Well, maybe not Duncan Phyfe or the Seymours (John the father and Thomas the son). They had very well-heeled customers paying top dollar and expecting the best. Like Thos. Moser today, all their furniture was finely made from superior material with impeccable finish. But not everybody could afford the best. There had to be the equivalent of Ashley and Basset furniture.
I first started think about this while walking through a local consignment shop. One quick check for the age of furniture is to look at the back. Plywood or hardboard means it’s most likely 20th century. Plywood might have been available in the 1880’s.
I was feeling smug and superior knowing respectable furniture makers from back in the day wouldn’t use plywood when it occurred to me they really did. Not plywood or other sheet goods, but certainly wood that couldn’t be used anywhere else. For examples:
I don’t believe that mid and lower level furniture makers worried much about the backs of furniture. The function of the back is to keep the carcass square and keep the dust out. Sheet goods do this quite well. These makers used what they had on hand including wood that couldn’t be used anywhere else. Wood had to be purchased and these people couldn’t afford to not use what they bought.
Think about it, they often didn’t even paint or finish the backs:
The backs are against the wall and once delivered are rarely seen. It just doesn’t matter. I think that if sheet goods were available, they would have been used.
And they didn’t worry too much about drawer bottoms either.
It just didn’t matter. It’s just commerce.
There is another door in this room, completely un-needed, I screwed it shut permanently when we moved in. now it supplies some natural light.
We had a heavy overcast with more than a foot of snow today. No solar, but hydropower is working fine. Actually it was nice having the power house under a foot of fluffy snow as it made the soft turbine whine evaporate altogether.
The view out the dining room window was pretty impressive.
I ventured out only long enough to pick up my new computer, onto which all my old files were transferred without a hitch. Tomorrow morning I will finish setting it up with the printers and get my nose back to the Studley manuscript grindstone.
Listening to an author read his or her work is always enlightening. For me, it’s similar to the difference between a recorded song and a live song. You hear something different.
Because we cannot drive Roy to your house, we asked him to take a few minutes this week to read one of his favorite chapters from his new novel: “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” He read Chapter 12 in his cabin, which is above the mill building where he and Jane live in North Carolina.
Roy lit a fire, fired up the laptop and recorded this short 7-minute chapter for you to enjoy.
This weekend, Megan Fitzpatrick (who edited the novel) and I (who watched) will be filming each of us reading our favorite chapters and posting them here. I plan to read mine while wearing my tube top, if I can find it.
If you can get the image of a tube-topped yeti out of your head, I’d also like to mention that “Calvin Cobb” is available with free domestic shipping until Nov. 29. After that, I think shipping will be $7.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I know this little film will renew calls for Roy to do an audiobook version of the book. We hear you! Before we even think about that possibility we have to complete a lot of other projects first. Sorry. We are only two people.
Filed under: Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!
When Chris Schwarz left his job some time ago, I remember him writing later that he never knew what day it was. That’s the boat I’m in lately…and I got around to photographing and posting the spoons & bowls I have for sale, then realized everyone’s on the road in America – it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. Oh well…this stuff will be here. Here’s the link, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/late-november-spoons-bowls-for-sale/ or the top of the page on the blog will get you there too.
Let me know if you’d like to order any of these items; just leave a comment. Paypal is easiest, but I can accept checks too. Just let me know. Any questions, speak up.
Happy thanksgiving to those who celebrate it…
I also have some DVDs of the wainscot chair project left – let me know if you’d like that…
The newest DVD I’ve done with Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is available now. “17th Century Wainscot Chair”
Over 200 minutes, it shows how to make a full-blown wainscot chair based on a 17th-century example. The chair is carved, but that work is covered in earlier videos I did with Lie-Nielsen. I have one batch for sale, or you can order them from Lie-Nielsen if you need other stuff too…
here’s the blurb:
17th Century Wainscot Chair
with Peter Follansbee
The Wainscot Chair is one of the hallmarks of 17th century joinery. In this DVD, Peter demonstrates how to prepare material from a section of oak, shape the chair pieces using bench tools and a pole lathe, and join them together with drawbored mortise and tenon joints. He also offers two traditional approaches for making the angled joints of this chair.
