Red maple burl, white pine and red oak. More pics and posts on Instagram @sunwoodworking
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Thanks to all it was great to get such nice accolades and to meet so many people. The White Hall Maryland contingency came strong, I didn’t know I had so many neighbors truly into craft and hand-made.
Its great to be accepted into the show and the other vendors I met were open to give advice and help each other out. It’s not my first big show but defiantly the biggest with the best response.
If you would like to place an order for something you saw or see on this website don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected] I have some things left over and would like to move them, at a reduced price if need be.
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I put a few stools together, some times the need is there to make stuff for no particular reason, but at the same time many. Its fun, challenging and meant to explore.
These are for sale, perfect for the artist, musician, spoon carver, social beer drinking (doesn’t have to be beer mind you) shop work, outside, inside, like most things I make they find many more uses than what was originally intended. Please contact me if interested and you have questions at [email protected] I hope to get them up on the store page of this website but don’t know when.
Usually there is excitement from the flurry of ideas then the gathering of wood that evokes more excitement and then the battle of ideas. You have to drop some of the original ones for the new ones because the wood is telling you to but you want to stick to the original plan but the wood is telling you something, and I can tell you, nothing good comes from not listening to the wood. Often things finish not looking much like the original but with aspects and hints of those original ideas. Then when showing a piece to someone I really try not to but it just comes out ” well, ya see, it was going like this then the wood said no no young buck this line should flow here and so…..” at this point their just staring at me. Many people don’t care about that they see what they like and don’t want a back story, or not that one, it muddies up what they see.
This is the part of the build I don’t hear folks talk about and I know its different for everyone, but how is one to handle this stage? Come up with a plan, draw it, mock up a mini version out of wood, clay etc.? That’s a great way maybe the best but when I hit the wood pile and see the grain lines and different dimensions and species its tough to stay focused and inspired by the original idea.
Going at it like I did on these stools is a good way too just riskier. It takes much longer, ideas come and go, the rewards can be huge in discovering new techniques and design exploration which can be incredibly scary. And the gamble if it looks good and is comfortable WINNER! If one or both of those things don’t happen your feeling like the looser, big time. But there you’ve just learned what not to do and that’s huge. And I have had pieces I see flaws in and customers love, go figure.
This little guy is about 20″ high standard seating height is around 17″ so its not much taller. Originally there was to be no stretcher but I couldn’t let it go. A stretcher system is for strength in holding the piece together for the long haul first and if a foot rest can be incorporated too then great. This is too low for a foot rest and if the mortises in the seat were tapered it would be very strong with out stretchers. But I did not taper them with a reamer they are straight tenons which tend to be a bit weaker. Designing the stretchers on these was stressful because they need to compliment and flow with every thing else in the piece and there are endless variations.
The seat is Cherry and the legs White Oak. For the little stretcher block I found a piece of figured Red Oak I was saving. It is split out so its like a quarter sawn piece with some quilting going on in there too. And the rounds that connect it to the legs are figured Ash .
This one has a Sycamore seat with White Oak legs. By the way I milled most of the wood in these stools with a chainsaw mill two years ago the sycamore was a log my cousin milled with a woodmiser and gave me a plank. It was brought inside for final drying, tested with a moisture meter, its around 5%, and tenons kiln dried before assembly.
The seat shape started off like a Windsor and ended up with this reverse curve. Something I saw on Instagram, @bluecheak, Roy Schack, give him a follow and me too @SUN_WOODWORKING. It is from a detail on his serving boards that worked beautifully on my practice piece but did not translate well on this seat. Basically you roll the front and back edges up and the sides down or vice versa, simple idea great illusion look at his for the real deal.
The preparing of the stock, the joinery, detail and final shaping is done with hand tools. I use the table saw and band saw for long rips and power planer after hand planning one side true using winding sticks and a straight edge. A cordless drill helps with drilling the stretchers.
Man I am so happy with this one, very comfortable with a generous foot rest that defiantly adds to comfort and confidence when sitting. Remember, when your not use to a three leg stool, it can be tippy in directions its four legged friends are not. Cherry seat with live edge front and back and White Oak legs, Red Oak stretcher that follows the grain of this radially sawn board (quarter sawn).
I have a hard time with square seats on stools, round is sometimes the norm but I wanted these to be different and I am making these to push myself and explore so I tried to tie the shapes and lines together with the stretcher slightly mimicking the seat shape and leg profile. I kept going after this “Windsor” shape but the seats just aren’t wide enough, you would still have a bit of straight on the sides, if the sides are rounded to follow the pencil line in above pic you would loose to much realistate and that’s where the dilemmas and problem solving come in with this method of build. To cut out knots and highlight certain sections of grain the piece at hand enters a battle of give and take. And hey if you really want that certain shape there is a piece of wood for that somewhere, there is always next time.
