Coincidence across th’Atlantic

When I was in Pennsylvania earlier this Summer we met our son Will and his wife Eva at Baldwin’s Bookbarn

Unbeknownst to me Will bought “Akenfield, a Portrait of an English Village” written by Ronald Blythe. It’s an interesting book about the changes taking place in life in a rural village in the 1960s. Will came over to the UK and stayed with us in July and we had a happy time visiting gardens, drinking beer and chatting.
image

I read the book after Will and enjoyed it, well worth a read.

Pass on a couple of months.

I’m sitting at my shave horse making pegs for the oak chest I’m making.  Along comes a chap, interested in what I’m doing, we have a chat about an oak bench he’s made with an chain saw, a heavy outdoor bench. We get chatting about how he converted the log, the woodland where he sourced his oak, and it turns out he comes from Suffolk near Ipswich. Not just there but almost exactly where the book and film Akenfield were set. What’s coincidence.

So what else have I been up to this Summer?image

Making the mural cupboard door, it’s just about ready to hang now, I’ve turned a little knob, thanks Peter F for the photos, and polished it with a medium oak wax to bring out the relief of the carving a bit. Got a second prize (out of four entries!) for it at the local agricultural show.

My brewing sacks of malt and bread making rye four need a home, so I’m making them an oaken one.  I’m calling it a chest, but I guess it show really be an ark. I’ve scraped together left over riven stuff from previous jobs, but still have had to use some sawn through and through oak that’s been on hand for about 30 years, time it earned it’s keep. The stiles are sawn stuff, they are good 4 x 2s and very stable by now. I’ve spent some time working out what carving to do and I’m leaning towards just decorating the front panels, stile and top rail with carving. S-scrolls for the rail and stiles and a big floral piece for each of the panels, maybe two or three different ones, there are three front panels.

I’m just about decided on this version of the S-scroll:

blog-1

This is a prototype, based on a chest which is at East Riddlesden Hall.  It needs a little refinement but I particularly like the extra V-tool vein in the middle of the main S (which I’ll be joining up with the leaf veins) and the little ‘peas’ in the V of the leaves. I need to do some work on how the middle raised vein at the centre of the leaves will work too.  The half-moon cutouts need to move away from the centre a little.

Here’s the original:

Copyright National Trust

Copyright National Trust

The chest’s  provenance is not from East Riddlesden as the hall was empty when taken on by the National Trust except for some amazing grain arks which you may have seen before:

SAMSUNG CSC

Copyright National Trust

SAMSUNG CSC

I need to check with the staff if they know whence the chest was sourced.

I’ve made a scratch stock for the lesser members based on the one Peter Folansbee uses in his Carved Chest DVD, a very useful resource.  The scratch is a repurposed Silky saw blade, ground and filed to shape.  There are a couple more details to the profile I’d not filed in at this point.

SAMSUNG CSC

I’ve assembled together all the parts for the chest and started joining the rear frame first from a setting out of the front one.  I’m waiting for a couple of the front boards to dry a little before I carve those prior to joining.

Asymmetry thoughts

imageMachines seem to be good at making symmetrical  artifacts, nature is not. However, if you measure very accurately machines do have their limits in accurate symmetry.  We think we see symmetry everywhere, but this is a trick played on us by the way our brains create patterns. We perceive  people’s faces as symmetrical , they are not.

Me:

image

Me split and flipped.

Version 4

Sorry, the software won’t let me actually shove them quite together

portraict - 1 (1)

 

2 plus 2 make a very weird number!

Lots of early artifacts, I think pre-industrial revolution, do not slavishly use symmetry.

SAMSUNG CSC

The Manor House Museum, Ilkley.

Consider the guilloche panel carved on the top rail of this chair. While there is a flower in the middle and three more at each side, our modern eyes might expect the flowers on each side to reflect each other.  Instead the figures are repeated in the same order at both sides, a repeat rather than a reflection.

Sometimes the issue is asymmetry because a pattern doesn’t fit:

portraict - 1Didn’t seem to be a problem then – this chair survived, the pattern on the lower panel also has a lively dance around the edges ignoring slavish symmetry.

