Musings

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print 274

Finally, we get to a picture of some furniture!  In this page from L’art du Menuisier, #274, “Plans and Elevations of a Common Commode,” Roubo continues a tutorial that runs throughout the entire opus — the exposition on and exhortation towards the creation of stylistic beauty.   Here he provides several options for interpreting what we would call a dresser, but they named commode.

The print is in excellent condition, with the expected oxidation of 250 years at the perimeter of the page.  As with some others in my inventory it has the charming feature unique to hand-printing pages, namely that the plate and the page were not perfectly aligned and are thus slightly askew.

The composition and engraving of the copper plate were done by Roubo himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.

$150

Goin’ Hollywood Part Trois

Josh Farnsworth has posted the third episode from his visit to The Barn a couple months ago.  I hope you find it amusing.

Given this entree into reality television perhaps I too am qualified to someday become President.  Then again perhaps not, inasmuch as I already know some about history, political theory, economics, the Constitution, etc.  If recent decades have shown us anything it is that those things do not resonate with the electorate.  So on second thought, I’ll just stay in the mountains.

Workbench 1, 2, 3 – Day 3c

I was finally able to carve out another few hours to get the two workbenches ready to go for use as tables at Handworks.

My first task was to get the last two legs fitted and trimmed, then I had both benches up on their feet.  I trimmed the ends with my 10″ Milwaukee circular saw and spent about an hour total rough flattening the tops with a fore plane.

With that done I drilled a number of holes for holdfasts and fitted the planing stop on the one bench I will be keeping.  I have to consult again with the LoC folks before doing any more to theirs.

And, it was a functional workbench.  After Handworks I will do the final truing of the top, add a crochet and shelf to mine and stick it in the shop.

With that I stuck a pair of horses underneath one bench, and using a block saved just for that purpose, drove out the legs.  Then I lifted the end of the second bench up on to the first bench top sitting on the horses and drove out the first pair of its legs.  I slid the bench top onto the first one up to the second pair of legs and drove them out too.

The whole pile now sits close to the door, ready to head off to Iowa.  And the time card read 24 hours.

Yep, one guy, two workbenches, in three days.

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print 273

In another of the detailed construction drawing sprinkled throughout L’art du Menuisier Roubo presents Print 273, “Developments [Details] of the Buffet Represented in the Previous Plate.”  Here he shows the precise schematics and cross sections of the assembly and especially the interrelation of the joinery and the moldings used to create a beautiful armoir or buffet.

Like a great many of these pages Roubo both drew the illustration and engraved the printing plate himself.

Due to some staining just inside the left border of the print this one is probably in fair condition, as is reflected in the price.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.

$100

A Maestro in Stone

One of the things about the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia is the abundance of rocks.  Everywhere.  Even when preparing the soil for gardening a roto-tiller is pretty much useless as watermelon-sized (and larger) boulders lurk just under the surface.

On the other hand there is plenty of raw material for masonry and dry-stack stone walls.  Fortunately for us locals there is an artist in stacked stone, DanielH, who, perhaps not coincidentally, has the physique of a power lifter.  We have long noticed a gradual collapse of a retaining wall around the old spring near the cabin, and after being on Daniel’s waiting list the day finally arrived for him and his helper to come and rebuild it.

I’m not sure how well this shows up in photos, but a few short hours of their skilled ministrations and the wall looked a-new.  Not being one to backseat-drive I left them to their work while I was up in the barn.  By the time I came down the hill for lunch they had un-stacked and re-stacked the wall properly.  I do not know how long the previous iteration has been there, but I am pretty sure the new configuration will last for generations.

Not content to leave it at this tiny project we decided to commission him to build a retaining wall leading into the root cellar.   They hand-dug the excavation for that  and will build up the inventory of rocks needed to chisel and fit them into a finished wall in the coming days.

There is something truly impressive about watching a mesomorph balletic-ally  maneuver a nearly half-ton rock delicately into place.

Stay tuned.

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print 271

Throughout L’art du Menuisier Roubo vacillated between grand images of stylistic interpretations to instruct his contemporaries about the nature of beauty and the enterprise of dong so at a nuts-and-bots level.  Today’s offering from my collection, #271, “Various Sorts of Shelves and the Profiles Appropriate for Armoirs,” is definitely in the latter group, as he details the profiles of moldings and further construction details for, not surprisingly given the title of the plate, large clothes storage units.  I was particularly taken with the lattice-weave shelves, optimal for ventilation in the cabinet to prevent staleness.

The page is in very good-to-excellent condition.

The image was drawn by Roubo and he engraved the plate himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.

$200

Barn Courses 2017 Update

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May 23-27 Making a Ripple Molding Cutter – this is less of a workshop than a week long gathering of fellow galoots trying to design and build a machine to allow us to recreate ripple and wave moldings.  Material and supplies costs divvied up, no tuition.

This event is pretty much full, but I could squeeze in somebody who just has to be there.

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June 16-18  Make a Nested Set of Brass Roubo Squares – This is a weekend of metal working, as we fabricate a full set of nested brass squares with ogee tips, as illustrated in Plate 308 of l’art du Menuisier.  The emphasis will be entirely on metal fabrication and finishing, including silver soldering with jeweler Lydia Fast, and creating a soldering station for the workbench. Tuition $375, materials cost $50.

I still have one space left.

