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Issue Four T.O.C. – “Entrusted to Our Care: An Interview with Furniture Conservator Christine Thomson”
Tomorrow the last article of the Issue Four table of contents will be announced. Every weekday until the February 1st opening of Issue Four pre-orders, we've been announcing one article from the table of contents here on the blog. If you have yet to sign up for a yearly subscription, you can do so here.
In producing Issue Four, we were privileged to sit down with furniture conservator Christine Thomson to discuss how conservation theory intersects with her daily shop practice. Christine has been involved in the conservation of historic furniture since her days in college. Her background working for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (Now Historic New England) and Robert Mussey Associates, Inc. prepared her open her own private practice conservation studio in Salem, Mass. Today, Christine and her assistant, Wenda, focus on finish treatments for historically significant objects and collaborate with woodworkers, upholsterers, and metals specialists to offer comprehensive conservation treatments.
Christine’s also very involved in research into period craft methodology. Her fascination with American “japanned” decoration led her to analyze, document, and catalogue every single known surviving example of “japanned” work made in Boston.
In this in-depth interview, Christine discusses some of the ins and outs of conservation principals such as “reversibility” and “minimally invasive treatment”. It is fascinating to see how these lofty ideals play out in the real world of her private practice studio work. In her microscopic analysis of historic surfaces over the years, Christine has discovered original layers of wax finishes, surprisingly brilliant pigments, and early natural resin varnishes. These findings have led her to experiment with wild period varnish recipes – so wild, in fact, that they are too dangerous to mix indoors.
Christine is one fascinating lady. Her winsome articulations of the conservation profession are well worth hearing out.
You can reserve your copy of Issue Four here.
I got home yesterday from my trip to Colonial Williamsburg’s Working Wood in the 18th Century conference. Or was it a symposium? This was the 20th year, quite an accomplishment. I had previously attended in 2007; I was especially pleased to be back. Lots of old friends, lots of familiar faces both on stage and in the audience. I took a few lousy photos, but found many on the facebook site from https://www.facebook.com/CWhistorictrades/ – so I “borrowed” many from them. Go to the link to see their whole pile of photos; they got good ones.
First thing I noticed upon loading my gear into the auditorium was that I had left my green wood billets at home. If there is anyplace you can go & expect to get green wood upon asking, Williamsburg is it. One of the carpenters’ crew found me some white oak that was so good that it needed no hewing when I split it. So I showed the camera just how flat the good stuff is when it splits:
The Williamsburg woodworking crowd; Kaare Loftheim, Bill Pavlak, Ted Boscana, Garland Wood, and my old cohort Brian Weldy all had presentations. Here’s Brian & Bill during the tool chest presentation…
And Kaare Loftheim showing the saw till under the lid of a tool chest the crew worked on several years back:
Ted Boscana and his crew of apprentices went through the steps to make some architectural moldings, including some crown/cornice molding. I didn’t get a shot of it, but there was a great demo of the apprentices pulling Ted through the air as he provided the weight to push down on the plane.
Ken Schwartz, the master blacksmith, led a presentation showing through slides and video how a drawknife and axe were made, then he had members of the coopers’ and wheelwrights’ shops briefly show the tools in use. Here’s a shot showing the axe “bit” and the eye/head:
For me, one great highlight was seeing W. Patrick Edwards’ presentation on Sunday morning.
His introductory story about an abrupt change of career early on in his life made me grin from ear to ear. If you get a chance to see Patrick as a presenter, jump. http://wpatrickedwards.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-risk-of-living-as-process-of-life.html
Don Williams de-mystified finishing on Sunday – (yes, it finished with finishing) – Don made it so accessible that I wanted to try some, instead of my usual cop-out linseed oil. http://donsbarn.com/the-barn/ His demonstration of the winding sticks-with-feet was especially good.
Jane Rees is often a fixture at the Williamsburg conference,and it was great to catch up with her again. So many historic tool questions were diverted from the audience to the stage, then down to the front row with “I don’t know, let’s ask Jane” http://www.reestools.co.uk/books/
Jane understood when she heard I ducked out for half a day to go see eagles on the James River.
and then there was Roy Underhill. Do I have to say anything? Keynote speaker, moderator of a discussion panel, all around helpful schlepping on & off stage, native guide around CW; and poker-of-sacred-cows. When Roy is around, I stick close, because something worth seeing is going to happen.
