved Nation!
Welcome to part 2 of my Emma International 2014 Corroboration report. Let the images continue…
This is a good overview of the main grounds. The forges and jewelry making habitats are behind me in the photo. One of the woodworking areas was inside the blue Quonset hut. As you can see, it is perfect for those who don’t expect much, which of course is the perfect setting for expecting much! The trees you see represent two beginnings; the boreal forest is north and ALL of the Great Plains are to the south. in addition, over 99 percent of all mosquitoes on earth live in this clearing…
I know the DSN is a curious bunch and the question I know you want to ask and only I can answer; “Where are the bathrooms?” … As you can see, the doors are clearly marked in a way only appropriate for unbounded creative folks. Little surprises like this are all over the Emma grounds.
It is amazing what you can do with a box cutter and a section of birch tree (they were all over the place – birch trees that is.)
If you wanted to create a team to make something the opportunities were all over the place. In the next few images you will see the very beginnings of a bench being formed with a chain saw…
Whacking the waste…
Of course this goes twice as fast with a little help…
The entire week I marveled at the capabilities of the human spirit and our hands…
On the bus ride to the grounds we were all given a primer on coexisting with black bears. I took this upon myself to do some serious research on bear bathrooms and I found myself wandering in the woods and discovered this tree…
As mentioned in the first installment, the images will all come together in the episode 6.
The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer; there’s simply not time enough for me to track down and link to everything we have written about the Moxon vise, or the many posts on other sites about the same. But I’ve taken a stab at it, because at least once a week, I get a question about the vise – how to build it, its utility, hardware […]
Over the past weekend I was talking to a friend of mine who was interested in putting a workbench in his garage. He’s a handy guy, but he isn’t necessarily looking to be a furniture maker. But, he is interested in a bench that would be useful for general carpentry and possibly some future woodworking. My advice was to pick up some 2×6’s and a sheet of plywood, which he probably is going to do. He then asked if I had any plans that I could email to him. I don’t have any plans for a basic bench, so I told him to check out Amazon for Christopher Schwarz’s first workbench book, or if he could wait I would loan him my copy next time I saw him. After I got off the phone, I went onto the Lost Art Press web page for first time in quite a while and found a few things that surprised me.
Firstly, I was a little surprised that the site did not offer Schwarz’s first workbench book for sale, though I am guessing that the book is likely property of FW Media. But I did read a few of the blog postings, one which was a video of a knock-down workbench that I thought was well done, and quite like the bench that I’ve been wanting to build for myself for the past several months, though I wouldn’t necessarily make a workbench in the knock-down style. Most surprising to me, in a pleasant way, were the comments on the blog posts that I read. There wasn’t one stupid or nasty comment, at least not that I saw.
I stopped reading professional woodworking blogs for several reasons. One good reason is that there are very few professional woodworkers whose thoughts I really want to hear. Case in point would be Paul Sellers. I respect Paul Sellers and I think he is great woodworker, but I’ve read his blog and I really don’t care for it all that much, and I say that with all due respect. But the main reason I stopped reading professional woodworking blogs was because of the comments. A wise man on Twitter once told me to not read the comments on blogs in general. But I think that the comment section of a blog, if done thoughtfully, can really add to the discussion. I personally enjoy most of the comments on this blog, and I do my best to answer every one in a timely fashion.
I’ve found that some woodworking blogs for whatever reason attract a disproportionately large amount of nasty, stupid, rude, and childish comments. Now, I have no issue with a disagreement with the author, but I do believe that if you want to voice your disagreement in what may be a “controversial” fashion it should be done on your own forum and not the author’s. I’m not claiming to be the blog police, I’m not sticking up for a blog author, nor am I telling anybody what to think or say. I am just saying that I don’t care for nasty, stupid comments; they make me want to say even nastier, stupid things.
Some may feel that I am being hypocritical. After all, I’ve let fly with my opinion once or twice here. But, I can say with all honesty that I’ve never gone on another person’s blog and left a rude or nasty comment. I’ve had disagreements, but I never let them get nasty, not even close. In fact, I don’t often comment on most blogs in general, and if I do it is usually positive. If I read something I disagree with I will usually keep it to myself, and if I really have an issue I will write my own blog post about it.