July 24-28  Minimalist Woodworking with Vic Tesolin

This class has been cancelled.  Vic and I are hoping to reschedule it for next summer.

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August 11-13  Historic Finishing – My own long-time favorite, we will spend three days reflecting on, and enacting, my “Six Rules For Perfect Finishing” in the historic tradition of spirit and wax coatings.  Each participant should bring a small finishing project with them, and will accompany that project with creating numerous sample boards to keep in your personal collections.  Tuition $375.

This class has one opening remaining.

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September 4-8  Build An Heirloom Workbench – I’m repeating the popular and successful week-long event from last year, wherein the participants will fashion a Roubo-style workbench from laminated southern yellow pine.  Every participant will leave at the end with a completed bench, ready to be put to work as soon as you get home and find three friends to help you move it into the shop.  Tuition and Materials $825 total.

This workshop has two openings remaining.

If any of these interest you drop me a line here.

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print # 263

One of the most interesting things to me about these prints from L’art du Menuisier is Roubo’s depiction of how things are put together, such as the working mechanism of a tamboured roll top desk.  Print #263, “Further Developments of Roll-Top Desks and Other Writing Tables” illustrates the assembly of a coil-spring-driven roll-top desk and the manner in which the tambours are retracted and released.  I just think this is cool.

As with some of the other prints from my selection this one is a tiny bit askew as the copper plate and the page margins were not perfectly aligned, an artifact of hand-printing I find charming.  The page is in very good-to-excellent condition.

The image was drawn by Roubo and he engraved the plate himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.

$250

You Never Know Where A Small Job Might Lead!

Recently I was contacted by JoeM about his newly acquired vintage Studley-era piano maker’s workbench.  His own eloquence suffices to tell the tale, although I edited it a touch for privacy and continuity and to format it since he wrote me multiple long missives on a (non-smart) cell phone.

I have found a piano makers work bench from Boston 1866.  It has the wheel vices, is 33 by 77 inches. The vice was shimmed with the makers committee member cards, from the Boston city council.

I also found a memo from Hallet and Davis 1891 setting the rates of pay for the piano makers.  It has six drawers and three smaller drawers inside, which are covered by a pull down front.  It has all the dogs.  

The end vice has a dog that passes through and slides.  

It also has a hidden pull cord that locks the drawers by a cool mechanism in back.

Anyway, I’m a carpenter who was lucky enough to find this bench in the cellar of a home in Springfield Ma.  I traded the bench for a 400 dollar job at the house.  I quickly called my friend who is an antique tool collector and described the bench.  He offered me 1000 dollars with out seeing it.  He finally told me what it was, and said hes only seen two such benches in 50 years of collecting!  

So the lady I traded for said it was her grandfathers, born in 1859.  She said it had been in a few businesses  around Springfield,one being Hampden Brewery, before it was returned to her, I really don’t want to ask her any more about the history in case this thing is valuable and wants it back.  Right now the bench is in my living room where I study it.  I seem to find something new each day.  

I’m glad I read your article of furniture conservation as I started doing minor repairs.  I glued a few cracks on the back side, but now will wait till further investigation.  I did not know what a science it was.    

One vise was attached to the bench and one was on the floor.  Strangely the one on the floor was fine, the one on the bench was repaired. Some one must have dropped it.  The vice face was snapped off and welded on, and get this BACKWARDS !!   So the big Question is do I get it repaired?   My best friend is the best machinist I’ve ever seen.  He does incredible things with steel.

The two bottom drawers have different pulls than the top five.They don’t look original to me, and they have been painted gold.

Back to the history, the cards shimming the vise (had to take it off to move it) were in remarkable condition.  The name I traced was Jairus A Frost.  He had two different street addresses on two different cards, suggesting the passage of time pointing to him as owner.  Some where in the Boston records I found his occupation listed as piano maker.  A friend of mine found an article in a news paper that said he was in the Boston Benefit Society.  The cards say Committee of Relief, address 38 Porter St and 484 Washington St, Boston.  One card lists him as vice-president January 1866 to 1877.  There must be more info on Jairus, I mean I found this info with my meager computer skills.

Note: I laid my Sabilla level corner to corner and it is dead flat at 162 years old.  

My wife hopes the bench is worth a ton, but I don’t, I want to keep it if I can.  Will send pics as soon as I can get my daughter to do it.

Joe and I spoke on the phone for a good, long time, and it was a delight on many levels.  I gave him some advice on the care and restoration of it, and the last time I heard from him he was going to keep it.

Great story, Joe!

@ Handworks 2017 – Original Roubo Print #261

Throughout L’art du Menuisier Roubo illustrates some pretty snazzy furniture.  Print 261, “Plans and Elevations of a Closed Desk,” certainly fits that description.  If I recall the accompanying text correctly, this desk is designed for the use of four (or maybe even six) people. All of them sitting side by side in an un-air conditioned Parisian office (it is worth noting that the word “bureaucracy” is a French word) scratching out stacks of paperwork ad nauseam and ad infinitum.  Ahh, cubicle life at its very best.

The print is in excellent condition, and was both drawn and the copper plate engraved by Roubo himself.

If you have ever wanted to own a genuine piece of Rouboiana, this is your chance.   I will be selling this print at Handworks on a first-come basis, with terms being cash, check, or Paypal if you have a smart phone and can do that at the time of the transaction.

$250