I have a few things to write about tonight. First, welcome to the scads of folks who showed up here after Chris wrote his piece about my new career. http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/07/14/peter-follansbee-has-left-the-building/
Just to give you an inkling of what you might find here, my first & foremost specialty is 17th-century carved oak furniture. Like this:
But for quite a few years, I have carved spoons that I learned through Drew Langsner, Jogge & Wille Sundqvist. In recent years, the spoons have taken off – for which I am quite grateful. Expect many spoon posts here; and a DVD soon.
And then there’s the new/old directions; the wood carrier posted recently is a good example of the sort of thing I hope to be making from time to time that has been on a back burner for 20 years! http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/i-knew-i-shoulda-made-2/
And baskets like this too:
Soon, I will build a dedicated bowl lathe – similar to what we used at the North House Folk School where I was recently a student of Robin Wood’s. I have some cherry bolts just waiting to be turned into bowls. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/bowl-class-tip-of-the-iceberg/
As I said the other day, I’m just back from Lie-Nielsen, and just about to go back up there for 17th-century style carving. If you want to see where else I’m teaching this year: Lie-Nielsen this weekend, then Roy’s place (that one’s full, I think.) Heartwood in Massachusetts, and Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. here’s the link - http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014-workshop-schedule/
But today it rained, so stupid me thought I’d get the “making a living” bit rolling. So I spent an inordinate amount of time fiddling around with creating an Etsy site. I’m not completely sold on the idea, but will try it a while. When I have sold spoons here on the blog, the clunky way I set it up resulted in me spending more time at the desk & computer than hewing & carving. So this is my first attempt to change that. Right now, it’s just what boxes and stools I have left around the house. I’ll add spoons and hewn bowls next week. So if you’ve been waiting for the spoons, here’s your notice – say Monday afternoon. Here’s what I got with making the site – how come 10-yr olds can do this & I struggled with it?
Sidan eg har brukt mykje tid på å lære meg å løype never og tekkje med never og torv, prøvar eg å få praktisert litt kvart år. Denne sommaren arbeider eg med andre del av tekkinga på taket på det gamle våningshuset på Grytøy bygdetun. Grytøya er ei øy i Harstad kommune i Troms og ligg nord for Hinnøya. Bygdetunet har ei omfattande samling av gjenstandar og eg har nytta høvet til å fotografere denne høvelbenken som er ein av desse. Eg har ikkje funne noko informasjon om kor benken kjem frå eller kven som har brukt han. Eg går ut frå at han har vore brukt på Grytøya og at han er frå ein av gardane der.
Høvelbenken er av tilsvarande type som høvelbenken frå Holstvollen i Bymarka i Trondheim som Thor Aage tidlegare har skrive om. Også høvelbenken frå Li i Suldal er ganske lik i uforminga, men manglar baktange og rekka med hakehol. Ein vesentleg forskjell er at benken på Grytøya har høvelbenkskuff. Denne kan kanskje vere ei modifisering av ein eldre benk som har vore veldig lik benken frå Holstvollen. Dette er altså ein type benk som går att ulike stader i landet i ulike versjonar. Det vanlege er å finne desse utan understell så det er vanskeleg å seie korleis slike understell har sett ut eller kor høge benkane har vore.
Arkivert under:1,8 - 2 meter, Framtang med skrue, Hjulmakarbenk
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a 90 minute documentary film produced in 2010 by Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov. It follows the life of some trappers and villagers from the village of Bakhtia, along the Yenisei River, in the Siberian Taiga.
Siberia is a land mass that composes most of eastern Russia, and is larger than the size of the United States. It is largely forested, and life in much of the area has not changed much in over a hundred years. Many of the ways they sustain their lives is very similar to the ways we saw Dick Proenneke live in the documentary about his life, Alone in the Wilderness.
You may remember from a few years back on this blog, I wrote a pretty detailed account about Dick Proenneke and his adventures in Sustenance Woodworking with Hand Tools. The post is titled; The Craftsmanship of Dick Proenneke.
Dick moved to a remote region of Alaska, in the Lake Clark Wilderness and built his cabin in the late 1960′s. He developed a homesite for himself at Twin Lakes, beginning with a Cabin, Shed and Cache, and branched out from there as a naturalist, filmmaker and rather prolific daily journal writer.
