Monday, 24 December 2012


Christmas eve, a few good Harcourt ciders down and Lise and I are slumped on the couch with a hot chocolate in hand. The last 24 days since we opened the shop have been interesting to say the least. From oval boxes to leather bags, hand made brushes to Sussex Truggs, even the odd refurbished axe, they've all headed out the door in the hands of happy customers. And the comments we have received have been quite humbling. Just yesterday a woman actually shook Lisa's hand after she wrapped up a brush and one of our oval boxes. She appreciated the time Lisa had taken to explain our ethos and the finer details of our products. I think it comes naturally when your passionate about what your doing. The nice part is those sort of comments are frequent and to us that means we're on the right track.

I cant say I expected to be making 50 odd oval boxes ( amongst other things ) in the last 3 weeks but despite the late nights trying to keep up with orders, I haven't regretted a minute. Not even at 10am yesterday when 'KB' placed her Xmas order for a special Perch for her Mum. Not usually the sort of thing I make overnight, but it's Christmas after all. Merry Christmas KB's Mum!

                               Kyneton Elm and Black Walnut, waiting for a good oiling........

We've had some great publicity too with articles in the local Guardian newspaper and the current issue of Town and Country Farmer magazine. Then last Monday we had the pleasure of spending a morning with Janis and her husband Rob. Janis and Rob come out to Australia from Vancouver, Canada every few years to visit Rob's family and came into the shop to have a look.  

Janis is the author of the well known Canadian Blogs 'Poppytalk' and 'Pinecone Camp,' as well as being a truly gifted photographer. With around 13,400 odd members at Poppytalk, perhaps well known is a bit of an understatement!  Have a look here at some of the shots Janis has taken of the laneways of Melbourne, they are truly spectacular. Millie even got her hairy little face on Poppytalk too, here. Who says you should never work with kids and animals!

Added to that, The Chairmakers Wife ( our little bar ) has received plenty of praise too for it's relaxed atmosphere and simple wine and cider selection. It's been another great way to meet some more of the locals, with people dropping in for a glass or two before dinner and often after dinner as well. I have to say I'm becoming quite partial to the Harcourt Cider. Hey, it's been hot in the workshop you know!

So before I put out the Brandy and mince pies for Father Christmas, Lisa, Tom and I would like to wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas and good health for the coming new year. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Boxing Day

Boxing Day came early this year. We had so many enquiries about Shaker oval boxes last weekend in the shop that I had to get back into the workshop and make some more.

I made up 3 No.5's, a couple of No.4's and a handful of No.2's and 1's.  As these little boxes are going to be a regular fixture in the shop ( and courses too ) I thought I'd best teach someone else how to make them, to lighten the load a little. So Lisa got a lightening quick tutorial on bending and tacking. Tomorrow they will get their top and bottoms fitted and pegged.

Best part of that was getting into our new workshop to make them. The first thing I've made there really. Another bonus was trying out a recent addition to the workshop. An old and very unique bench.

Made in The Hague in the Netherlands, this square bench has four factory fitted vises and is ringed by dog holes on all sides and in the faces of the vises. Four original wooden dogs came with it. Each vice also has a custom metal screw and heavily knurled nut, recessed into the face of the vise jaw. This nut can be wound out to mirror the thickness of what's being clamped. That way when clamping a narrow piece, the nut stops the vise from wracking and losing grip. Very flash.

It needs a good clean up and oiling but it should be just the thing for our Shaker Oval Box Classes for 2013. Millie the shop hound gave a nod of approval too.

For anyone looking for that ever elusive present for the person who has everything, why not get them a Rundell & Rundell Shaker Box Anvil !? Solid steel and not a hollow, tinny piece of pipe, these anvils are the ducks pyjamas for all box sizes from '0' to a No.7. Good for hollowing out hot dog rolls too!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

.... and cheers to you too!

It's been a little over a week since we threw open the doors to Rundell & Rundell. What an eye opener. We had an eclectic range of product in the shop. Our products, the work of some local artists and makers and also a few collectables that Lisa and I have picked up on our travels. Oh and some windsor chairs too.  A few things that we thought would sell didn't, some others that we thought might not, did. Long story short, I've been back in the workshop already making more stock. Lisa has as well, in fact I can hear the murmur of her sewing machine as I type.