I suppose the tiger looks symmetrical on first glance but to a tiger’s eye no doubt full of the charm of asymmetry.

william-blakes-tyger1

While natural scenes hold not a jot of mirrored sameness, we do occasionally mimic that beauty.

image … but then necessarily spoil it by repeats, often out of pure necessity as with this Wm Morris wallpaper block.

Then in the Arts and Crafts movement therer was a move against symmetry in architecture:

image

The Red House

SAMSUNG CSC

Blackwell, Lake District

I find it hard to describe why I prefer the windows dotted around rather than in a slavish pattern. I wouldn’t try to say patterns are unnatural but I do enjoy natural chaos.

SAMSUNG CSC

Hang on, they’re not English oak leaves – Ed,  Nah, Bald Eagle State Park, PA – FS

portraict - 1 (1) portraict - 1 (3)Sorry the posts have been so thin on the ground.  A collection of various minor issues have been getting in the way: work; file sizes on my host server; holidays in the US, posting to Instagram – I would like to find a way to  post here direct from Instagram, anyone know if it’s possible?

Then there’s beekeeping and queen rearing, much easier in nature:

SAMSUNG CSC

Longwood Gardens, PA

Open the mural door … better make it first.


IMG_0692This is a copy of the door to a wall cupboard, or mural cupboard (just the same word but from a Latin stem, posh). I wrote briefly about this local cupboard now in Cliffe Castle Museum here.  Wow that was back in November 2014!  Well now, I’ve lots of pieces of oak hanging around from past projects so I sorted out eight pieces for the door frame and for the door itself plus a broader piece for the center panel.  Then lots of planing to get them all dimensioned, lots of shavings, lots of fire lighting materials, it does burn well does oak, this really is hardly green any longer (better wait until it’s been installed for a while before you get carried away. Ed.).

imageSome of this stuff too.

I think it best to do most of the carving before assembly.  Inevitably, discovered this by error.  Working the groove for the panel and then attacking the edges of an S-scroll carving with large chisel and heavy mallet can have rather unwanted consequences.  But that’s part of learning.  This is the first panel construction I’ve done, and I knew there would be a little frigging around to fill the end of the groove where it exits the stiles with a shoulder on the rail tenons.  That turned out not to be too bad.  The trickiest part was seating the tenons in the mortises.  I must have made a bad decision in opting for 1/8th inch clearance in the mortise bottom.  1 and1/4 inch mortise and 1and 1/8th tenon is a bit close.

IMG_0682

Tenons cut, next just been, draw-boring. Bore the mortise and borders the tenons thickness of a shilling closer to the shoulder.

IMG_0683

Mark the mortise hole through to the tenon, then bore closer, leaving the top of the hole intersecting the mortise hole so the pegs pull the tenon up tight.

IMG_0687

Here are the pegs. Dry oak, they bend through the offset holes.

IMG_0685

Much stronger than a board.

IMG_0689

Good and neat on the back.

IMG_0690

Same process for the frame.

IMG_0693

SAMSUNG CSC

Ready to draw boring.

image

A touch of edging, and we’re ready for hinges.

image

Then nailing on’t wall.

Planing not.

Left the planes at home today when I needed an 16″x5″ planed board. But I did have the axe and draw knife.imageimageGah, who needs a plane?

imageOn with the job…imageMostly carved anyway. Just needs to fit together…

iRack

Second iPad in one year, hope the case is as tough as it claims to be.

Now need to stain (very dark I think) and oil, and then a few Sugru feet, I’ve drilled four holes to hold ’em, then I won’t need to put it on a mat on the table!.

Mind you those edges look a little bare, perhaps a simple running pattern, maybe the one I found in Beverley Minster.

06061017_3

Faffing about

Hello!