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Recently I have added a couple hand planes to the tool box. A Sargent No.407 and a Stanley No.5.
The top one is a Sargent #407 it’s like the Stanley #2 in size, real small, I wanted it for the girls Allie is 5 and handles the spoke shave on the shaving horse well so I thought she might be ready to play around at the bench but my bench isn’t user friendly for her for the obvious reasons, we need to get her own for it to be fun/easier to make the wood curl. Plenty of time for that, its about introducing things to her now. The plane in the middle is a Stanley No. 4 1/2 that was in with my grandfathers tools, it’s the first plane that I had and played a big role in the direction my woodworking went in those early years. And the bottom one is the Stanley No.5. On a side note Paulownia is a great wood to learn technique with, straight grained and soft. It also rives well so if you ever get some in log form don’t pass it up you can split it into parts and work it green just like Oak and it dries easier.
And of course it is of the utmost importance that you ignore the camera and only focus on the task at hand when working at the shaving horse.
Stanley’s No.5 a “fore” plane some call it because it’s used before the shorter smoothing planes, may be the most versatile plane in the line up “the work horse”. You don’t have to research much to discover that this plane is capable of a whole lot more than just prepping rough stock it bridges many gaps in relation to the sole length of planes and the infinity of stock width and length one encounters in a life time. It seems to me the width of the plane sole and iron play into the versatility of this guy as much as any other aspect. It’s light compared to the No.6 and the iron is 2″ instead of the 2 3/8″ width the No. 4 1/2 and the No.6 I have carry. This means less cutting resistance and fatigue than the other two mentioned. I used the 4 1/2 for years to do everything knowing it wasn’t always ideal but accomplishing much more than you’d expect like jointing long edges for glue up and prepping stock from the scrub plane to final surface. Stanley planes are numbered 1-8 with the No.5 traditionally being a staple in any woodworkers kit. When it came time to get a jointer I got what was readily available the Stanley No.6. It came from the local Woodcraft store (now closed) and needed a lot of flattening of sole, cap and iron, and worked ok . The most appealing part to me was the iron is the same width 2 3/8″as the No. 4 1/2 so with the purchase of a Hock blade there are now three irons or blades, that are interchangeable and sharpened all at once extending the period between sharpening sessions. My next plane will be the No.7 it carries the 2 3/8″ iron and 22″ long, removing the need for the 6.
The No.6 worked but at 18″ long it was heavy and it just felt like there was a gap to fill in planes. The 4 1/2 is 10″ long. I looked for a long time for a wooden 14″ long plane to fill that gap but found more of the No.5’s on the market some dirt cheap if you were willing to put a lot of effort into it. My grandfathers 4 1/2 is a Stanley type 11 1910 to 1918, he was born in 1910 I believe, so I think it was either his dads or his wife’s fathers. Her name was Mann and there was a tool chest I have now with this plane in it and some saws stamped Mann, no markings on the plane though. If I was going to get a metal fore plane it would be neat for it to be the same type as the 4 1/2. And I did, a type 11 No.5 WW1 era plane.
I used Go-Jo (without pumice) and steel wool on the knob and tote to get years of hand funk off and a light sand. The tote still has the Stanley Tools decal on it! And the knob has the number 21 stamped on the front and back. Three coats of shellac some past wax and its my new best friend! The decal seems protected but another couple coats couldn’t hurt.
It’s neat to me that something so mass produced works so well, any short cuts in design and production did not comprise the working integrity. The makers stayed true to the original idea.
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What a winter! cold and snowy, a real one. It’s given me some time to work on some stuff around the house. We needed a gate so the 95 year old dog wouldn’t be able to walk out into the road anymore and we take chase two lanes over in our bare feet, and shirtless in my case, 5am in December to snatch him from the speeding 18 wheeler and cars that surely dont see a black dog. Surprising how much ground he can cover when your not looking but if you are holding the door open and 10* out, its an eternity for him to breach the doorway.
It’s made from white pine that I milled with Tom’s Peterson sawmill last year when my work was slow. The hinges are metal gate hinges, and I made a latch out of two pieces of Walnut scrap with a Red Oak dowel drilled through the post. There is a little Locust pin on the other side of the post that stops the Walnut arm/latch from swinging down past the sides of the gate leaving it useless. Regardless…. the dog could care less.
The other thing was a screen for the back porch, when we grill or hang out it feels like everyone driving by can see us, it’s a pretty busy road and at our little rush hour it’s annoying to me so until the trees leaf out I want something to break up the flow of cars. As my wife pleasantly told me recently it blocks the blowing snow when trying to fill the bird feeders too! It’s Ash splints from a log I got back in November, I remember watching a guy make Ash splints at Waterford years ago and thought it was the neatest thing. Peter has a good youtube video of the process.
