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Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes
I installed the 2nd lock the other day. The first one was here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/locks
This one was easier because I was fitting it in a chest, not a box. I don’t often do these so I cut an entire housing in a piece of scrap first.
After taking some measurements from the lock, I scribed a centerline and then located the keyhole. When I bored it, I used a square to help align the bit.
One step I forgot on the box lock the other day was the housing on the top edge of the rail/box front. Here I marked it out with a chisel, then chopped & pared it. This notch is quite shallow, but helps snug the lock down into place.
Next comes sawing, chopping and paring to cut the multi-tiered housing for the lock and its moving parts. I scribed the limits with an awl & square, and marking gauge.
When chopping, I braced my hip/gut against the chest front to support it while knocking against it. I wish I had cut this when the parts were un-assembled…but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
It’s easy to cut the depth of this housing un-even. I kept chopping and then paring across the grain.
This is the housing just about done – it needs to go lower to reach down to the scribed line.
At this point, I got the lock ready to install, but first had to extend the keyhole. I scribed about the bottom of the key, and bored & chopped the rest.
Still not installed; I get it this far – then scribe the rectangle where the staple from the lid will fall into the lock. That wood needs to be cut away.
At this stage, I’ve nailed the lock in place, and added the escutcheon too. Its nails are quite short, if they are too long, they can interfere with the lock. Once it’s done, I lock the staple in place and mark the underside of its plate with a Sharpie/felt marker – then close the chest lid. And lean on it.
That leaves some impressions in the underside of the chest lid. Two divots from the feet of the staple. And a smudgy black rectangle showing where to pare the lid to engage the plate. I took a small carving gouge to hollow out a spot for the staple’s feet.
A benefit of a pine lid is that this operation is easily done. Well, still awkward up in the air, but it’s not oak at least.
Once I had it where I wanted it, I bored pilot holes for the nails. Reamed those holes, and drove the nails.
Then, test the lock & key. If all goes well, then you clinch those nails on top of the lid.
I wanted to see how the lock worked from the inside. But it’s very dark in there. If you’re going to be locked inside for any duration, I suggest bringing a light.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my start in woodworking. Forty years ago I made my first “real” pieces of furniture; ladderback chairs from John (Jennie) Alexander’s Make a Chair from a Tree. The book came out in 1978, I remember when I first opened that package. The chairs I made then, from that book, would really make me cringe now – but that’s not the point. (thankfully, I have no idea where those chairs are, but I have this drawing of one saved in an old sketchbook. That chair was made before I met Alexander and Drew Langsner in 1980.)
For years, I made these chairs, and then Windsors – before I made any oak furniture. Then once I started on the oak joined furniture, those chairs sort of fell by the wayside. I made a couple kid-sized JA-style chairs when my children were small, but that was it.
Otherwise, large oak carved chairs or turned (also large) chairs – all that 17th-century stuff. We saw one of my wainscot chairs displayed in the Hingham Massachusetts Public Library the other day. I made it based on an original made in Hingham in the 17th century.
But I’ve been planning for a while to “re-learn” how to make JA ladderbacks. These chairs are more demanding than my wainscot chairs – the tolerances are much tighter, less forgiving. I made a couple attempts recently that I wasn’t happy enough with to finish – so today I took the day off from joinery and worked on one of these chairs. First thing I did was to review Jennie’s DVD about making the chair. If you are interested in these chairs, I highly recommend that video. http://www.greenwoodworking.com/MACFATVideo
(yes, Jennie & Lost Art Press are working towards a new edition of the book – but get the video in the meantime. It covers every detail of making this chair.)
The part I had to re-learn is how to orient the bent rear posts while boring the mortises. That’s what I went to the video for; the rest I still had. Included with the video are drawings for a couple helpful jigs to aid in those tricky bits. This morning I made several of those jigs – but didn’t photograph any of that. I didn’t get the camera out until I was boring mortises…
In this photo, I’m boring the mortises for the side rungs into the rear post. If you get this angle wrong, you might as well quit now. I forget now who came up with this horizontal boring method – but I learned it from Jennie & Drew Langsner. They worked together many summers teaching classes to make this chair. The photo is a bit cluttered (the bench is cluttered really) so it’s hard to see. But the bent rear post needs to be oriented carefully. But once you have it right, then it’s just a matter of keeping the bit extender level and square to the post. there’s a line level taped to the bit extender. Eyeball 90 degrees.
Alexander’s non-traditional assembly sequence is to make the side sections of the chair first. So after boring the rear & front posts for the side rungs, I shaved the tenons in the now-dried rungs. Mostly spokeshave work.
I bored several test holes with the same bit, to gauge the tenons’ size. Chamfer the end of the tenon, try to force it into the hole. Then shave it to just squeeze in there. No measurements.
Once the tenon starts in that hole, you get a burnished bit right at the end. That’s the guideline now. Shave down to it.
Yes, glue. I don’t often use it, but this is a case where I do. The chair would probably be fine without it, but it doesn’t hurt. Belt & suspenders. Knocking the side rungs into the rear post.
Make sure things line up, and the front post is not upside-down.
Then bang it together. Listen for the sound to change when the joints are all the way in.
Then time to bore the front & rear mortises. This little angle-jig has the unpleasant name of “potty seat” – I wish there was another name for it. But there’s a level down on the inside cutout – so I tilt the chair section back & forth until that reads level. Then bore it.
It’s hard to see from this angle, but that chair section is tilted away from me, creating the proper angle between the side and rear rungs.
Then re-set for the front mortises.