Peter Follansbee specializes in 17th century period joinery and green woodworking. He spent over 20 years making reproduction furniture at Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In addition to teaching the craft at schools around the USA, Peter co-authored the book, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to 17th Century Joinery, with Jennie Alexander. He is also featured in three other Lie-Nielsen DVDs: 17th c. New England Carving (2010); 17th c. New England Carving: Carving the S-Scroll (2011); and 17th c. Joined Chest (2012).
218 minutes (2 discs), Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Productions, 2014.
The new video, 17th Century Wainscot Chair – is now available. $40 plus $2 shipping in US. Email me if you’d rather send a check; but the paypal button is right here…
Experienced woodworkers develop techniques that are simple to use and easy to remember. Sometimes those techniques provide a smack-your-forehead moment. That was the case when Chuck Bender and I visited with Frank Klausz in early November.
Sitting on a shelf in his round, water-tower workshop was a new can of Waterlox (Water tower and Waterlox?), which I was amazed to find out is Frank’s favorite finish. He has a multiple-step process by which he applies the finish, but Waterlox is the only finish he uses – that’s keeping it simple.
Sitting next to the new can was a Waterlox container that had seen its better days. I asked Frank what had happened and why the can was crunched. His reply reinforced the fact that we were in the presence of an experienced woodworker.
“I squeeze the can,” Frank said, “to remove the excess air, which keeps the finish fresh.” I officially smacked my forehead. Think about this as you slip into your turkey-induced coma on Thursday.
Some time ago I wrote a post detailing the steps required for your everyday, average woodworker to make the difficult transition to “cool woodworker”. The path I set wasn’t an easy one to follow, even for experienced woodworkers with many projects under their belts. The truth is there are many talented woodworkers out there who will never attain that lofty status. But, I thought, what about those who just want to appear to be cool woodworker? Even better, what if you just want people to think you are a cool woodworker even though you’ve never even picked up a saw or chisel? Let’s be honest with ourselves, being a cool woodworker doesn’t necessarily make you a better woodworker; it’s all about bragging rights. So with that in mind, I came up with a few suggestions for the wannabe to look like a cool woodworker without ever having made a piece of furniture.
It all begins at the workshop. To look like a cool woodworker you need a cool workshop. Firstly, your workshop must be solely dedicated to woodworking, otherwise you may as well just give up and not even make the attempt. Your workshop cannot double as a garage, or your wife’s yoga studio, or your kids playroom. It has to be a woodworking shop that looks like a woodworking shop, preferably a wood barn with tongue and groove walls, a wood rack, a hanging tool cabinet, and the most ostentatious woodworking bench you can purchase. You’re looking for wow factor. You want even the most casual observer to walk into your little slice of woodworking heaven and know immediately that a high level craftsman is residing there.
It gets a bit tricky here only because even the average DIYer may have chisels, saws, a table saw, and a hammer. What you need to do firstly is be sure to have at least 5 times the amount of tools that the average homeowner may have. For example, if the average home owner has 4 chisels, you will need at least two dozen; if he has 2 hand saws, you need at least ten. In fact, hand saws are the one tool that can really set you apart, because you can easily pick up a few dozen old hand saws, the older the better, and hang them prominently along your wall. Remember, they don’t even have to be sharp, as long as they look great.
Hand planes are a bit trickier. Once again, the average Joe off the street will generally know what a hand plane looks like, and he may even have one or two in his tool box. What you need to do is have a plane collection that screams “serious woodworker”. Of course you have your numbered Stanley’s, and for those I recommend #1 thru #7. But you really need to stand out. Wood bodied planes are certainly welcome; moulding planes appear to be “woodworkery”, but I suggest you kick it up a notch and pick up a few exotic infill planes. Be sure they are big, shiny, and visible the moment you enter the workshop.