When we bought the house there was a really mangy Cherry tree that was old and dangerous, it had tons of suckers on it,
thin shoots coming off of the larger limbs and body, the flexibility reminded me of willow coppice so I had to use them for something…. yes! a screen!
The frame is Eastern White Ceder ( a log I got from a friend and had milled)that has held up just fine and the Cherry suckers lasted six years, once they started to go it was quick, ohh the other thing that made it deteriorate quick was having a two year old and a four year old, something about being able to easily snap dry rotted twigs with criminal hands that must be irresistibly delightful.
There was enough to put a fence around the garden too. That only lasted one season. I think people underestimate the toughness of some woods to resist decay and expect too much from others. If there is air flow and kept out of the soil or covered in another plants foliage, even soft woods like pine and poplar will last a long time outdoors with no protective coating.
If you have an idea or urge go for it! wood is everywhere and sometimes the best treasures you get from unlikely stuff. if it fails shortly after or doesn’t last as long as desired enjoy wading around in some aspect of it and be glad you made the effort!
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“….and thus lived (this great oak tree) to garner eighty years of June sun. It is this sunlight that is now being released, through the intervention of my axe and saw, to warm my shack and my spirit through eighty gusts of blizzard.And with each gust a wisp of smoke from my chimney bears witness, to whomsoever it may concern, that the sun did not shine in vain.” Aldo Leopold
Well winter has arrived in the north county,at least till it warms up again, and if your lucky enough to heat with wood you know how nice it is to come inside after being in the cold all day and cozening up to a fire knowing all the hard work you did getting wood ready for the winter is paying off in great comfort.
That said… Come On Spring!!! no… kidding, sort of, I like the seasons and once winter really gets going I’m into it but warm saltwater is always in the back of my mind.
I started on this Tulip Poplar bowl last month with no design ideas for the bottom but I new I wanted the top to be round with handles on the ends.The inspiration came from the stay at the Langsners in October, Drew has many hand made items on display. I ‘m not real big on turned bowls, but this one he had was turned on a pole lath and I have always really liked the lines. It’s a common design pre-industrial revolution. I use an axe to rough out the outside of bowls and with this one I was pushing the width a bit much ( trying to get as much as I could)and lost some symmetrical roundness.
Making this stuff from green wood and using axe and gouges to shape opens up a whole other world of design and shapes. You can look at one side and see plain lines and another side will have curves. For the bottom of this bowl transition was on the menu. I wasn’t going for it but it reminds me of a sea turtle, Tortuga, Loggerhead, Leather-back…yea it’s a stretch but that’s what struck me early on.
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WHOA! I should have had this post out weeks ago and I apologize to anyone hoping to see something more timely, been slammed since we got back. my trip to CW was great. It was great for my mind and soul to get to the mountains, long-overdue. Although I was away from the fam for a week and missed everyone (first time away from the wee ones for that many days)we worked it so Amelia and the girls would go to her aunts and I’d pick them up at the end of the week at Amelia’s aunts in NC right near the South Carolina border. The stay with the Langsner’s and six volunteer weak folk was so nice, we got a lot done and had much fun doing it. Louise gave us all baskets and Drew gave a bunch of his spreaders to choose from as thank you gifts, incredibly nice and it shows how much they appreciate the help. It felt like a page is turning as the old dorm will now be a permanent living space and class sizing will be smaller. I’m happy for them to have their family close by.
One of the things about staying with the Langsner’s that I always enjoy is Drew has hand-made items from around the world and he can tell you about every aspect of them, it’s very interesting and they are all very unique, to me anyway.
Then on to aunt Menas to meet the girls. The theme continued as they have a house full of unique and interesting handmade items from around the world old and new. I was swimming in the stuff.
The difference in environments was interesting too. Walking through the woods at Drew’s you see huge hardwoods and its steep and a bit rocky then down south it was like a clay, a bit flatter with long views of Mt. Mitchel and the Appalachian chain, lots of long leaf pines and smaller hardwoods.
We all enjoyed some well-deserved mountain time traveling north to Black mountain and Ashville. We walked to breakfast in Ashville and passed this school bus that had just set up I think we were the first to try it. It’s the Bouldering Bus and our two year old charged it! she thought nothing of climbing around but we were so excited for her it was really cool!
Here is an Ash tree I was offered last winter and finally got over there to get it, it’s small but I think it will be good for firewood carriers and I need to re-screen a privacy screen we have on the porch. I want to get to this soon with pics.