I was running out of daylight – and any other task, I’d just leave it til tomorrow. But with glue, and the wet/dry joints, I wanted to get this whole frame together this afternoon. Here I’m knocking the rear rungs in place. That’s a glue-spreader (oak shaving) in the front mortise.
Expect to hear a lot more from me this year about making these chairs; their relationship to historical chairs, and also about the people who taught me to make them. It’s been a heck of a trip these past 40 years.
Chests, cupboards, boxes, cabinets – most any wooden furniture that opened and closed had an iron lock in 17th-century New England (& old England for that matter). It’s rare that they survive, even more unusual is a customer who wants to pay what it takes to get locks on their custom furniture. I have such a client right now, for 2 boxes and a chest. So I get to a.) show how I install a handmade lock, and b.) first, re-learn how I install a handmade lock. I do them so rarely that each time is like doing it for the first time. The lock above was made by Peter Ross, blacksmith. http://peterrossblacksmith.com/ His website is perpetually under construction. His iron work is top flight. We’ll get the tacky stuff out of the way first – if you want locks that are so-called “museum-quality/period-correct”, expect to pay for them. This lock, with escutcheon and 2 keys was $650. I suspect Peter still undercharged me, given the amount of work that goes into these. OK. Now to install it.
I cut a test-mortise in a piece of scrap to make sure I was on the right track. Then proceeded to the box. First, bore the main part of the keyhole.
The real dumb thing was to build the box, then decide it wanted a lock. So now, how to hold it for all the chopping, paring, etc? Because of the overhang of the bottom/front, I had to prop the box up on a piece of 7/8″ thick pine. I put some bubblewrap between them so as to not mess up the carved front too much. Then to hold the lid open with something other than my forehead, I cut an angle on a piece of scrap, and clamped it with a spring clamp. Not traditional, but worked well.
After scribing the layout based on the lock, I sawed two ends as deeply as I could.
After chopping some of that waste out, I had to re-score the end grain. I switched to a very sharp knife for this part. worked great.
Alternated scoring with the knife and paring with this long-bladed paring chisel.
Once I got to the stage for testing the fit, I realized I needed a hole bored in the scrap below for the sleeve to fit through. Once that was in place, I swiped a black sharpie over the lock, and then tested it. Left black marks where I needed to adjust things.
Some back & forth til it fit the way I wanted it. The slot on the top edge of the lock is for the staple from the lid to engage the bolt. So I needed to get the wood out of that slot.
Ready to be nailed in place. I bored pilot holes, and drove the nails in. I backed them up out front, thinking some might poke through. As it happened only one did, in a low point in the carving. So no trouble at all.
Then needed to open up the keyhole a bit. A rare appearance of a file in my woodworking. I bored a small hole first, then opened it up with the file.
The escutcheon, nailed in place. I had to snip the ends of these nails off, so they wouldn’t mess up the lock. In this application, they are as short as a wrought nail can be just about.
Then, some fussing to locate and excavate the housing for the staple. Here, I locked the staple to the lock and impressed its position by using the sharpie, and closing the lid & leaning on it. That left a mark so I could see where to cut into the lid.
Knife and chisel work again.
I got this part done, then had to pick up speed because it was getting dark. So the final photos will be another day. It’s 99.9% done. An adjustment is all that’s left.
I haven’t been out birding in ages. While I was in Virginia, I took a morning off to go to Jamestown Island for a walk. Good eagle habitat there. I saw about 6 or 8 of them during the few hours I was there. Didn’t get any great shots, but a few photo snippets. Here’s an adult taking off from its perch.
I saw several different juveniles. One was very distinctive, either molting some wing feathers or otherwise lost some..
At one point there was about 4 juvys and an adult in the air over me at once. here’s one of the other young birds.
Out at the tip of the island, I saw this raccoon digging relentlessly in the flats. Maybe not a good sign seeing him/her out at mid-day in the bright sun. Seemed fine, but made me wonder why it was out at that time of day…
Back down the island I ran into some eastern bluebirds, including this one.
I kept seeing flocks of birds I couldn’t get a bead on, ten or twelve birds scattering around here and there. Then I finally got ’em, yellow-rump warblers.
Back home, there’s a chickadee that’s been around all fall and winter, he’s missing some pigment so he shows a lot of white feathers. Daniel dubbed him “Moby Chic”
a pair of hooded mergansers in the river one day.
I gotta try to get out some soon. So much oak to be worked, I’ve been at my bench every daylight moment…but the oak won’t go bad. So maybe tomorrow…
First off – my holdfast is bigger than yours. Being back at Colonial Williamsburg last week reminded me of my previous visit there 11 years ago. I was using the 18th-century style holdfasts, and made an off-hand comment along the lines of “boy, these high holdfasts get in the way…” Ken Schwartz, the head blacksmith offered to make me a low one like I use at home…but I said “No – don’t go to all that trouble..” – then I guess I made another comment about the height of the holdfast. So after lunch, Ken came on stage and presented me with a custom-made holdfast.
He & I met up again last week, both remembering that event. Seems we’ve both told the story many times – but I’ve never posted the holdfast before. I find it a couple times every year during deep cleaning of the shop.
I finished a carved box for a customer today. One of my “usual” boxes; oak with a pine lid & bottom. Wooden hinges.
I have a number of custom pieces to build this year, so I’ll be doing a lot of furniture work. I get questions sometimes about “do you take commissions?” – and the answer is yes. I have a list right now that will take me through the first half of the year, but this box is an example of something that can jump the queue – I can usually work one of these into my schedule pretty easily. As it happened in this case, the box was made, I just had to finish the lid & bottom.
Finished this walnut book stand today too – which was just the finish; linseed oil. This one is spoken for, but there’s another right behind it.
