It’s funny how something can look so easy and end up being so daunting. It is also surprising to me that one of the most famous pieces of Shaker furniture has gone so many years without being properly measured and documented. I am referring here to the candle stand in the collection at Hancock Shaker Village. There are plans for this table in many books; many claim to be measured from the table in Hancock’s collection, but I have yet to find a published plan that has the correct dimensions and shapes.
After numerous attempts to build a table that had the elegant flow of the original using the published plans from several different books and photos of four different original tables, I failed at every attempt. I ended up contacting the folks at Hancock, and they were gracious enough to let me document the table in their collection.
I also managed to wrangle Joshua Farnsworth into doing a video on the candle stand. He and I traveled to Hancock to measure and photograph the original table, as well as a couple other projects. A short video about our trip is available here.
The video on the candle stand just went up for sale at Wood and Shop store today. It is 244 minuets long and includes footage of our trip to Hancock, an examination of the original piece and detailed step by step instruction on how I reproduce this epic piece of Shaker furniture. The measured plans I made from the original table are included on the DVD as well. And yes, I really did measure the original!
Below is the link to the preview of the candle stand video.
Of all the things I have made, these tables generate the most comments from folks; almost everyone likes them. I’m not completely sure why that is other than the fact that it is minimalistic but not plain. No bull$%&*. “It is what it is” type of thing (I think). For me it has been one of those projects that when I sit back and look at what I have done, it simply makes me happy.
A bow saw is a handy tool to have around. There are so many operations they can perform that it makes them an almost indispensable tool.
Bill Anderson has been teaching a class at the Woodwright’s School for several years on making an elegant little bow saw he calls the Howarth bow saw. It is patterned off an original saw Bill found at a tool sale.
If you have ever taken a class from Bill you know he is a guy who likes details. He even took some of the parts of the original saw to his local veterinarian’s office and had X-rays taken to see how they were made. If I walked into my vet’s office with saw parts wanting X-rays taken it would be me they want to do the X-rays on. Bill though, he makes it happen.
Bill, in conjunction with Josh Farnsworth at Wood and Shop, have released a new DVD called “Building the Historic Howarth Bow Saw”. It is an excellent, very detailed video on how to reproduce this very shapely saw.
It is hard to find much on a WWII era battleship that relates to woodworking. Iron and steel rule for the most part.
My daughters and I visited the USS North Carolina (BB-55) located in Wilmington, NC. I have been there many times; it is one of those things that never gets old to me. The girls love because it is like the world’s largest playground with lots of places to hide from dad. Every time I visit I see some part I never noticed before.
Today it was the decking, more than an acre of almost flawless 8/4 teak. I never really looked closely at it before (I know, I am stupid), perfectly laid and fitted the entire 728 feet of deck. The deck drains were even perfectly executed. What is most amazing is this deck is not the original, it was replaced in 1998 with teak from Myanmar.
One other thing that was kind of neat were the seats in the galleys. Same idea as Mr. Schwarz’s workbench seat except these had a locking mechanism for holding them in the in or out position. I guess this was a battleship only option.
If you are ever in the Wilmington area the battleship is a great place to stop and spend an afternoon, or the whole day.
Part of the season 36 episodes of the Woodwright’s Shop are now online. One of them is on testing tusk tenon joints that Roy and I filmed a few months back. I made an apparatus to pull the joints apart and measure the amount of force it took to make them fail. The results are pretty impressive. The episode is called “Wedged Tusk Tenon” and is available to stream here.
I also shot a short video showing the joint smoker in action that is available here.
I absolutely love to use wide boards in my projects. Wide stuff shows up quiet often in old pieces of furniture, and I try to use the same whenever possible. It seems most folks these days think there is no way to get these wide boards anymore. They think there are simply no trees this big. And if they do find them, they are cost-prohibitive.
That’s not true; they are out there.
Most really large trees are not in the forest; they come from people’s yards most of the time. The great majority are big shade trees that eventually get too big and have to be removed, or they finally come down in a storm. Most of the big commercial mills do not want timber like this because it is often too big for their equipment and there is the chance of iron, such as old nails in the wood.
My advice is to find a small sawmill. Even if they do not have anything when you visit, leave your contact info for when something does show up. Smaller operations can and will deal with these kinds of logs. The biggest negative to lumber from sources such as this is that the lumber is usually fresh cut and green. Depending on the species and thickness, it can take months or years to air-dry. On the positive side, the lumber can be had a much lower cost than a lumber-supply house.
A few days back, Lesley Caudle of Lesley’s Sawmill called me and said he had a big cherry log come in. I have done business with Lesley for several years and he knows the kind of stuff I am looking for. In my part of the world, cherry is a pretty common tree, but large ones are rare. This one had been growing on a property line between two tracts of land. Apparently it did not get cut because neither owner knew whose tree it was. We had some pretty rough storms pass through a few weeks back, and the big cherry blew down.
The log that this tree yielded was 44′ long, 30″ in diameter on the butt end and 22″ on the small end. The tree was not perfectly straight, and the heart was out of center in a couple places. Cherry is an easy wood to air-dry and not usually temperamental; the lumber should work out fine. Leslie made me a deal, and I bought the whole tree. The big logs yielded dozens of wide clear boards from 24″ wide down to 20″.
This is one of three loads of wide boards from the big cherry.
If you are not looking, you won’t find anything. Get out and beat the bush. The big stuff will turn up.