Happy People is about the lives of a village of woodsmen and trappers who live by the seasons, doing whats in front of them. One of the main characters in the 90 minute documentary, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a man named Genadi Soloyjev.
Genadi shares with us his story of becoming a trapper in Siberia in the early 1970′s and his philosophical understandings about a Sustenance Lifestyle. He speaks at great length about woodworking and the antiquity of what is known and understood about working wood. We get to watch as he works while visiting with us, adeptly performing the work he needs to accomplish.
We learn of how he feels about the tools of this work, the skill, and the craftsmanship. We watch as Genadi shows us his skills with an axe, maul and wedge. The axe is and has obviously been a tool of his lifestyle for years, and he wields it as if he were simply pointing a finger.
I have to admit, this is one of the better documentaries I have seen in a long time. Not many documentaries produced lately are as absorbingly informative, while at the same time relaxing as I found this documentary to be.
My grandparents were from an older generation and lived long lives. I got to see and learn a lot of these sorts of tasks when I was young. They had much to do and did what needed done. They didn’t over-think the methods, but went with what they had once been shown to do, and those methods worked great. Still do. My folks came up learning this and in many ways, it was passed on. I remember similar philosophies shared with me when I was young, and so much of Genadi shared as he spoke was familiar to me.
Genadi shares some of these philosophies with his son as we watch, while admonishing in a mentoring way what will happen if we do not observe the nature of the wood itself. In another woodworking moment, Genadi shares a stream of philosophical thought that I’d like to share:
“As they say, you can take away anything from a man. His health and wealth and such like, but you can’t take away his craftsman skills. Once you learn a trade, you’ll always know your trade for the rest of your life. You agree?”
“Naturally, you pick up things from others as you go along – A bit here, a bit there, add your own improvements. You gotta see something – someones gotta tell you something. And you know, you can’t reinvent the bicycle. All these techniques have been invented long before your time, honed to perfection over the centuries.”
I feel it is worth 90 minutes of your time when you can sit and have a look. Please enjoy! Full screen capability and english narration is available.
Photo Credits: Happy People: A Year in the Taiga.
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At the Lie-Nielsen open house last weekend, luthier Patrick Sebrey, of Union, Maine, brought along a clever maple guitar stand on which he put the finishing touches during the two days of technique and tool demos. At first glance, I thought the piece was a musical instrument — perhaps a variation on a harp — thanks to the tuning keys and strings. But Patrick showed me how the thin, curve […]
This is brand-new today, and you can see it here.
Probably several changes to lay-out and format in the next few weeks. I am accustomed to making frequent, minor updates to the web-page, but this will probably require a bit more attention. And I have no idea how it will look on others' browsers.
It's really a guess on my part. By far, most of my business since 1996 has been local, walk-in, personal referral. Times change. It could be interesting.
Tangentially related, and because I like to see images on blog-posts, here's the neck attached to the body of my newest pochette.
I had intended to cut normal f-holes into this one, but no matter how I drew them, I didn't like them. Seemed busy. I was suddenly inspired by the Norwegian ale-bowl horsehead scroll to cut soundholes shaped like longboats. Another guess on my part. But it's just a fiddle.
A have a new post on Basque workbenches on my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine. Check out the unusual face vise.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
I’ve been podcasting in one form or another for over 8 years, and in that time I’ve seen plenty of shows (both woodworking related and otherwise) come and go.
I always tell the story that Matt’s Basement Workshop started for one simple reason, because there was nothing in the podcast directories that focused on woodworking and I couldn’t imagine I was the only one wishing there was something out there.
So I set out with a toy microphone plugged into my computer and recorded my first show, never imagining it would go any further than a couple of episodes.
I have to admit I’m slightly embarrassed to be called the “Podfather” simply because in my mind that title implies somehow I had something to do with the creation of the whole genre of media we now know as podcasting.
When in fact the only thing I did that could be considered “innovative” or “pioneering” was that I was one of the first people to imagine woodworking could be shared in a podcast format.
As an aside: my biggest inspiration to start podcasting wasn’t a woodworker at all, in fact he was a pilot and an ex-MTv VJ. The man I call the “Podfather” is Adam Curry.
