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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

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seventeenth-century joined furniture; green wood, hand tools
Updated: 1 hour 10 min ago

“warts and all” workshop views

3 hours 3 min ago

I had this foolish notion that at some point, my new workshop would be all organized and tidy. Presentable. Then I was going to photograph it and post a tour of the shop here on the blog. But…it keeps gathering junk in piles, only to be cleaned up so I could work – and make another mess. I guess that means my shop is “done” as much as it’s going to get. I did write a short piece in Popular Woodworking about it – but here is a short glimpse of what it looks like these days.

Might as well start at the beginning. here’s the view to the door:

Looking through the door, into the room. The carving over the door is a place-holder. there’s a new one coming.


The main workbench. 8′ long. shelves underneath for large planes, boxes of tools like chalkline, hammers, mallets, bench hook and other bench accessories. Racks in the window for marking gauges, awls, chisels, squares – etc.

Same view, but extended to the left – showing the neglected lathe. More later on that.

Looking back toward the door – showing my version of Chris Schwarz’ tool chest.  I couldn’t bear to paint it a solid color…small shelves wedged between the braces and corner posts. Auger bits, sharpening stuff, other odds n ends.


Here is that corner straight on – spoon knives and scratch stocks in boxes… random junk sitting on ledges til I figure it out. Could be years…

The view into the corner beyond the workbench. Cabinet for hatchets, chopping block below.

Patterns and story sticks. they’re everywhere.

I’ve taken this picture many times – it’s just beyond my workbench, the cabinet that houses the hatchets. Recycled wall paneling for the doors.


Half of a Connecticut River carved panel – couldn’t leave that stored in a box…

Inside the cabinet – hatchets, adze, twca cam in 2 sizes –

Like I said, the lathe has had little attention. The current plan is to make a set of shorter beds for it. Right now I can turn a 48″ chair post, but most of my turnings are under 32″ – so I’ll store these beds, make shorter ones, and save a bit of space. Right now, it is a place to pile stuff out of the way. Well, it’s not really out of the way. It’s just a mess. Books and notes to the left.

The old Ulmia workbench is not much better off than the lathe. There’s a shaving horse stuck behind the bedstead-in-progress. The oak desk box will go out of here soon. The baskets too. this junk-gathering place at least changes a lot, unlike the lathe.

that’s it mostly. A stove just after the Ulmia bench. A 12′ x 16′ building doesn’t require a lengthy tour…there is the loft, but I’m not going up there right now. It’s a rabbit hole…


Moe Follansbee knew what’s what

Sun, 06/25/2017 - 1:54pm

Over two months ago, I lost my everyday knife. I looked everywhere and came up empty. I decided it either broke off the strap, and fell, or got dropped into a bag of shavings & went the way of all things. I have lots of slojd knives – so I could keep carving spoons without any discomfort. But usually I like wearing one for everyday use. I finally gave up looking, and ordered some new blades.   I tried to be positive about it, thinking maybe someone found what would become a really good knife for them.

everyday sloydbefore it was lost

I had the blade since about 1992, it was on its 2nd handle. (I split the first one using the knife like a little froe). When I replaced the handle, I made the sheath. That was about 12 years ago. A friend at the museum made the leather work. Once the new blades arrived, I made a new knife and sheath. It was OK, but not the same.  This one, I tried my hand at the leather, but for one thing my model was gone! Here I am boring out the blank for the handle, to fit the knife’s tang.

Paring the new handle.

here is the end result, works fine. But doesn’t feel right one way or another. The leather I used was too thick for one thing, so it didn’t conform quite as well as I wished. Handle is the only piece of boxwood I had. Why did I try that?

Here’s the knife out of the sheath. It works, I was carving spoons yesterday with it. Clicks into the sheath like it’s supposed to do. I was thinking I’d do it over at some point, but things are getting busy around here right about now. 

Today I was sorting & cleaning inside & out. In the shop, it came time to climb up & hang this year’s Greenwood Fest poster. I’m not a huge poster fan, but Greenwood Fest is a pretty special affair for me, so up it went. Right above last year’s version. While I was there, I grabbed that basket for the tools & materials in it. I made some basket rims & handles from the hickory I wrote about last time, and this week I’ll install them. Needed the clips and other bits in there.

