The leather “lips” for the seat on the stool in “Campaign Furniture” have stymied a few readers. Their exact shape isn’t critical, but I should have provided a gridded diagram to make things easier.
Reader Glenn Frazee has made it super-easy to cut out your leather lips. He generated the following full-size pattern in pdf format for you to download. Simply print it out (with no scaling) and use it to make a wooden template for your lips.
Editor’s note: Peter Galbert’s upcoming book on chairmaking is filled with stuff I have already begun to put into practice in my shop. Check out this short passage.
While learning techniques for turning specific details is important, I’ve found that having a process to practice and improve them is critical to mastering them. I remember learning to turn and feeling like mistakes and catches came out of nowhere, like a mugger in the night. But turning is simple physics, and the combination of tool, wood and movement will yield absolutely predictable results. Just like driving a car, the key is learning what the controls are and how to combine them to keep out of harm’s way. The problem almost always lies with you and your tool, and while this sounds like condemnation, I take it as encouragement. If the technique you are using gives poor results, you have the ability to choose a different technique, but first you must identify the problem.
Because the occasional turner usually needs to make a only few pieces when a project calls for them, it’s natural to assume that carefully turning a good bead on a scrap piece of wood is the way to bone up before chucking up a furniture part. The problem with this assumption is that it implies that squeaking out one good bead is proof positive that you can repeat the feat.
I’ve found it’s more productive to turn 10 poor-looking beads quickly. This gives the turner the chance to rehearse the movements and isolate the problem areas. I encourage consciously repeating mistakes, as long as they aren’t unsafe, until you can do so consistently. That way, you will learn to investigate the mechanics of the trouble, and avoiding it becomes easy. Plus, like a boxer learning to take a punch, you won’t become overly rattled by a simple catch or mistake.
Most woodworkers become adept at hiding repairs on their furniture or antiques. But some use this skill to fool a buyer into paying much more for a piece that is actually modern or has been cobbled together from several antique sources.
The forgery trade employed many famous woodworkers, including Charles Hayward (by his own admission in his short biography). And there are many written accounts that explain the forgery trade. And it still goes on today quite actively.
One common ruse is to buy old but inexpensive pieces and chop them up for the vintage wood and patina. Then assemble bits and pieces from several sources to create something that looks much earlier, rare and expensive.
The pull above is a victim of the chop-shop trade. It was culled from an early campaign chest so the wood (oak veneer over tight-grain deal) could be used for something else. The pull made its way to woodworker Richard Arnold, who gave it to me this fall.
And while campaign pieces are typically the victims of the chop trade, they also can be the final result of the ruse, as explained by Bernard Jack in his book “The Antique Story Book” (Etching Hill Press).
Demand for Military Chests was outstripping supply and (the antiques dealer) had several people making them for her. She was sure I could do the work, adding that her local dustman was able to turn out one a week in his spare time. She would supply the Victorian chests and all the brasswork and pay me a fiver for each one. I apologised for being unable to help, saying that I was already heavily committed, but thanked her for the offer. I wonder who owns the chests the dustman made?
So the next time you are in a museum or antiques store and get to examine something rare or extraordinary, keep in mind that there is a shadowy world of woodworkers out there who are corrupting the furniture record we study and replicate.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you want to read more about the world of fakes, check out this article about the Chipstone Collection.