Sometimes I get a strange or confused look when talking about green or “tree wet” woodworking. Maybe like seeing Darth Vader on the Dumbo ride at the amusement park. Kinda makes ya scratch your head and say really? is that possible? but then I accept it and think hey maybe the guy just likes to fly no matter what he’s piloting. Well thank goodness I didn’t get that look from the good people at the Howard county woodworkers guild the other week, maybe they were briefed in advance. I made another one of these three leg stools. So now there are three but the Apple one sold I think, so now were back to two,one is 20.5″ high and the other 21.5″, they are great shop stools or whatever, that seems to be a good counter height, so they would work in the kitchen/house as well.Kids like them too! The seats are walnut that I acquired in log form five or so years ago and had it milled into 2″ + planks then sticker-ed to air dry. It has Carpenter Ant holes for character and no their are no ants residing in in the seats, they are long gone. The legs are Red Oak riven from the log, they also have holes from worms, wormy oak, I didn’t plan it that way it’s just what I have at the present time. They will go up on the store page when I get a chance but for now if your interested email me – [email protected] $300.00 each no metal fasteners, made with hand tools, grown locally Waterlox satin finish with past wax.
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I’m doing a spoon and bowl carving demo at the Howard County woodworkers guild this weekend 10/13/12. A guild is a great way to broaden your woodworking horizons, you know get out from behind that solitary bench of yours maybe brush the coffee stains off your teeth that day, or not, and come watch the chips fly! I’m not happy with my picture taking in the shop, sorry about the ugly oil tank in the background, life in a small shop, but hopefully you get the idea. The three leg on the right has a Waterlox tung oil finish and the one on the left has no finish. The way the light catches it really shows the Medullary Rays, those shiny bits on the legs and darker areas on the foot rest are abundant on most of the pieces I make because of the way I get the parts, riven from the log not sawn. Each piece split out has two sides that are on the ray plane or quartersawn in industry speak. These are great little stools for the artist in all of us, they’re low so your feet will be comfortably on the ground or up on the foot rest or crossed. I was doing the farmers markets in Baltimore for a few years and sold some chairs and stools to musicians and painters and always liked knowing that, and have wanted a stool for the shop that’s versatile. I really like using it when working on spoons or to take a break. There’s not a lot of tool involved in making them either. Scrub plane, 4/12, adze, travisher, in-shave and a brace and bit. Some hand saws and I use a cordless to drill the stretcher mortises. The tenons are turned on the lath but you could use a tenon former. A spoke shave is used to soften edges and a chisel and mallet to level the protruding legs and wedges on the top of the seat. After the legs are split out and dry they are tapered on the table saw.Hmmmm that’s kind of a lot of tools. Spoon making tools: piece of Sassafras, axe, knife and gouge. GO O’s!!!!
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Maritime Magic in Fells point is this weekend! Friday Night at 7 PM. To celebrate the new web site I thought it would be fun to combine a nautical theme with a nautical theme! If you buy this Whale tail bench by the end of the week, I will through in two tickets to Maritime Magic. The bench sells for $1200.00 and the tickets are $110.00 each- a $220.00 savings and a great time! IF for some crazy reason the tickets are not available I will deduct the $220.00 from the original price of the bench.(I have not purchased the tickets in advanced since I wont be able to go. I am confident with the availability of them) This is a great time- I have been- there is great food from area restaurants, food and drinks, music and a great view of the Baltimore harbor water front, it really is a special night. The proceeds go the Living Classrooms Foundation who have different programs to benefit the youth of Baltimore city most notably to me the Fresh Start Program that focuses on at risk youth getting them an in house education and vocational job skills with ultimately job placement. So its all around a good deal you get a bench that’s comfortable and cool- the seat is over two hundred year old white pine that grew here in White Hall Maryland- a great evening out and the knowledge you have helped the youth of today prepare for tomorrow and hopefully when you look at your bench you will be reminded of the great night you two had!
Click on the pictures to see more detail.Then click again. This is a local purchase as the event is here in Baltimore I can deliver for free up to 20 miles beyond that there is a 25$ delivery fee and up depending on the distance. Pick up from here at HQ is of course welcome too.
Contact me for this special purchase:
or comment on this post
or call 410-807-1010
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Notice anything different? Of course you do if you were a visitor of this site, a change in the layout with some added features! We are trying to set up some e-commerce here at HQ to make it easier for the masses to get a piece of hand made stuff, from the tree to your home so have a walk around, visit the store and keep checking back. I’m still tweaking and fiddling and adding. I
think I may have lost my subscribers in the move so hit the subscribe button at the bottom of the page if you were previously getting updates just to be sure you don’t miss anything.
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[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ffffff”] NAHANNI!!! ” Where few men go…. with shores of Death!
Albert Faille you are my hero, I have this disease, an S.T.D. if you will, that drives me to do things a certain way usually the hard way and to repeat that same process in the way I learned it until beaten into submission by the task. Then taking the easy or easier way to complete it in the worst situation.
