We adore Nancy Hiller’s new book “English Arts & Crafts Furniture,” even though we didn’t publish it. So we have gladly agreed to host a book-release party at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at our storefront in Covington, Ky.
Nancy, as you well know, is a straight-talking, no-BS professional woodworker from Bloomington, Ind., who has written a number of books, including “Making Things Work.” (She’s now working on a book on kitchen design for Lost Art Press.)
During our book-release party next month, Nancy has a number of fun things planned (this time we promise – no prostitutes or single-ply toilet paper will be there).
Nancy will bring her C.F.A. Voysey two-heart chair (featured in the book) for you to inspect
She’ll give a short reading from the book
She’ll sign your copy of “English Arts & Crafts” furniture, plus any other books she has written. Note, we’ll have copies of “English Arts & Crafts” there for you to purchase.
There will be a pinata. Last time it was a pinata in the shape of a DeWalt biscuit jointer. This time the pinata will be related to the United Kingdom (though I promise it’s not Brexit-related or single-ply toilet paper).
We will supply drinks and snacks.
All are welcome – feel free to bring your spouse and children. Heck, make an evening out of it. There are lots of great places to eat in Covington. And if you are from out of town, Aug. 11 is a great day to plan a visit to Covington as the Lost Art Press storefront will be open to the public that day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Again, you can register for the book-release party (it’s free) via this link.
This Saturday & Sunday I (Daniel Clay, Saturday Box Company) will be teaching a two-day chip carving class at the Lost Art Press storefront. The class is designed especially for first-time and beginner chip carvers, and no prior woodworking experience is necessary — chip carving provides an excellent introduction to some fundamental woodworking concepts such as navigating grain direction and sharpening, so it’s a great place to start even if you’ve never touched a tool. Experienced woodworkers are welcome, of course, and will find chip carving technique to be a wonderful addition to their skill set.
I have a last-minute opening in the class, so if you’d like to attend please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m excited about this class — my first time teaching at Lost Art Press — and looking forward to sharing this beautiful, ancient decorative technique with others.
In this two-day class, students will receive comprehensive instruction in the fundamentals of chip carving, a decorative technique in which faceted “chips” are removed from a wooden surface to produce geometric patterns, stylized images, lettering and ornamentation. Through demonstrations, guided practice, skill-building exercises, and the completion of a decorative wall hanging, students will leave class with all the knowledge, experience and confidence to pursue chip carving on their own. One of the most attractive aspects of chip carving (especially for beginning woodcarvers) is that it can be accomplished at a high level with minimal tools and materials; all you need to become a great chip carver is a sharp knife, some suitable wood and a little practice.
No prior woodworking or carving experience is necessary to take the class, but all are welcome! This class is best suited to those with little or no chip carving experience.
The instructor will provide the wood and other necessary materials for the class. Students must supply their own chip carving knives. If you don’t have a chip carving knife it is strongly recommended that you start with this knife, or this two-knife set. Additionally, it is recommended that students bring a pencil, a sheet of #220-grit sandpaper, a 12″ combination square, and, if you have one, a sharp block plane.
The first chair Fisher recorded making was in December 1802. This “small chair,” probably for children, seems to have been a trial run for him because a couple weeks after its completion, he began to equip his work shop for a more efficient workflow. He “made a rack (a bending form) for chair backs.” And “made a shaving [?] jack” (probably his shaving horse). With these two appliances, Fisher could refine his chairmaking process by “[making] several chair frames” before undertaking the production of a set of “kitchen” chairs in 1805.
Nancy Goyne Evans’s research into the New England usage of the term “kitchen chair” has shown that it refers to a slat-back side chair. Fisher’s documentation of the construction of these chairs concurs with that assessment.
February 1805 he made four “little” chairs probably for his four children who would need them: Jonathan, Sally, Betsey and Josiah. Having his children’s sitting needs taken care of, he set out to build the full-size versions. The first one he made that March did not work out well. “Worked upon a chair; broke it putting it together. Began another.” This comment is interesting because it suggests that the method of assembly Fisher used to make his chair required significant force such that there was risk of completely ruining it. When driving the tenons of the rails and stretchers in the “green” legs, it was common practice to make the fit incredibly tight. This way, when the leg dried out, it would pinch the tenon from coming out. Having not yet developed the feel for “how far was too far,” Fisher perhaps fractured one or more members.
The slat-back chair (Cat#16, p 161) in the Fisher collection shows evidence of this kind of assembly. The tenons all have small flats carved on their sides. Thistechnique was a way to remove material on the legs’ cross-grain direction while allowing the top and bottom of the tenon to be oversized when driven in.If the orientation of the flats were reversed (meaning on top and bottom), the driving would split the leg due to the extra thickness of the oversized tenon running cross-grain. This is perhaps where Fisher made his early mistake. The method appears to work incredibly well because although the only pins in the entire chair are in the top slat, it has no wiggle whatsoever – pretty amazing for a 200-year-old chair.
Fisher’s shop work during this time on chairs seems a little more focused than usual. Although he made a few visits and “wrote upon sermons” like always, he set aside a surprising amount of time to this batch of chairs.
Tuesday, April 2, Fisher recorded many of the steps of the chairmaking operation: “Primed some chairs. Went into the woods and cut a little chair stuff. Turnedposts and put together a kitchen chair.” During the ensuing weeks of construction, we learn that he “hewedout [his] posts” before turning them. He may have also used his “shaving jack” for further shaping but onlyever recorded using it to “shave … chair backs.” Interestingly, there is a comment on April 19 about “sawing out a few chair backs.” Typically “sawing out” refers to resawing rough material. So it appears that rather than rive backs from the log, he preferred to saw them.
After they were assembled, he painted the chairs, probably with the “1-1/2 gal. oil, 5 lbs. yellow ochre, 5 lbs. red ochre, 1 lb. patent yellow” he purchased from Mr. Witham’s store at the head of the bay during the construction process.
The “bottoming” (seat weaving) of Fisher’s chairs always appears to be connected to the pounding of “basket stuff.” The fact that he didn’t mention weaving baskets after the prep work but instead immediatelybegan weaving the seats seems to imply that they were woven of wood strips rather than the twisted rushes one would expect in northern New England.