stevenbunn Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:20
While I was at the Common Ground Country Fair demonstrating Windsor chair-making, I took the opportunity to create a new sack-back design based on a photo I found in an old antiques brochure. What made the original chair so striking was the curve of the front of the seat saddle combined with the boldly sculpted underside of the front of the chair.
I was concentrating on creating a seat matching, as closely as possible, the form shown in the brochure. I did not care for the turnings used by the original craftsman, so I substituted leg turning profiles from another antique chair which I reproduced several years ago. The original source did not identify the source of the chair pictured or provide any other information about it. Which is a shame. STB
stevenbunn Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:02

At the Common Ground Country Fair 2017

Ken Kortemeier (in striped shirt with his back to the camera) teaching a class how to whittle a tree branch into a decorative coat hook
I spent three days at the Common Ground Country Fair, where I demonstrated Windsor chairmaking. This was my twenty-second year at the fair. I have brought my pole lathe for around twenty years. If you squint and look in the background of the upper left in this picture you will catch a glimpse of the pole lathe.
This year I was joined by Ken and Angela Kortemeier and their students from the Maine Coast Craft School. They demonstrated a wide range of crafts taught at the school. Some of the crafts demonstrated included spoon carving, bowl making, and Welsh style Windsor chairmaking. One of the schools instructors, Nate Chambers spent the weekend turning bowls on his treadle lathe, which can be seen in the background. Look for the large blue colored frame. Nate was aided by Oliver, another of the school's students. They spelled each other every so often. Their demonstration of spring pole lathe use was a real hit.
Readers wanting more information about the Maine Coast Craft School can write them at 260 Old County Road, Bristol, ME 04539, or visit their website at www,
In the very background I can decern my hat and Anu's pink sweat shirt. We are having a well deserved mead tasting break. At last year's fair Anu', the coordinator for the crafts area of the fairs, promised that she would bring me some of her home-brewed mead wine. She more than kept her promise, showing up every afternoon with a new bottle of mead. Forewarned, I brought a bottle opener and several wine glasses along. The wine provided a break from talking with the crowd. There were over twenty thousand people in attendence Saturday, and I felt like I spoke to everyone of them.
Thank yous go out to Angela Kortemeier for her photos. All of us were going full tilt all weekend and only Angela had the foresight to snap some photographs.
I am already looking forward to next year's fair.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Mon, 10/02/2017 - 20:55
Diamond Light Doors on the Hand Plane Cabinet
This Spring and Summer have been incredibly busy, but there have been few things accomplished that warranted a blog entry.
Mark Batholomew filmed a short video about the shop, my business and myself which you may now view by clicking the link on my home page.
Popular Woodworking's August issue featured an article on constructing diamond light doors written by Phil Lowe. Several years ago I built a cabinet in which to store my expanding collection of molding planes.  When I built the case I made a serious error in not allowing for the width of the double door's bottom rails when laying out the spacing between the shelves. When I went to make doors for the case I quickly found out that the horizontal mullions would not line up with the shelves. Making a pair of standard divided light doors was no longer an option. I used the case to store my plans anyway, but always regreted my mistake.
Phil Lowe's article provided an elegant solution to an intractable problem, as well as allowing me to broaden my woodworking skills. The finished doors add a lot of character to the case.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 03/26/2017 - 17:50
Tall-case clock in the house
A tall-case  clock built to Lonnie Bird's plans as published in Fine Woodworking
I built this clock-case five or six years ago. It sat in the shop taking up space, but also served as a great conversation starter with drop in clients. Still I needed to rearrange things in the shop. I finally asked Ann if she would mind if I brought the clock into the house? She said OK. I moved the clock in late January. At that time the hood door still wasn't painted I hadn't felt the need to finish painting the clock's hood door.The project was more about learning the construction do's and don't of clock case making. I finally got around to painting the door frame and installing glass after the paint dried. All in all a very nice project.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sat, 01/21/2017 - 11:53

Carving totes for my new chairmakers plane


Shaping handles for my new chairmakers plane.
I spent Inaguration Day glued to the TV set in the living room. I was supposed to be working on a batch of new totes for the chairmakers planes I am making. I didn't want to miss the news so I brought my work inside and shaped these handles while sitting on the couch. Our pet rabbit loved the shower of wood shavings that rained down around my feet. Luckily, I got the living room rug swept and vacuumed before Ann got home from work.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Fri, 01/13/2017 - 17:04