 Austrian style 'Jause' Boards. So popular anyone would think people are eating them and        
                                                                    not from them ! 

I've had the odd email too. Ok, a lot of emails. Most ask for a photo or two on the blog of the inside of the shop. I'll get around to organising that soon. As soon as I find my camera, which I cant seem to find. With stuff strewn all over the place, I'm sure it's under a pile of sawdust somewhere.

But more importantly I wanted to give an update on some other R & R news. As most of you who follow the blog might know, work space has been an ad-hoc affair since our move to Kyneton. At first we had none, then after building a shed at the back of the cottage, we had and still have a small workspace. When I filled it with my workbench, cabinets, lathe and other machinery the small workspace became a whole lot smaller. With not enough room to sneeze and having to go outside to change your mind, it was an interesting experience.

So a few months back I took it upon myself to look about for a space to rent. An old factory, which I knew had been vacant for some time, came to mind and I made some enquiries. After speaking with the owner I found that it was beyond our means and so went and had a coffee to rethink the issue. 

My neighbour Joe happened to be in the cafe and we had a chat about lack of workspaces. Joe was in the same boat and being a builder, was looking for a workspace too. We both revisited the factory and I'm very happy to say that we have now co-leased the space. It's an amazing workspace to say the least. In fact the shed space alone is immense. Add to that a separate room ( air conditioned and with wood heater ) for hand tool work and running classes. There is also a large yard to the side of the building with a spectacular Pin Oak providing plenty of shade. Just the thing for sitting under whilst on the shave horse! Best of all, it too is only a short stroll from Piper Street and great coffee.

Whilst on the subject of the workshop, both Joe and I have some grand plans for the space, given its size. I won't go into great detail now, but it revolves around others utilising space in the workshop to work at their own chosen trades and crafts. A little like a communal hub for like minded trades people. We've already had some really positive enquiries from people who would like to ply their trade there, so exciting times are ahead! 

Finally, workshop wise, I have sent out the workshop overview email to the dozens of people who have enquired about a course for the new year. If you haven't received that email or would like to, please let me know and I will forward it to you. Our course dates for 2013 will be released on the 1st of January, 2013. We expect to be running at least 2 varied courses a month, time permitting and other chair courses at pre-arranged times too.

One more thing. Next time you're passing through, call in for a drink at the bar! Yes that's right, the bar. At 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays, ( Thurs - Sun after Xmas ) Rundell & Rundell Chairmakers transforms into...... The Chairmakers Wife, a little bar serving wine and local cider by the glass ( and bottle if you're so inclined ) and the odd beer and sparkling too. It's a great spot for a drink, after work, after a long drive, after a great meal else where on Piper Street or even after one of our classes! Another reason to call in and say hello. Cheers!

Sunday, 2 December 2012


This afternoon Lisa and I took a good, deep, breath, ......then exhaled. The past week has been a complete blur. Days flowed into nights and then into the early morning. But just after 10am yesterday morning we opened the door to our shop in Piper Street, Kyneton. It's been a long held dream of ours for as long as either of us can remember, to have a space of our own where we can share the things we make and the things we've found in our travels with others. To have it finally come to fruition is something we are both very proud of.

We had so many positive comments from those who came into the shop too. Both locals and those visiting town. So thank you to all those who came through the door and visited with us. We're grateful for your support and kind words.

As well as putting in a lot of hard work ourselves, we have more than a few people to thank for getting us over the line, as it were. Immediate family and friends, too numerous to mention, but they know who they are.Thank you. Having people who have faith in what you are doing and supporting you along the way strengthens your resolve and there is no doubt it has done so for us. 

This afternoon after we closed the doors on a weekends trade I went and mowed the lawns. A simple and welcome distraction from a hectic week . Lisa and Tom spent some time in the garden, taking in how well everything is growing. The last time I stopped to look at the red currents, they were very green. There'll be more time now for simple pleasures.

We hope that you call in and say hello if you're in our neck of the woods. We'd be happy to see you.

