Last Pictures From the Rural Life Museum

Unless I get to back next year. Then there will be more. I’m sure there are things I have missed as well as new things to see. I hope I go back. There might be some pictures similar to last year but I assure you they are worth a second look. It might be a new interpretation. I know more than I did last year. I’m not on the down slope yet. Here is a shot of some beds in one of the cabins:

Beds for every need.

Beds for every need.

I know I took pictures of this house last year but it is very picturesque:

Makes you want to move in, doesn't it?

Makes you want to move in, doesn’t it?

Here is a freshly pressure washed cabin:

More on that below.

More on that below.

This is a wild desk from within the museum itself:

I will avoid the obvious comment about the stiff at the desk.

I will avoid the obvious comment about the stiff at the desk.

And since I haven’t shown one in a while, a gout rocker of a slightly more rustic form:

They must have had less than healthy diets in Louisiana too.

They must have had less than healthy diets in Louisiana.

To see the last of my Rural Life Museum pictures, click HERE. I did notice one disturbing thing wandering the museum grounds. It seems innocent enough:

Cam-Lok connectors. What can it mean?

Cam-Lok connectors. Like snakes in the grass. What can it mean?

Everywhere I looked, there they were:

If you look closely, you can just seen them.

If you look closely, you can just seen them.

If you foolw them long enough, you will find the hidden electrical distribution box:

It's from Burbank!

It’s from Burbank!

I have been involved in the entertainment industry since 1976 and spent 14 years as vice president of a television/film lighting rental company. I can read the signs. I know what this means. There is a film crew lurking somewhere in the area. All the subtle signs were there. That and the tents and trailers near the big Crew Parking sign. On the way out I asked what was going on and was told they filming (taping?) portions of the WGN America television series Underground (2016) on the grounds. Underground is a slavery era-set drama revolving around the Underground Railroad.

That also explains the historically incorrect, fluorescent green tape spike marks:

They didn't even have this tape until the late 1890's.

They didn’t even have this tape until the late 1890’s.

And finally finally, I neglected to mention one post in my list of Rural Life Museum blogs from last year:

LSU Rural Life Museum, Something for Every Budget

Enjoy!

Taking a Seat at the LSU Rural Life Museum.

I don’t usually take pictures of chairs. At least not in the same way I do other furniture. There is just so much about chairs I don’t know. I see ladderbacks with two or three rungs. Different styles of turnings. Different feet and finials. I’m sure it all has meaning. I just don’t know what they are telling me.

I was in back in Baton Rouge, LA a few weeks back and couldn’t resist another visit to the LSU Rural Life Museum. I was there last year and was fascinated by the place. Too much to see. I got four blogs out of it!

I knew there couldn’t be that much new in a year but I wanted to see it all again. Then I started noticing all the chairs There are a lot of them there. Some are not ones I typically see. Some are variations that are… unique.

Here we see ladderback with what seems to be a leather seat:

Leather seat is different.

Leather seat is different.

If you look at the back you see that the rungs are not mortised in but nailed on.

IMG_3629

Not aware of seeing this before.

Closer view.

Closer view.

This is a more typical chair:

Still has a leather seat.

Still has a leather seat.

Rungs are mortised in. Typical.

Rungs are mortised in. Typical.

Here is another novel chair, springs under the front legs:

The spring is different.

The spring is different.

Nice spring. My chairs don't have them. Most chairs don't.

Nice spring. My chairs don’t have them. Most chairs don’t. Interesting attachment though.

To see these and the rest of the chairs from the Rural Life Museum, click HERE.

If you are feeling nostalgic or weren’t around last year, here are the four blogs from 2014. Just click on one to be taken back in time.

Buildings and Grounds at the LSU Rural Life Museum

Furniture and Other Things from the Rural Life Museum

Woodworking from the Rural Life Museum

Things for the Metal Fan from the Rural Life Museum

Point of Honor: The Furniture

Last blog was about an epiphany I had while viewing Virginia furniture over the weekend. Might not all be Virginia furniture so I should say viewing furniture in Virginia. I like being precise. Curse of an engineer.