Here’s another little known trivia tidbit for you. At the time, Adam would frequently wish his audience good luck by wishing them “Tail winds.” Why “tail winds?” Because according to Adam that’s one thing pilots like having, a tail wind to help push them along and make their flight smoother and less complicated. So frequently when listeners would send emails or voicemail into his show “Daily Source Code” they would wish him “tail winds” at the end.
Eventually Adam asked if it was possible for non-pilots to come up with their own sign-off, incorporating something of their own passion into it. Immediately I thought of the two things I wish every board I worked with had…“Straight-grains.” Then I thought about how useless those straight-grains would be without “sharp-blades.” The result was what you hear today, all thanks to Adam Curry’s request.
I’ll be the first to admit Matt’s Basement Workshop is not the highest quality show or that you learn a ton of useful information from it. But then again, I never intended it to go as far as it has.
In fact, a question I get asked periodically is if I ever see a day when I’ll stop producing the show? At this point I know someday I’ll retire, but I have too much to learn and too much to share as I learn it.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know? Perhaps it has to do with all those times I’ve been asked “how” to get a show up and running. How many times I’ve tried to help someone with all the little behind the scenes things that go into producing content and getting it out in front of an audience.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve seen a lot of shows come and go, and I can honestly say I’ve probably helped quite a few fledgling podcasters by offering some very basic advice on getting started.
I’ve toyed with this idea for a longtime now and I finally figured it was time to take the plunge and share some of my own experiences with podcasting.
I don’t expect it to be a “how-to” series of posts that tell you all the does and don’ts, but simply me once again, sharing my own experiences with the craft. So over the next, however many posts I write on this topic, I’ll share some history of the show and how I produce it.
Topics will range from equipment, to hosting services, to maybe even episode inspiration. I’ll share with you all the things I’ve learned, and maybe even some of the things I’ve forgotten too.
Is it a topic everyone will be interested in learning about? Probably not! But you never know who’ll read the posts and then become the next big podcasting sensation. Then I’ll be even closer to retirement and able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor.
Take one leg vise. Rotate it 90°. Now you have a Basque face vise. Woodworker Matt Talley is working in France right now. And during his free time he is hunting down workbenches in the Southern France/Basque region. He’s posted photos of some of his interesting finds at his web site here. I’ve been poring over his photos and found lots of interesting details (the bolted-on dog strip, for one) […]
Popular Woodworking Magazine is revving up its online classes. I have recently participated in adding a class on “Fan Carving” which will go live towards the end of July. This design is that simple, yet elegant pattern that is often seen in highboys, chairs, and I have often had requests to carve this on fireplace mantels.
This class shows how to lay out the design, how to carve the curved edge decoration, and how to round over the individual fan segments – focusing on carving in the correct grain direction. Quite often, these are carved where the center of the fan slopes deeper, but this lesson shows the process of carving the design into a flat board – which actually gives you a lot more flexibility of where you can put this. It also requires minimal wood preparation.
Once you learn the technique of carving this fan, you can adjust the design by adding more segments, carving it deeper, changing the size, etc. The options are endless!
Woodworker Cory Mickelson has started an excellent new podcast series that is definitely worth subscribing to if you are interested in woodworking and making money at it.
Already Mickelson has interviewed William Ng, Shannon Rogers, Ron Riedel and myself on how we built our woodworking businesses. Viewing craftsmanship through the lens of commerce is a fascinating topic and you get to learn a lot about the people besides “Shannon likes hand tools” and “William Ng builds Greene & Greene pieces.”
When I listened to my podcast, I was reminded how wiped out I was when Cory interviewed me. I had just finished up a 12-hour day in the shop building a piece for a customer and getting material ready for a class. That, of course, is how we keep things going at Lost Art Press and the topic comes up during the interview.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
"Between 2001 and 2012, 63,300 American factories closed their door and five million American factory jobs went away. During the same time, China's manufacturing base ballooned to the tune of 14.1 million new jobs." Beth Macy - "Factory Man"
I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of Beth Macy's new book "Factory Man". It's a compelling read about how the American furniture industry developed in the twentienth century only to collapse in the face of Asian imports.
The first half of the book is about the rise of the Southern furniture industry, and how, beginning in 1902, the Bassett family turned forests of Southern trees into the largest furniture company in the country, decimating the Great Lakes manufacturers of the 19th century in the process. We read about John Bassett, his family, his factory town, Southern class structure, the ins and outs of "good ol' boy" competition, and of course some family scandals. It's absorbing, wonderfully researched, and a great read. Beth Macy really knows how to write.