One of the custom pieces I’m working on now is a chest of drawers. This one is not based on any particular period example, it will be carved and have moldings between the four drawers. I don’t want to use applied moldings in this case (it’s going to a very dry climate, compared to here by the ocean) so I have opted to adapt this “lipped tenon” seen in Plymouth Colony work of the 17th century. In this shot, you see the joint halfway home, leaving a piece about 7/8″ thick riding over the stile’s face. That section will get the molding cut in it.
Here’s how I cut it. Pencil layout for the camera’s benefit. This blank is laying on its face, that will be the molding.
I’ve made the rip cut that sets off the molding, and cut the tenon to length. Now I’m cutting the rear shoulder.
Sawing the other cheek of the tenon.
Then chopping the end grain between the tenon and the molding.
The joint once it’s cut & pared.
Fitted into the mortise. There’s 3 rails like this, the other two will have scratched moldings. I’ll shoot more of this project soon.
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.
I’m back from New York and off to Williamsburg. I’ll be at their Woodworking conference through Sunday, then back home here Monday or Tuesday. Then Pret & Paula get back from their jaunt just in time for tickets to Greenwood Fest to go on sale February 2nd, 10 AM eastern time. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/
You can read what we have so far on that site. Earlier I mentioned we’re having 2 new instructors this time – Curtis Buchanan https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/greenwood-fest-instructor-curtis-buchanan/ and Robin Wood https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/greenwood-fest-2018-instructor-robin-wood/ The rest of the lineup are regulars, or now-regulars for Greenwood Fest.
The Spoon Carving Triumvirate.
JoJo Wood – I’d hate to think of this program without JoJo. https://www.instagram.com/jojowoodcraft/
Barn the Spoon – a great addition last year and we’re thrilled to have him back again. https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/
And last but not least – Jane Mickelborough. https://www.instagram.com/janespoons/ Her folding spoons (and fan birds) were a huge hit. She’ll be doing some of both this time.
Then, Dave Fisher. There is no link to Dave Fisher. I’m not saying anything else.Dave Fisher on a bowl horse
Darrick Sanderson is a huge hit. https://www.instagram.com/dcsandersoninc/ Hewn or turned bowls, spoons like crazy, non-stop carving/cutting/slicing.
The whirwind-around-the-world slöjd man Jögge Sundqvist. https://www.instagram.com/surolle/ Where is he? Japan, Australia, Sweden, Minnesota – well, in June he’ll be in Pinewoods with us. Here he is doing his Jimi Hendrix thing.
Not only do we have the now-old man of Windsor chairs, Curtis, but once again we have Pete Galbert coming back this year. Great chairs, great book, great teacher. https://www.instagram.com/petergalbert/
We just spent a weekend with Tim Manney making all edges sharp. Chair making, tool making, sharpening – Tim covers a lot of ground. https://www.instagram.com/tim.manney/
I’ll do a separate post about Pen Austin next week – she does amazing work with finishes, surfaces, etc. Often working with lime plaster, at the Fest she’s going to show us about using milk paint like you’ve never seen before. Even this crowd that is milk-paint savvy. Pen was there the day we launched Plymouth CRAFT but it’s taken until now for us to get her into our orbit – she’s very much in demand for restoration work. Here is a photo of some of her faux painting on columns for a Shakespeare Company’s stage.
I’ll probably do an oak carving session during the Fest, and hopefully Paula will do another cooking w/fire class…we’ll figure those details out during February.
I’ve been meaning to get my teaching schedule posted here; but have been too busy getting stuff together…Next week I’ll be part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Working Wood Conference. I haven’t been there since 2007, here’s a shot from then, with Jennie Alexander pontificating while I get set to turn something.JA & PF at Colonial Williamsburg 2007
It’s sold out, so if you got a ticket, I’ll see you there. https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/learn/conferences/working-wood
Next month, I’ll be back at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking for a 2-day class in carving oak; February 17 & 18. https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes The exercises we’ll carve are all based on ones I learned from studying period furniture; chests, boxes, cupboards, church furniture in England and more. Here’s a snippet of what to expect.
In April I’ll be down to Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School for 3 days of spoon carving. It’s full, but I think you can get on a waiting list. More fun than a barrel of monkeys. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/classes/spoon-carving-plus-with-peter-follansbeeI’m not touching those spoons
Later in April (20-22nd) ’ll be part of Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge Massachusetts; including a one-day intro to spoon carving. With Dave Fisher as assistant!! I’m just going to step back & watch Dave… http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/about-fww-live/
I think I’m doing furniture-related stuff too, maybe a talk as well. I’d look into it, but I still have next week’s thing to prep!
May – getting ready for June.
June 5-10; Greenwood Fest 2018. Plymouth CRAFT’s 3rd time around with Greenwood Fest. Held at Pinewoods Dance Camp in Plymouth Massachusetts. 2-day workshops beforehand and a 3-day festival. Demonstrations, hands-on sessions, big pile of spoon wood (or bowls if you’re inclined); lodging & meals all part of the scene. Tickets go on sale February 2nd, 10am eastern time. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/ How fast will it sell out? I predict less than a day…so don’t hesitate.
here’s last year’s group shot:
July – Can’t forget Lie-Nielsen. Spoon carving, July 21 & 22. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/191
That’s all I have for certain right now. We’re planning a long session for making a joint stool at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. Like the chest project we did there twice, this would be one-weekend-per month for a few months. Maybe 4. So 8 days of classes. Unlike the chest, this project would require little or no homework. Split the log, make the boards, cut joinery, do turning! And make the stool. Haven’t figure the time frame yet. I might have a trip overseas in November, so I’m waiting to get that sorted first.
