July 2017

Hot and busy describes this month, but who’s complaining.  Beats shoveling snow.  The garden is finally taking off, with winter squash, tomatoes, leeks carrots, basil, lettuce and spinach.  And the summer flowers are in full bloom.The linden tree (Tilia spp.) is making the entire house and yard smell like honey.  Standing under it and listening to the bees is like hearing the wind, only there was no breeze.  The clematis  and geraniums on the woodshed are putting on quite the show.  The clay head turned up in the flower box this year.  It gets around.Next to the woodshed, I made a brand new picnic table.  the old one was over 30 years and spongy with too many lichens.   I made it easy on myself, and bought a metal frame at the hardware store, and just had to attach five 2 x 10’s (roughly 5 cm x 25 cm)July 23 was Open Farm Day in Maine.  The weather was perfect.  As usual, I had a display, sold a few books, and demonstrated dovetails in the barn.   Right next to me was Kent Ruesswick, of Canterbury Brushworks, an incredible broom maker, with a great sense of humor.Between that, and shooting a quick video for FWW, I also had to make a tall cupboard.  This on with two drawers.  I’m often asked how I cut dovetails on oversize pieces.  Well, usually, I clamp them in my vice, horizontally, but at a comfortable angle, like so:What is more of a challenge is the face frame. The entire frame is mortised and tenoned, and glued on as a single unit.  It can get tricky aligning the horizontals for the drawer dividers and base.  Lots of glue and lots of clamps.Next the back is set in.  It is made like a door, fully mortised and tenoned.  To insure that the back does not expand and pop out the thin side strips at the rabbets, I always use 1  5/8″  (4.13 cm) perfectly quarter sawn cherry for the side and top frame members.  The wood movement, year round, for pieces that small is about 1/64″ (.4 mm).  The spring clamps, with the protective sleeves removed on one end, help clamp the frame to the thin edge of the case.

Once the molding is made, the drawers dovetailed and fitted, shelves glued up and fitted, the doors made, fitted and hinged,  with a small spinner set into the edge of the  stile, knobs turned, the whole thing sanded to 600 grit, and oiled, it looks pretty good.  The design started out as a Shaker chimney cupboard.

This is one of 10 pieces destined for British Columbia.  It is going to be quite a collection of furniture.   So far I’ve completed the 15 drawer chest, pine and walnut blanket box (with those exquisite forge welded Damascus hinges), bookcase,  and the trestle table.  Five down, five to go.  The showroom is starting to look like a warehouse, and the big trestle table is residing in my living room.

September 16 will be my last class, (last time teaching) at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community.   We’ll make a white pine, dovetailed Shaker carrier.  Sign up soon, these classes fill fast.  Next year, and from now on, I’ll have the summer all to myself.

(M. A. Becksvoort photo.)

C.H. Becksvoort © 2017

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