A carcase is a box-like construction made basically from planks, in contrast to the mortice and tenon construction of posts and rails. Small cabinets, cupboards, bookshelves, wardrobes and chests of drawers are all examples of carcases. The main requirement in anything but a nailed-together job is some form of corner jointing, which will be considered later.
A carcase does not generally stand on the floor (Fig 226) and the sides may be extended to form feet (Fig 227). A box plinth is often used (Fig 228) which may be inset or out-standing. Very common is a low stool (Fig 229) following the table construction and chunky oak pieces can look well on heavy block feet (Fig 230). Corner joints can be avoided by extending the sides (Fig 231) or by overhanging the top (Fig 232). Shelves, either fixed or movable, are generally required and often have vertical divisions. Doors, drawers or a combination of both (Figs 233, 234 and 235) complete the range of possibilities. Backs of some form, from quite elaborate constructions to plywood sheet, are normally the rule (Fig 236). Figs 227-30 require some form of dovetailing in their corner joints. Figs 231-2 avoid this joint, substituting instead a form of mortice and tenon or a dowelled joint.
More than a decade ago, Christopher Schwarz built the “Skansen Bench” as an “I Can Do That” project for Popular Woodworking Magazine; this link will take you to it on the PW site. Skansen, located in Stockholm on the island Djurgården, was the first open-air museum in Sweden. The bench itself is modeled after one from the Älvros Farmstead (a group of buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries that are now part of the museum); Chris saw it in the book “Making Swedish Country Furniture & Household Things” (1990, Hartley & Marks)
The Skansen Bench is a sitting bench, and for years was alongside the dining room wall in Chris and Lucy’s former house. I remember dropping my purse on it just about every visit. Upstairs here, it served as a sort of hall table for a while, then as seating.
So, Chris combined workholding from both of the low benches from “Ingenious Mechanicks” on the Skansen bench. I’m betting he keeps the new-model Skansen in the shop; he’s been using it a lot to shave chair spindles while sitting (that’s what the stepped block insert is for – the one most people in the conference were asking about).
So now you know the sources behind the Swedish Roman low workbench. (If you decide to make one, do check with your home’s other occupants before summarily cutting into a seating bench and liberating it to your shop. We cannot be responsible for the consequences.)
I had a few requests for plans for the cutler’s stool I built during Colonial Williamsburg’s “Working Wood in the 18th Century” conference over the weekend.
The Sheffield stool was a common sight in the factories and workshops of the tool-making city. And while the stools are rarely identical, they are similar enough to suggest they were made to a common plan. This version is a typical one, but without the incised rings on the legs.
My version is made from a single board of 8/4 red oak and is about 20” tall when finished. Here’s the cutting list:
1 Seat 1.75” x 10.25” x 18.5” 3 Legs 1.75” diameter x 22”
I shaved the legs round with a jack plane and then cut a 1.5” diameter x 2.25” long tenon on one end of each leg. I used a hollow auger in a brace and bit. I then used a tenon saw to cut a kerf in the end of the tenon for the wedge.
Saw the seat to shape and lay out the location of the mortises on the underside of the seat. The sightlines for the front legs intersect the location of the mortise for the rear leg, as shown on the drawing. Set a sliding bevel to 18° (the resultant angle). Drill all three legs using the sliding bevel as a guide. I used a 1.5” diameter “Scotch eye” auger, with a broomstick as the bar.
Then use a jack plane or a drawknife to bevel all the corners of the seat, adding comfort. Cut some oak wedges for assembly. Mine are 1.5” wide, and 2” long. The included angle of the wedge is about 2°.
Assemble the stool with hide glue, driving the wedges into the kerfs. You can then saw the legs so the seat is level to the floor. When the glue is dry, cut the protruding tenons and wedges flush with the seat. Do any “make pretty” that is necessary for a shop stool. Add a finish if you like. I used a beeswax and organic linseed oil paste.
I’ve been inundated with questions for the live stream Q&A that Chris and I are doing on Saturday at 11 a.m. Eastern on January 30, so I’m afraid we won’t be able to answer all of them before it’s time for our weekly Saturday lunch at Crafts & Vines (outside and socially distanced, of course). So, I’ll be tackling some of them on the blog. Here’s the first.
Q: Where would you recommend for purchasing nails for period pieces?
A: This is an easy one, because as far as I know, there are only two possible answers, and the appropriate one depends on what is meant by period.
From the early 19th-century until the late 19th-century, cut nails were easily available (more easily the later one gets into the century). Today, as far as I know there is but one maker of cut nails: Tremont Nail (now owned by Acorn Manufacturing). So barring reclaimed nails from a salvage place, that’s the only supplier (I think). Tremont nails can be ordered direct from the company, but are available in smaller quantities from some retailers (Lee Valley Tools and Tools for Working Wood among them).
For period work prior to the early 19th-century, the only truly appropriate choice is blacksmith-made nails. But they are not cheap…so I would use those only when I’m wholly committed to authenticity. For these, make friends with your local blacksmith, and expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $3 per nail.
If, like me, your wallet isn’t quite so well-stocked, consider using Rivierre square-shanked nails. These have the look and shape of blacksmith-made nails but at a far more affordable price. They are available in the U.S. from Lee Valley Tools. Another option is Tremont “wrought head” nails. These are tapered, cut nails, but the heads look kind of handmade (and they’re available in a black oxide finish).
p.s. If you want to read a lot more about cut nails and square-shanked nails, and how to use them, I wrote about them at length on the Fine Woodworking blog.
For the first time ever, we have the ability to live stream stuff from our shop in Covington, Ky. It’s still pretty low-tech (it will be through a laptop camera) but it’s a start.
To break in the new technology, we will hold a live “Question Time” session at 11 a.m. (Eastern) on Jan. 30. Megan Fitzpatrick and I will answer as many questions as possible about woodworking, publishing and possum menstrual cycles as we can handle in one hour.
You will be able to tune in live, or watch the recording later. Here’s how to participate:
Send your questions *beforehand* to Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. The earlier the better. Please make the subject line of your email “livestream question” to ensure it’s not a question about where your darn book is. Like I said, we are happy to answer any sort of question about woodworking, woodland animals or our books. Please send your question as early as possible so we have time to make up a response that involves an Estonian limerick.
Tune in at 11 a.m. Saturday (Eastern). Use this link to watch it live. We’ll also put up an embedded window on the blog Saturday morning to make it easy for you. If you cannot watch live, we will post the recording sometime Saturday afternoon on the blog.
Please remember: We are not professional actors. The talk will likely be PG13 (partial nudity, strong language, adult situations). So take that into account if you are working at a day care facility.
Most of all, please send questions beforehand so we don’t have to make some up.