Are You Tired of the Studley Tool Chest Yet?

Recently I was asked if I was ready to wash my hands of the Studley project, both the manuscript for the book VIRTUOSO and the upcoming Studley exhibit next May.  I had to think for a minute, because the truth is I am a bit weary from the pace of working around the homestead, wrapping up Roubo 2, and completing the Studley manuscript and making all the plans and arrangements for the exhibit.


But no, I am not tired of H.O. Studley.  How can you get tired of contemplating and exploring things like this?

Parquetry Tutorial – Assembling the Field


Once you have cut an adequate number of equilateral parallelogram lozenges, take a piece of heavy paper larger than the finished field onto which you will create the pattern field from the lozenges as has been illustrated previously.


Mark the center lines of the pattern on both axis and the outer perimeter of the pattern field (one helpful step is to draw all the lines entirely to the edges of the paper; it will come back to assist you very soon!) begin to assemble and glue down the pattern with hot hide glue





Take care to periodically check the pattern against the pattern system making sure to always get the correct orientation of each lozenge.  Otherwise there will be wails of anguish when you discover something out of proper orientation, resulting in aggravation, discouragement, and perhaps abandonment of the technique.  That would be unfortunate as it is such a powerful and useful design tool.


When you get enough lozenges glued down so that the entire pattern field is obscured, set it aside and let the glue harden prior to the next step of trimming the field.

Yes, There Are Still HO Studley Exhibit Tickets

Studley_Event-Posrcard-4x6 (1)

Recently I ran into someone who expressed dismay that the upcoming exhibit Henry O.Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench was sold out.

“Where did you get that idea?” I asked.

“I tried going in to buy mine on the second day they were available and had no luck, so I figured it was sold out.”  Convinced of the unavailability he had never returned to see the status of the exhibit or its web site.

I reassured him that this was an artifact of the total meltdown of the web site in the first hour of tickets going on sale several months ago.  If he returns to the site, all is well and functional.

It occurred to me that others might be thinking the same thing, hence this post to remind everyone.

The truth is there are still plenty of tickets available, and you can order them now.  I do not have the spreadsheet in front of me right now, but I am pretty sure there are still time slots that could accommodate a woodworker’s guild or any other groups who wanted to purchase tickets and make it a shared experience.

Spread the word.

If you have any questions, drop me a line at the contact page of this site.  And make sure to check out the goings-on for Handworks, occurring at the same time and only twenty minutes away.

Boullework Day 3


Our final day for the recent Boullework marquetry workshop included wrapping up our sawing,


assembling the finished patterns,


and gluing them down to supports.


For small compositions I am a big believer in using bricks as free-floating dead weights to hold them steady while the glue sets.  I think these will be used as project starters in the future.

The students also had time to examine their tordonshell they made on the first day, which had air dried until the end of the second day and then spent the final night and day in the dessication chamber.  Thus they had their own pieces to take with them, along with the leftovers from the pieces I’d made for the workshop.  They’ve got plenty of tordonshell to experiment with several new projects.


I also allowed them to practice with two important tools.  First, the chevalet,


and second, the Knew Concepts precision saw (full disclosure — I often collaborate with Knew to give my two cents about developing new tools and uses for those tools).

A grand time was had by all, and I enjoyed it immensely.  I look forward to the next time I teach this workshop.

Boullework Day 2









Beeswax Mold Success and Production Begins

I unpacked the new silicone rubber mold and wooden pattern for the new beeswax mold, then tried it out with some molten beeswax I had previously processed.  Success!, and I am pleased with the outcome.


Production has now begun.  Thus far I have orders for about 300 1/4-pound blocks.  I should be caught up with these orders in less than a month.

If you would like any of this hand processed beeswax, drop me a line at the Contact portal of this site.  The slightly-more-than-a quarter-pound block is $10 plus shipping.  This is the beeswax I use myself when doing Roubo-style finishing, and demonstrate using it in the new video Creating Historic Furniture Finishes that PopWood released a little while ago.

Once the Studley book manuscript is submitted in about a month I will turn my attentions to many new projects, including the creation of new finishing products including pigmented waxes and “Mel’s Wax,” the revolutionary high-performance furniture care product invented in my lab at the Smithsonian.

Boulle Marquetry Day 1

We hit the ground running at about 9 this morning with the review of Boulle-work, and then assembled packets for the first sawing exercise, whose only real function was to get newcomers comfortable with the tool and technique of sawing at this scale.  Boullework is essentially a fret-sawing technique, and I started everyone off with a copy of their initial to saw in three parts; copper, pewter, and tordonshell.


The first step was to cut all the pieces in the packet the same size,


then score one face of the metal pieces to serve as a cleaner gluing surface.  This meant that all the work was being done in a mirrored pattern to the final workpiece.


We assembled the packets with 1/8″ plywood  as the bottom face, followed by the copper layer, followed by a piece of waxed paper (as a sawing lubricant), then the piece of tordonshell followed by another piece of waxed paper, then the pewter layer and finally another 1/8″ plywood face.


Veneer tape wrapped around the corners held the packet together, and the pattern was glued to the face of the plywood with stick glue.


Everyone used the same type of saw, a traditional German jeweler’s saw, fitted with 6/0 blades.


Getting the teeth in the right orientation was a challenge, given the near-microscopic size of them.  I prefer these tiny blades as they allow for more detailed cutting, and leave such a tiny kerf.


A hole drilled with an eggbeater drill gave entre’ for the blade to be inserted through the packet,


and sawing could begin.


The scale of the sawing is tiny, and so is the saw dust.


The results of this introductory exercise was gratifying.


We then made some tordonshell, with everyone getting their hand in the process.


The second,  larger packet was assembled, and the sawing began on the more complex pattern.


Here is how far we got today.  More tomorrow.




In previous years our sporadic presence in the mountains often meant that we missed autumn, which comes and goes pretty quickly.  The trees reached full color only a week after beginning to turn, and will be gone in another week.  When the sun is shining the maples are practically neon.


I continue to chop up trees, and this is maple the first large tree I felled completely by myself.   It was about 60’tall and 18 inches at the base.  I definitely need a larger, more powerful chain saw.  The firewood inventory continues to increase, the local habit is to have next year’s firewood pile sitting and seasoning through the coming year.  I’m thinking I may be approaching that point fairly soon.

Also I am moving the tree line back to the southwest of the barn.  In winter the trees, even though devoid of leaves, are thick enough such that I loose sunlight by about 2.30.  I’m hoping that by moving the tree line back 100 feet I can extend that by an hour.


Preparations for the Upcoming Boulle Marquetry Workshop



This coming Friday through Sunday I will be teaching a three day workshop on the Boulle technique of marquetry at The Barn.  This is something I very much look forward to.  So, for the past few days I have been punctuating my days by preparing the classroom space for the event.



One of the parts attendees seem to enjoy the most is the making of tordonshell, and here is a batch I have prepared for them to use.  They will make their own to take home.


Come Sunday afternoon they will have some finished panels, the number and complexity depending on their interest and the time it takes them.

I still have an empty slot for this, so if it interests you drop me a line at the Contact portal for the site.



A week ago Saturday we attended the Maine Organic Farmer’s and Grower’s Association annual “Common Ground Country Fair,” a weird amalgam of passionate foodies, sensible homesteading and rural stewardship, self absorbed yuppie/hippie types who likely shed their costumes and returned to their Ivy-League lives by Monday (I can only hope they didn’t stay that way in perpetuity, although I don’t know what those old balding men will do with their pony-tails), skilled craftsmen, pagan mythology, eco-hysterics, some pretty cool gadgeteering, and some stuff that simply defied description.

And of course, fabulous food.  And friends.


I especially enjoyed the skilled trades and crafts on display and being demonstrated, including hewing,


ash sapling peeling for basketry,


furniture making,  woodlot and forestry managing,


a huge range of primitive skills like starting a fire with a bowsaw setup and making archery bows (I wanted to take the fellow’s drawknife and sharpen it proper, because he was basically chewing his way through the wood), spectacular sheep dog exercises,


stone carving humble,


and spectacular, and a whole bunch more.

It definitely supplied this year’s quota of human contact, although that one gal with the black make-up and a hardware store’s worth of accouterments in/on/through her face makes me wonder about the human part.  I really wish I had taken a picture.  I simply do not understand the appeal of self mutilation.

It was pretty clear that the patron saint for the event was Karl Marx, and the omnipresent hectoring of the unctuous enviros made me recall this observation of CS Lewis.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Still, a grand time was had!  I only wish I had yelled out, “Hooray Monsanto!” or “Fracking now!” just to see the tremors sweep through the crowds.