So for the first time in quite a while I found myself happy to have read a professional woodworking blog. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I will be a regular subscriber again, but I can see myself checking it out from time to time. And maybe that will lead me to check out some others that I’ve neglected for quite a while. Stranger things have happened.
One of my more popular videos is titled “No Workbench Needed” where I discuss some solutions for working without a bench. Almost as popular is my “Mobile Workbench” video where I take a tour of my toolbox with a beefy workbench top and bench hooks. Obviously this is a topic that resonates with woodworkers out there.
Of course the great irony to those videos is that I shot both of them atop my massive Roubo workbench.
Its real easy to talk about how a bench with fancy vises isn’t needed when one already has one. Last week I put my money where my mouth is and was faced building a dining table with nothing but a sawhorse and a rickety, screwed together 15×24 table. This was in the garage of my in-law’s house up on the coast of Maine. It was wonderful to work in such a large space with a beautiful view out over the water but the actual work space was nonexistent. It was just a big empty space! When I arrived the bulk of my rough milling was done but I still had quite a bit of work to do and had to get creative. The result was a strong affirmation that where there is a will there is a way…and that saw horses will never go out of style.
I had already glued up 2 20″ panels for the table top and planed them when I arrived in Maine. I still needed to joint and square the edges of these panels and glue them into a single piece top. Each panel is 2x20x75 and quite heavy so how am I supposed to secure them so I can use my jointer plane on the edge? At home I would clamp them up in the leg vise and be off to the races. Here I didn’t have a powerful vise that could take the weight of the panel as well as immobilize it. The saw horse already had a ledge I could rest the panel on that was about the right height and that would take the weight. So I sawed some pieces from the top cross bar of the saw horse to bring that flush with the body. Now my panels could rest on the ledge and be clamped to the saw horse legs and registered firmly. I took those scraps cut off from the saw horse and screwed them to the legs of the table at the same height of the cross piece on the saw horse. Now I secured the panel with some quick clamps and was ready to plane. It worked great but as expected the whole deal was too light and it walked around the floor with every plane stroke. No problem, I just screwed both the horse and the table to the wooden floor. If that’s not possible, consider adding weight or screwing them to a plywood sheet that you then stand on thus adding your own body weight to the mix.
What about Face Planing?
I kept thinking how lucky I was that I had done almost all of the face planing work in my shop at home as I was worried this sawhorse set up wouldn’t cut it. I was wrong. You see actually clamping the work so it won’t move isn’t necessary, you just need to restrain it opposite to the force of the plane. Once I remembered that I was able to just clamp some scraps down to act as battens. Yet another use for those tenon cheek cut offs. Here I’m planing the wedge for the tusk tenon. By working with the long axis of the saw horse I get a more stable surface too. Now for larger surfaces I was able to clamp this same batten down to the table top and then just but the panels up against it while spanning the gap between the table and the saw horse. This worked great until I realized that I had also just build a trestle based for the table and that would work even better as a “workbench”. Funny how the actual piece you are building can also be your workbench!
Like with the face planing I discovered that most of my sawing and planing work for joinery could be done right on top of the table top I had just built. When cutting and planing the breadboard tenons I just clamped the entire top down on its own base and went to work. When I was working on the tusk tenon mortise in the table legs I just clamped the table top down to my saw horse and table and worked on that surface. It really just comes down to planning. Obviously I don’t want to bang up my table top surface after I have already finish planed it, but until then it made a great workbench.
Even without using the actual project as a workbench, a few clamps and a saw horse was all I needed for things like sawing out trestle tenons or chopping mortises into the breadboard ends. Once I had screwed the saw horse to the floor (and the wall) it was immobile and made an outstanding work surface. In fact the splay of the sawhorse legs perfectly angled my trestle for sawing the tenons.