My presentation was sponsored by EAIA; other sponsors were SAPFM and Fine Woodworking. My thanks to them for helping make it happen.
On any of my southerly trips, I try to get over to see my greatest friends; Heather Neill and her wife Pat. It’s always too much fun in too short a time when we visit. Here’s a sampling of Heather’s work, both painting & writing: http://heatherneill.com/studio-blog/2017/07/18/in-my-element/
Her Instragram is here https://www.instagram.com/hnartisan/
I woke up to this idyllic sight today. Won’t make it to working in the shop today…but tomorrow I will.
Have you ever considered bending wood for a woodworking project? The technique can really add interest to a piece, and is easier than you might think! Click below to find an article and a video on building an inexpensive steam box for bending wood as well as some tips for how to use the steam box.
The post How to Build an Inexpensive Steam Box for Bending Wood appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
In recent years my projects and inclinations have guided me towards more diminutive work in thinner stock. This makes cutting dovetails somewhat of a challenge when using a standard saw, which is often too aggressive and thus harder to control effortlessly. As a result of that I began exploring the prospect of fabricating my own petite dovetail saw. I wound up making several with good-to-excellent results. We will replicate that process and send you home with your own.
If you have a particular piece of wood to use for the handle (tote) feel free to bring it to work with. Otherwise I will provide all the materials for this workshop. We’ll aim to fold and finish the back, taper and insert the plate/blade, fit and fashion the handle to your hand, and file the teeth.
The tool list for the workshop is a short one and will be sent to attendees well before the event.
The complete 2018 Barn workshop schedule:
Historic Finishing April 26-28, $375
Making A Petite Dovetail Saw June 8-10, $400
Boullework Marquetry July 13-15, $375
Knotwork Banding Inlay August 10-12, $375
Build A Classic Workbench September 3-7, $950
Tools for measuring. Tools for Accuracy. ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT PART OF WOODWORKING I’ve been working as a furniture maker for quite a while, now. Along the way, you refine your processes, develop techniques and create a lot of habits over time. Certainly, an important part of working professionally is to work efficiently —you learn very quickly that time is a fixed asset. You also learn that you have to work […]
The post Precision Instruments for Woodworkers — Part One: Standardization appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
When I entered fifth grade at Woods Elementary, my teacher asked me in front of the class if I was Chinese. When I replied, “I don’t think so,” Mr. Williams shrugged his shoulders.
“Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin and good at math,” he said. “Seems like Chinese.”
Terrible thing to say, especially coming from a teacher. But for the record, I think being Chinese is pretty awesome.
|left over 044 parts|
|had to do some rearranging|
|giving both of these to Miles|
|the final resting places of all the toys|
|6 coats of shellac|
|scraped the primer off the frog seat|
|bottom came off pretty easy too|
|painting the lettering and numbers|
This will need coat #2 tomorrow but the frog and the yoke will be done. I put the second coat of black on them tonight.
|then I'll wax it|
|another plug for Autosol|
The plan was to get this waxed and buffed tonight and call it done. The #3 might need some painting. I can't remember how far I went with the rehab on that one. I did it several years ago so I probably didn't strip and paint it. Checking that one out will have to wait until tomorrow or possibly the day after.
Blogger bit me on the arse again. I published two comments, one from Sparks, and another from Steve, and both ended up in a black hole somewhere. I can't access the comments for this blog post at all. It's annoying to me that I don't know what causes the comments to freeze like this and lock me out of them. So my apologies Sparks and Steve, I think they got published but I can't respond to them
Did you know that Mort Walker drew the Beetle Bailey comic strip for over 50 years? (he passed away today at age 94)
My next book, “Ingenious Mechanicks: Early Workbenches & Workholding,” is about one-third designed. As with all my books, it is wrestling with me like an alligator in a vat of Crisco.
Suzanne “The Saucy Indexer” Ellison has turned up a number of new images of old workbenches recently that have reinforced and nuanced some of my findings and conclusions about early workbenches.
The image at the top of this blog entry is not one of them.
Suzanne plowed through about 8,000 images (a conservative estimate) for this book. And some of the images were dead ends, red herrings or MacGuffins.