I also offer one-on-one classes here at my shop in Kingston Massachusetts.
Spoon carving, the oak furniture carvings I do, or various projects – like a carved box. Rate is $500 a day. I have all the tools necessary, wood and reference materials. We have lunch together, lodging and other meals on your own; but Plymouth is 10 minutes away with all its options for both. Expensive, yes. But one-on-one instruction can cover a lot of ground. I have time available in March, then again starting in September. July and August are too hot to share a small space!
I went to another world the other day. Attended part of Americana Week at Sotheby’s in New York. I was there to give a talk, but I got to see some great oak furniture offered for sale this week…and got to see some friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in quite a while. Here’s the link to the auction listings; http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2018/important-americana-n09805.html#
Auction previews are great – unlike museums, here you can open stuff and peek inside. Lot #723 is a New Haven wainscot chair that has people all excited. (Some of these photos I shot hand-held in the galleries; the best ones were given to me by Sotheby’s)
A detail of one of the arms.
and of the carvings; I need the detail shots because I’m going to make one of these chairs this year.
I got to look this chair over with my friend Bob Trent – and neither of us had ever seen a groove like the one cut in the outside of the stile
I saw this box in 1998, now lot 727, on another research trip with Trent. And as soon as we started looking it over, we realized it was part of the group of boxes and chests by William Savell and his sons John and William from Braintree, Massachusetts. Even though we hadn’t seen this particular pattern before.
Many things connect this box to the others – square wooden pins instead of nails to secure the rabbets. Gouge-chopped accents here & there are direct quotes from the others. And the scribed lines above and below the carving; with diagonal chisel cuts zig-zagging across the box. Maltese cross punched inside the zig-zag.
Here’s the side of a related box at the MFA in Boston. You can see the zig-zags clearly here.
Jn Savell box, side carving
The box now at Sotheby’s again – look especially at the area outside the arches –
Now from a chest at the Smithsonian – this exact same motif outside the lunettes from the top raillunette, William Savell Sr 1590s-1669
and above & below the opposing lunettes is a pattern from the panels on these chests – look at the very bottom of the panel:panel, joined chest, c. 1660-1680s
Then back at the box front –
I don’t know what’s the story behind these till trenches. If it’s a till w a drawer, why does the vertical notch extend below what would be the till bottom? There is no hole for a till lid…
Inside, it stops just short of being labelled “This end up”.
Lots more stuff in the sale; a Boston chest of drawers, walnut and cedrela
a chest with drawers, Wethersfield, CT
And – me. Poor Mark Atchison gets no glory for all the hard blacksmith work he did back when we made a slew of these cabinets. Trent had us make this one as a gift to his friends Dudley & Constance Godfrey – and now a foundation they started is selling it, and several of these items as a fund-raiser for educational programming at the Milwaukee Art Museum… I didn’t do the coloring…
I’m supposed to be putting together 3 lectures and planning 2 demonstrations. And finishing an article. And more. So I’m susceptible to distraction tonight. While looking for slides, I ran across these old notes I took about 15 years ago. Many years ago, I bought a few volumes of the Records of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters. An extravagant purchase, but with some great details about their goings-on. Here’s a snippet, I wrote a “translation” in parentheses for the many folks who might not be so nimble at deciphering the original:
Bower Marsh, editor, Records of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, vol 4, Warden’s account book, 1546-1571
payd to Rychard burdn for iij plankes for the bowlyng ale xviijd (paid to Richard Burden for 3 planks for the bowling alley, 18 pence)
payd for iiij lode of funders yearthe & the caryag for the bowlyng ale vs vjd (paid for 4 loads of founders earth and the carriage for the bowling alley, 5 shillings, 6 pence)
payd to ij laborars for a day & di for caryeng owte of the funders yerthe in to the strett Redy for ye cartes & for caryeng yt in to or well yard xviijd
(paid to 2 laborers for a day & a half for carrying out of the fuller’s earth into the street ready for the carts & for carrying it in to our well yard – 17 pence)
payd for iiij lod of sope ahysses & the caryag iijs xd (paid for 4 loads of soap ashes and the carriage 3 shillings 10 pence)
payd for v busschelles of howse ahysses for the bowlyng ale xd (paid for 5 bushels of house ashes for the bowling alley 10 pence)
payd to ij men for the makyng of the bowlyng aly xxjs xjd (paid to 2 men for the making of the bowling alley 21 shillings 11 pence)
Randle Holme’s description of bowling, from 1688 is:
Bowling is a Game, or recreation which if moderately used very healthfull for the body, and would be much more commendable then it is, were it not for those swarms of Rooks, which so pester Bowling greens, where in three things are thrown away by such persons, besides the Bowls, viz: Tyme, Money, and Curses, and the last ten for one.
Seuerall places for Bowling.
First, Bowling greens, are open wide places made smooth and euen, these are generally palled or walled about.
Secondly, Bares, are open wide places on Mores or commons.
Thirdly, Bowling-alleys, are close places, set apart in made more for privett persons, than publick uses.
Fourthly, Table Bowling, this is, Tables of a good length in Halls or dineing roomes, on which for exercise and diuertisement gentlemen and their assosiates bowle with little round balls or bullets.
Here’s Jan Steen’s skittle players, not technically bowling. But what we in the US think of as bowling these days.
Randle Holme again, describing the types of bowls:
Several sorts of Bowles.
Where note in Bowling the chusing of the Bowls is the greatest cunning, for
Flat Bowles, are best for close Narrow alleys.
Round Byassed Bowles for open grounds of advantage.
Bowles as round as a ball for green swarths that are plain and Levell.