Monday, 26 November 2012


This morning I focussed my efforts on removing some of the detritus from the inside of the shop, in preparation for our opening next weekend. As some of you may remember from my post  back in July, there have been some fairly average alterations to the building. That's being diplomatic. Time and money wise we haven't time to renovate the shop front in the same manner as we have with the cottage, from the ground up. But as a friend Kath ( stylist to the stars! ) said to me the other day, people aren't coming to look at the floors walls and ceiling, they're coming to look at what's between them. .....and I don't think she was talking about the studs and noggins!

                                                         Hmmm. Pinus Horribilus

So with trustee cordless drill in hand I began to remove the hundreds of bugle head plaster screws that held in some rough cut pine that was cobbled up as a 100mm shelf on the wall above some faux panelling. Said previous owner should have been the poster boy for Selley's because for every 10 screws he jammed in, he used a tube of No More Gaps or Liquid Nails as well. My sincere hope is that the building doesn't fall over when I remove all the liquid nails! 

                                                                Pegus Maximus 

So in place of the rough pine I headed to the workshop, grabbed up some Elm off cuts and whizzed up 25 Shaker pegs. The shop isn't having any theme, Shaker or otherwise, it's just that they are such a handy thing to have on the wall, especially for hanging all manner of 'smalls' , bags and things. With the rails pre-cut I glued them up ready for Milk Painting and fixing this evening.

                                             Authentic Australian Swiss Cheese Wood

A long while back I picked up an old wooden bracket/shelf support that had been long ago discarded and left to the borers in a shed. It was such a nice shape that I held onto it until I had the right use for it. 

                                                               Work in progress

Today I cleaned it up and used it for a  template to make another 8 for a shelf behind the counter, replacing more Pinus Horribilus. A very simple Pin Oak  top and job done.

This afternoon at the cottage the last of the peg rail was painted and fitted into the bathroom, with Huon Pine Shaker pegs. It's the last piece in the puzzle and means I can finally remove every last tool from the place and concentrate on furnishing it. At last.

                                          Great colours, not too flash in your coffee....

Another late night of painting at the shop but it's coming along well. On that note, as an opening special we are offering our current stock of Original Milk Paint Co. product at the reduced rate of $13 per pint package, down from $15. 

I was the first to bring the product in to Australia nearly 3 years ago, for my own use and for other chair students and haven't raised the price since.  Recently I heard from an old customer that there are others bringing in the product now too and charging $25 a pint for it! Pretty outrageous really at nearly two and a half times the retail price in the U.S. 

Tomorrow, time permitting I will list a few of the unique classes available for 2013 at our new workshop and factory, just a short stroll from the shop, cottage and Piper Street. It's a great space, indoor and out with plenty of parking and plenty of inspiration too! 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Every which way

A few more garage sales this morning, this time in and around Taradale, about 15minutes from Kyneton. It's the time of the year for them and something I just cant pass up. You never know what bargains or treasures you might find! A quick coffee on returning to town, then back into it. So much to do that it's hard to know which way to turn.

Lisa and I have been lucky enough to have Dad come up and stay for a few days and lend a hand. As a result we've managed to get the deck oiled and the hand rails finished and painted. I have to say it's handy having the sawmill up here at the moment. Dad bought up some clean 200mm plus x 50mm  cypress boards. We went down to the factory ( oh, yeah I don't think I've mentioned that yet? ) put them through the mill and came back to the cottage with perfectly straight 120mm x 50mm hand rails. A bit of sanding and a couple of lap joints later and the rails were fixed to the posts. Then a once over with the router and round over bit. Undercoat and top coat, job done. I wanted the deck railing to have a rustic feel, like farm fencing, and I think it fits the bill nicely.

Sure the base boards need a coat of paint too, but that might have to wait a while. Then it was back down to the factory to get the old 'Tough' chisel mortiser fired up and mortise out the posts for another workbench Dad is making. One of them will be the donor for the vise screw and guide rail I posted about a few weeks ago. While I was down there I picked out a few nice Pin Oak boards. These will be for a new set of shelves in the shop

Back to workshop, planed, thicknessed and edged the Pin Oak into 3 shelves for fitting in the shop in the  morning. While I was at it I cleaned up a few off cuts of London Plane I had sitting around from making the built in's for the cottage.

A bit of cutting, shaping and hand planing and 3 spider legs and a cleat appeared for the candle table I'm making. I'd glued up and shaped the top earlier as well as turning and dovetailing the column from New Guinea Rosewood. I reckon the combination of the quarter sawn spalted Plane and the even colour of the Rosewood should be a good combination.