I would love to show you the furniture from Montpelier but photography is not permitted. I can show you the furniture from Point of Honor in Lynchburg. They allow photography and, as you would expect, I took photographs. I had to work quickly so as not to annoy the docent, the rest of the tour and my wife. Most importantly, my wife.

You’ve already seen this interesting step back cupboard:

Interesting top, isn't it.

Interesting top, isn’t it.

There is this server:

Lighting here was challenging.

Lighting here was challenging.

This server is attributed to a Lynchburg furniture maker. I can’t recall the name but he arrived as an adult and left after a few years. So was he a Lynchburg furniture maker of a furniture maker that spent time in Lynchburg?

I really liked this dresser:

Wonderful use of veneer.

Wonderful use of veneer.

And a sewing table:

Every historic house needs one.

Every historic house needs one.

You have also seen this cupboard from the kitchen:

Worth another look.

Worth another look.

To see 51 photos of early 19th century Virginia furniture from Point of Honor, click HERE.

Finding the Truth in Virginia

They say The Truth is where you find it. I’m not sure they are but They sure do say lots of stuff without being held accountable. Has anyone ever fact-checked Them? Why do we trust Them?

I digress.

I found a truth over the weekend on a trip north into Virginia. The truth was always there, I had just never noticed it. Upon searching the archive, it’s been there the whole time. I just didn’t see it.

Sunday Morning we visited James Madison’s Montpelier near Orange, Virgina.

Educational Content: Montpelier is the home of James Madison, fourth president, scholar and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. After his death, his wife, Dolley (correct spelling), was forced to sell the property. The house passed through several owners until finally being acquired by the du Pont family in 1901. They enlarged and remodeled the house to fit their needs and changing times. In 2003, a major undertaking was begun to restore the house to its 1820 appearance. Then the task of vetting furniture to be place in the restored mansion was begun. You can read more about the restoration HERE

We have toured Montpelier several times since before the restoration was finished. We are impressed by the work done and are fascinated watching it being slowly refurnished. We took a tour Sunday morning I spent a great deal of the tour looking at the furniture. Photography is not permitted so I had to actually look at the furniture.

I noticed something that was common to all the case pieces that I had never noticed outside the mansion. It wasn’t just some of the case pieces, it was all the case pieces I saw. I really wanted to take pictures but I didn’t want to embarrass my wife.

On our way home, we stopped and toured another mansion, this time in Lynchburg, VA. Point of Honor is a mansion built by Dr. George Caleb from 1806 to 1815. It has been restored and partially repopulated with furniture. Photography is permitted. And so I did.

What I saw at Montpelier I also saw at Point of Honor. It might not seem like a big deal but I had never noticed it before. What I saw was all the case pieces, cupboards, secretaries, had overlay doors hinged directly to the carcass with no face frame.

Like this.

Like this.

No face frame.

No face frame.

And another example:

Frame free.

Frame free.

A more conventional arrangement is an inset door within a face frame like in pie safes:

Conventional yet not common.

Conventional yet not common.

Another arrangement is the overlay door with a face frame:

fff

It’s French but it is a good example of an overlay door with face frame.

And here is an inset door with no face frame:

My spice box not finished yet.

My spice box is not finished yet. Soon…

Looking through my archives, I realize that this frameless overlay door exist in greater numbers than expected. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before, but I didn’t. Good thing I have an extensive library.

I must do better…

Here are some more examples.

Tall and plain.

Tall and plain.

Frameless secretary.

Frameless secretary.

Very clean and light lines.

Very clean and light lines.

A bit fancier.

A bit fancier.

And the details.

And the details.

And something embarrassingly recent.

Nice but not that old.

Nice but not that old.

A furniture set coming soon.

The Half Knapp

Back in May of 2014, I wrote a blog about The Knapp Joint. It was one of the first successful machine-made joints used mainly 1890 to 1900 or so.

The Pin & Cove, Pin & Scallop, Half Moon, or Knapp Joint.

The Pin & Cove, Pin & Scallop, Half Moon, or Knapp Joint.

The main use for this joint was drawer construction replacing the hand-cut dovetail joint on better furniture.

I understand that hand-cut dovetails can be quite difficult to saw in that there are very precise standards that must be maintained if one is to have any chance of success. We all know there is only one right way to make a dovetail.

