Enough About Me, Back to the Furniture.

After all the recent hub-bub and hype, the follower count is up over 40% (from 27 to 39). It occurs to me that there are now more people expecting me to actually write something interesting and show furniture picture. Just that many more people to disappoint on a regular basis…

Oh, well. I must press on.

This here set is a collection of picture from several local dealers and auctions over a few weeks last April and May. No dealer or auction had enough for a post but collectively they had enough interesting pieces for a really good set. This is a highlight reel.

First up is this variation on the the ladder back chair. Warning, it’s French.

The interesting chair.

The interesting chair.

And why it's interesting.

And why it’s interesting.

Then there is this chest with many unique features:

If I had the room and budget...

If I had the room and budget…

First is the side lock mechanism:

Right molding is hinged and locked. This molding overlaps the edge of the drawers and prevents them from opening.

Right molding is hinged and locked. This molding overlaps the edge of the drawers and prevents them from opening.

The lock.

The lock.

The other unique feature is that the bottom three drawers aren’t.

It's not three drawers but one door.

It’s not three drawers but one door.

Is this wall cabinet old?

Is it old?

And how old is it?

Is it from 1832?

Could be old.

Could be old.

Looks like it has some age one it.

Looks like it has some age one it.

Maybe not.

Phillips screws and corrugated fasteners are not.

Phillips screws and corrugated fasteners are not that old.

Could be a married piece.

No collection would be complete without a painted piece:

An armoire with painted panels.

An armoire with painted panels.

A painted panel.

Looks old but looks can be deceiving.

Last teaser is this corner cabinet:

An attractive corner cabinet.

An attractive corner cabinet.

Repaired.

Could be mice.

Could be mice.

To see more like these, click HERE for the rest of the set.

Chuck Bender, Great Woodworking Instructor or Greatest Woodworking Instructor?*

At 9:05 Monday morning I hear a voice telling us “You’re behind schedule!” Class started at 9:00.

The voice was that of our instructor, Chuck Bender. The us was the first three students of 360 Woodworking’s hands-on classes. The what is building a Pennsylvania spice box. The where was at the 360 Woodworking complex in West Chester township, Ohio. The why was…  because we could? It seemed like a good idea at the time?

The point Mr. Bender was trying to make was that as many times as he had taught the class at his Acanthus Workshop in Pennsylvania, no one had ever finished the box. His hope was that by the end of the week we would have the carcass finished, dividers installed, door and hardware installed and maybe one drawer assembled. The only hard deadline was that at 5:00 PM Friday, we go home.

For those of you who do not have the distinct privilege of knowing Chuck Bender, let me give you some background. Chuck has been building furniture since he was 12, so he claims. For ten years he worked at Irion Company Furniture Makers leaving as head of their chair and casework production. Since 1991, he has earned the reputation as a builder of the highest quality18th century reproduction furniture. In 2007, he started the Acanthus Workshop to become a woodworking mentor, instructor and author (content producer?).

The Bender as lecturer.

The Bender as lecturer.

in 2013, he moved west to become the senior editor at a popular woodworking magazine. In 2014, Chuck, Bob Lang and Glen Huey formed 360 WoodWorking – a new concept in woodworking education.

We students were there to see what it all meant. It was a good class. It was actually a great class. This class allowed me to work the way I work in my shop. I enjoy the hand-tool focused classes I have taken but breaking down and dimensioning lumber goes much more quickly with tools that plug in. As another woodworking sage pointed out, it is good to have hand tool knowledge so that you are not forced to use power tools, but you can. Options are good.

We (students) could pretty much work at our own speed. We would start the day at roughly the same place, diverge during the day and somehow end the day at roughly the same place. Chuck wasn’t hovering but letting each find their own path. He was there to bring us back if we went to far afield and most importantly, drive us to lunch.

The spice box not finished.

The spice box not finished.

The spice box not finished with the door open.

The spice box not finished with the door open. Drawers coming soon.

Chuck breaks things down into manageable segments while keeping in mind the big picture. He does a good job of explaining while not being afraid of letting our eyes glaze over occasionally. it is good to make us think and figure out a few things for ourselves.