By dusk I had it sitting together. Now just to taper the legs, plane the top and glue and screw it together. These little tables are fun to make, incorporate the right balance of hand and powered tools and are a functional piece for the house. Another item you will be able to buy at Rundell & Rundell and from next year, book a a course to make one for yourself!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Hanging out

Last weekend we had a break from the renovating and racing about and headed to Bendigo for the day. The reason? One of Australia's best swap meets is why and boy was it worth the trip. With over 1600 stalls selling everything from pressed metal toys to parts for your '57 Chev, it was amazing. On the trip up I made a mental note of just what I was going to focus on....which of course was old tools, but I was also keeping an eye out for a nice old bracket to hang a sign on. Not just any sign but our 'shingle' for the new shop.

I hadn't walked 50 metres through the gate when I saw the familiar outline of a drawknife sitting amongst a few tables of fairly nice looking tools. As I made a b-line for the stall I began scanning to see what else was on display. Bingo. A very nice and full bladed scorp. So I picked up the drawknife, saw the name 'Sorby' on the blade, checked the back and it was as fresh as you could want for a drawknife. Not even a sniff of rust, let alone pitting. Great. As I held the drawknife I picked up the scorp with the other hand and zeroed in on the 'Matheison' stamp on it too. A very British affair so far. The Matheison had tight handles and again not much if any use. Two for two. 

Just when I thought I was on a roll, a very large hairy hand scooped up a old brace right before my eyes. It was one of those moments that happened in slow motion. As it passed by me I confirmed in was a 'Spofford' style brace and then I saw the nickel silver bands around the rosewood centre grip, meaning it was a 'Fray.' The type that Curtis Buchanan swears by and the very same type and size ( 6 inch sweep ) that I had made my first Windsor chair with in Tennessee.

The largish fella that now held it walked off to look at other stuff and I put the experience down to not being quick enough off the mark! C'est la vie. Besides, he was about 6'4", had a neck like a Mallee root ( a very large, thick and hard tree stump for my overseas friends ! ) and arms that would shame a silverback gorilla. I wasn't about to ask if I could have a look at it..... Another scan and I picked up a nice old Thor brand copper headed mallet which was a nice consolation. 

As I wandered over to the seller with my mitts full I couldn't believe what I saw next. The big guy casually walked past, popped the brace back on table and walked off. No sooner had the brace hit the Laminex, I gathered it up with the others and kept moving. With a bit of banter I agreed on a price for the lot ( including $20 for the brace with the bit! ) and walked away with a big smile on my dial. The day was looking good. Both the drawknife and scorp will be sharpened and honed ready for use and for sale in the shop.

Half the swap-meet later and I came across another great stall. A guy from Ballarat with everything including a kitchen sink. That's when it popped out at me. A beautiful old hand made, wrought iron sign bracket. It was a horrid green colour with about six or seven layers of old lead paint on it, but you could see just how well made it was and the hand finished detail in it. He would not budge from $150 saying that about 10 people had already picked it up and ummed and arhh'd over it. It's was a hell of a lot more than I wanted to pay, but I hadn't seen another like it and the seller made a good point. "Go get a blackmith to make a new one and see what it costs you!" Good point I thought.

Monday morning It was taken down to the local sandblaster who took a good 3-4mm of heavy old lead paint off it. Then, another surprise.....

A makers stamp. 'Vulcan Works Sheffield' and 'Sphinx' with a sphinx logo in the triangle. Bonus, made in England too and most likely when Sheffield was in it's prime as Britain's premier iron and steel manufacturing city

Repainted in matt black, replete with sign. ( ...a little touching up of weatherboards yet )

Keep an eye out for it when you come to visit.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"It's the final countdown.."

No, I'm not referring to the immortal words of 'Europe's' '80's super hit. But the home straight in our renovating journey. 

It's probably no surprise by the lack action here on the blog, that things have been busy. Things have dragged on a little with delays here and there so Lisa and I made an executive decision and gave ourselves a dead line to not only get the cottage finished but the shop open also. And that's the end of this month. So come high water or the other place, the doors to both will open to the public. 

