Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lie-Nielsen Event

I recently attended a Lie-Nielsen at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. It was great to see some old friends like Tico Vogt and Will Neptune. It also gave me the chance to finally meet Peter Follansbee in the flesh. We have so many mutual friends and have emailed over the years, plus, I am a huge fan of his work, so it was a pleasure to finally hang out and see him in action.
Here is Will Neptune displaying some of his prodigious skill.
photo by Jeff Burks
You can see photos of the event at or at
Thanks to Steve Branam and Jeff Burks for sharing their images and to Bob van Dyke and Lie-Nielsen for hosting us.

Here is another photo that I just couldn't pass up. It was taken by furniture maker Duncan Gowdy of his new son Carter.

Congratulations Duncan and Elizabeth!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Among the Trees

Every time that I step outside I seem to be fighting the trees. When they talk about the amazing colors of fall in New England, no one seems to mention that the clean up is worse than at Woodstock. I've been blowing leaves with abandon and clearing paths to the firewood that I split last spring.

After two eye blistering days at the computer and drawing board, I took to the woods to take down a couple of trees for next year. I know that winter is bearing down on me and I am woefully short on firewood for this year, but I still reverted to my favorite posture in the woods, playing.

I got a new hatchet at a garage sale recently and it holds an amazing edge. It's one of those blades that rings out when you tap it. So I took a few minutes and hewed one side of this ash log.

It isn't exactly a hewing axe, which would be flat on one side, but I sharpened it so that it was close to one and for a lefty too.
I got it reasonably flat. The blade held the edge and took great shavings but it would have been better with the correct geometry. It was all that I could do to keep from building a fort.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Deep Breaths

Fall is here, the leaves are everywhere and the smell of the first fires fills the air. I am loving the transition. I've been plotting and planning to wrap up my responsibilities so that I can spend my time working on my book. Hopefully about this time next year, I am going to be publishing my first book with Lost Art Press. I am writing and illustrating the book which will be a foundation book on chairmaking. This project began years ago, in collaboration with Curtis Buchanan, and has stalled and revved multiple times. Finally, Curtis and I decided to pursue separate projects (you have seen his videos, right!?) and with our different approaches to chair making and communication, I think that we both stand a better chance of seeing the projects through to completion.

So, with lots of text left to write and drawings to produce, I've got my plate full. The only tough part is of course the pull of the workshop at the other end of the house. I've been satisfying my shop needs by finishing the walnut chair that I posted about. With each coat, I see new possibilities for future work.

I am enjoying the gouge marks more than I had expected.

 And this stile to crest joint has me thinking about a dining chair that I've had in mind.

I had to shake it out of my skull and into wood so that I could get back to the computer.

Later today, Jon Binzen, from Fine Woodworking, is coming by to finish up some details for the back cover that they are doing about my shop for the Tools and Shops issue that is coming out in a few weeks. I am very excited to be featured. Jon is a pleasure to work with and always makes me feel like I am far more interesting than I deserve, talk about skill!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A New Site!

Last Spring, while building my maple syrup evaporator, I had an epiphany. While there were parts that I was happy to fabricate myself, when it came to the stainless steel pan, I knew that I was out of my depth and with my limited free time, I could easily justify buying one from a quality maker.

Then I realized that some folks might feel the same about the tools that I make and have featured on Chairnotes. With increasingly busy lives, perhaps grinding drill bits or making travishers isn't as captivating as getting a chair together. I get it, and when I offered some tools to my students at a recent class, the notion was confirmed.

This also dovetails with my desire to focus on writing projects for the upcoming year. I am still building for clients and designing new work, but small scale projects like toolmaking fit the bill for keeping my hands happy and my head free.

As you may know, my travishers are already available (I am almost caught  up on the backlog) and as the year proceeds, I am hoping to add some other tools to the list, such as reamers with a blade adjuster (and that don't clog!), long spur drill bits and drawknifes (tuned, refurbished and ready to go) and perhaps even an adze. 
I call the site Chairnotes Tools, and my plan is to use it as a list site where I will feature the tools as they come available. Keeping tabs on new stuff will be easy by subscribing.

I've chosen to create Chairnotes Tools as a separate site so that you can still come to Chairnotes knowing what to expect, a solid dose of my workshop ramblings with the occasional goat photo.

Perhaps it's naive of me to treat this with such delicacy, most folks are probably comfortable with the realities of commerce, but I take the trust of the visitors to Chairnotes seriously, and I'd much rather err in this direction.