MARCH - APRIL 2013 E-NEWSLETTER
Class Calendar Update
2013 will be Country Workshops’ last summer with guest instructors. In 2014 we will continue with summer classes, but they will be tutorials with Drew Langsner.As usual, this year’s tuition includes lodging in our summer farmhouse, garden fresh meals prepared by Louise Langsner, and class materials. Specialized tools are provided (with the exception of Japanese Woodworking.) Class enrolment averages 8 students.
June 10 - 14. Carving Bowls and Spoons (Drew Langsner)
BOOK and DVD NEWS
From our beginnings Country Workshops’ classes have been intertwined with various print publications, and latter on, several video productions. Drew and Louise Langsner’s 1974 book Handmade led us to meeting Swedish woodworker Wille Sundqvist who taught our first classes in 1978. That same year, Jennie Alexander’s book Make a Chair From a Tree and Drew’s second book Country Woodcraft were published. And in 1979 Jennie taught our first class in post-and-rung chairmaking.
Back in the 80’s video equipment was beginning to be portable, and affordable. In 1982 “Fine Woodworking” editor Rick Mastelli attended one of our spoon and bowl carving workshops with Wille Sundqvist. On two afternoons after class Rick recorded a video of Wille carving a spoon, all done with an axe, a knife and a gouge. (That video has never been released. You need to attend one of our classes to see it.) Several years later the Taunton Press video crew returned to CW to record Jögge Sundqvist’s instructional video “Carving Swedish Woodenware.” This is currently available through the CW Store.
Drew went on to write three more books on woodworking, including The Chairmaker’s Workshop, and numerous magazine articles for various woodworking periodicals. In 1988 Rick and Drew traveled to Alpine Switzerland to record master cooper Ruedi Kohler crafting a complex, asymmetric milking bucket. Then in 1998 Rick and Drew went to northern Sweden to record a video of the innovative and inspirational bowl carver Bengt Lidström. Both of these are available in DVD format, also through our CW Store.
The original publishers of these books decided to drop these titles when they were no longer profitable. But also, over time, the publishing industry changed. Desktop publishing and print-on-demand production became possible. In 2008 Drew published an author’s reprint edition of The Chairmaker’s Workshop. This version benefits from having many small corrections and updates from the original commercial edition.
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Drew Langsner’s GREEN WOODWORKING
An author’s reprint edition Green Woodworking is now in print. Rodale Press originally published this title in 1987. In 1995 Lark Books published a revised edition. Corrections were made, and the text was brought up to date. The new author’s reprint is the same as the Lark version, except for the covers. Contents include chapters on materials, knife-work, hewing, riving, shaving, boring, bending, and joinery. Each chapter concludes with a project that showcases the chapter subject and techniques. There is an appendix on making a Swiss-German style shaving horse, and another on hickory bark seating.
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A NEW WILLE SUNDQVIST VIDEO
THE SPOON, THE BOWL AND THE KNIFE
After much discussion (with Jögge Sundqvist and many of our American friends) it was decided that this will be a Swedish production. Jögge has taken over the responsibility, and he is currently organizing the project. Of course finance is always a challenge. The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife has received a starter grant from The National Swedish Handcraft Council.
Jögge agrees that there must be an English version of the DVD. If you would like to help with this component of the project, you can contact Jögge by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or get in touch with Drew at Country Workshops. This link will take you to the project prospectus.
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Wille Sundqvist’s SWEDISH CARVING TECHNIQUES
Wille Sundqvist’s book, Swedish Carving Techniques, was published by The Taunton Press in 1990. This is an English translation of an earlier Swedish version. Now long out of print, and very expensive if you can find a copy. Several possibilities for a reprint are currently being explored. We’ll have more on this in the CW newsletter when the book is available once again.
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CURTIS BUCHANAN – CHAIRMAKERCurtis Buchanan is one of the most skillful and successful American Windsor chair makers working today. Over the years Curtis has also taught chairmaking – a long time ago at Country Workshops, but usually on a 1 on 1 basis in his personal workshop. From May 2010 through May 2011 Gary Burkett documented Curtis making a classic comb-back Windsor. Originally on YouTube, the 11-hour real time video is now available in DVD format. This is not a slick, edited down production. It’s all there, in real time. There are 10 disks in the boxed album. A set of full size plans is also available. DVD album $60.00; plans set $35.00. Available directly from Curtis at: www.CurtiBuchananChairmaker.com
STUMPS WITH LEGS – REVISITED
The idea is simple, but getting your stump with legs takes some effort. In the previous newsletter I discussed drying the log, boring mortises, and making the legs. One criterion is that the leg material should be well dried before making the tenons. But these hefty legs take time to dry, and sometimes you don’t have pre-dried leg material, or you don’t want to wait. (We didn’t, for the rived red oak legs.) As any chairmaker knows, legs that are not fully dry will gradually do so — and shrink. Then the legs come loose. This isn’t bad if you don’t need to move the stump around. But it’s a nuisance re-fitting the legs if you store the stump in one place and use it in another.
The fix is quite simple and very effective. When you think the legs are really dry, turn the stump over and insert a partial ring of small wedges between the tenon and the mortise. Make the wedges with an enclosed angle of about 8 degrees. (Wider wedges won’t work nearly as well.) Use some yellow glue and just tap them snug with a hammer. This really works, almost as well as if the legs were installed dry. I didn’t bother to trim them, but you can.
The other tip is to rough up the chopping surface with a chain saw. The blade will tend to slide around a little, before it starts to starts to cut into the surface. Then lightly draw it back and forth to create elongated grooves, maybe just less than 1/2” deep. These kerfs become stops so that your work doesn’t slip around as you chop. I usually make a grid, but this wasn’t carefully determined.
Really old stumps get chopped into so much that the end-grain also roughens from your axe. Because of the way it’s used, always put a cover on your chipping stump when it's not in use. This will protect the surface from abrasive grit that will otherwise find it’s way onto the chopping surface. And this, in turn, would dull the edge of your fine carving axe.
Regular readers of this newsletter know about the Butter Knife Project. Spreaders are (usually) simple carved implements that are commonly used when serving butter – Or nowadays spreads like pesto or humus. For years we have used “spreaders” as the introductory project in spoon carving classes. Spreaders are functional utensils and using them adds a special hand-made touch to any table setting. Making a basic spreader isn’t difficult, but designing one that looks good and is functional is a challenge. They can also be an excellent gift, or a comfortably priced hand-carved item to sell.
We invite wood carvers to contribute their version of a spreader to our design/study collection. There is no budget for this project, and it’s not a contest. Newly acquired butter knives are featured in this newsletter, and there is a complete web-site archive at Country Workshops’ Spreader World Gallery. This includes “as seen from above photos” that are not in the newsletter. Of course the collection is available for viewing and handling when you are here at CW.
Three contributions were received in February and March. Haley Fox Billipp carved number 109 during a visit with the Langsners in March. The wood is apple; with Drew’s flax oil-citrus peel solvent finish. Haley was the 2005 CW summer intern. Number 110 was purchased at the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville, NC. Unknown maker; unidentified wood. Number 111 is a gift from William Zelt, an 80-year-old woodcarver in Loveland, CO. Mr. Zelt specializes in carving birds and other wildlife. He also makes furniture, including Swiss influenced “two board” chairs, based on an article that Drew wrote for “Fine Woodworking” many years ago.
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