Class Calendar Update

Students assemble a Rustic Windsor.

Summer 2013 was our 36th year teaching courses with guest instructors – coming to Country Workshops from around the US, Sweden and Japan. We are now shifting into a smaller format based on our successful fall and winter tutorials where classes are limited to 4 students. Class members will benefit with this more personal group size. (We may also include an intern or other guest student.) Drew Langsner is the instructor.

There are no hidden add-ons, such as a registration or materials fee. Tuition now includes lodging in a private room. Specialized tools are provided for all courses. (Students are requested to bring more common woodworking tools.) This is an excellent opportunity to see and try the tools available from our CW Store. As usual, tuition includes our well-known garden fresh meals prepared by Louise Langsner.

Registration can be by phone (828 656 2280), e-mail, or post. The tuition deposit is $350, with the balance due 4 weeks before class. We accept personal checks, Visa/MasterCard and money orders.

Our summer tutorials will be announced in the next newsletter. The 2014 schedule and our CW Store offerings will be detailed in our next catalog which will printed later in the fall. Send us an e-mail with your name and postal address if you would like a free copy. It will also be possible to print out the catalog using a PDF link on our Web site.

Upcoming Classes
(Limited to 4 students)

Fall Tutorials
November 4 - 8. Carving Bowls and Spoons – Full
November 18 - 22. Rustic Windsor Chairmaking – 1 opening
December 2 - 6. Ladderback Chairmaking – 1 opening

Winter Tutorials
January 20 - 24. Ladderback Chairmaking
February 3 - 7. Carving Bowls and Spoons
February 17 - 21. Rustic Windsor Chairmaking
March 3 - 7. Making the Langsner Hearth Chair
March 24 - 28. Carving Bowls and Spoons – 3 openings
April 7 - 11. Ladderback Chairmaking

Spring Weekend Tutorials
May 3 - 4. Carving Spoons and Butter Knives
May 17 - 18. Carving Half-Log Bowls

Summer Tutorials
To be announced in our next newsletter, and on our Web site when available.

Boomer Bill's Transformation

Boomer Bill's before the makeover.
Interior renovations in progress.

When Drew and Louise Langsner first came to their North Carolina mountain farm in the spring of 1974 they moved into a very basic 4-room house, which was built by a farmer who the neighbors called Boomer Bill. "Boomer" is a local idiom for grey squirrels, which tend to always be very active, scampering from one task to another. We were told that Boomer Bill built his house in the teens, but other neighbors said it may have been the 1930s. The house is "double box" – a local type of construction that was transitional between solid log cabins and 2 x 4 framing. The exterior and interior walls are two layers of vertical 1-inch boards that are alternately nailed into each other. There is no frame! And of course no insulation. Boomer's has a wonderful fresh water spring, but it's located below the house so there was no interior plumbing. There was a rudimentary electrical system, but Drew wondered if it would be safe to use, so it was not connected to the grid during the 6 years that the Langsners lived there.

Country Workshops started offering summer classes in 1978 with courses taught by log house builder Peter Gott and Swedish woodcarver Wille Sundqvist. Peter's class was an excuse to get started on a new Langsner home. Two years later Drew & Louise moved into their present home. (It looks quite different now because there are 3 additions.)

For many years Country Workshops' summer season got under way with our annual Volunteer Week. This was a time when friends of CW got together to improve our facilities, mostly upgrading the tobacco-curing barn that has been transformed into our wonderful workshop. We also converted Boomer Bill's into a summer dorm. New wiring was installed, and we built a detached bathhouse complete with a hot shower.

Boomer Bill's is now being transformed into a residence for the Langsners' daughter Naomi, and Teo Reha. The most dramatic change came about when Teo and Friends removed all of the interior walls and ceilings. This revealed an unexpected enclosure with renewed potential. The original two front rooms are turning into a living room/kitchen with a ceiling almost as high as the roofline. The rear right bedroom is a little bigger, and with an 8-foot ceiling. (Teo is about 6'4" so the old 7-foot ceiling had to go.) The rear left room has been divided into real bathroom, a large closet for the bedroom, and a utility area. Welcome home Naomi!

An up-to-date electric service has been installed. The interior side of the exterior walls now has an actual frame, needed as a space to add insulation. And of course the single pane windows are being replaced with thermals. It should be really nice.

All this is taking some time as everyone involved has a full schedule, and the work is being done mostly on weekends. We have scheduled another Volunteer Week (October 7-11) with a group of CW friends coming to help move this along. Hopefully Naomi and Teo will be moving in before real winter arrives.

Hand-Made Tools – For Real 

Hans Karlsson in his toolmaking shop.
Drew Langsner Reports
Back in 1990 when Jögge Sundqvist and I were planning our first Scandinavian craft tour it was suggested that we visit the workshop of Hans Karlsson, a toolmaker based in Motala – a city roughly on our route between Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. Hans and his wife, Carina, had a small workshop, very clean and organized, and filled with equipment. Hans was doing all of the forge work and tempering. Carina did the sharpening, besides running the office and packing tools. The Karlssons had 2 young and rather shy boys, Andreas and Johann. There was no one else employed in their tool business. Hans said that he ‘does not want to become an industry.’