Chees-cake bowles, which are round and flat like cheeses.
Jack Bowles, little bowles cast forth to bowl att, of some termed a Block.
Studded Bowles, such as are sett full of pewter nayles, and are used to run at streight Markes.
Marvels, or round Ivory balls, used by gentlemen to play on long tables, or smooth board Romes.
I saw these bowlers during my trip to England a few years back. I think this was near Royal Leamington Spa
Here is a 17th-century bowling ball, found during Boston’s famous Big Dig:
Read about it here: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/mhcarchexhibitsonline/crossstreetbacklot.htm
As I write this blog, I sort the photos into folders, sorted first by the year. Yesterday I started the 11th folder – “BLOG 2018” – whew. So here goes year 11 of this collection of stuff about my oak furniture and more. Remember when I wrote about finding my stuff on the 2nd-hand market? https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/i-got-it-second-hand/
Well, now I’ve made it to the big-time second-hand market! http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2018/important-americana-n09805/lot.732.html
Bob Trent had me make this cabinet for his friends Constance & Dudley Godfrey; and now some of their collection is being sold at Sotheby’s this month. I didn’t do the color. Ours looks new, like this:
This picture is of course a lie. Ever clean up your house when company is coming? I cleaned mine yesterday to shoot some furniture photos. I used to shoot every piece I made at my old shop; getting out background paper, lights – all that stuff. Now I have no room for that. And I decided to try to shoot the stuff in its normal settings. That means either in the shop or the house. To shoot it in the house means remove all the extraneous junk piled here & there – it’s a small house, we home-school the kids – and we both worked in museums, which means we keep everything, thinking it’s important.
Here’s another lie:
I have one of these boxes-with-a-drawer to make for a customer this year. This one usually has horses and funko-pops on it. And other 12-yr-old girl stuff.
Outdoors is perfectly honest chaos. Down river, nearly high tide.
Spending these fiercely cold days working at the desk.
Lectures coming up in Colonial Williamsburg, Sotheby’s, Fine Woodworking Live in April, and more. I’ll post my schedule for teaching soon. It will include some slots here for one-on-one classes. Keep warm…except you folks in the southern hemisphere, you keep cool.
I’m working out my teaching schedule for 2018, and will post it soon. But the first class is coming right up. We’re trying something new with Plymouth CRAFT – on Monday January 15, 2018 we’re offering a one-day “advanced” spoon carving class. All that advanced means in this case is you’ve carved spoons before, know some of the grips and the ways around the tools. We’ll look at crooks in particular; working with them to concentrate on the shape of the spoon.
It’s going to be a small class, but there’s room still. We’ll have chopping blocks, a pile of crooks, a box of tools and a fire in the stove. This is a chance to delve into some of the details that often elude us in the usual class that features a lot of beginners. I’ll have a pile of spoons by carvers far & wide as reference materials, and the usual array of books, articles, photos – lots of inspiration.
The class is tacked onto a full weekend of offerings – Tim Manney’s now-sold-out sharpening class, Chinese dumplings, https://www.plymouthcraft.org/chinese-dumplings and Embroidery with Elizabeth Creeden https://www.plymouthcraft.org/introduction-to-surface-embroidery Lunch by Paula Marcoux is included. Come and join us –
The other day I wrote about Robin Wood coming to teach at Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest – the other “new” instructor is Curtis Buchanan. It’s yet another great pleasure for me to have Curtis come and join us. I met Curtis in 1987 when I was a student in his first class in making Windsor chairs, at Country Workshops.
If you aren’t up-to-speed on who’s who in American Windsor chairmaking, the best Windsors in modern-day America begin with Dave Sawyer of Vermont. It was Dave who taught Curtis back in the early 1980s; and Curtis took what Dave taught him and ran with it. He’s been making chairs now for 35 years or so…and making just the most beautiful chairs you can imagine. He’s taught all over creation; but rarely if ever goes out on the road anymore to work…so it’s an extra treat to get him up to New England.
Part of what Curtis will be doing at the Fest is demonstrating all the steps in making a basic version of one of his fanback chairs. He calls it a “democratic” chair – in that the tool kit is small, and the operations are simple to learn. But don’t think crude – his chairs are graceful and comfortable beyond expectations. I think he said riving tools, drawknife, brace & bit, and a scorp for the seat. Must be a saw in there somewhere…but not much else. I can’t wait to see it happen. He’ll also teach a short session on his 2nd-favorite tool – using the froe. (the drawknife is his first, but we have Pete Galbert repeating some of what he did this year…)
As he’s working, I betcha Curtis will tell some stories too…
Curtis’ website has some video well worth watching http://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/
And this from Jon Binzen of Fine Woodworking – “Anyone who has met Curtis will know that it’s as much fun to listen to him as it is to watch him work.” See the audio slideshow they put together during one of the sessions FWW did with Curtis. I had posted this before and described him as the happiest woodworker I know. And I still feel that he’s wrong in this audio, where he’s says “I’m not the best…” – Nonsense, he’s the best. – http://www.finewoodworking.com/2014/10/08/curtis-buchanan-windsor-master
Greenwood Fest will be held in Plymouth Massachusetts – pre-fest courses June 5-7 and the Fest from June 7-10. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/ It will be announced, here and elsewhere – sign up for Plymouth CRAFT’s newsletter to keep up-to-date on Greenwood Fest and our other programming – https://www.plymouthcraft.org/contact
Back in 2008 I started this blog; being inspired by a blog I read regularly then – that of Robin Wood. Sometime in the early/mid 1990s, my friend Ned Cooke sent me this postcard, showing Robin Wood turning a huge nest of bowls in beech on his pole lathe. I tacked it up in my workshop and it’s been there ever since. Even made the move to my new shop…
I had heard about Robin’s work and somewhere along the line Jennie Alexander traded letters back & forth with him back then. For a while there was a very active forum on the web called the Bodgers’ Ask and Answer forum. (it’s still there, going back quite a ways with lots of information. Some of it is quite good. https://www.bodgers.org.uk/BB/ ) Robin was a regular contributor there, and that’s where he & I started talking directly to each other. I can’t remember if I found his blog through the forum or vice-versa. Doesn’t matter now.
