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The Weekend at Tom’s

Mike and I had a wonderful weekend at Lie-Nielsen. He and I have had many conversations since about how much we appreciated the culture of creativity there. I am always blown away at how, even though it’s been a year since the last one, we can pick up right where we left off. These folks are down-to-earth awesome people. Tom’s business model is groundbreaking in its generosity to other vendors. Think about it: The guy invites all his competition (i.e. friends) to come and sell their goods without charging them a fee, he buys them dinner, and then genuinely thanks them for coming to the party. What a class act. In most markets you expect fierce competition, belittling other makers,...

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Miscellany Monday

For me, the beginning of the work week is always about picking up the pieces from the week before, returning phone calls, and planning the week’s work. Today has been another miscellany Monday with the main order of business being unpacking from the Lie-Nielsen Open House. We decided to leave the van loaded when we got back late Saturday night so when I opened the van door the first time this morning, the glorious aroma of pine was almost intoxicating. Between the two knockdown benches and “barn” backdrop there was a lot of pine in there. The smell of pine is one of the reasons I love working wood. I warned Mike that today would be very broken up with...

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See you at Lie-Nielsen Tomorrow!

Mike and I did the final packing of the van today for the Lie-Nielsen Open House tomorrow and Saturday. Early tomorrow morning we’ll be heading down to Warren to setup in time for all the visitors. Last week, we worked pretty hard building an easily transportable but respectable display for shows. We wanted the look of a preindustrial cabinetmaker’s shop but relatively lightweight and easily assembled. After we built a 9’ knockdown Nicholson bench, we ripped 1.5” off the top of a partially rotten 8x8 hewn timber frame sill I had left over from my house project. With these “posts”  screwed to the back apron, we could attach horizontal sash sawn wide pine boards for “sheathing”. Topped off with “braces”...

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Still Haven't Seen Issue One in Person?

  Even though I’ve done my best to convey what M&T is on the web, when people first hold a copy of Issue One in their hands they say, “Oh, wow. Now I get it. This is amazing!” The overall heft, the tactile quality of the paper, and the photography all seem to grab folks right out of the gate. In order to help convey that experience to those that haven’t seen a copy in person, I’ve put together this short video for a close-up look at Issue One. If you know someone who would be interested, please pass this video along. Thanks!!! Music credit: Steuart Pincombe and Rebecca Landell Reed

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'10 Essential Furniture Repairs' Released!

I have long been an advocate for teaching the basics of furniture conservation to woodworkers. Too often conservators hold their hard-earned techniques for repairing antique furniture tight to their chest. Often this secrecy is not due to an elitism but rather a concern that important objects of our cultural heritage are preserved in the hands of experienced individuals. While I sympathize with this desire in theory, I find that, in practice, woodworkers are going to fix old furniture with or without a professional’s help. It seems better to me to teach value assessment, preservation principals, and safe repair techniques. I've been blogging about these things for a number of years now but sometimes you just got to see this stuff...

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The Reassembled Jonathan Fisher Workshop

  I have been looking forward to this moment for three years now. When I began researching the furniture making of Jonathan Fisher, I had no idea just how much surviving material there was. The house he built is filled with furniture he made with a collection of tools he used to build them all recorded in his surviving diary entries. That’s amazing for any period cabinet or chair maker but especially for a rural one. Back in the 1950s and 60s, when his house was being turned into a museum, many of the objects were sold to a sister institution to ensure reliable preservation. Although the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, ME owns the majority of the furniture and...

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Banister-back Chair: A Yale Commission

When I got back from vacation a while back, I hit the ground running. In the past two months, I’ve written two articles, built a grain-painted chest over drawers, a white oak spring pole lathe, and an 18th-century Rhode Island banister-back chair. It’s been enjoyable concentrating all my effort on making rather than my customary conservation work. I’ve learned a lot through these projects because I am not a production furniture maker. When I build, it’s always a one-off of something that piques my interest. This recent banister-back chair build was no exception to that. When curator Pat Kane from the Yale University Art Gallery contacted me to discuss this commission for the upcoming Rhode Island Furniture exhibition, I leapt...

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Pocketknife

  - This is the first post from M&T staffer, Mike Updegraff - One year, when I was young, my grandpa walked me around the Pennsylvania Farm Show, an iconic and massive exhibition of all things agricultural, creatively crafted, and edible. We wandered away from the food areas, past livestock pens and potted vegetables and a giant butter sculpture, and into an area of local handicrafts. I was immediately transfixed by a man sitting on a stool, carving the most intricate and expressive little chickens out of natural forks using only a sharp pocketknife. The birds had proud tail feathers, bright red painted combs, and fanciful expressions on their tiny faces. I was in awe. My grandpa vowed to help...

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So Much For Small and Simple

This week I finished building a pine slant-lidded chest over two drawers for Popular Woodworking Magazine. But they don’t care about the chest. They’re looking at the grain painting. A while back, Megan asked if I’d be write an article about grain painting for an upcoming issue. She told me I could just whip up a small pine box to use as a canvas for the article. “Seems simple enough”, I thought. It was… until I asked my wife if there was any use for a new chest in our house. We both brought our ideas to the table and ended up with the slanted lid to showcase the graining and make accessing the contents inviting and two drawers because drawers are...

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Welcome Ryan and Tanya.

               Ryan and Tanya come as a pair. Although the strengths they bring to M&T are different, their many years together has made them a cohesive and wonderfully interdependent couple. I first met Ryan a few years back when he was working at the legendary Liberty Tool Company. Ryan was the red bearded guy whose insights and advice won him fan mail from around the country. As woodworkers vacation through Maine to visit the woodworker’s Mecca in Liberty, they often feel overwhelmed by the endless shelves jammed to the brim with ready-to-restore antique hand tools. Ryan, in his characteristic soft-spoken lucidity, would help align each customer’s purchase to their intended use. (In fact, this...

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