Other tools to consider are hand braces and drills, many hammers and mallets, and of course you want a nice cabinet saw, planer, and drill press. An added bonus powertool would be a lathe, which is instantly recognizable to most people. A nice added touch would be some rasps and floats, which look like woodworking tools to the layman yet at the same time are obscure enough to emit air of “craftsman”. What you are going for is a large group of specialty tools that can be hung throughout the workshop in a highly visible manner.
This part is tough, because I’ve yet to discover a true cool woodworker “dress code”. I’ve found that it’s not so much the clothes, but how they are worn that set apart cool woodworkers from the rest of the population. For example, most of us wear t-shirts, but a cool woodworker will generally wear some type of logo t-shirt, and like all things cool woodworker, the more obscure the logo, the better. A shop apron is a must, and shorts are another staple. “But”, you say, “we all wear shorts!” True. But a cool woodworker will wear shorts year round. Why? Because wearing shorts year round is an indicator that you spend much of your free time in a climate controlled workshop. Also, clogs, sandals, flip-flops, or any unconventional footwear is always a good choice. Work boots are generally a no-no. A good rule of thumb is any footwear that is completely inappropriate to the task, sort of like wearing sneakers to a wedding.
Maybe the most important look you need to cultivate is your coif and facial hair. The coif is actually easy, you only need not get a haircut for approximately 6 months. The key is not to have long hair, but wear a hairstyle that tells the world you are too busy woodworking to actually care what your hair looks like. Washing (or not washing) your hair on a regular basis is completely optional. The facial hair is a bit more challenging. The goatee doesn’t really fit the bill, and neither does the neatly trimmed beard. I’ve found that the most accepted form of facial hair is either the wildly unkempt beard, or the stubbly, near-beard that never quite fills out. Also acceptable is the late 70’s/early 80’s era Kurt Bevacqua mustache.
In all cases, a beer belly is a must. You also get added points for being skinny with a beer belly, which obviously isn’t easy. Though cool woodworkers are supposedly on their feet and working with their hands all day, they still somehow manage to look like the least physically fit people on the planet, so that is the look you should be shooting for. Think the opposite of muscles and you will be okay.
Once again I’ve laid out a course that isn’t necessarily easy. However, looking like a woodworker should be a bit of a challenge. Still, I have no doubt that if you follow these steps, you will easily convince most people that you are, in fact, a cool woodworker.
We’ve heard from several customers that they have not yet received their copy of Calvin Cobb, especially customers on the West coast. Here’s the straight dope: We printed the labels on Nov. 13. All of the books were packed and put into the mail stream on Nov. 14.
They were sent Media Mail, which can be slow this time of year. And it is probably especially slow this year because of reports we are hearing from other shippers. Media Mail can take up to 14 business days to reach you.
So I wouldn’t be concerned until after Dec. 1. We apologize that we cannot speed this up.
The Book of Plates
Our shipping company has boxed all of the pre-publication orders and delivered them to the postal service as of today. These also are being sent Media Mail, so it could take a couple weeks for you to receive your book, especially if you live out West.
Thanks for your patience. We’re happy that you really want your books, and we’re doing everything we can to get them to you.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
There’s no doubt the holiday season is upon us. As I’m posting this article I’m only a couple days away from posting links to some amazing “Black Friday” sales and deals, then a few days later it’ll be “Cyber Monday” and there’ll be even more!
But before I post any of those, I wanted to draw your attention to a group that’s using woodworking to make a difference in the lives of so many, especially during a time when we’re coming together with family and friends to celebrate all we have to be thankful for throughout the year.
The folks at Bowls for Good are dedicated to ending hunger through community service and year-round giving. As part of their commitment to carrying out a positive change in our communities Bowls for Good has come up with a creative solution to help end hunger one bowl at a time.