Unfinished spice box with poplar back.

Unfinished spice box with poplar back.

Did I mention Glen Huey was there too serving as shop and teaching assistant, social media documentarian and lunch consultant. We couldn’t have eaten without him.

Doesn't it look like we had fun.

Doesn’t it look like we had fun.

This class was also the first chance I had to try out my new (second) Moxon vise. This is a new design by local wood machinist Mike Payst and built in a Triangle Woodworkers Assoc. weekend workshop.

I brought both of my Moxon vises and used the new one.

I brought both of my Moxon vises and used the new one. I also brought a smaller one.

So, Chuck Bender, great woodworking instructor or greatest woodworking instructor?*  Well, he is at least pretty good. I need to take more classes to say definitively. Your results may vary.

*With apologies to Stephen Colbert. If you don’t know what I mean, don’t sweat it.

The Other Tool Chest of Note in Cedar Rapids.

After visiting the H.O. Studley tool chest in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, I found myself with nothing to do. I knew I was going to head back to Hand Works 2015 in Amana but not until later in the day. I was there all day on Friday and was tired of crowds. Things should clear out by 3:00 PM or so.

After considering my options, I decided to see if by chance there were any antiques shops in town. As luck would have it, there were. Enough to keep me busy for a few hours.

In one handsome Victorian turned overstuffed antiques shop, I found another tool chest. This one is smaller and at $55, more affordable.

The tool chest (not) of my dreams.

The tool chest (not) of my dreams.

Do not be too quick to dismiss this chest. It does have some professional quality features. Like an English pattern layout square:

Just like Chris Schwarz makes.

Just like Chris Schwarz makes.

A European style smoothing plane:

Who needs  E. C. Emmerich Primus Planes?

Who needs E. C. Emmerich Primus Planes?

And an assortment of o other useful tools:

The distinctive blue color applied to the tools will assure that you will be taking home all your tools from your next class.

The distinctive blue color lovingly applied will assure that you will be taking home all YOUR tools from your next class.

It’s all there. A wooden mallet. A pair of slip joint pliers. Zig-zag rule. Abrasives. I know the screw drivers will work equally well as chisels or pry bars.

Not as nice as the Studley but how many tools do you really need to fit piano keyboards?

H.O. Studley’s Dovetails – Are Wrong. Maybe…

Saturday I had the unique opportunity to visit the H.O. Studley tool chest. Just me and 30 of Don Williams’ closest acquaintances. From 10:00 to 11:00 AM. All it cost me was transport to the Scottish Rite Temple in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the cost of a ticket ($25). Parking was free.

The Tool Chest in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

The Tool Chest in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

For the rational out there not salivating, Henry O. Studley (1838-1925) was an organ and piano maker, carpenter, and Mason who worked for the Smith Organ Co., and later for the Poole Piano Company of Quincy, Massachusetts. And he made on freakin’ amazing tool chest.

The right half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

The right half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

This exhibit was arranged by Don Williams, late of the Smithsonian, and the unknown private owner of the chest and accompanying bench. Now that the exhibit is over, it is being returned to its undisclosed location. The only way to experience it is to buy a copy of Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley from the good folks at Lost Art Press.

The left half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting

The left half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

Since I am taller than most people, (at least taller than Megan Fitzpatrick), I was able to see the dovetails at the top of the case. They were fine dovetails just cut in an orientation that many people found odd.

Dovetails one one side.

Dovetails one one side.

Dovetails on the other.

Dovetails on the other.

Conventional wisdom (which is often neither) would have the tails on the sides encompassing the pins keeping the top and bottom attached to the sides and defying gravity. There were some murmurs and a low-level of confusion. When you look at the center, you get an appreciation for why they were cut as they were:

The center dovetails.

The center dovetails.

There may be stress on the top and bottom of the case but when the case is opened, the major forces are trying to pull the sides away from top and bottom. Henry was right, like I really need to tell you that. Assuming that’s what he was thinking.

Did I mention there was a matching bench?

He made a bench, too.

He made a bench, too.

A very nice bench.

A very nice bench.