Our tour group was immensely impressed with the quality of the tools – which included a very impressive selection of handsome and sturdy looking gouges (forged from ball bearing steel), plus various knife blades, adzes and axe heads. The highlight of our visit was Hans’ demonstration of how he forges a hollowing adze. I already owned a nice selection of gouges, but I decided to buy a few, even though they were quite expensive.
Spoon-carving knives await handles.
Wood for tool handles.
Carving gouges made by Karlsson.

Hans, a new granddaughter and Andreas.

Back home I found myself telling woodworkers about the tour, and showing the gouges from the Karlssons. I was asked if Country Workshops could order these beautiful tools. At the time CW was selling our froes, but this was really the start of the Country Workshops Store.

I’ve returned to Motala many times and the Karlsson family has been to Country Workshops with Hans teaching Toolmaking for Woodworkers. Hans has also taken our popular course, ladderback chairmaking.

Today the workshop is located in a much larger, old building in an old industrial part of Motala. Carina passed away a few years ago. Andreas and Johann – “born in the forge” is what Hans tells me – are now working full time making tools. As young adults Andreas had trained as a watchmaker and was hired by a small, prestigious Swiss firm. But after a year or so he wanted to move back to Sweden. Meanwhile, Johann was working as an architectural model maker. It’s easy to understand that these guys are perfect for highly detailed, exacting work.

I’m telling this story to explain why we sometimes have delays in getting tools to our CW Store customers. When you place an order we hope to have inventory on hand so that your tools can be shipped right out. Hans Karlsson tools are made for CW in very small quantities, based on my estimate of orders about 3-6 months in advance. Lately word has gotten out (mostly on the internet) that these are some of the very best woodworking tools you can own. Our business has grown and the Karlssons have also seen an increase in orders from their European customers. The result is that we are looking at delays in receiving inventory.

Country Workshops sells about 40 different Karlsson tools, but H. Karlsson Klensmide can make over 500 different woodworking tools. About half of these are lightweight, fine carving tools formerly made by the famous Swensson Brothers. There’s also a full range of gouges for violin makers – many of these are sold in sets to students at two schools in Germany.

Tools are shipped to us by airfreight. When this works properly delivery is less than one week. But sometimes things go wrong and there can be delays with Customs or other problems.

The Karlssons are still making tools by hand, and they have no plans to become an industry. Our best suggestion is to place your order, even if we are out of inventory. That way you will be at the upper end of the list when tools come in. We are sure you will appreciate the quality of these tools when you receive them, and have them for use for many years.

PS – We also import woodworking tools from Svante Djarve, another toolmaker in Sweden. In this case, the business is just Svante at the forge, with his wife Elsa doing sharpening, running the office and packing. Quality is first rate, and they are also working at full capacity. Again, we try to have adequate inventory, but we’re often sold out of some items. From the time of placing our order to delivery at CW there is often a wait of 4 months or so. But it’s still great to have these tools available.

PPS – You are welcome to use the Karlsson and Svante tools when you take a course at Country Workshops. The shop has a full selection, and we keep our tools sharp. You can also come by for a visit any time you’re in our area.


A crop of new butter knives.
Butter knives, which are also called spreaders, are carved wooden utensils that can add a special hand-made touch to any table setting. Making a spreader shouldn’t be difficult, but designing one that functions well and has a personal, artistic signature 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. We encourage wood carvers to develop their personal design, which should be useful and practical. 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. The collection is available for viewing and handling when you are at CW.

Since our last newsletter the collection has received 24 additional spreaders. Most of these are gifts from spoon collector Norman Stevens, Storrs, CT. New spreaders in the collection are from 10 states and the following countries – Tunisia, South Africa, Thailand, Latvia, Israel, Great Britain and Estonia. Thanks to all!

113 - Hugh Curry. Round Top, NY. red oak blade, handle wood not identified
114 - Rick Erkee. Crawford, CO. cherry
115 - Ron Schleif. Isanti, MN. cherry
116 - Sean Morris. Petersburg, OH. hard maple
117 - Debbie (doing business at “Irkletique”). Sioux City, IA. unknown wood
118 - “Fair Folk Crafts”. Poland, NY. cherry
119 - Danyel Farino. Cypress, TX. cherry
120 - Riah and Aubrey Irion. Wellsboro, PA. unknown wood
121 - Stephen Willette. Bennington, NY. hard maple
122 - “Slaymaker Designs”. Westmoreland, NH. birdseye maple
123 - Boutiti Mehdi. Napeul, Tunisia. olive
124 - Pierre van der Merwe. Stellenbosch, South Africa. wild olive
125 - Sawatdeee. Chiangmai, Thailand. unknown wood
126 - Janis Kalnins. Latvia. possibly beech
127 - Julie Newberry. St. Louis, MO. padouk
128 - Yoav Baitner. Rehovot, Israel. almond
129 - Hassel Weems. Locust Grove, GA. walnut
130 - Hassel Weems. cedar
131 - Robin Bartholomew. Southampton, UK. mountain ash
132 - Nancy Lou Webster. Elgin, TX. hedge cedar
133 - Nancy Lou Webster. red cedar
134 - Nancy Lou Webster. red cedar
135 - Robert. Estonia. pine, composite handle, no finish
136 - Robert. pine, no finish


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Phone: 828 656 2280 (9 AM to 6 PM, Eastern time, any day)
Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753