Been a long time since I made a post.  January is a quiet month in Strid Wood, apart from the estate team carrying out annual track repairs – I’m glad I don’t have to work with a vibrating roller.  This January has been even quieter, El Niño has bent the Jet Stream and we have had quite a bit more than our usual share of rainfall, as usual the sun has kept to the far bank of the River Wharfe.  I’ve not had a big commission, nor a big tool project like making a bench.  However…

I have been learning power lathing – this is more unlike a pole lathe without a treadle, than a pushbike is unlike a sports car.  I’ve taken this up mostly to turn bowls.  I have tried making them on the pole lathe in the past, but I found the treadling rather hard work for an old boy like meself and quite a deal of input is required to get up to a decently salable standard.  Yes I know George Lailey carried on until he dropped

but I felt I would drop before his ripe old age, so bowls went on the back burner and I carved a few instead.

SAMSUNG CSC

Double choc.

I also wanted to make honey drizzlers which I find are too small to take the strain of a full size pole lathe, as are lace bobbins.  You can’t make needle cases either on a pole lathe, easy on a machine.

So, I’ve been faffing about with the lathe I bought in Lancashire, and it’s just about set up now, complete with a new bench grinder, wooden jaws for the scroll chuck for bottoming, as I’m starting to call tidying away the spigot used for holding the work in the chuck.

It has been rather a steep learning curve, here are a few early days casualties:

SAMSUNG CSC

Ready for the fire.

SAMSUNG CSC

Good enough for a working man’s syrup tin lunch though.

A few tips: watch where your chisel end is, especially when you’re not cutting with it; if you turn a bowl in green wood it is silly to remount it when it’s dry (wobbly thin bowls at 400 odd rpm are terribly vulnerable, chisels are their predators); think about the presentation of the chisel to the work – you can’t just dig in like on a pole lathe;  always stop the lathe to check what it looks like motionless before parting it off – faults are hard to see in a fast turning bowl; use sharp chisels, I now realise I’ve been rather lazy in this respect and you can’t get away with blunt tools on a power machine, hence the new bench grinder.  The first morning with the latter I hollow ground a gouge and honed two tiny edges with about 6 strokes on the stone – I think this is the first time I’ve got that much read-about profile.  Anyway, sometime soon I’ll be making bowls fit for sale I hope (once I discover and sort out why the lathe motor has suddenly gone on strike (sorted, the wire fuse had burnt out, talk about retro, but I managed to get a card of fuse wire from Mortons of Ilkley)).  Here are some I’ve not completely wrecked in the chuck:

SAMSUNG CSC

Hang on, there’s a ringer in there, left back is carved – Ed.

A drop of walnut oil does bring out the colour in the spalted beech I’m rather enjoying working with.  It is about 18 months down, but spalts very quickly in the wood.

SAMSUNG CSC

Before.

SAMSUNG CSC

After – baby you’re so square.

Of course the new luxury indoor workshop has had to be modified to take the lathe, special shelves for chisels, extra sweepings up and extra shavings boxes, more lighting.  And I must say, my Monday learning sessions in the workshop (AKA #2 Bodgery) beat puddling about in mud in the dark damp wood.

Also been faffing about coppicing and felling, breaking and repairing the chainsaw and Land Rover, trying to do steam-bending, which is a severe challenge if you only do it about once every two years, planting hops, processing bees wax, doing my  tax return.

SAMSUNG CSC

Screw vice.

Ah yes, and making a bowl blank holder, whilst renewing the saw horse.  This rather unpretty device holds a blank while I saw the corners off …

SAMSUNG CSC

Surely not a chainsaw carving bar on that lil Sthil saw? – Ed.  Oh no, just perspective distortion – FS.

Aha yes, this morning I collected new bandsaw blades.  Having watched an excellent video on The Physics of Bandsawyering I realised I needed a blade with less teeth for resawing (watch the video, it is very clear and informative).  Now my little old Halifax-made Whitehead Junior run by a washing machine motor nigh-on as old as meself has a new lease of life with  3TPI (that’s teeth per inch, no idea what the metric equivalent is), helped by the earlier addition of lignum vitae blade guides.

This isn’t mine:

bandsaweasy to tell from the guards (same model though).