For a nostalgic look at the tool chest, check out a less reverential visit to the chest by our old friend Norm by clicking HERE.

Norm and the Studley chest. Two icons in one.

Norm and the Studley chest. Two icons in one video.

And another video showing the loading of the chest HERE.

There are more if you look for them.

Unique, Odd or Contrived

Every so often I come across a real head scratcher. A piece that defies convention and makes me ask: “What were they thinking?” You wonder if they weren’t sure of “the way things are done”. An original thinker that came up with a unique style. Or perhaps just a contrarian that intentionally does something for the sake of doing something different. It all comes down to intent.

I found this press(?) at an antiques shop in Gibsonville, NC. The shop is just down the street from the Hardwood Store so, I visit it quite often.

The piece:

None like it at Ashley Furniture.

None like it at Ashley Furniture.

The hinge gudgeons are applied:

Not your father's pintle hinge.

Not your father’s pintle hinge.

The doors are actually panel in frame in frame:

Raised panel to the inside.

Raised panel to the inside. Looks like normal rail and style

Frames are mitered on the show side,

Door frames are mitered on the show side.

Drawer dividers are fitted into the shelves:

Held in place with through tenons.

Held in place with through tenons.

And thy had a different take on inlay:

IMG_0601

Flowers and vine in monochrome?

I also liked this armoire:

Nicely proportioned armoire.

Nicely proportioned armoire.

Great molding profile:

No curves allowed

No curves allowed

And turned feet:

IMG_0608

Lots going on in this armoire:

Haven't seen another one like it. Not antique but definitely vintage.

Haven’t seen another one like it. Not antique but definitely vintage.

Finally, a small bedroom appliance:

Not proper bedchamber should be without one.

No proper bedchamber should be without one.

With its snipe hinges:

Snipe hinges need no mortise.

Snipe hinges need no mortise.

To see more pictures of these and other delightful oddities, click HERE.

Cousins?

Regular readers of this column might remember this box from a year back:

Remember the box?

Remember the box?

And another view.

And another view.

Long story short: This box came from a tag sale in Danbury, CT to eBay to an itinerant antiques dealer in Charlotte, NC in a period of a few weeks. We had quite a lively discussion about this box in What a Box and As the Butter Churns and a What a Box Follow-up. No real idea of where it’s from but in the past few weeks I have come across some relatives. I found this one at a shop in Raleigh that specializes in French and English antiques:

Look similar?

Look similar?

Compare the feet.

Compare the feet.

Compare the hardware.

Compare the hardware.

The I found this one at a local auction house:

Same family as in familiar?

Same family as in familiar?

Different feet.

Different feet.

Similar stylish hardware.

Similar stylish hardware.

Any thoughts? Floor is open for discussion…

Another Day of Firsts

Saturday was the spring antiques festival in Cameron, NC. It is a small town with an unusually high number of antiques shops. During the spring and fall festivals, all the space outside between dealers is filled with amateur and itinerant dealers.

Churches and charities rent open fields for parking and food vendors fill you with delectables that your parents warned you not to eat. All in all, a perfect day in small town America. With antiques.

As I wandered down one side of the street and up the other, I did see a few hings that were new to me. I live for things like this. (I do seem to have fairly low life expectations.)

The first is a cradle with a cat-proof rocking mechanism.

If not cat-proof, cat resistant.

If not cat-proof, cat resistant.

The interesting thing is that the cradle rocks up on a stand, not on the floor.

Cat's tail won't get caught no matter how hard you try.

Cat’s tail won’t get caught no matter how hard you try.

There are pins on the inside that serves as a pivot and lock:

Locking and pivoting mechanism at either end.

Locking and pivoting mechanism at either end.

If you take the cradle of the stand, it won’t rock. It sits on feet.

The elevated rocker and its what I assume are rocker locks.

The elevated rocker and its rocker locks.

The other discovery is in this handsome corner cabinet:

I really wish I had more corners.

I really wish I had more corners.

Most cabinets and armoires with mating doors have some mechanism to disguise or minimize the gaps between the doors. Sometimes it is an applied molding on the outside of the dominant door:

Some simple molding for gap camoflauge.