It's the second part of the book where things get ugly. Beginning in the 1990's Asian imports decimated the American furniture industry and company after company either folded, or closed their factories in favor of importing. At this time retailers, especially the big ones, dropped American makers and started buying directly from Asia, mostly China. By this time John Bassett III, had parted ways with the original family firm and went on to head Vaughan Bassett, a company founded by relatives back in 1919.
JBIII as he is called in the book, realized that if retailers imported directly, being middleman had no future, and at least some of the Chinese furniture was being sold as such a cheap price that, even taking into account the low wages in China, prices were below cost and the Chinese companies were dumping goods to destroy the American furniture industry (which they largely did). JBII did four things: He was forced to close a lot of his factories, He modernized the factories remaining with the latest equipment, He began offering faster delivery and more customization, and finally, sought protection from the ITC from the dumping. The details of what he did and the opposition and challenges he ran into make for riveting reading. It was clear from the start that the Chinese makers were dumping, but opposition by lobbyists on their payroll, retailers who liked the cheaper stuff, and pundits who deemed globalization inevitable was fierce and not necessarily wrong. It's even a fair question to ask at the end of the book: What was more important to the survival of the company? Government tariffs, or changing the way the company did business. Macy has the knack of showing how a personal story with real people fits into the larger picture of a company and an industry.
This book is not about furniture - it's about the furniture industry. It's about business and very much so how business decisions and trends effect the lives of actual people. Whether you are JBIII trying to protect both the livelihoods of others and your personal fortune, or one of the many employees of Bassett that are profiled in the book and lost their jobs in one factory closing or another, this book is about globalization from a actual people standpoint.
If you run a custom cabinet shop you will be interested to know that the trend of these large companies is to use their close proximity to customers and advanced machinery to become more and more like a custom manufacturer. As an aside Macy mentions one furniture factory that, not being able to complete in furniture, began selling custom drawers to custom cabinet shops. Sound familiar? I know many cabinet shops that outsource drawers and other assemblies to companies like that.
The one flaw in the book is that Macy doesn't include any pictures of the furniture that Bassett and Vaughn Bassett made. These days Vaughan Bassett sell only American made furniture, and you can check out their website here.
As for the book we don't stock it - but Barnes and Nobles does. Even better buy it from your local independent bookseller. This is a Hachette book so Amazon promises delivery in 3-6 weeks so don't get it from them.
Even my little niche of a “hardware store” the barn is beginning to look like there is a guiding organization involved. As a huge fan of Friederich Hayek and his mentor, Ludwig von Mises, it delights me any time order is emergent!
I have a few more parts cabinets to place there in the coming days, but I am not displeased at the progress thus far.
A few days ago I purchased a ½” wood rabbeting plane from Ebay. The item looked to be in good condition from the photos, the seller had an excellent reputation as far as Ebay is concerned, and the offer of $45.00 and free shipping I felt was very reasonable, so I took a chance and ordered it. The plane arrived last night-FYI in just 2 days-and has thus far exceeded my expectations. The plane is clean with no rust, the depth stop works smoothly, and most importantly, the iron is in fantastic shape at first glance. Though the iron looks like it hasn’t been sharpened in some time, it is clean and the edge is very straight. I am just guessing, but I think that whomever originally owned the plane only sharpened using a stone and not a grinding wheel of any kind. I’m not a fan of grinding wheels for sharpening, so to me that is a big plus.
I don’t know much about wood plane rehab, but I plan on giving the iron a good honing, removing the depth stop and cleaning it with Brasso, and giving the body a light cleaning with mineral spirits, followed by a coat of linseed oil and a few coats of wax. I checked the sole and found it very flat, so I will not touch it unless I notice a problem during use.
I purchased the plane because I like wooden planes, and because I would like to start making rabbets by hand when possible, in particular when it is only a small section. So this is basically just an experiment, and one I don’t feel badly in attempting because at worst it will only have cost me $45.00. I saw some nice deals on other planes as well and if all goes well I’ll order another. Funny, though I am hardly a traditionalist I seem to like wood planes better. I have no explanation, other than the fact that I like them. Who knew?