On the cottage front, the kitchen received its final coat of barn red paint from Lisa this morning and the Ringed Gidgee drawer pulls and door handles from me this afternoon. I'm quite happy with the final outcome and I think it reflects what a contemporary Shaker kitchen should look like. Lets not forget that the Shakers embraced technology ( some say they invented the washing machine too ) so I think a dishwasher would feature in a modern Shaker fit-out. Add to that an electric fan forced oven with gas cooktop and that's the conveniences sorted. I think the solid Elm bench top compliments the barn red paint too.

Little details are there too if you look for them and icing on the cake will be a traditional hanging wall cabinet, which I will get a start on this week.

Lisa has done a fine job of the curtains with just a few finishing touches like small flat lead weights that are to be hand sewn into the corners to ensure they hang neatly.

Lastly the drawers of the 'chimney cupboard' are yet to be made, but I'm saving that for the end of the week. Nothing like hand cutting more than a hundred dovetails to see out the week!

Before the end of the week I'll be posting more details of the cottage as we begin to fill it with the furnishings we brought back from the U.S. and others I have made. Then it's all systems go with the shop.

It's going to be quite an eclectic assortment of products made by mine and Lisa's hands and also by others both local and abroad. There will also be everything that a budding ( or experienced for that matter! )  chair maker could want, from chair parts, chair making tools and milk paint etc. So stay tuned it's going to be an action packed 10 days.....

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Some privacy, please....

Working on the cottage over the past 9 months or so has really been an eye opener. For a number of reasons. It's not the first home I've renovated, I've done more than a few for us and have helped renovate more than I can recall for others. 

Timing is one aspect. There was never a rush previously. In fact final touches were put on most of our previous homes just before we sold them. Money is of course another, it's an expensive business, especially if you are sub contracting out all of the trades, therefore I've been attempting to do as much as I physically can across the board. 

Styling. I use that term specifically as we have chosen to set out the cottage in the 'Shaker style.'  Of course it cant be authentic as I'm not a Shaker and we're on the wrong continent for a start. 

But more specifically, it's building and decorating as accurately as the historic references allow. Then,  in the absence of any previously known details or examples its putting together the missing pieces sympathetically, as you might expect original Shaker carpenters and furniture makers might have.

There have been a couple of occasions where I could simply find no reference to an item, or perhaps it did not exist in a Shaker community at the time. For instance we had to take some liberty when it came to the kitchen, as the kitchen in the meeting house at Hancock had a trough like sink on a stand with a couple of garden taps over it. Not the answer for someone coming to stay and wanting a clean and functional kitchen. There is also the issue of current building and plumbing codes and regulations.

This week it's the curtains and rods. I've seen several examples of long curtains that have hung on the peg rail but again it has to be practical and there would be a number of people who simply could not be bothered hanging individual tabs of curtain on to pegs, especially on 5 windows, so a curtain rod is required.

Searching books, hundreds of photos and the internet turned up not one useful image.  So I settled on a wooden 28mm rod, strong but not oversized. I then drew up a simple pattern for the rod holders, as I needed at least 10 and 16 if I end up doing the French doors too. Lastly the curtain rod ends. Stopping the rod in the rod holders looked wrong. Rounding the ends of the rod, too modern. So I again referred to other known Shaker wooden ware and furniture and thats when it became obvious. A ladder-back type finial. 

So with not much more than the diameter of the curtain rod in hand I headed off to the workshop again. I pre-drilled a blank of Blackwood on the drill press, giving me the 28mm female socket. This also provided an accurate centre for the tailstock drive. The rest was simple, just turn off all the wood that doesn't look like a finial ! When I removed it from the lathe it looked just fine, so I turned another just to be sure. Another 8 to go then I can hand over the reins to Mrs. Rundell to make the curtains!  

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Getting a grip

I do like a good garage sale. Car boot sale, clearing sale, antique auction, garage sale. Call them what you will, but if there's old stuff, covered in rust and dust, then I'm a happy camper. So what's better than a good garage sale? How 'bout the annual Kyneton Garage Sale Weekend! 
Yes that's right, purveyors of stuff both old and new, valued and valueless have their address added to a secret map, which is handed out for $3 a pop, at 8am on Saturday morning. From that point the race is on to get to as many of the garage sales as possible before anyone else.