 

And don’t you know – in the basket was my old knife. Made a good day a great one.

It’s always the last place you look, my father used to say.


Hickory Bark

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 3:16pm

Post-Greenwood Fest – finally getting going. I have a few spoons, some copies of the Joint Stool book and a few DVDs left for sale. Here’s the link – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/june-2017-spoons-book-videos-for-sale/

There’s Paypal buttons for the books & DVDs, if you want a spoon, leave me a comment.

———————-

Meanwhile – Hickory Bark. No waiting when there’s a hickory sapling cut in the spring. You gotta get right to them. So two of these were first priority once I unpacked.

This work takes me way back. Way, way, way, way back as Van Morrison would say. I grabbed the leftover hickory saplings after Tim Manney’s demo at Greenwood Fest (one got stripped before I got to saving it – Tim? Pete?) to harvest the bark. I’ve only have a few chances to strip hickory bark in the past many years. Not making chairs or baskets with any regularity meant I didn’t need to pursue it. But, these were right there, and I have some ladderbacks underway, as well as some baskets that need rims & handles.

First off, I shave the outer bark off with the drawknife. This is thick, hard crusty bark.


Here is a detail, showing as I shave off the outer bark, the inner bark we’re after is exposed. In this photo, the first strip is removed. That way, I can see the thickness of the inner bark (or “bast”) – this becomes important.

so next is the task of thinning the inner bark to the appropriate thickness. This is a finesse move. Below the drawknife here (bottom left of the photo) the bark is just about the right thickness – above the knife you can see the yellow/orange striations – I use those as a visual guideline – shave them away & you’re there. Just about.

Then I score through the inner bark down to the wood with the tip of my knife. I make the strip about 3/4″ – 1″ wide.

It can wiggle with the grain of the tree…try to keep it pretty straight. But they are wider than I’ll use them, so I can trim them some when I get to weaving with them.

Then peel the strip up. Never ceases to amaze me.

 

I keep close watch for stray fibers that might stick to the tree. Usually means the scoring wasn’t deep enough. You can slip your knife under there & re-establish the peeling. 

Some strips are too thick when you take ’em off the tree. You can sometimes split them apart. I scored across the bark to form a tab, then pulled them apart. This is slow, careful work – you have to watch to see if it’s going evenly. Any thick side, pull towards it. Just like riving. I hold the strip between my knees, then use my thumbs & forefingers to peel them. My other fingers help keep things peeling evenly.

If a strip is too thick, but not thick enough to split, I put it on the shaving horse, and shave it with a spokeshave. I put a support stick under it. You can shave this later, once you’re using the material – but I find it best to do it right off the bat.

Coil ’em & store to dry in an airy place.

The first log was clear enough for some long riving & bending wood. I made some basket rims, then shaved two of these bows for firewood carriers. This one is shaved to shape, steamed & bent onto this form. I took no pictures of any of that. I shoot my own photos, and steam-bending requires complete attention. This firewood carrier is detailed in Drew Langsner’s Green Woodworking – as is peeling hickory bark.

The base will be an open framework,  this board is just the drying form for the bend.


more video snippets from Greenwood Fest & after

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 1:49pm

all right – let’s try a couple of short videos this time. From Greenwood Fest 2017.

 
an overview of the woodpile area, with Rick McKee ducking through…

Kiko Denzer turning bowls during Jarrod’s class:

and a long one from Roy, more from Roy Underhill’s Big Box of Woodworking Fun


Roy Underhill never stops

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 1:24pm

I’m video-challenged – but because of Instagram I shoot many short ones with an ipad. Just spent a godawful amount of time figuring out how to get them here. Let’s see if this works:


Greenwood Fest 2017

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:15am

Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2017 is now a  thing of the past. I vividly remember the feeling last year after the fest, I was so overwhelmed I just floundered around for a couple of days, not being able to concentrate on anything.