It’s Labor Day weekend, and whats that all about? to some its a much needed three day weekend from time spent somewhere they don’t want to be doing something they don’t want to do but doing it anyway, I respect that.To some its to celebrate that they have a job they like. And some its just a moment to reflect on having a job, knowing life is too short to take the B.S of the grind to seri0usly.
Albert’s job in life was clear to him- find that gold and survive in doing so.
You can look at the perils this 78 year old man put to himself and think all that for gold? AND at 78!?! Well I think in life its good to have an end all goal but all the portages and climbs up the hills and the threat of capsizing at any moment are really whats important, this is where you learn and grow and become much more of a resource to yourself and others.
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Fall is a distant memory that is being reintroduced here in the North County, it’s a ways off but there are some signs that we have made it through the worst of this summer. I think August is my new favorite month, the days heat relents a bit but it still feels like summer, the water is warm and the fishing great and some of the trees start there long slow transformation of loosing leaves that, with some of the vegetables and flowers coming out of the garden, make me think of fall. If your garden floweth over like so many do this time of year check out Louise Langsner’s blog for some delicious ways to use those fruits of our labor. Soups are great fun you can eat them hot or cold.
And while your surfing Peter has some books, some spoons and some tools- some that I have used -to check out on his page. Jenni took great care of these tools they are workers not shelf tools and all have been tuned to bring out the best in them.I’ve been kinda stuck on this shape of bowl, I don’t know why but when I start a bowl lately it end’s up like this………… it pleases me. This one is Walnut, some may say you shouldn’t use walnut for wooden wear because of the tannin, I think if you ate the bowl you’d have some issues but to eat salad, bread or snacks out of it is perfectly safe. These make great gifts, I have given and sold many as wedding gifts, this seems to be wedding season.
I have three for sale 90$ each plus whatever shipping email me if your interested [email protected] .Two are Cherry and one is Walnut, they are made from a green piece of wood with an axe, adze, gouges and spoke shave. Not turned on a lath. A little more on that here.
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I’ve been swamped the last few months, and summer is always a huge distraction for me. Too many fun things to do involving water like canoeing with my daughter on the Gun Powder, fishing with friends in the bay or a boat ride with the family are much more inviting than spending every weekend in the shop. But I have thought about you all and have wanted to give an update on the English ladder backs I posted about before. It’s been a thrill walking back in time working on these and watching the London Olympics too, the areal shots of the country side are neet to see. It’s fun to have all of this happen at the same time. The owners of this set of chairs did get them appraised by Michael Flanigan of Antiques Road Show. He thought they were mid to late 1800’s with one or two of the set of eight being early twentieth century. I still feel the first couple I worked on were older than that. The techniques were old school no less, hey I can dream cant I? Mr. Flanigan put a value of 6 to 8,000$ for the set.The chairs have been in the family for a generation or so I believe and they like them. One could spend more than that on a new set of dinning room chairs. I think the general consensus ended up being “if you like them get them fixed and use them”, also they are not that unusual of a find.These chairs were made in huge numbers by many different craftsman through out the country. It is however a bit unusual to have a set this big with so many varying in age, said Mr. Flanigan . The pic above, it’s hard to tell but the mortises on this chair were drilled with a spoon bit. I say that because the bottom of the mortise is cupped not flat with no center hole or divet like you see with a modern drill bit. In all the years I have been doing this I still have not used a spoon bit. Alexander used to speak enthusiastically about these bits. There fast, precise and clean cutting. They can be turned at any angle with total control of direction and the ability to change that direction at will, something that happens when drilling by hand and eye, you need to make small corrections to hold the desired angle. I like drilling with a brace n bit using a square and bevel gauge to see the angles I need to hold, (or no guides at all when its something I’m throwing together)its a fun challenge, probably because chair making by hand and eye is pretty forgiving. Now I want to get a spoon bit again……. In the side panels the seat rungs were the sloppiest the middle rungs were pretty much tight and the bottom rungs were loose but not as bad as the seat rungs.The back panel was tight and the front loose, only two rungs in the front and they get worked. The seat rungs get worked the most then the bottom rungs and the side rungs are a kind of insurance, there placement is such that they don’t get stressed like the others. When all of these parts are put together it makes an incredibly strong structure.This is what Alexander told me, it made sense then and is proven here. Now with that said this middle rung’s tenon broke off in the front post with little effort while taking it apart, there are worm or bug holes all around it on the post and tight as could be in the back post. I drilled it out with a 5/8″ stanley power bore bit in the brace and made a new tenon. Then thinned some west system epoxy with denatured alcohol and poured it into the degrading wood ( someone had filled a lot of this area with wood putty before) of the front post to make it sound again- sorry chair gods- As fate would have it I recently milled an American Elm tree! (I have some slabs for sale contact me if your interested [email protected]) so was able to replace the bad front rungs with the appropriate wood not that you’ll ever see them once the seats are on. On one of the original seat rungs they used a piece that had the sap wood and the worm canals you see under bark of a tree that’s been down awhile. If I’m not mistaken Elm like Ash and many fruit woods can be used right up to and including the sap wood. In Red Oak for instance you want to split that off. There are other things that interest me about these chairs but not enough room or energy to include them all in this post, that this stuff can be a real snooze-fest if your not into it.