I was fortunate enough to ride shotgun in a van with a good friend David and his Dad John, who are seasoned garage sale specialists. If we went to one sale that day, we went to fifty! Some streets in the town had 3 or 4 sales per street. By lunch time the van was full to the brim and we were pining for coffee.

Strangely enough for me, I didn't buy a heap of stuff that day. But one particular sale on the outskirts of town sticks in my mind. A heap of stuff spread out in the front house paddock of a small farm. Amongst the old bicycles and junk was a broken plastic tub with a heap of old rusty iron in it and a few old porcelain insulators, the kind you would find on old telegraph posts. On the top of the heap was an old rusty strap style gate hinge. I'd been looking for one to pair up to another forged hinge I already have. 

Great, I thought as I headed over to get a price. The old fella came over and asked what tub it had come out of and then proceeded to tell me the whole tub was 3 dollars. "I really don't want all this rubbish," coursed through my mind as I handed over the gold coins, but it was a cheap hand made hinge all the same. 

As I bent down to pick up the tub my eyes focussed on one of the rusty bits of iron. There in front of me was a very old iron 'parallel guide' from a leg vise. God knows how long it must have been sitting around rusting away. Bargain.

But not much use unless you have a good screw mechanism to go with it I hear you say? Well I can't even remember where I found this old one, but it's been waiting for a home for years. So into the molasses with both of them and when they come out, they'll go onto a new workbench for the workshop classroom. One mans trash is another man treasure........especially for three bucks.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Smooth running

When I made my woodworking pilgrimage of sorts to the U.S. I visited a number of well known furniture makers workshops. Some, such as George Nakashima's, are still active and vibrant workshops, producing pieces in the style of Nakashima's original work. Wharton Esherick, who like Nakashima, is said to be one of the founding fathers of modern American furniture, has had his unique home and workshop turned into a small museum.

A fascinating insight into Esherick's work and lifestyle, his home showcases not only his unique sense of style but also some extraordinary and ingenious craftsmanship. A walk through his kitchen shows random edged floorboards which have been beautifully interwoven, creating one of the most unique wooden floors I've seen. This eye for detail and creative flair are echoed throughout the home, at every turn, like ascending the spiral staircase while holding its mammoth tusk hand rail !

One thing which is not immediately apparent is hidden under Eshericks bed. Large drawers ( which still contain Eshericks clothing ) that given their size, under normal circumstances would be heavy to open and close. The guide who showed them to us, opened and closed them with one finger, effortlessly. The secret was that the drawer sides were more than double the actual length of the drawer, in fact they passed the opposite side of the bed, through the wall under the window and went some distance under the skillion roof outside. These extra long sides give the drawers perfect balance and ensure that the drawers do not bind up on the kickers or runners. Quite clever.

Wanting the basin stand to resemble a Shaker nightstand meant a single drawer at the front. But having a basin sitting above that drawer of course means a waste pipe and trap, right in the middle. My first thought was to have a false drawer front, complete with turned drawer pull. But the thought of people pulling at the faux drawer, perhaps mistaking it for being jammed, until something breaks or they start dragging the nightstand across the floor, quickly put me off that idea. I then thought of a short drawer, only 100 - 125mm ( 4 - 5" ) deep, but concern over it being pulled from the carcass and out onto the floor, put an end to that. 

That's when I recalled seeing the Esherick drawer. And so the drawer sides are full length and instead of through dovetails at the end of the drawer, simple through mortise and tenons instead, setback to allow for the drain. 

No unnecessary stress on the nightstand, no pulling a short drawer out by accident and a smooth running drawer which allows for the basin. 

Memory is the diary we all carry about with us. - Oscar Wilde.

Monday, 15 October 2012

More old stuff...

Lots of things to do as per usual but sometimes you have to take five and smell the roses. Sunday was such a day and found me in the back blocks of Trentham on the hunt for timber. Well I didn't have to hunt too far or wide as this timber, Hawthorn to be precise, was sitting in a very large heap in Tom's paddock waiting to be burned.

I had mentioned to a new acquaintance Stuart, that Hawthorn was a useful timber for turning into handles, draw-pulls etc. ( it also ebonises well ) and had shown him a long 'slick' handle that I had turned from some Hawthorn from Dad's farm. The following day saw us selecting some nice long lengths of Hawthorn trunk from the pile. Enough to fill more than half of the ute. Thank you Tom and thanks Stuart!