Bowls for Good raises money to help feed those in need by auctioning off turned wooden bowls made by volunteers at turning events planned over the year. Participants don’t even need to have a woodturning background to get involved, Bowls for Good offers basic skill-building courses.
Beginners are taught how to create stunning wooden bowls that are then later displayed and auctioned during their biannual fundraising events. All proceeds from fundraising events are then used to support successful hunger relief efforts, with their principal beneficiary being Feeding America.
Roorkee chairs are great fun to show customers – until they ask me to take it apart and put it back together for them. For the first year or so, I was pretty slow at putting them together because there are eight buckles to tighten up all while keeping the loose parts from falling down like a Jenga game. After thinking about it and working with the chairs for three […]
A rather good joke by artist Colin Baxter. Made out of an old beech wood block plane, drift wood and some scraps of veneer, it’s in an exhibition at Bell Fine Art, Winchester, who kindly let me take a photograph.
Den här bänken är ca 2,6 m lång. Höjden är ca 71 cm, alltså en låg bänk, till och med lägre än bänken från Vasaskeppet. Skivan är 30 cm bred och 7,1 cm tjock, tillverkad i ett lövträ. I katalogkortet anges det att bänken ska ha tillhört en byggnadssnickare.Baktång. Foto: Olof Appelgren Baktångens undersida. Foto: Olof Appelgren
Baktången har en konstruktion som jag aldrig sett tidigare. Den hänger på två “gejdrar” som är infällda i bänkskivan. Bänkhaken sitter i framkanten av tången, närmast skivan. Greppvidden kunde ha förlängts ytterligare om det varit hål även längre bak på baktången, vid sidan av skruven. Men det har snickaren som arbetat vid bänken inte haft behov för.Bänkhake. Foto: Olof Appelgren Framtång. Foto: Olof Appelgren
Det är svårt att fastslå bänkens ålder. Jag såg bänken för ca 10 år sedan och har nu bara bilder att titta på. Men framtången förefaller var av en ålderdomlig konstruktion.
Arkivert under:2,5-2,8 meter, 71-73 cm, Baktang med hake i senter, Framtang med skrue
I didn’t have time to post anything this past weekend – my parents were in town for a visit. I didn’t expect to get any shop time, other than the traditional shop tour to show off what I’m doing. Neither of my folks have the same “need to make something” affliction as me, so I was slightly surprise when my mom announced she wanted to make a candlestick holder.
My son has made these as Christmas gifts in previous years, and it’s a pretty foolproof project, so I gave her a quick overview and chucked up a piece of Chakte Koc (AKA “mexican red heart”) that I had just for this purpose. I guided her in the process, but she did all the work, donning my flannel shirt and standing fearlessly in the billowing stream of damp wood shavings spraying out.
She sanded the part through a series of grits, ending with 600 and then a final burnish with the shavings from the part. We finished it with a coat of oil & wax. Unfortunately we didn’t make time for dad to make one too, but he and I made ribs one night, and pulled pork another.
Here's the next film on my 45 degree guide.
For this month’s Wood News Online we received the following Ask the Staff question from Tom Rose:
Why are wood bench plans that I have seen not over 5 feet long??
Read our answer in the comments below and feel free to leave your own answer in the comments section!
Essentially this is the gist of the review "They are outstanding. Beyond outstanding, really." He rounds things out by saying "When your beading planes arrive, you’ll want to put a bead on everything. Even your dog."
Click here to read the entire post.
|From left to right; Clark & Willaims 3/16", Caleb James 1/4" and 1/8" beading planes|
I get asked which saw a beginning woodworker or even someone wanting to use more hand tools should buy first. There are a lot of things that make this answer “it depends” but I feel pretty strongly that it should be a carcass saw. This video is a detailed look at why it should be the first saw you buy and depending on how much hand tool work you do, maybe the last saw you buy.
PS: sorry I forgot to correct for the fisheye effect in a few of the wide angle shots, I think it looks kinda cool, but I’m sure someone out there won’t like it.