“No, not a lot of money…. Still we’ve always done it… Money’s not everything.”
Bodgers were wood turners who worked in the beech woods around the furniture-making town of High Wycombe in England. They would cut, split and turn the beech trees where they fell, then sell the legs and stretchers to another shop where the chairs were assembled.
This kind of specialization has been common for hundreds of years in both England and America. The Windsor Style in America has a quote from the December 27, 1775 Pennsylvania Gazette for a chairmaker wishing to purchase “40,000 hickory sticks [likely spindles] for Windsor chairs.” Nancy Goyne Evan’s Windsor Chairmaking in America has documented myriad transactions like this. Read more ›
Over a decade ago, a customer told me he used a dowel plate to cut the tenons on his spindles. “That won’t work,” I replied, having never tried it myself.
Last fall, I switched to using dowel plates to cut the upper tenon on the spindles.
Why did I switch? Primarily, I find that the cut is often cleaner than a tenon cutter’s cut. And they have some other advantages: the dowel plates never need re-adjusting, and almost never need sharpening. They are also self limiting: if the tenon is too big, you simply can’t drive it through the hole.
I’ve made a few pitchforks for historical museums over the years, though I can hardly say I’m an expert. Curtis Buchanan called me a few months ago and said he wanted to make a pitchfork. Here’s some photos from my weekend in Jonesborough, eating the Buchanan’s good food and making pitchforks with Curtis and a neighbor of his. We had a ball! Thanks to Curtis’s neighbor Ben for taking many of these photos:
The process starts much as a chair back does: riving, squaring, tapering, octagonalizing…. Read more ›
I just stumbled upon this old Folkstreams video for the second time – it’s well worth watching. A poplar or basswood log and five tools: scribe, ax, adz, drawknife and a knife. No work-holding devices, but a neat way to hold the shovel using his feet and legs. That old man could work.
I just started a fun job. A customer wants two copies of this early 19th C. barstool. I love getting to spend time with old chairs like this – there is so much to learn. Last week I turned the turned parts and bent those that get bent. Read more ›