What matters to me is that Robin is perhaps THE person responsible for reviving the craft of turning wooden bowls on a pole lathe, using hook tools. Right now there are lots of people taking up this work – and I hope they recognize Robin’s contribution to its revival. (Somewhere in those years, I first met Roger Abrahamson http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html when he appeared at my shop & introduced himself. His work parallels some of Robin’s very well. Roger is another story someday.)
We finally met in 2014, when I was a student in his first course at North House Folk School. (met Jarrod & JoJo there at the same time – 3 birds, one stone). With Barn the Spoon, Robin started another inspiration of ours – Spoonfest https://spoonfest.co.uk/ and that’s where he & I next met up. He’d invited me a couple of times and I begged off due to scheduling problems. Then in 2016 I decided I’d better go before the invites dried up.
I’m thrilled that Robin is coming to Greenwood Fest. He’ll be teaching a 2-day class in bowl turning on a pole lathe, with hook tools. Then during the fest, we’ll have him in various capacities; these days much of his time is spent making tools for spoon carving. We’re still working out the details of some aspects of the schedule. One piece we have planned with him is a slide talk/presentation about his various green woodworking exploits over the years. Worth seeing.Robin Wood’s bowl
One of the hardest parts of Greenwood Fest planning for us is the instructor roster. Because our venue has a limit on the number of people allowed, the size of the Fest will not grow. And because we love all our instructors equally – it becomes difficult to work in new ones. To make space for Robin, Jarrod Dahl has kindly agreed to shift from Greenwood Fest this year to a course with Plymouth CRAFT later in the season – early to mid-September. BUT Jarrod & Jazmin plan on attending the Fest, so if you see Jarrod there, take it easy on him with the questions, it’s his vacation!
Greenwood Fest will be held in Plymouth Massachusetts June 5-10, 2018. Those dates include the pre-fest courses. Tickets on sale starting February 2, 2018 https://www.greenwoodfest.org/
Last spring Jogge Sundqvist & I were talking about Amy Umbel’s painted spoons & bowls. https://www.fiddleheadwoodworking.com/gallery We both enjoyed how she “found” the styles/patterns that suited her. Amy’s work was the inspiration for me to branch out and impose my furniture carvings on the handles of my spoons. Once I started this, I haven’t chip-carved one since. And I keep searching through boxes of tools for smaller carving gouges!
I’ve been busy with furniture work lately, I have had these spoons for a couple of weeks, then my kids relentlessly reminded me that Christmas is soon (10 days Daniel tells me). So here are the last few spoons I have for right now. If you would like to order one, leave a comment. Paypal is usually easiest. If you want to send a check that’s fine too – but it will slow things down for delivery. Prices include shipping in the US. Thanks as always.
Nov spoon 06 –
Almost a pie-serving shape. American sycamore crook. Very flat “bowl” to this one…
L: 9 3/4″ W: 1 1/2″
Dec spoon 01 – cherry crook. Small serving spoon, mostly right-handed.
L: 9 3/8″ W: 2 1/8″
Dec spoon 02; larger cherry crook.
L: 10 5/8″ W: 2 3/8″
Dec spoon 03; Cherry crook, serving spoon. A very dark heartwood to this cherry tree.
L: 9 5/8″ W: 2 1/4″
Dec spoon 04; Cherry serving spoon, decidedly lefty.
L: 13 1/2″ W: 2 3/4″
Dec spoon 05; A small cherry spoon this time. That same dark heartwood as one above.
L: 7 1/8″ W: 1 7/8″
Dec spoon 06. Cherry, crook. This is the spoon I like to make the most of all. The best of this batch, and of the past few months. a curved crook, this spoon has shapes and angles in several directions. This one still works, I’m known for carving some “challenging” shaped-spoons.
L: 7 1/2″ W: 2″
Nov spoon 07; cherry, large serving spoon. The last of a batch of oversized serving spoons in cherry. Too late for Thanksgiving…
L:13 7/8″ W” 3 1/2″
Carved & painted box. I made this box a while ago, and was keeping it to photograph for my upcoming book with Lost Art Press on joined furniture. Oak with pine lid & bottom. Paint is iron oxide, lampblack and chalk. Red wash (iron oxide thinned in linseed oil) overall. Iron hinges.
My photos are done, so the box is now available.
H: 6 1/2″ W: 15 1/2″ D: 12″
Desk box. I made two of these; starting on Roy Underhill’s show, then a Lie-Nielsen DVD. Finally, an article for Popular Woodworking coming soon. One sold, one is left.
red & white oak, white pine bottom. 4 drawers inside, 2 tills, with a narrow tray area behind. Handmade “dovetail” hinges. Based on an original from Massachusetts, c. 1670-1700.
H: 11 1/2 ” W: 24 1/4″ D: 15 3/4″
$2.000 plus shipping.
I try to not go out in December. Certainly when I do, I try to only go to places without Christmas music, chaos, traffic and the other trappings of the “season.” The actual season; late fall/early winter, is one of my favorites. Marie & I went to the beach yesterday. I shot a few photos, and when I uploaded them, found some from a beach walk about two weeks ago. (click the photos to enlarge)
Marie & I saw a few scattered sanderlings (Calidris alba) – but this photo of mine is from the earlier walk.