Before the Knapp joint, there was a simpler joint used, I call it, the half-Knapp:

Normal people call it a dowel joint.

Normal people call it a dowel joint.

I found it in this secretary:

Nice but not that old.

Nice but not that old.

with the obligatory gallery shot:

It's what I do.

It’s what I do.

And the expected gallery drawer.

Also a dowel joint.

Also a dowel joint.

Better than a rabbet joint alone and much faster (read cheaper) than a hand-cut dovetail. A precursor to the Knapp joint. I haven’t seen this all that often so I cannot say how much it was used. I have read about it but this is the first one I’ve seen. And you know I look.

I wonder if it was regional. Accepting all comments.

A few weeks back, I was catching up on some old podcasts from the boys at WoodTalk. Marc Spagnuolo was down with some child induced crud leaving only Matt Vanderlist and Shannon Rogers to carry on. And they do carry on. Toward the end of the show the discussion came around to whether or not they use dovetails for drawer construction. Neither used them routinely and Mr. Vanderlist made a comment about using more contemporary joints and using dowels on occasion. Dudes, it’s been done.

Ironically, the Knapp joint was replaced by the machine-cut dovetails, having a more natural, less industrial look.

I’ve Found a Bench. Now I Need a Flattening Strategy.

Back down here in Louisiana, I have found the bench of my dreams at a price that won’t break me. It is already disassembled so shipping and restoration will be greatly simplified.

I think its French.

I think its French. And a veteran.

Or at least in the French style.

Or at least in the French style. Still a veteran.

The shoulder vise is mostly complete:

Might need a little work...

Might need a little work…

Tail vise is intact.

Not perfect but an amazing price.

Not perfect but an amazing price.

I found the base nearby.

Looks sturdy.

Looks sturdy. At least what’s there.

With lots of room for storage.

With lots of room for storage. Tricycle not included.

Now I just have to figure out the best way to flatten it. If I flatten to too aggressively, there might not be much benchtop left. In deed, a conundrum.

Then there is the whole tool tray issue. Not everybody loves (or likes) tool trays. I have found them to be useful but they do fill up and encourage us to work in a slovenly fashion.

Over in the annex is a similar bench in better shape:

Still in one piece. Where's the challenge.

Still in one piece. Where’s the challenge?

Tail vise is complete.

Even works!

Even works!

Shoulder vise needs a screw.

and a garter or two.

and a garter or two.

Depressingly, I took a quick look on at Google images and the first two sites I clicked on were offering them as kitchen islands or console tables. One of them offered to fill the tool tray with vintage marble or granite.

That could be the fate of these two benches if we don’t act now to stop it.

French work benches. A terrible thing to waste.

If I can find four that match, what do you think of adding wheels to my bench?

IMG_3376

How Deep Is Your Mortise?

It drives me a little crazy between those bemoaning cutting hinge mortises and those writing articles on cutting the perfect hinge mortise. Before your next kvetch, consider this hinge and its mortise:

Not your average hinge.

Try this with your router jig.

It is from this chest:

Right view.

Right view.

Left view.

Left view.

Head on.

Head on.

It is a very interesting chest. I found this one in an antiques mall in St. Charles, MO. (More on that later.) There seems to be remnants of a till on the left. I have no clue about the lid painting. I am willing to entertain any theories or certainties offered.

The chest also has this elegant yet simple handle:

Handcrafted.

Hand crafted. I’ve not seen another like it. Well, close…

I tried to get a picture of the back of the chest but it was heavy and close to the wall.

And the manager was watching.

And the manager was watching.

All of Nathaniel Gould

At least all I have from the Nathaniel Gould exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, now closed. To steal content from the exhibit site:

Once an obscure figure in American furniture history, Nathaniel Gould is now recognized as Salem’s premier 18th-century cabinetmaker.

I first was intrigued by the notion of Mr. Gould after reading a blog by Chuck Bender. I had a chance to go and I went. And from my visit came the blog Nathaniel Gould Was Not a Bodger, He Fitted Skillfully.

There was some great furniture there including:

What I would make if I had any talent and/or skills.

What I would make if I had any talent and/or skills.