This time, it still is overwhelming, but in a good way. I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen – Plymouth CRAFT’s board & volunteers, the crew at Pinewoods, all the instructors and most of all, the folks who travelled from Australia, Turkey and places in between to come join us in the woods for carving and camaraderie. Astoundingly great time, thanks all.

Here’s pictures. there’s more. later. 

the group shot:

Surolle was here: 

Jarrod Dahl turning what can’t be turned

JoJo Wood was back with her big knives:

The one-armed veteran of the Battle of Shiloh with his sawing machine

Tim Manney & the sharpeners

Me & him

Barn’s spoons

The Greenwood shop, just prior to opening:

Barn the Spoon & his new sheath for the big hook knife:

Jane Mickelborough helping hinge a folding spoon:

 

Dave Fisher working on his bowls:

Darrick Sanderson never stopped

Jogge & I with our special guests, Drew & Louise Langsner


line ’em up

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 4:49am

The dust is starting to settle. I’ll get to the whole thing, but in the meantime, here’s the group of instructors from Greenwood Fest.

Back row, left to right – Jögge Sundqvist, Jarrod Dahl, Pete Galbert, Peter Follansbee, Jane Mickelborough, Barn the Spoon, Louise Langsner, Drew Langsner

Front row, left to right –  Dave Fisher, Tim Manney, Darrick Sanderson, Paula Marcoux, JoJo Wood, Roy Underhill


Spoon carving: knife work & Barn’s book

Sat, 06/03/2017 - 5:17am

As I’ve been getting ready for Greenwood Fest 2017, I have carved a few cherry spoons. Last blog post was about hewing the shapes from “crooks” – the curving wood where one branch meets another. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/hewing-a-spoon-crook/ 

At the end of that post, I coppped out, and went to dinner. Got several requests to “continue after dinner” – but I finished those spoons the next morning. So when I started another, I shot some of the knife work. It’s hard to get this in photos, and equally hard to shoot these without a photographer, but here goes.

I tend to start at the area behind the back of the spoon’s bowl, transitioning to the handle. It’s usually too thick there, so I go there first to remove excess wood. This cut starts at the knife’s “butt” – right near the handle. The fingers of my left hand help push & guide the knife’s blade through the cut. Both elbows are tucked against my torso.


I bring my right hand towards my gut, and bend my wrist a bit too. My left fingers extend as far as they can, the knife blade is slicing toward the knife’s tip. This cut moves from the bowl through to the side of the handle. It’s a scooping cut to some degree.

 

Similar thing, but more to the middle of the bowl. This cut goes somewhat across the grain. 

More scooping, working toward the knife’s tip.

 

the other side of the bowl, I use a different grip. My thumb is on one side of the spoon, the knife on the other. Then I close my hand, pulling the blade toward, but not at, my thumb. 

The blade ends up in the space between my thumb and fingers. The knife handle is held by curling my fingers around it, not in the palm of my hand.

This one I use along the handle. It starts with my left thumb pushing on either my right hand, or the knife handle. The thumb is extended pretty far, and then I slide the knife from tip to butt.

My right hand moves forward, my left thumb acts like a hinge, swinging up toward the spoon handle’s top end.

There’s lots of references for these cuts and many others – the newest is Barn the Spoon’s new book, “Spōn: A Guide to Spoon Carving and the New Wood Culture” (next week we’ll ask Barn how to pronounce the title of his book)

No automatic alt text available.

https://barnthespoon.com/courses-books-gifts/spon-learn-to-spoon-carve-by-barn-the-spoon

It’s well worth getting; Barn has been pretty deep into spoons, I mean who else has changed their name to “…the Spoon”? Here’s a detail of a couple of his spoons at our Plymouth CRAFT exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum – (thanks, Rick…)

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hewing a spoon crook

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 6:39pm

Getting some spoon work in, prepping for Greenwood Fest coming up in early June. Cherry crooks are the greatest…so photos with captions.

This is the crook I chose this afternoon – split off 2 chunks above the pith. So the bottom third of this is trash, but the other two will be fine spoons.