We couldn’t find any loons yesterday; I got this one earlier. I think it’s a red-throated loon (Gavia stellata) – we’ll see.
There were many, many eiders out on the water. Hundreds of them…this photo is a fraction of the flock. (Somateria mollissima)
What we came for was this figure in the dunes:
The first snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) of the season for us:
Marie’s shot:snowy owl by Marie Pelletier
While I’m raiding her photo stash, here’s her sanderling shot of the day:Sanderling by Marie Pelletier
Time to turn around and head back;
The sun was going down as we made our way back down the beach. I turned & got a shot of the clouds over the Gurnet:
A rare view of Marie – she’s usually behind the camera at Plymouth CRAFT:
One last one, from the earlier trip, Daniel drawing in the sand:
Maureen has been finishing stuff lately and posting them on her etsy site, https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts and she got me poking around my spoon basket. I haven’t had much time for spoon carving, but have a few I’ve finished in the past month or so. If you would like to pick any of these, just leave a comment. Usually paypal is the easiest way to pay; I’ll send an invoice. Or you can mail a check, just let me know. Finish is food-grade flax oil on all of these. Prices include shipping in US, further afield requires an extra charge for shipping.
November spoon 01; an American sycamore crook, with S-scroll carving
L: 9 5/8″ W: 2 1/8″
Nov spoon 02; birch serving spoon
L: 11″ W: 2 1/2″
Nov spoon o3; birch crook. serving spoon. One of my favorite kinds, following both the crook of the branch as well as the curve.
L: 9″ W: 2 3/*”
Nov spoon 04; birch serving spoon.
L: 10 7/8″ W:2 1/2″
Nov spoon 05; cherry crook serving spoon. Maybe my favorite of the batch.
L: 12 3/8″ W: 2 1/4″
Nov spoon 06: Not sure what to call this one. Almost a pie-serving shape. American sycamore crook. Very flat “bowl” to this one…(clouds came out, photo is darker than the spoon really is…)
L: 9 3/4″ W: 1 1/2″
Nov spoon 07; cherry, large serving spoon. The last of a batch of oversized serving spoons in cherry. Too late for Thanksgiving…
L:13 7/8″ W” 3 1/2″
Nov tray; birch. When I was carving it, I thought of it as a bowl, but now I see it done, it’s a tray.
L: 15 3/4″ W: 5 7/8″
Nov bird bowl, cherry. The last one of these I have done for quite a while. I have unfinished ones lurking at me in the shop, but no time for them now…
L: 15″ H: (at front) 7 1/4″
I have 14 windows down in this small workshop, and here in New England as winter solstice is approaching, I can’t see well enough to do any significant work by 4:30 in the afternoon. By 4pm it’s getting dim, but I can sweep, sort stuff – can’t cut joinery or do carving. I think about the joiners of the 17th century with the small (& few) windows in their buildings, how did they do any work in this light? Maybe they didn’t work much in the winter?
A notion that shows up in several 20th-century writings about 17th-century joiners is that they concentrated their joinery work in the winter; being too occupied with crops and livestock the rest of the year. That’s a quaint notion, and might even have some merit. One way to see if this is valid is to see tradesmen’s probate inventories to see if there’s work underway. There’s lots of reasons stuff might be un-finished…but it’s a start.
One bit of evidence in favor of this argument is the inventory of Edward Brown of Ipswich, Massachusetts, his inventory is from February 1659/60:
3 wheeles, finished lennen 13s6d, wheeles woolen & linnen not finisht £1-16 work done toward chaires 3s & 15—ills 6s9d shope tooles £3-6
John Symonds of Salem, Massachusetts also had unfinished work when he died. His inventory was presented in court 19:7:1671 – so September according to the old calendar.
will: “…to my son James Symonds…I do assigne my servant John Pease to him dureing the term of time expressed in the Indenture… Further I give all my workinge tooles belonginge to my trade to my son James Symonds…”
inv: Joyners Tools benches and lare £5-5-6 2 Bedsteds almost finished £3 3 stools and one half of a Box 12s6d 1/2 Grindstone & windlass & a Small grindstone 5s Timber planke & board £5-12
…part of a Chest… 3 Chests 3 Boxes and a wooden Tunnil 14s 2 Tables a forum & Chayres 16s a Vice and an old Hatchet 10s nayles 10d an Ax 6s10d …a p of Jemmils…5 wedges…one half of a Crosscut Saw… Timber in the Woods £1-2 an apprentice of 17 years old who hath 3 year and 9 moneths and 2 weekes to serve
George Cole died in 1675. His inventory is dated 30:9:1675, back when the 9th month was November…his work is not called “unfinished” but he had “work done in his shop…”
will: “…I give to my master John Davis all my timber…”
3 saues 8s, 2 goynters & foreplaine 6s, 3 smothing plains & a draing knife 3s6d, 2 plans & 2 revolvong plains 10s, 4 round plains 5s, 3 rabet plains 4s, 3 holou plains 3s6d, 9 Cresing plains 10s6d, 6 torning tools 9s, 3 plaine irons & 3 bits 1s6d, 1 brase stok, 2 squares & gorges 1s6d, 1 brod ax & 1 fro 2s, holdfast 1s6d, hamer 1s6d, 6 gouges 2s, 9 Chisels 5s, 2 ogers & 1 draing knife 3s, 1 bench hooks, 2 yoyet irons 1s, a gluepot 1s6d, for what work he has done in his shop £1-10
My notes include a date of “1676/7” for Matthew Macomber of Taunton, in Plymouth Colony. The double-dating falls between January and mid-March, so this is another one for the “winter” crowd.