This is just the beginning, throughout the week I continually solved work holding problems as they arose and each time my simple sawhorse and table didn’t flinch. When all else failed, I just laid the workpiece across the horses and sat on it. Sometimes the butt clamp is the best clamp! Another thing is nothing can beat working by natural light. The 2 40 Watt bulbs in this garage basically did nothing and I had them off almost all the time.
Workbenches are awesome, but don’t ever let a lack of one prevent you from working. The can be said for tools. I’ll talk more about that in a future post and how my little tool tote of tools solved every problem I had when a few tools left over.
Now if only my wife would have let me make room in the car for my Mobile Workbench. But then I wouldn’t have had the above learning experience
I don't sell many of these planes which is a surprise as it's the best all rounder, good for smoothing, flattening and for using on the shooting board. It's also a good looker!
Weighing in at 3lbs it feels really nice in the hand.
I changed the front slightly giving it a more rounded feel which I like.
I made the mouths really tight on all three.
One is sold and two are available.
I had been fitting my name plate on the side, the only area that wasn't curved! But I've not been very comfortable with this so I've found a more discreet spot underneath the blade.
(With apologies to Derek Jacobi and his TV series about a Crusader-turned-monk that investigates murders)
I’m ready to start on the Arts & Crafts bookcase, although I’m not ready to buy the expensive, wide quartered white oak sight unseen and have it shipped here. So I’m still noodling on how to get the materials I need for that.
While I’m doing that, I had a couple of ideas I wanted to play with. One is this side table from the Blacker house. I believe there are two different versions of this table, in different sizes, made for the blacker house, one that is scaled to be roughly the size of a side table, and another that was a serving table in the dining room. I need to read through my books to get a petter handle on this. Here is the side table version from the Ari Institute of Chicago. They list the dimensions as 29 7/8 x 36 x 22 1/8 in.
Working form this photograph and dimensions I started building parts in CAD. I’ve been through a couple of revisions, tweaking things to get the scale right. I still don’t have the scale quite right, although I’m getting close.
I think the skirts are too tall still. The legs, currently at 1 5/8″, seemed too big compared to the Thorsen table I recently made. I think they are actually too small in reality. I found a furniture maker in Texas who made a version of this table, and emailed him to get his take on the dimensions. In his version the legs are actually 55mm or 2.165″. The top on his looks out of scale, but the proportions on the base look pretty good to me. His version uses the blacker leg indent detail, I don’t believe the originals had that, but I’m not positive.
I just doodled in some inlay to get a sense of how this might look as a finished piece, the inlay design is still somewhat crude. I’m going to play with this design a little more — I have enough Sapele left for the legs I think…
As many of you know, The History of Wood was my idea of a woodworker version of a comic strip. All of the past ones were written over 20 years ago for a living history newsletter called the Phish Wrap. Almost exactly three years ago I was contacted and asked to write another History of Wood for a memorial copy of the Phish Wrap because a very dear friend who was involved in our group had passed. She was the kindest most loving person I ever knew. Also she was a brilliant woman and had an amazing voice. She and I performed together for many years. While this is not the last History of Wood, this one was written for Anne.
Filed under: Personal Favorites
Som handverkar har eg vore heldig og fått reist mykje rundt om i både Noreg og Sverige og såleis kome over mykje spennande som for meg er utviklande for handverket. Noko av det eg har kome over er blitt dokumentert og registrert på ulike vis. Fotografi er nok det mest vanlege og eit av resultata kan de sjå i bloggposten om Ronghake på Ullaland i Volda. Det er enkelt å ta nokre bilete og mål av den aktuelle tingen slik at ein sjølv kan minnast detaljane. Likevel er det ikkje før eg kan dele bileta med andre at eg kan få tips om tilsvarande spennande ting andre stader. Etter å ha posta om ronghake på bloggen har eg fått fleire tips. Mobiltelefonar med kamera gjer slik deling av bilete veldig lettvindt.
Mest spennande så langt er ei billedmelding på mobiltelefonen frå Peter Brennvik tidleg på sommaren. Biletet frå Peter viste ein ronghake som står i ein høvelbenk på Romsdalsmuseet i Molde. Om ronghakar er sjeldne så er høvelbenkar med spor etter bruk av slike enda sjeldnare. Når ein så finn høvelbenken med tilhøyrande hake så kan det nestan ikkje bli betre? Det måtte i så fall vere om snikkaren som hadde brukt benken var i live og kunne demonstrere bruken og fortelje kva slikt vert kalla lokalt? Eg tok kontakt med Øyvind Vestad som er handverkar på Romsdalsmuseet, i tillegg til at han er høvelentusiast. Han var klar over høvelbenken med ronghaken og rykka raskt ut og fekk tatt nokre bilete og sjekka registreringsopplysningane for meg. Eg har planar om ein tur til Molde i løpet av hausten for å få sett ronghaken sjølv. I påvente av det postar eg med bileta eg fekk frå Øyvind.Høvelbenken med ronghake på Romsdalsmuseet i Molde. Høvelbenken har registreringsnummer R 6061 og ronghaken har R 6096. Dei kjem frå NIls Klauset i Molde. Dei er utstilt i ein snikkarverkstad i eit hus som kjem frå Tresfjord men høyrer ikkje til i det huset. Foto: Øyvind Vestad, Romsdalsmuseet Høvelbenken er ein ganske vanleg type med L-forma baktang og framtang med skruve. Plasseringa av ronghaken stemmer godt med at han er brukt i samband med fotsaging/fussing av emne. Foto: Øyvind Vestad, Romsdalsmuseet Ronghaken er smidd av to delar som er sveisa saman. Sveisen kan sjå ut som elektrisk sveis men det bør undersøkast nærare. Det kan også vere ein reparasjon. I registreinga av haken er det ikkje med noko nemning. Nemninga ronghake er det eg som har lagt på han. Det er på grunnlag av nemninga som Hans Skeidsvoll frå Tresfjord i Møre og Romsdal har skrive i sitt svar på spørjelista om snikkarhandverket til Norsk Folkeminnesamling på 1930-talet. Legg merke til emnet til ein sletthøvel som ligg i skuffa på høvelbenken. Her er det hogd ut for sponrom men ikkje saga ut for kilegang. Det ser ut til at det meste av merking står att på emnet. Denne skal også undersøkast nærare i løpet av hausten. Foto: Øyvind Vestad, Romsdalsmuseet Ronghaken i benken. Her ser ein godt kva vinkel det er på foten som ligg an på emnet. Foto: Øyvind Vestad, Romsdalsmuseet
Eg takkar Peter og Øyvind som er så observante og delar slikt med oss andre. Det går også rykte om at det finnast fleire ronghakar som er lokalisert men ikkje enda fotografert og registrert. Det er sikkert også fleire høvelbenkar med tilsvarande hol for ronghake. Vi er veldig takksame for tips om slikt og skal prøve å få med mest mogleg på bloggen.
Arkivert under:Killingfot / hallfast / ronghake
The Blue Hill peninsula is predictably capricious. My business can be trotting along a normal pace, keeping the backlog maintained at about the same amount all spring and summer. All of the sudden the wind shifts at the end of July and the phone stops ringing. For about four weeks, the weather, seasonal harvesting, etc. are all so perfectly aligned that everyone forgets normal life and goes to the beach. Or their sail boat.
I plod along silently working through my backlog and it isn’t until the end of August that I begin getting slammed with calls. It’s actually pretty hard to get projects through the studio at this time because I am making so many appointments (i.e. on-site assessments). Lots of scheduling of winter work before the seasonals split around Labor Day.
Despite all that I was able to actually get some studio work in yesterday. How novel! I was working on the ribbonback slat that needed to be replaced. The carving is coming along decently. I’ll be fitting the tenons today and coloring and finishing it before the final glue up.
While in the Wangfujing Xinhua Bookstore, which is said to be the largest bookstores in Beijing, I found the section with books on crafts and hobbies. The small green box in the lower left hand corner outlines the woodworking books.
The rest of the books? All on knitting. Figures.
Almost continual rain in London yesterday, but a moment’s clear sky allowed me twenty minutes to do a bit of work. A quick rebate for a floor edge I need to finish on a step in the house. A groove with my Record 044, then the waste hogged out with a Stanley 5 1/2, finishing listening to the hiss of the blade of the Record 042, squaring things up. Lovely.
Basket bottoms. Two of our household baskests; c. 1987-90. The one on the left is a standard item; square bottom, round top. Ash with hickory rims; hickory bark lashing. The one on the right is our colored-pencil basket. Gets lots of use. A rectangular basket, all ash, rims either oak or hickory.
Here’s the bottom of the square one. Typical weave, resulting in openings between the uprights. Probably most splint baskets are like this.
Here’s what I call a “filled” bottom – thin and narrow filler strips woven between the uprights.
The filled bottoms of baskets are made a few different ways. One is to make a round basket, with “spokes” laid out to form the bottom and sides. I do these with 16 uprights; laid out in 2 batches of 8 spokes. Here’s the underside of our laundry basket; showing this spoke bottom from below.
Each upright, or spoke, is cut into an hourglass shape; so its middle section is narrower than its ends. This makes it easier to weave these things all close together. One spoke is cut in 2, down to the middle. This photo shows these first 8 pieces; the one my left hand is on has been cut down the middle to make an odd number of uprights.
I then take a thin, narrow weaver and start to weave these 8 pieces (9 really…) together.
Once the weaver makes a few trips around you get out to the point at which you can add in the next 8 pieces. I add these pieces one at a time, the weaver catches each one in turn and binds it to the section already woven. No need now to split one of these; things are up & running now. Around & around this goes, and you bend things upright after a certain point, to begin to form the basket’s shape.
The other filled bottom is a rectangular (I guess it could be square too, but I always made then rectangles) bottom, with filler strips laid in between the uprights. In this case, there’s 3 different pieces to deal with – the short uprights, the long dittos, and the thinner filler strips. These are just a bit longer than the finished bottom of the basket. So I start with laying the long uprights down, with filler strips between them. Then alternate in the short uprights over & under the previous bits. It gets a little complictated – it’s like when I teach joinery and carving – now for 2 consecutive thoughts, and sometimes 3.
This photo shows the first 3 of each upright, with 2 narrow thin fillers between the long uprights (those that run across this photo horizontally) Then I add in each kind of splint in pairs, the longs/shorts/fillers- as the case might be. I always work out from the center. Easier to keep things even that way. Usually.
I’ve got the polished satin-y finish of the fillers inside the basket – they appear bright white in the photo. Remember, all this stuff is very wet as I weave it.
This is the finished laid-up bottom. Next is to tuck the filler strips in.
I bend them back on themselves, and tuck them under the the 3rd upright -they have to go over the first two because of the weaving pattern. It just is. Then pull it tight, and trim it off just under the upright.
I wove two bottoms like this, then piled up some weaving material; and will re-soak these and weave up the bodies next time I get the basket stuff out. Maybe tomorrow, it’s nice work for a hot day.
One of the things I enjoy about this chair form is that it never gets boring for me (but I don’t think I’ve been bored since age 11). Though this is the 24th Roorkee I’ve built during the last three years, it was still just as fun, thanks to the details I get to experiment with.
I’m on a never-ending quest to improve the hardware kit for this chair, which is featured in “Campaign Furniture,” and this Roorkee shows some of those new bits. I started using knurled brass thumbscrews to hold the arms straps to the back legs (the thumbscrews thread into brass threaded inserts). This allows you to easily take up any slack in the leather arms should you get bovine stretch marks.
I also found a good source for bronze bolts for the chair’s back, plus brass washers and brass nuts with a locking nylon insert. This makes the back bits less likely to loosen up.
Elsewhere, I’ve switched to using antiqued brass roller buckles, which recede into the leather instead of jumping out at you like the bright brass ones I used before.
All the other changes are things that are difficult to notice if you aren’t me. The foot shape is just a little different. And the ends of the tenons are flush with the legs instead of protruding a tad.
But just like the first Roorkee chairs I made, this one sits really well. So it might be time for a beer.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. The complete hardware list for this chair is here.
Filed under: Campaign Furniture