Here’s the top one, near the bark. It just about makes itself into a spoon.

After hewing off the bark so I can see the shape better, I hewed a bunch off what will be the top or rim of the spoon bowl.

Slicing across the grain to bring it down to the shape I want.

Starting to define the neck between the bowl and the handle.

This is the one I always call the first chance to completely ruin the spoon. Thankfully it’s only a few minutes into the work. So if it fails now, not much is lost.

Then hewing away some excess off the back of the handle.

With a hard wood like cherry (Prunus serotina) I often mount the hewn shape in the vise, and work with a bent gouge & mallet to rough out the bowl. Working directly across the grain.

here’s the gouge – might be about 1″-1 1/4″ wide, the “sweep” or curve is the #8 in the Swiss marking system.

It’s still very blocky, so the next step will be to hew off the back corners.

I start this cut up in the bowl, and it carries all the way down to the top end of the handle.

It’s hard to read in this photo, but I’ve begun to form a rounded under the bowl.

Then it was time for dinner.


birds, not woodworking. again.

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 9:57am

Even home-school kids have field trips, and I tagged along on one today to a place called Manomet – https://www.manomet.org/ to see a presentation about banding migrant landbirds. The winds finally shifted about 2 days ago, so now the southwest winds are bringing warblers up to New England.

Trevor Lloyd Evans and Maina Handmaker were our hosts, and gave us a lot of their time & attention. Here’s some of the birds we saw up close, as they were ready to be released, after having been weighed, measured, and recorded…

well, this first one wasn’t captured – it’s a flyover during our intro – an osprey.

this one I shot a lot, because I had never seen one before – a mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)

Maina & one of the kids releasing a female American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

This might be that redstart, or a young male we saw after..

Showing some of the kids how to tell the age of this catbird, based on feather color…

Northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

female magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia)

Least flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) – I could never ID this bird beyond “flycatcher” –

Rose got to let this one fly…

Right near the end of our visit, we got to see this chestnut-sided warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)

 

And one whose name makes some sense – the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Trevor and Manomet’s mascot, the gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

thanks to all for making this trip possible. I had more fun than I could stand.


They’re so 20th century…

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 6:44pm

I have been trying my hand at some at 20th-century woodworking. Going back to where I started, making a ladderback chair like the ones I learned from Jennie Alexander and Drew Langsner. I made them quite often back in the 1980s, but by 1992 I probably made my “last” one. The only ones I made since then were two small ones for the kids when they were little, December 2009. Here’s Daniel showing how much they have outgrown them.

This is one of the late-period chairs Alexander made with our friend Nathaniel Krause. Slender, light, but strong. Very deceptive chair.

But for years, I was swept up in the 17th century – and chairs, turned or shaved, were HEAVY. Here’s one of my favorites I made back then, maple, with oak slats. The posts for this are probably almost 2″ square. The rungs are 1″ in diameter (same as JA’s posts!) with mortises bored 3/4″ in diameter.

 

Some of the turned ones are even heavier, and this is not the biggest. All ash.

So today I shaved the rungs down to size, with 5/8″ tenons. The rungs are not much heavier than that – they don’t need to be. The rungs have been dried after rough-shaving, in the oven until the batch of them stopped losing weight. Then shaved down to size.

I bored a test hole in some dry hardwood, then jam the tenon into that hole to burnish it. then spokeshave down to the burnished marks. I skew the spokeshave a lot, to keep from rounding over the end of the tenon.

Long ago, I learned to bore the mortises at a low bench, leaning over the posts to bore them. Later, Alexander and Langsner started doing the boring horizontally. Use a bit extender to help sight the angle, and a level taped to the extender too. It’s so sophisticated. I’m sure today’s ladderback chairmakers have passed me & my brace by…

it’s a Power Bore bit. Was made by Stanley, I guess out of production now. I have an extra if something happens to this one. 

Then knock the side sections together, check the angles, and bore for the front & rear rungs.

Still needs to go a little to our right..that’s a level in my hand, checking to get the side frame oriented so the boring is level.

Then more of the same.