a parsell of cooper’s tooles 9s (illegible) hoopes not finished 10d five hundred of cedar bolts att the swamp £1-10 hewen timber in the woods 8s9d 200 of cooper stuff in the woods 5s more in tooles and arms £2-10
Another vote for winter is William Savell, of Braintree, Massachusetts. He died February 1, 1699/1700. Included in his inventory are:
a green carpitt & covers for chairs 01-08-00
a douzen painted chairs & a sealskin trunk 01-18-00
a wainscott chest and a box 01-01-00
a square table a wainscott chest and a bedstead 02-12-00
timber and weare begun 03-00-00
Well, here’s one more – what I always call “When Things Go Wrong” – court cases sometimes shed light on period practice. John Davis was asked to make 4 chests, did so, and had them delivered. But it all ended up in court. All I can see is that Davis was both pissed and pissed off in May of 1681, and things got messy…but these depositions tell us exactly nothing about what time of year John Davis made these chests:
Writ: John Davis v. John Tolly; debt; for four wainscot chests made by his order and delivered to him in his house, dated June 23, 1681; signed by John Fuller, for the court and town of Lyn; and served by Richard Prytherch, constable of Salem, by attachment of the bed of the defendant, the summons being left with Mrs. Tauly.
Nathaniall Kirtland, aged about thirty-four years, deposed that he brought from John Davis’ shop at Lyn four chests and delivered them to John Tauly at his house in Salem. Davis told the deponent that Tauly had them to carry to Newfoundland. Sworn in court.
Bill of cost 3£
Eleaser Lenesey, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that Davis looked at a chest in Tawleay’s house and the latter told him to make two or three as good as that for 25s. each. Sworn in court before William Browne, assistant, and owned in court.
Richard Croade, aged about fifty-two years, testified that, on May 7, 1681, he heard Mr John Tally read from his book his account with John Davis, and the latter did not disown it. Sworn, May 11, 1681, before William Browne, assistant.
Samll Blyghe, aged about twenty-two years, deposed that, being in the house of Mr Wing of Boston in company with John Tawly of Salem and Joseph Cawly, he heard Tawly ask John Davis, joiner, of Lynn, to make the chests, saying he would rather Davis have his money than any one else, at the same time giving him 5s. Sworn, June 23, 1681, before William Browne, assistant.
John Longley, aged about forty-two years, testified that on May 6, 1681, he heard Davis at Taulely’s house call the latter a cheating knave, with many other absurd expressions, challenging him out of his own house to fight, threatening him. He also took hold of a wainscot chest in the room, threw it up and down the room, breaking several pieces of the front of the chest, etc. Davis was very much in drink. Elizabeth Tawley testified to the same. Sworn, June 28, 1681 before Bartho Gedney, assistant.
Joseph Calley, aged about thirty-seven years, deposed. Sworn, June 7, 1681, before John Richards, assistant.
Eleazer Lenesey, aged about thirty-five years, testified that, being in John Davis’ house at Line, after he had brought home the cloth, a whole piece of kersey, he said he had bought it of John Tawleay of Salem. Sworn before William Browne, assistant.
Mary Ivory, aged about forty-two years, deposed that she was at Taulie’s house when he received the chests. Sworn in court.
Samuell Ingols, aged about twenty-seven years, and Nathanil Willson, aged about nineteen years, deposed that the chests were worth 30s. each. Sworn in court.
John Longley, aged about forty-two years, and Thomas Eleat, aged about twent-six years, deposed concerning the assault and that neither Tawley nor his wife could have any peace while Davis was in the house. Sworn. May 9, 1681, before Bartho Gedney, assistant.”
Here in America, we just celebrated a holiday called Thanksgiving. It used to be about over-eating, now it’s mostly about shopping for mass-produced stuff. I try to stay out of it. The other day I was reading the blog from Mortise & Tenon magazine, in which they asked the rhetorical question “Why would you labor at something you don’t love?” – I realize there are many of us who do just that, for various reasons….I’ve done it myself. Making a living sometimes requires that we spend time doing things we’d rather not do…shop doors
above the bench
I am especially aware how lucky I am to work the way I do & make my living that way. I have great friends who have helped me along the way, a wife who doesn’t need all the latest gadgets and baubles (my kids would like them, though!), readers of this blog & IG, clients, and students in my classes who all help support my work. I appreciate it all, and am eternally thankful. I am unbelievably lucky to spend my days the way I do. Thanks, all.
I went out this morning, lit the fire, filled the bird feeders and took some photos. Now for breakfast, then I get to go to work.“WS”chest frame test fitted
“WS” chest frame, mitered M&T shop from the riverbank
from the riverbank light frost
Well, this has nothing to do with me, other than I was there to watch it happen. Now I get to see it again, from the comfort of my own home.
Here’s the blurb:
The Slöjd Tradition
with Jögge Sundqvist
Learn some of the methods and techniques behind Slöjd, the self sufficient tradition from Sweden that emphasizes hand work and handicraft. Jögge Sundqvist walks you through the process of making a spatula and a cheese board from green wood. He also demonstrates different types of letter carving and decorative carving.
Jögge Sundqvist is a Swedish woodworker and carver who started learning knife and axe work at the age of four, at the side of his father, Wille Sundqvist. Jögge works in the Slöjd fine craft tradition making stools, chairs, knives, spoons, and sculptures painted with artists’ oil color. Jögge is also a teacher, writer, and gives lectures about Slöjd tradition and techniques.
And the preview: