Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gothic Stool: Part I

This project reminds me a bit of the meditation bench I built because of the splayed legs and through mortises. But this stool has a stretcher and tusk tenons whereas the bench did not.

I drew a pattern in Illustrator based on an image I found in a book, then I located some thick cherry in my lumber stash, printed out the patterns full size, and made a plywood template for the curvy legs.

I was all set to start cutting the legs because the decorative elements of any project are always my favorite, when I realized that it would be much easier to layout the joinery if the boards were square.
Whew. Disaster averted.

The benefit to working from full size patterns is you can take measurements right from the printout. And for those of us who are baffled by simple geometry, it makes it easy to determine angles.

I drew a pencil line down the center of both leg boards and seat. This helped align the pieces when laying out the joinery.

It's a pretty straight forward build. The one thing I did differently than the meditation bench was to cut the leg tenons first rather than the mortises just to see if it was more efficient and/or produced better joints.

And the result of my in-depth experiment? I didn't notice a bit of difference.

Next up: cutting the stretcher and tusk tenons.

Those corners on the front of the legs
will be removed when I cut the
scrolly pattern. And the tenons
will be sawn flush with the seat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Woodworking for Your Inner Knight

This will be the first project in my new book*, The Forgotten Realm of Gothic Woodworking, which will feature not only projects with which to outfit your manor, but will answer age-old questions about the period such as: "Did they buy black nail polish or make their own?" and "Does this flying buttress make me look fat?"

I'm all up in the Goth grill these days and have been finding loads of fun projects online, thanks in part to those of you who have commented on the last couple blog posts and those who have emailed me directly.

You might be wondering what the difference is between Gothic, Medieval, and Renaissance. According to Wiki, the Medieval Period is from 400 - 1500; Gothic (a pejorative term meaning barbarous or crude) is from 1150 - 1500; and Renaissance is from 1300 - 1600.

I'm currently reading The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, by Ian Mortimer, which is wildly interesting. It recounts a time when mullets didn't make you cringe.

As you read the book, you can't help but wonder where you would fit into the social hierarchy—royalty, knight, merchant, peasant, mead-swilling friar—and be forever grateful that you're living in the 21st century. The 14th century doesn't have indoor plumbing and Barbie Foosball. I don't want to live in that world.

The book is what got me interested in researching the types of furniture that were made back then.

One piece that caught my eye is a 15th century stool from Normandy. I found it in a free book online. My version will be a little different, but the basic design is the same. The stool had me at tusk tenons.

Before tastes in furniture starting changing in the 17th century, much of the furniture was adorned with elaborate carving. Google “gothic furniture” and you’ll see what I mean.

So, this weekend I’ll get started building my collapsible stool and hope that no one drops by unexpectedly. Perhaps there’s still time to build a moat around my shop.
An interesting write-up on 15th and 16th century stools can be found here
*I'm not really writing a book about gothic furniture.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Have You Seen This Table?

I bought a book over the weekend for one reason only: this photo.

The description says it's "A Gothic Walnut and Pine Center Table. Related examples appearing in Switzerland and Rhenish areas. South German 15th-16th Century."

The book is A Directory of Antique Furniture by F. Lewis Hinckley, published in 1953.

Have any of you ever seen this table or one like it? It's going on my to-build list and I'd love to find out more about it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Looking For Resource Suggestions

I'm looking for resources (books, museums, websites) for unique, folk, European furniture, preferably 17th and 18th century. 

Nothing high end, but not too simple either. Some carving and decorative elements would be great. German, Scandinavian, Austrian, Dutch, English....any suggestions?

Here are some pieces that sort of reflect what I'm looking for, but I'm open to any and all suggestions. 

Tables, chairs, cupboards, any kind of household stuff.

Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture

Bob Lang has compiled three of his books—Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, and Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays & Hardware—into one impressive collection entitled Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.

Within the 328 black and white pages are drawings of 57 pieces of American furniture known as Craftsman, Arts & Crafts, and Mission. Original designs by Gustav Stickley and his associates are provided with detailed illustrations, exploded views, and cut lists.

Bob Lang has been studying and building Arts & Crafts furniture since the late 1970s. Working from photographs and catalog illustrations of original pieces, he has amassed a book of shop drawings for anyone who loves well designed, well structured, and well balanced furniture.

What is it that attracts us—woodworker and non-woodworker alike—to this style of furniture? Perhaps it's the practical, no frills nature. The designs are based on solid fundamentals, paring away the fancy portions of previous styles, revealing the beauty in simplicity and wood grain.

Maybe it's the comfort element, because Craftsman furniture surely is that.

Maybe it's the timeless quality of good taste, as Craftsman designs are at home in any home. The exposed joinery and minimalist features serve as decorative elements; an entire suite or one piece complement any room.

Or maybe the style represents something of our own nature: strength, stability, practicality, usefulness.

Bob provides a detailed history of Craftsman furniture, the Stickley Brothers, and the people, places, and trends that influenced their designs. Gustav Stickley was a ball of fire with his ideas and ideals and spent his career addressing the societal changes that affected people's lives. He sought to combat the loss of quality he saw not only in furniture, but in our living and working environments.

Bob talks about the material and hardware; offers sound advice about preparing lumber, allowing for wood movement, and woodworking techniques; and provides loads of information about the details that were used in Stickley pieces.

The project illustrations are simple and understandable, and the measurements are clearly labeled.

It's an interesting read from an historical aspect, as well as a mechanical one, and it's jam-packed with substantial information—no fluff, just like Arts & Crafts furniture.


Find out more about Bob's book and view the table of contents on his website.

You can buy the book from a number of sources, but purchasing it directly from the author makes a tremendous difference in his income.

I do not benefit in any way from the sale of Bob's books. I am purchasing my own copy. In the meantime, Bob sent me a pdf to review.