Then I knocked it together. Yes, I used glue. Probably not necessary, the oven-dry rungs will swell inside the somewhat-moist posts. but the glue doesn’t hurt anything. I never glued the larger chairs pictured above.

I got the frame done. Next time I work on it, I’ll make the slats from riven white oak. I’ll steam them & pop them in place. then weave a seat. Either hickory bark or rush. Bark is best.

Small tool kit – those pictured here, plus riving tools, a mortise chisel. Saws for trimming things to length. Not much else. Oh, a pencil. Yikes.


Pre-Fest spaces for Greenwood Fest – “One man gathers what another man spills”

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 5:00pm

Pret & I are building lathes for the bowl turners, our friend Chris is cutting more wood than you can shake a stick at, Paula Marcoux is making schedules, writing emails & answering questions morning noon & night – Greenwood Fest begins in just over 3 weeks.

There’s been a small flurry of last-minute cancellations from the Pre-Fest courses. I wrote a post the other day about a couple, and described how this is really like a mini-Fest on its own. 7 courses running side-by-side. “Down” time, meals, evenings, etc will be a woodsy-free-for-all.  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/still-some-room-in-pre-fest-courses-at-greenwood-fest/ 

In addition to one spot in Jogge Sundqvist’s knife-handle/sheath class, space in Tim Manney’s sharpening and Jane Mickelborough’s Hinged spoon, there’s one spot with Dave Fisher making hewn bowls, and one spot with Barn Carder making eating spoons.

I’m sorry for those who had to ditch out at this, nearly the last minute. One man gathers what another man spills, though.

Dates are Tues June 6-Thursday June 8.. .Price is $500 – Includes 2 full days of instruction; (Tues afternoon/Wed all day/Thurs morning) all materials; 2 nights lodging & 7 meals, plus admission to Fuller Craft Museum for the Thursday evening presentation of Jogge’s Rhythym & Slojd.

course description  https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details 

registration: https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses


spring tradition pt 1 – Brimfield

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 6:29am

In some circles, all you need to say is one word – “Brimfield” and people know you mean the 3-times-a-year event in the Massachusetts town of that name. Flea market, antiques fair – not sure what to call it. Home-schooling means you can haul your kids to something like this & call it “cultural history”, “sociology”, “economics” or just a nice spring day looking at all kinds of who-knows-what you’ll see. we just stayed a few hours, which means we saw a fraction of it. May, July & September. Runs for days…a great slice of the world…

a very nice, small Windsor chair. $25. I left it there, we’re over-run with chairs at home.

Saw some very nice baskets – again, I don’t need to start collecting old baskets. This one I shoulda bought, though…

These southern ones are also very nice.

we used to see lots of eastern-European woodwork there, now there’s an influx of sub-Continental stuff. Or so a general overview seems. I’m mostly ignorant about this work, But these carved panels in this door were excellent.


There’s too many other pictures. if you’re inclined, they’re loaded here as a gallery.


still some room in Pre-Fest courses at Greenwood Fest

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 7:56am

The Greenwood Fest is long-sold out, with a waiting list. I heard from Paula Marcoux last night that someone had to cancel, and the next name on the waiting list flipped out –

But there’s still a way to get a big hit of greenwood fun in Plymouth next month. The pre-fest courses are running Tuesday afternoon June 6th to Thursday mid-day June 8th. Due to a cancellation, there’s a space in Jögge Sundqvist’s class “Swedish Slöjd Knife with Birchbark Sheath.”  If you’ve not been around Jögge, I can tell you, this class is about much more than making a knife handle & sheath. Working with him is a life-changing experience.


There’s room too in Tim Manney’s Sharpening class – a deceptive class. When we ran it the first time, people were clamoring for more tools to sharpen. It’s a tricky class to convince your family to let you go for a few days, you come home with a bunch of sharp tools – not some flashy woodsy object d’art. BUT…it’s an eye-opener, and forevermore your tools will be honed to a crazy keen edge. Tim is a great, great teacher.