In the image above (sorry about the low quality), we have a bench that is off the charts in the odd-o-meter. It is from Corsica, sometime between 1742-1772, and was painted by Giacomo Grandi, who was born in Milan but lived on Corsica.
Here’s what is strange:
- It is a low workbench with the screw-driven vise perhaps in the end of the bench. Or the benchtop is square. Either way, that’s unusual.
- The screw vise has only one screw and one vise nut.
- The vise’s chop is weird. It is longer than the bench is wide.
- The chop is being used in a manner that simply doesn’t work (I tried it on one of our lows benches). This arrangement offers little holding power.
So instead of saying: “Hey look we found a bench that makes you rethink end vises,” we are instead saying: “Hey I think this bench is the result of the painter trying to create a workbench to assist his composition.”
As I am typing this, Suzanne and I are trying to figure out if we’ve found a tilted workbench from Corsica that is similar to Japanese planing beam. Or if it’s a victim of forced perspective. Or something else.
At times such as this, I can see how a book could fail to be published. There is no end to the research, the new findings or the greasy alligators.
— Christopher Schwarz
In silence they smiled. Uncommon, occasional and always silently. It was the silence somehow that spoke the most-the inaudible loudness of it that loudly spoke of an inordinate joy and the funny thing about it was this. In the silence of that occasional, uncommon smile, others around knew about it, shared in it and it […]
It’s been more than four months since I last wrote about my project to interpret an early 19th century writing desk for a client, when I had the opportunity to use period appropriate technology for virtually the entire project. Previously I had written about deriving the design templates for the project, and this post will finally get down to fashioning wood.
My first problem(?) was that I was a bit hazy on some of the internal construction details of the original. To resolve that void, or to at least come to a workable conclusion, I needed to build a full scale prototype. Using some left over 2x SYP from a workbench-building project I did just that. I rough cut each leg element with a bandsaw (this was primarily a proportion and joinery exercise) then shaped them just enough to get the gist of the idea.
Then with each individual element fashioned I dove into the joinery for the complete leg assembly, with frequent dry fittings.
Using PVA I glued up each leg.
In the end I had two leg assembles shaped and fashioned, and joined, glued, and assembled. This was an important moment as I exerted my full weight on each individual leg to make sure they would hold.
Every weekday until the February 1st opening of Issue Four pre-orders, we will be announcing one article from the table of contents here on the blog. If you have yet to sign up for a yearly subscription, you can do so here.
Axes are often thought of as tools for firewood but I can assure you that they're not just for rough splitting. In my shop, I have three axes that get used often for shaping and material prep. The key to understanding these tools is to have a grasp on how to sharpen and maintain them. Couple this with some simple techniques and a chunk of tree to work on and you will be surprised with the level of work that can be done.
It only takes a few swipes of a jack plane to straighten out the axe work and bring the board to final size. Choosing to use this tool boils down to efficiency. Whether you are carving spoons or making furniture, I think every shop should have an axe or two. Axes may seem mysterious if you have little experience with them, but they’re nothing to be afraid of. Once you have your axes good and sharp I promise you will look at them differently.
You can reserve your copy of Issue Four here.
I'm really excited to be working with Marc Spagnuolo, the Wood Whisperer to create in-depth content for his online woodworking guild. If you've been following me or my blog for a while, you may remember an oak writing desk I built with my good friend Jonathan at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas. Since I will be modifying and expanding the original design for the desk over the next couple of months and documenting the process for the Guild, I thought I'd share the original article I wrote about the experience building the chest at Homestead Heritage for F&C magazine. Click here to read the whole article.
Scribing, like coping, is one of those seemingly magical techniques that allow you to make one piece fit another. Scribing has a variety of applications. It’s not only good for fitting trim to irregular walls, or cabinets to floors that are out of level; you can scribe almost any material – round logs, sheets of drywall, floor tiles, pieces of exterior siding … you could even, in principle, use it […]
Late in 2015, Joshua Farnsworth and I traveled to Hancock Shaker Village to film the openings of a couple videos. While there, I measured and photographed the two projects in detail with the intention of reproducing them as accurately as possible.
While I was holed up in the brick dwelling that day measuring and taking pictures of the projects, Josh wandered around the village taking pictures and video.