And the not a bodger refers to the expert way he custom fitted standard hardware:

Not as from the foundry.

Not as from the foundry.

Ditto. (Another lost cultural reference.)

Ditto. (Another lost cultural reference.)

Trust me, the collection is worth seeing. And you can see it by clicking HERE.

My New Box

Little known fact, I buy stuff too. You know I take pictures of stuff. Because of my blog, you know I build stuff. Now I am admitting I buy stuff. My latest acquisition is this small box I bought on a trip North. It came from my favorite primitives antique shop in Adamstown, PA. The box is around 6″ by 6″ by 11.25″ and looks a lot like this:

This is the box I bought.

This is the box I bought and it actually came with the key.

Being a box I bought, it is dovetailed:

Nice dovetails.

Nice dovetails.

The bottom view leads me to believe that it was screwed down to another surface. The bottom is unfinished and has three strategically placed presumed screw holes.

Thos Moser would have finished it.

Thos Moser would have finished the bottom.

A closer view shows that the bottom is attached with cut nails.

Not wire nails.

Not wire nails.

Now, we can take off the door

This is the door. The pins on the left go down into the frame, lock ur.

This is the door, inner view. The pins on the left go down into the frame, lock up. Other things have been attached.

Behind the door is this view:

Notice the notched in the bottom of the insert line up with two screw holes in the case.

Notice the notched in the bottom of the insert line up with two screw holes in the case.

I believe these notches provide clearance for screw heads attaching this box to something else.  If you look at the insert, you see that the notches were installed and not the results of wear.

Tool marks not wear marks.

Tool marks not wear marks.

Back to the front view, you see that a mortise and notch on the right make me think that there was a different lock in a different location: DSC_0622 Was the lock on the right in the past? Note the dado for the drawer bottom. Let’s extract the insert and take a look.

Front view.

Front view.

Read view. Dovetailed, of course.Tapered drawer bottom.

Read view. Dovetailed, of course.Tapered drawer bottom.

Right side. With hand written note.

Right side. With hand written note.

Close up of the message.

Close up of the message.

It says:

this box was maid

by J W Harrison 1863

Secret lock

on the left

I can’t make out the last few words in the last line. No spell/word check on the pencil.

Let’s look at the left side:

There is a big recess on the left.

There is a big recess on the left.

That matches the hfhfh on the left side of the case.

That matches the recess on the left side of the case.

There had been something nailed in the recess on the left of the case. I speculate it was a thin, arched slip of wood that acted as a latch retaining the insert until:

You insert a nail in the small hole on the left releasing the

You insert a nail in the small hole on the left releasing the “latch” allowing you to remove the insert. You can see the hole in the recess in the left side of the insert.

But wait, there are more views of the insert to be seen:

Top view. The back is dovetailed but the front is a nailed butt joint.

Top view. The back is dovetailed but the front is a nailed butt joint.

Bottom view looks not unlike a drawer.

Bottom view looks not unlike a drawer.

Seems they had a nail bend at the back of the drawer during assembly.

There are other seemingly random holes in the case that might have a use I’m not smart or experienced enough to understand. I’ll keep working on it.

And that’s my new box. So, there…

The Rest of the Story: I Just Keep Finding ’em, Part II.

See, they rearranged the screens. Publish is where Save Draft used to be. Sun was in my eyes. Barking dog distracted me.

I screwed up.

As I was saying, the other desk is this perfectly lovely slant front desk:

Oh, look. A desk.

Oh, look. A desk.

Notice there is no drawers between the lopers:

Drawers are a requirement either.

Drawers aren’t a requirement either.

A quick look at the gallery reveals a suspicious area surrounded by a gap.

Gee, I wonder what's in the middle there?

Gee, I wonder what’s in the middle there?

And, of course, the center slides back to reveal a storage area.

A good place to secure that which must be secures.

A good place to secure that which must be secured.

There are more of the facade drawers:

These are smaller than the others,

These are smaller than the others,

This drawer isn’t secret but I thought the drawer front was interesting:

Notice the grain direction. Good way to maximize drawer strength.

Notice the grain direction. Good way to maximize drawer strength.

And now you know…

The rest of the story.

A full set of pictures from this visit shortly.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 316 other followers