Saturday morning I headed to my Restoring Wooden Planes class with Bill Anderson as the teacher. Bill's a great guy and a great teacher. He explains things well and is very helpful with diagnosing problems. I was glad to get my large Clark and Williams smoother operating properly. Ever since I'd bought it, I could never get the wedge to hold. After trying a couple different things with no luck, Bill checked the iron and sure enough, there was a hump on the back side of the iron. A little time at the grinding wheel to hollow out that hump a little and I had a functional premium wooden smoother! I was also able to rehab two dado planes and patched the throat on a vintage smoothing plane. I learned a lot and was glad to get these 4 planes functioning properly. It was a productive weekend for sure.
Sunday night I was like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Monday morning and the Joint Stool class with my co-favorite woodworker, Peter Follansbee. Making it even more exciting for me was the fact that Monday morning was to be spent busting open oak logs at the home of my OTHER co-favorite woodworker, Roy Underhill. Monday morning started out with Roy showing us around his place and getting to know the other students in the class. We had a great bunch of guys! The first person I met was Jerome Bias, the joiner at Old Salem historic sight. I was familiar with Jerome from seeing him on an episode of The Woodwrights Shop and from the internet but it was great to actually meet him. There were a couple people who traveled a pretty far distance to attend, Kelly from Dallas and significantly further, Dave all the way from New Zealand! Roy spent most of the week trying to get Dave to try distinctly American/southern dishes ( Chicken and Dumplings, Pecan Pie, etc. ). There was Luke from Virginia who worked as a historical interpreter at a living history museum in the Richmond suburbs, Bill and John, both great guys who were fairly local to Pittsboro, and Tony, who it turns out lives less than 5 miles from me! Small world. Bill Anderson rounded out the class, finishing up a stool he'd started the last time Peter was in town. After some donuts for fuel in Roy's kitchen, we were off the rive some oak. Turns out we had some primo, straight grained oak logs that Elia Bizzarri had sent to Roy. After getting about 40 stiles, 40 stretchers, and 20 aprons ( 1 long and 1 short apron out of each apron blank ) it was back to town for lunch and some hewing and planing at the school. I never had a bad meal all week by the way. Pittsboro's restaurants are all very good! After lunch, we started on the stiles. Green oak planes SO easily and before long we had barrels of shavings all over the place. We also found out the importance of cleaning your tools at the end of every day. The tanic acid from the wet oak will rust out plane irons and chisels in a hurry.
Day two and three were a lot more hewing and planing with I believe some cutting of tenons and chopping of mortices mixed in along with chamfering the stiles and adding lambs tongues. I really enjoyed the new experience of green woodworking. And Peter's method of chopping mortices was better than any I'd ever tried before. He starts in the middle of the mortice and alternately works his way toward both ends. Works great. Thursday I got to do some carving, which was a lot of fun. I used Peter's scratch stock and then found a nice SJ Addis gouge upstairs at Ed's amazing tool store that was just the right size and sweep that I needed to complete the carving on the aprons.
Friday was the moment of truth when we got to assemble our stools, drilling and drawboring everything together with bone dry oak pegs that Peter had brought with him. A draw bored joint is a powerful strong joint; no glue necessary. I hated to see the week end, but it was very satisfying to see a stool come together from what was a log a few days before. I didn't have time to get the seat board finished and attached before I left, but I got that finished up earlier today, applying a thumbnail profile on the edges using a rabbet plane, a fore plane, and a smoother. All that's left now is to apply some sort of clear finish to the stool and enjoy 400 years of comfortable seating. ( Peter says that they're guaranteed for 400 years, after that you're on your own. )
I can't say enough about how enjoyable and educational this class was. Peter is a first rate teacher and one hell of a nice guy to boot. He kept the class fun and entertaining all week. I'm really hoping he comes back next year for a carved box or joined chest class. I'll be first in line to sign up for one of those. And God bless Roy Underhill for all he's done and continues to do to promote the craft of hand tool woodworking. He is a tireless champion for the cause. I'm very lucky to have learned from both these men as well as from Bill. Can't wait to get back down there next year!
|One of our three prime oak logs.|
|So this is what we're supposed to end up with?|
|Our Motley Crew.|
|Splitting very nicely.|
|A stack of stretchers and a stack of aprons.|
|Back at the school squaring up a stile.|
|Draw boring it all together. That's Kelly in the background.|
|Getting a little silly. The victory pose after draw boring it all together and weight testing.|
|Roy, Peter, and myself with my almost completed stool. Doesn't get much cooler than that for me.|
|Back at my shop, seat board with the edge profiled and pegged onto the stiles.|
|In the light and shadows.|
|A little closer look at the carving.|