While we were there Tom's son Angus, gave us a tour of the rest of the farm including one particularly nice old stone building near the banks of the Coliban River.

This old beauty which is thankfully fenced off from livestock was too interesting to pass by without having a look. Buildings like this have such an interesting story to tell, if your prepared to listen....or look.

On walking inside I immediately looked up and saw the original hand split shakes in the roof. While staring wide eyed at the perfectly split shakes, I cast my eyes towards the rafters and noticed the tell tale diagonal saw marks on them. A closer look ( unfortunately very hard to see in the photo taken with my phone ) confirmed that the rafters were indeed pit-sawn, another indication of just how old the building was.

Just as interesting were the tiles on the floor, which again were hand made and as Stuart recognised, contained flecks of quartz and other impurities amongst the clay. The last time I had seen hand made colonial tiles like these was at Mont de Lancey Homestead in Wandin, where they hold them in great esteem. I know it's hard work and it costs money but we all should do everything we can to ensure these connections to our past don't fade away to a distant memory, as once they are gone, they're gone for good.

After running around preparing for a days saw milling tomorrow, I did manage to fit in a little more work on the Huon Pine Vanity/stand for the bathroom, getting the frame glued, the top re-sawn, milled, glued and beveled and the drawer stock milled and dovetailed.

The drawer runners and kickers just have to be fitted and drawer the finished off, then the top planed and fitted. The drawer will be a little unusual too as it will have to stop short to allow for the basin waste pipe. More on that later.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Shaker Nightstand in Huon Pine

A few posts back I gave a brief list of some of the furniture I intend to make for the cottage. I had omitted one piece as it will actually be more of a fixture or built in. 
Commonly known as a Shaker Nightstand they were made in most if not all the communities in differing forms. Variations were made to the legs, some turned instead of tapered and the tops were both undercut and straight edged. Most often they only had a single drawer.  They were both oiled and painted. The nightstand for the cottage is being made as a stand for the hand basin in the bathroom and like all the other furnishings in the bathroom will be made from solid Huon Pine. Virtually impervious to water, it should be ideal for its intended use.

I've made 5 of these little tables now and as well as being aesthetically pleasing they are very easy to make. Just like any piece of furniture really in that if you follow some very basic steps it goes together without much trouble. 

I had come across a supply of Huon which I had earmarked for this piece, but it has taken a while to materialise. So with some regret I hauled out my railway sleeper sized piece of Huon and began to break it down. The flip side of the coin being that the entire nightstand will be from the one flitch so the colour match will be perfect. I couldn't guarantee this with the other supply.

All previous nightstands I've made have been to order and to fill a particular use or place and so all have been differing sizes. The basin that will sit on this stand is 130mm high so I worked backward to make it a comfortable height to wash your hands. This gave me the overall height of 690mm. From that basic measurement and the pre determined void that the stand will fill, it was just a case of ensuring the rest was in proportion. 

Given that the Huon flitch was over 1800mm ( approx 6' ) long with a slight curve a third of the way down, I first broke it down into smaller components to ensure I didn't lose too much in jointing and thicknessing it. 

With the parts prepared, I marked out the top divider and dovetailed the tops of the front legs. I like to make the top and bottom dividers a little wider than average and dovetail/tenon them into the upper and lower doublers. It may be overkill but I like them to have the extra strength top and bottom, especially when the drawer is extended and puting racking pressure on the carcass.

With the legs and upper doublers dovetailed and the bottom divider tenoned into the legs and lower doublers, the rails were mortice and tenoned and the whole thing stood together to check for fit. I then cut the drawer front to the exact dimension of the drawer opening and tapered the four legs. 

I would usually taper legs on a nightstand to half of their upper dimensions, but in this case I have left them slightly heavier. This is due to the weight of the basin and the fact that people may be inclined to lean on it. I don't think the extra 3mm will adversely affect the overall proportions.

So at the end of a fairly relaxing day all of the parts for the carcass have been rough cut and readied for hand planing tomorrow prior to being assembled. I'll then re-saw the last lump from the flitch to create a nice book matched top.