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We have Butternut trees in our yard.The squirrls must have hid a few nuts in the strawberry box over the winter, these shoots were coming up. They must have had enough of food to make it through, these nuts went to seed.When pulled up one split open and revealed the ancient secret of how its done or at least what it looks like doing what it does. I still don’t understand what it is doing or what it’s done but it is enlightening to see it happening. I really like these trees there aren’t many around any more and I very rarely see the wood used in furniture making. They have become very susceptible to a growth that didn’t seem to exist decades ago.I’m sure the housing/developing growth is to blame as well.
So as spring has sprung so has another round of great festivals and markets. BUY LOCALLY and Support your Neighborhood! where ever that may be. This Saturday 6-2-12 is the best of our local shows, the Gunpowder River Artfest at Boordy Vineyards, it’s an art show not a craft show. A lot of the stuff surpasses craft’s like Lori’s work and so many more. Help the local economy and your self and check this event out, buy something from an artist you’ll be happy you did.
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This weekend May 4th 5th and 6th I will be at the Timonium Fairgrounds with the Fine Furnishings Show.Here is a link to the Facebook page that has lots of pics and details of the craftsmen and woman. If you like furniture but don’t get to see what people are making these days as much as you’d like then you gotta come check this out. Lots of incredible local and regional artisans. I am putting up this three legged counter stool as a door prize .
I know I would be pretty excited to walk out with any of these door prizes. I think there will be wine there too, at least that was the plan a couple months ago when I met with the Karla Little the shows creator and visionary mind that brings this show to us here in the Baltimore D.C area. If that’s not enough reason to stop by and check it out/buy that piece you’ve been looking for to fill a space or replace, it runs for three days surely you can pop in, the flyer at the top of this page is good for half off admission, that’s $5$ bucks to you. Save it to your computer then print it out or on your phone click on it so it opens in a new window and show it to them at the door.
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I was asked to replace some broken rungs and tighten up a set of these chairs, eight all together, two arm chairs and six side. When I went to look at the chairs they told me a great aunt in Long Island gave them the set along with a dinning table that she brought back with her from a trip to England.The chairs looked familiar and while going over them it was obvious they were old and original. By old I mean like 1700’s and by original I mean the first of that design style. This style is still in production today. I knew I’d seen it before and started rummaging through my books and there it was first in Drew’s book “The Chair Makers Workshop” in the “Historic Chars from Britain” section. He got the picture from Bernard Cotton’s book “The English Regional Chair.” Cotton dates it c 1780. So with the info the client gave me and seeing the chair in the Britt section of Drew’s book it was obvious to look in Chinnery’s book ( and its the only book on Brittish furniture I have). There it was!
These chairs have such a presence, their parts are very stout, the post are about two inches thick and the proportions are big compared to modern chairs. I can see a woman in all the dress they wore or a man with a big coat sitting. Homes weren’t as warm in the winter in the 1700′ as they are these days.
I like the construction, some parts were sawn probably in a pit and some were rived from the log. All being green,that’s the neat thing about this construction wet post’s assembled with dried rungs and slats.Parts were made with a draw knife and shaving horse, some sections turned using a pole lath, and other parts made with a hand plane at the bench.
I was taught to use the best quality log for green woodworking, but that’s not an easy thing to come by when starting
out so there were times I’ve tried to use a bolt that has a twist or knots, its not good fun and much work, the wood in these chairs is worse than anything Ive used, lots of knots and twist or wayne. At first look I thought it was Ash wood and the research said they were made from Oak, Ash and Elm. I now think they are Elm, if it is Ash then man that’s one scuzzy tree, but Elm can be a twisty knotty mess more often than Ash or Oak and its strength and availability made up for workability in those days.That’s just my thinking. We don’t have too many Elm here in the north county due to a blight so I’m no elm expert. There was one where I used to live it was big and old. When some branches were trimmed I grabbed a couple firewood size pieces.The hold down on my shaving horse is made from that picking, strong stuff with lots of silica in the wood that feels gritty and dulls edges quickly.
They put the tear out on the bottom of the rung so you don’t see it, unnoticeable until you look under the chair. Now days a piece like that would be discarded. The back post are turned above the seat and square below with a chamfer on all four edges that looks like draw knife work. The seat rungs are tangent to each other locking them together inside the post.
I really want to date theses guys to the 1730’s, don’t know why just a feeling. Bet these chairs were a mass produced item that was quickly assembled with the emphasis on proper joinery and speed. We cant be there when they were made but we can speculate, not as much fun as knowing with out a doubt but keeps you digging for more.
I told the owners what I discovered and suggested getting them appraised before I mess with them. They are in that process now I’ll post what come of it when I find out.I’m thankful I got to see these chairs.