August 2015, Summer’s End

Summer is drawing to a close.  Although it’s still quite warm and humid, the sounds and smells are changing:  bird songs have changed and diminished, the crickets are more noticeable, and the air smells like apples and hay.  Leaves are starting to turn, and the early asters are in bloom.  It’s going to be quite a year for apples.  I’ve never seen such an abundance.  One of our old trees had a large branch break off from the weight .

IMG_1407Harvest from the garden is in full swing.  We had our first greens in early July, followed by carrots and tomatoes.  The basil plants are turning into a jungle, so I’ll have to buy pine nuts and Parmesan, for the annual production of pesto.  I like to put it into small containers and freeze them.  Mid-winter you take them out, add the pesto to pasta and breathe and taste summer.

IMG_1404The rest of the garden is also progressing nicely.  We’ve got 8 winter squash in one bed, the leeks are thriving,and the carrots are in their prime.  The Sugersnax are extra long, up to 12″, and have to be taken out with a narrow spade.  Sweet and well worth the effort if you’ve got soil deep enough for this carrot. I usually plant at least 4 or 5 heirloom tomatoes and 1 or 2 Sungold hybrids.  Like candy in the garden.

IMG_1400At the beginning of the month I had signed up for a knife making course at the New England School of Metalwork.  It was a hot week, and even worse inside, with four gas forges going.  A very intense class, and at each step of the way, the instructor, Nick Rossi, warned us that “this step is crucial, and easy to mess up.”  I was the only one who brought my own billet of Damascus steel, which was a bit more difficult to work.  After forging, shaping, sanding, thermocycling, tempering, and polishing to 2,000 grit, I got my knife acid etched.  It looks great.  Now I’m waiting for a few pieces of cherry burl, tiger maple and crotch walnut to come back from being stabilized.  Not sure which of the woods will be the final handle.  If I have spare time, I’ll try to finish it and have photos next month.

In the shop, I’m working on a Shaker sideboard, the one with two doors and six asymmetrical drawers.  The first week is a constant repeat of ” assemble, mark, fit,  disassemble, repeat.”  The case is frame and panel, and is a real puzzle to assemble.  The  back consists of 7 pieces, while the front assembly is 10 fitted pieces.  Both are glued up into separate units.  The fun starts when the front and back are glued together with 5 more panels and 16 assorted runners, kickers and spacers, all of which have to be glued, assembled, fitted  into the appropriate slots and mortises, and then clamped.

IMG_1402This is the case, dry fitted, before the side, center and middle panels are cut and fitted, and the multitude of drawer runners, kickers, and side spacers.  Such fun.

So much for the 5-day work week.  Earlier this month I ran a Saturday workshop at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community:  building a Shaker bench, with through tenons and four dovetailed corner braces.

IMG_0014This past weekend I exhibited at the first annual Maine Woodwork Expo, at Ft. Andross, in Brunswick, ME.  There were 25 of the best woodworkers in the state, showing a selling their diverse products.  It was great to see and meet so many friends, fellow woodworkers, and FWW readers.  Looking forward to next year.

C. H. Becksvoort © 2015

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