When we got back to the hotel that night we looked over the pictures we had taken. Josh’s stuff was great. He has a good eye, and Hancock is a beautiful place. My pictures, on the other hand, looked pretty lame in comparison. The photos were of the insides and undersides of the two projects. Mostly, tool marks of all kinds, intersections of joints, writing, mistakes (yes, the Shakers screwed up, too) nails, screws and layout lines. Most people would not even know what the pictures were of. I was trying to photograph how the pieces were made.
As time goes on, I find these ugly photos provide more and more information on a project than I realized. Whenever I look back over these pictures I always see things I did not notice when measuring the actual artifact.
Today as I was reviewing the ugly pictures I had taken on my last trip to Hancock of a chest of drawers that I am preparing to build, a little tidbit of information showed up.
I said all that to say this: Ff documenting a piece of furniture, take the time to measure accurately and take good overall photos of the piece. Most of all, take lots of high-resolution photos of the insides and undersides of the piece. When it comes time to build, you will find yourself referencing the ugly photos more than anything else.
— Will Myers
I just visited Tokyo and was near Tokyo Big Sight, a large convention center in the Ariake area. In front of the building is a huge statue of a hand saw - a western saw. Any idea what is up with that?
I can only conclude that this is an indication of what should be done with western saws — bury them in the dirt.
Just kidding, of course. This is a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, titled Saw, Sawing. According to their statement:
Coosje found the saw appropriate to the cross-cut effect of the layered construction surrounding the site. Also, the teeth of the saw would continue the triangular motif of the buildings.
Since the Western saw is not a tool used in Japan, we hoped that this common object, detached from its function, would become mysterious in its foreign context, subject to surprising new interpretations of its identity.
(Photo from Tokyo Fotos.)
|what is the white line?|
|back of the chipbreaker|
|I can close it|
|the third part|
|5 1/2 tote|
|scraped the knob|
|the grain runs up/down|
|scraped and sanded up to 320|
|problem area on the 5 1/2|
|part of my Harbor Freight road trip|
|got a buffer on sale for $45|
|replenished my brushes|
|filed the edge until I rolled a burr|
|it definitely cleaned this|
|I don't see a difference|
|LN #4 1/2|
|a few dabs of Autosol|
|I don't see much of a shine raised|
|buffer set up|
|first application of stripper|
|what I use to clean the stripper off the plane|
|tried the scraper on the plane|
|2nd and 3rd applications|
|sanded with 80 grit paper and cleaned with acetone before the primer gets sprayed on -|
|extra screws/studs to cover the holes|
I had to stuff a bit of paper towel in the frog adjust screw hole because I don't have an extra one of those.
|for the frog seat|
|I fixed the 044|
|removed the grooves from test run #1 for a second run|
|ran 4 more grooves|
|I did have one problem|
|the last groove|
|I'm happy with this|
|first one on the left, the replacement on the right|
The first 044 is stowed away on top of the finishing cabinet. I will use the rods from it with the new 044. The 2nd 044 has two different sized diameter fence rods whereas on the first 044 the two are the same. I will use the plane as it is and hold off on getting replacement rods. I am leaning in the direction now that the rods are designed this way. Maybe it was done this way because of manufacturing practices at that time.
|both planes have the same Record design number|
|why it slipped|
|cleaned, degreased, and rinsed|
|just the rounded end is nickel plated|
Did you know in the original story of Cinderella, her slippers were made of fur and not glass? (It was a translation error from the story's original french to english)
This is a guest post by Sean Walker. He is the founder of Simple Cove, a website for sharing project builds. He is gearing up to release a new build from the pages of Popular Woodworking Magazine. A post shared by Sean Walker (@simplecove) on Jan 22, 2018 at 6:28am PST Hi guys, I’m a new face that you’ve not seen on this blog before. My name is Sean Walker […]
The post Upcoming Simple Cove Guild Build: Cherry Wall Cabinet appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Popular Woodworking Magazine has just a launch a new podcast that…. Wait, wait. Where are you going? Give me a few moments to explain. Look, we know the woodworking world has enough podcasts. So when Scott Francis decided to create “The Afterlife of Trees,” a lot of the discussion was about what the podcast wouldn’t be about. It’s not shop talk. It’s not answering the questions of listeners. It’s not […]