Some simple molding for gap camouflage.

Or a piece of plain molding on the back of the other door.

A molding from the back.

A molding from the back.

The maker of this cabinet came up with a different solution, bevels:

To hide the gap, bevel your doors.

To hide the gap, bevel your doors.

Nothing to apply. No additional gluing or nailing. Just cut the doors, maybe a pass with a plane and you are done.

These are very nice flat panel doors:

No way of telling if the paint/wash is original.

Well, flat on the show face. No way of telling if the paint/wash is original.

Lower doors, too.

Works for the lower doors, too.

Alternative Uses for Wood

Using wood for building furniture is all well and good but wood has industrial uses as well. Until recent times, much machinery was made from wood. Gears, pulleys, line shafts were all made from wood. Were you aware that wood was used for glass blowing?

Wandering through an antiques mall in Cincinnati last week, I found the following:

Wood mold for blowing glass.

Wooded mold for blowing glass.

I have been looking for a wooden mold for some time but never found one at a reasonable price. At least not my definition of reasonable.

Wooden molds have been used for glassblowing since the beginning and are still in use today. For limited production run items, wooden molds are much cheaper and easier to make than metal or graphite molds. Molds are good for a few hundred uses before they burn up.

Molds are cut from fruitwood logs, typically black cherry. The mold is cut from green wood and kept wet, as in submerged in a bucket. This keeps the wood from drying out and catching fire. Fire bad.

This view shows the log and where the strap hinges were attached.

This view shows the log and where the strap hinges were attached.

The wood does char and will eventually enlarge the cavity.

IMG_0507This looks to be a Victorian lamp font. But I could be wrong.

This top view show that this wood has dried out and done what drying logs do, shrunk.

A shrunken log. Note the vent holes.

A shrunken log. Note the vent holes allowing steam to exit the mold. Molten glass and wet wood makes steam.

A little know fact about me is that I have one of the largest collections of mid-century, South Jersey blown glass in our neighborhood. And there are 18 houses here. I don’t think I am a collector as much as an accumulator. As a part of this collection (or accumulation), I have several iron molds.

Iron molds cost more to more and weigh much, much more.

Iron molds cost more to make and weigh much, much more. They don’t dry out, however.

In his Lost Art Press blog earlier today, Christopher Schwarz made some interesting claims about my past. I ask you, how could my father have served as a boy in World War II when it is well documented in Campaigning for the Truth that Chris and I met in Manila in 1946 at the end of WWII? It’s on the internet. it must be true.

They Don’t Make Dovetails Like This Anymore. For A Reason. Take Two.

Last Friday and Saturday was held the annual spring antiques festival near Liberty, NC. For $7.00, you get access to over 400 dealers spread out over 100 acres. Or so they claim. I have no way to independently verify their assertions, so for the purposes of this post, I will just have to accept them.

Every year I see things I haven’t seen  before. Must be why I keep going back. This year was no exception. As much as I seek out (thread) spool cabinets, I had never seen a cylindrical spool cabinet before. Here I saw two.

This one:

Here is one.

The first.

And another:

Another round one.

Another round one.

Then there is this nice pine chest:

IMG_0198

With nice dovetails:

IMG_0199

And this curious hinge repair:

Not the way I would have done it. They might know more than I do.

Not the way I would have done it. They might know more than I do.

What really caught my eye was this unique wall box:

IMG_0182

With its unique embellishment:

IMG_0183

With its equally unique dovetail failure:

Never saw this type failure before.

Never saw this type failure before.

I saw the failure in the field but didn’t understand it until looked at the picture at home. They dovetailed the back along the wrong axis. The wood has little strength along this axis. Wood tends to shear when stressed across the grain. But if the maker had turned the wood 90° with the grain running from side to side, the dovetails would have held but the wood might have snapped off due to the height of the back and the lack of cross grain strength.

Could it be that the dovetail is not always the appropriate joint?

Did you know the US Navy roasted its own coffee?

Seems they did.

Seems they did. And they made their own clothes, too.

Apologies for the first post. After midnight, the Preview and Publish button look very similar.

It won’t happen again.

Until it does.

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