Jane Mickelborough’s Folding Spoon class is the one I would take if I had the time. Jane’s work studying and learning about these historic spoons from Brittany is really inspiring. It’s so different from most of what we see about spoons, but rooted in tradition.

So if you missed out on the festival itself, this is a chance for a 3/4 festival experience There will be 7 classes running at the same time – just like the fest, you stay on site in cabins, all meals included from lunch Tuesday to lunch Thursday. So I think it’s close to 80 people in camp, counting attendees and instructors. That means all the “down” times; before class, during meals, after class in the evenings, you’re part of a huge contingent of like-minded greenwood-ers.

After class on Thursday, you go find some quiet place to digest what you’ve just been through, then that evening make your way to Fuller Craft Museum for the mind-blowing Rhythym & Slöjd performance by Jögge Sundqvist. http://fullercraft.org/event/rhythm-and-slojd/ – the Fuller evening is part of the pre-Fest tuition.

Come join us for the early festival experience.

course descriptions:    https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details

registration:   https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses

 

 


Finished an oak & pine carved box

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 4:33pm

Then I fitted a lid onto a new box I made recently. Iron hinges – “gimmals” in the 17th century. I’ve gone over setting these before on the blog, and in the chest video with Lie-Nielsen. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/

So I won’t go over the whole thing here. I usually mount these now in the box’s back before assembly, but I just got these from Mark Atchison yesterday…I bored the hole down at an angle into the box. Drove them in so the eye is flush with the top edge of the box. Sometimes you gotta knock it down some. I did for this one.

Then bend them over & clinch them inside. I used a steel bench dog for backing up the hinge’s eye.

Then do just about the same on the lid.

Oak & pine box – H: 7 1/4″   W: 21 3/4″   D: 14″
when it’s new, the color difference is quite stark. I’ve used a few coats of boiled linseed oil/turpentine mixture.

But they don’t stay looking like that. On the left, today’s oak & pine box. On the right is a box I made about 10 or so years ago. Same woods exactly; red oak box and white pine top & bottom. Same finish, followed by some heavy use and occasional dusting/polishing. What a great look they get…

Here’s a detail showing the patina on the older box. Patience is all it takes.

The new box will be posted for sale soon; along with a book stand & a couple other items. If you want to make a box, I have a dozen of the DVDs left, https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/  and Lie-Nielsen has a large supply. I’ll be teaching the box class for 4 days down at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in November.

Details here http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes

I’m working on setting up a page about one-on-one classes here at my shop too – and the box would be a 4-day class there too. Details soon.

some leftover bird photos: gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) arrived today.

red-tailed hawk, (Buteo jamaicensis ) here year-round.

House finch  (Haemorhous mexicanus) here year-round, but more colorful now.

This one is hard for new birders – (Agelaius phoeniceus) the red-winged black bird. But you’ll note there’s no red anywhere, & it’s not black. It’s a female. I like them, nice markings.


stopped chamfer and more

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 4:14pm

Some of what’s been going on here. Greenwood Fest is just over a month away – we have some lathes to build for the bowl turners. We got some great sawn 4″ x 10″ timbers (thanks, Rick) and I started in on boring out the slot on a couple of them. A very nice 2″ auger I got last year or the year before from Ed Lebetkin’s tool store down at the Woodwright’s School.

And Roy fine-tuned it for me; I can’t believe I’ve taken another photo of shavings. Am I becoming one of them?


I’m working over the text of the upcoming book on joinery; it’s had one first-run-through edit already. So I’m addressing some junk, and shooting some replacement photos. here’s stopped chamfers on long rails w mortises. This is a rail for a bedstead, but it looks just like a chest. First, drive the chisel in to make the “stop”.

Then, the chamfer. Lots of tools can do this, I tend to use a spokeshave to start, and a chisel to finish.

Now, the flourishing bit, a scoop cut with the bevel down.

The result.

In the joint stool book is this photo, that goes one step further and has a lamb’s tongue – but that doesn’t “go” on a rail w panels…

It being May, it’s very distracting. The migratory birds are coming north, some to stay, some keep going. We haven’t had much here in the yard yet – the Baltimore orioles (Icterus galbula) started arriving. They nest here. I always stop to look at them, they’re amazing.

this female eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) was just passing through our yard, they nest in the area, but we don’t have enough woods for them.

This white throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) has its spring colors on –

The others are year-rounders – but getting more lively every day. Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and the male after…

They’re all in & out of the apple trees right outside the shop window. Makes it hard to get work done.

Wednesday & Thursday look sunny. More birds then, I hope.

 


wainscot chair assembly

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 3:09pm

I assembled the frame of the wainscot chair the other day. First, I had a few tenons to fine-tune. This step includes beveling the ends with a large framing chisel.

Then inserting each tenon, marking it for drawboring, removing it & boring the hole. 18 joints, 2 pins each, I get 36 holes.

Here’s an old look at drawboring – it looks like some of that is from the book I did with Jennie Alexander, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/drawbored-mortise-and-tenon/

This picture is a little hard to read, but it’s a step called “kerfing” the joint. In this case, the rear shoulder was in the way, keeping the front shoulder from pulling up tight. So you go in there with a backsaw, and re-saw the rear shoulder. Sometimes it takes a single pass, sometimes more.

Then you knock it all together again, I have already pinned the front section and rear section separately. I was looking to get a general overall photo…but this wasn’t it.

I went to the other end of the shop, and that’s the angle. Better anyway.

Then I went higher.

Here’s the frame. This one gets a crest, two applied figures one on each side of the rear posts, then seat, then arms.

Here’s the crest, with conjectural attachment. It gets nails through the ends, down into the integral crest rail. But I never felt like those were enough to hold it in place. So I added a loose tenon between the two crests. I chopped one mortise in the wrong spot, so you see it runs wide/long.

This is as far as I got yesterday.


a further look at some period joinery work

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 6:53am

I did a couple of presentations last weekend at Fine Woodworking Live; a seminar put on by the magazine. It was a sold-out affair, and seems like everyone had a good time. With the magazine staff, the presenters and the attendees there were close to 300 people there. All trying to consume as much information about woodworking and furniture-making as possible.

My talks were 90 minutes, and it’s hard to cram everything I know into that time slot. Because my work is so closely based on studying period pieces, I tried to show some examples prior to my demonstrations. This blog post will flesh out some of what I was talking about.

Al Breed came to one of my sessions, and asked about the insides of the mortises; is there any indication that the joiners bored them first? My reading of the evidence is that these narrow mortises, typically about 5/16″, are just chopped. No need to bore them first. These shots (scanned from slides, thus not as sharp as they might be) show the inside of the top front rail of a chest from the Smithsonian. The chest was made c. 1640-1670. Oak. The joint is broken open near where the till parts fit. One of the nice things about oak is how well it splits, but that’s a drawback too.

inner front rail, smithsonian chest

Here’s a detail of that joint, showing the chopped bottom of the mortise, in the first photo you can also see the angle of the mortise’s end grain cuts, and the trimming of the tenon’s edges.

 

This chest has a joined front fixed to board sides and back. So a blending of a board-chest and a joined chest. Two pieces built this way survive from this shop.

Figure 9

(the photo above is from http://www.chipstone.org/article.php/222/American-Furniture-1996/Seventeenth-Century-Joinery-from-Braintree,-Massachusetts:-The-Savell-Shop-Tradition )

To me it’s not a surprise that this joint blew apart, the surprising part is that more didn’t. I have written before about how much wood is cut away right were all these parts converge – the mortises for the top rails, the grooves for panels on front & side, the notches for the till side and till bottom, and the mortise bored for the till lid. It’s like a game of connect-the-dots.

here is part of that earlier post:

This next photo is the front stile for the chest I’m building now. This stile is red oak, and it’s about 3 1/4″ wide by 1 3/4″ thick. Clustered up near the top end of the stile are several cuts into the stock.
  • First, the two mortises, for the front and side upper rails. These are 5/16″ wide by about 3 3/4″ high. The one for the front rail is about 1 1/2″ deep, the other about 1 1/4″ deep.
  • Each has two 1/4″ holes bored in them, those for the front rail go all the way through the stile.
  • There is a groove running along each edge, into these mortises, for the beveled panels.
  • Additionally there is a notch cut across the inner face of the stile for the till bottom. this notch is about 3/8″ wide and about the same depth. It is positioned so that the till bottom is flush with the bottom edge of the upper rails.
  • What is missing from this photo is one more assault on this piece of wood – the hole bored into the stile for the hinged end of the till lid. This hole is usually about 3/8″ in diameter and about 1/2″ deep, and right near what will be the top end of the stile, after the extra wood is trimmed off the top. It will be about 3/8″ away from the mortise for the side rail.
That’s a lot of cuts into this piece of wood, all in the same neighborhood. Sometimes I am amazed that the stile can take it.

 

Another thing we discussed (I think this was a breakfast discussion…) was the backs of pieces. Chris Becksvoort was telling us about Shaker work, Al Breed about Newport 18th-century work – I chimed in with a group of chests and cupboards from Plymouth Colony from the 2nd half of the 17th century. Here’s the surviving section of a chest with four drawers; in “as found” condition. 

Look inside, the inner face of the rear section is a bit firewood-like. (the strap hinges are replacements) Narrow oak panels, with muntins that have large torn-out sections from riving them:

And a knot in one, and panels with riven texture – not planed smooth.

Sometimes the insides have fully-formed moldings on the framing parts. These get covered up as soon as the chest is filled with textiles. Some Boston joiners did the same thing.

All the chests and cupboards from this large body of work use employ chamfers on the framing parts on the side elevations; usually stopped chamfers. You see it below on the lower edge of the horizontal rail:

stopped chamfers

But they did it too on the rear elevation. Sometimes smooth transitions, sometimes stopped chamfers. This is the part of the cupboard or chest that gets shoved against the wall! Hard to understand the outside being so neat when sometimes the inside is just this side of firewood.

 

 

 


Hewing Wooden Bowls

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 5:34am

I’m getting ready to go over to Southbridge, Massachusetts for Fine Woodworking Live http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/  but in the meantime, Lie-Nielsen just posted a preview of my new video on hewing wooden bowls. I copied it here, in case anyone would like to see what this video covers. I still have some available:  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/new-dvds-carved-oak-boxes-hewing-wooden-bowls-spring-2017/  and they have the rest https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4243/home-education-videos

 

 


a bunch of carved stuff, some intentionally half-done

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 2:58pm

I have been doing some carving lately…I have a number of half-finished (some 7/8 finished) stuff around. The oak I’ve been carving lately is intentionally half-finished, so I have stuff to demonstrate at the Fine Woodworking Live event this coming weekend.

In the 7/8 finished department, there is this – what’s different? It’s maple. Slated to be a cutting board (the blank side, of course). I’ll cut out a handle at one end, with a hole for hanging it, carving-facing-out, when it’s not in use. Here’s one from before – (I thought it was pretty new. But 1 1/2 years have gone by since I made that one.)https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/why-did-this-take-so-long/

As I was sorting & organizing this shop, I squirreled away some walnut scraps leftover from a joint stool…and last week I started making this book stand. Just a little trimming here & there (the finials for instance), and pinning the joints left.

This chair frame is mostly done – maybe it’s less than 7/8s there, but it’s close. There’s a crest rail all carved, but it doesn’t go on until after assembly. I just have to cut the rear stretcher, then add two figures that get attached to the rear stiles, and the crest. Oh, and the seat. But that’s plain…

The past couple of days I’ve been cutting parts for the headboard of a bedstead I’m making for a very patient customer (thanks, Wendy!) This is what I will demonstrate on at FWW Live. I have 2 long rails cut, one is all carved. The other has enough of its pattern for people to see what it’s headed toward…so I’ll have some of that carving to do, and some mortises & tenons to cut. I fitted one muntin today, and planed & laid out another.

Closer view of the same grouping.

Here’s the muntin. All this work is in oak, as it should be.

A detail of the patterns on the two long rails.

some more prep work tomorrow. Then off to Southbridge MA on Friday for the event.


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