Finally, After a lot of Trial and Error, a chair-maker plane with a tote


The final design of my chairmakers plane with tote.
Visitors to this site may know that I have been working off and on over the last few years to see if I could successfully design and build a chairmakers plane that had a real handle (tote).
I have used a small chairmakers plane in my shop for over twenty-two years. The small chairmakers plane has a 1-1/4" dia. wooden ball mounted behind the iron. The little plane fits comfortably in my hand  Easy to hold and work with, but after a day carving out saddles on three or four seat blanks, a bit of a strain on the heal of my palm and wrist. For a number of years I considered whether adding a traditional tote was possible, or even desirable, as doing so would necessitate increasing the length of the plane. Would a longer plane body fit the variety of curves found in a typical seat saddle as well as the smaller version I've used for so long? Without making a protype to try out, my concerns about a larger plane's performance couldn't be tested. There was nothing else to do but make one and see how it performed. My first effort was a razee pattern round bottomed compass plane. This plane ultimately proved to be too heavy and ungainly. Prototype Mark I didn't feel right in my hands. I never bothered to grind a blade for the first prototype as the plane body didn't meet my expectations. In addition to technical performance I wanted a design that was pleasing to my eye. I wanted a handle both visually attractive and physically comfortable. My collection of 19th Century hand-saws with their variety of handle patterns led me down another rabbit hole. I found patterns on-line for many different handle profiles. These can be printed off full-sized so that you may use one as a template for making a new handle appropriate for repairing an antique saw with a damaged handle. I used these profiles as patterns for possible plane handles.
After the razee fiasco, I experimented with mounting my handles to a plane body with a sliding dove-tail joint. This worked really well so this technique is used to fit the tote on the plane pictured above.  And, dispite my inital hopes most of the more attractive traditionalsaw handles proved less comfortable than I hoped. The long horns on some profiles are meant to help you grip the saw in regular usage, but limit the range of hand motion needed in a plane that cuts in an arc. I haven't quite given up on several of the hand-saw handle profiles. Time being what it is, this may have to wait until my second life-time.
After all  this I was back at the point of using a standard pattern tote a'la your basic Stanley bench plane handle profile.
My prototype Mark III was designed to match the length of a Stanley #2 bench plane. I wanted the plane to as short as possible. The original #1 bench plane is admittedly smaller still, but I thought the handle of the #1 to be to small for continuous use over the course of a day. I used a template of the #2's tote, but beefed up the bottom to allow for a dove-tail profiled pin to be cut on the tote's bottom edge. This prototype worked really well and I thought I had come up with a design that was a keeper. I demonstrated its use when carving saddles in several seat blanks at the Common Ground Country Fair last September. I had designed the third prototype to be used without a handle or knob on the front of the plane. Two days of grasping the front of the plane's stock with my left hand convinced me that a front knob would be a very good idea, The other thing I realized was that the 7-9/16 inch long plane body could still be shortened by 3/8" to a 1/2", and still allow me to add a front knob. The resulting plane is pictured above.
The new plane is 7-1/16 inches in length, 2-1/8 inches in width and 1-3/4 inches in thickness at the widest point of the bottom's arc. The 1-1/2 inch wide blade is ground from O-1 tool steel which is 1/8 inches thick. After roughing out the profile of the bottom curve on the band-saw, I shape the rounded sole with a spokeshave. I like the spokeshave's tool marks on the sole of the plane. I find the look very attractive and the plane is after all handcrafted, so why not leave evidence of its construction. I will have to see if potential buyers feel the same way as I do.
This batch of planes uses a laminated stock with quartersawn cherry as the infill and hard maple as the cheeks. I used hard maple for the wedge because I want something that can take a lot of wear over time. I have a number of boards of 8/4 quartersawn beech, which gives me the option of using that species of wood when I make the next batch of handled chairmakers planes. I am also open to suggestions from anyone interested in one of these planes.
I will be listing these planes for sale on the PLANES page of this website and on ebay in the near future. Pricing for the moment is up in the air.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 01/08/2017 - 10:58

An Early View of the Shop

The proud builder posing in front of the completed shop.
The exterior appearance of the shop is that of a storey and a half cape. The down side of the traditional cape roof's shallow over hang is that rain is easily blown in under the door when the wind is in the right 'wrong' direction. Hence the scrap piece of plywood leaning on the front wall behind me in the picture. I pulled the plywood up in front of the doors to help shed water dripping of the roof when I wasn't using the shop. Shortly after this photo was taken I added an enclosed entry bump out with double doors to the building.
The ship-lap siding was put on the summer following the one when we first put up the building. I spent the winter in between wiring the building and installing insulation. The windows were installed at the same time as the siding. The doors were a freebee from a chicken house a friend was tearing down.
The shop was built on a very small budget. Basically my Army Reserve summer camp earnings over three years. The site was cleared one summer. The concrete pad the second. The Gulf War intervened. I was called up but ended up not going overseas. The frame was raised in the summer of 1992. So this photo probably dates from 1993.
I formally hung out my shingle in May 1994, although I had been using the shop pretty much since it had been closed in and electricity connected.


stevenbunn Sun, 01/08/2017 - 10:26

Building the Shop

Framing the Shop
I was going through some of my early pictures and came across several photgraphs taken while I was building my shop. The foot print of the building is 30'x 50'. The ceiling height is 10'. My first 'shop' was in the basement of a small town house. Everything had to fit up a small stair-case or slide out through a small back window. I swore to never again build stackable book cases without being able to fully assemble them in a future shop. The foot print of the building was based on having semi-seperate bench and machine spaces. I also allowed for the ability to handle long 16 foot boards when laying out the location of my shop machinery. For the most part my early assumptions about how work would flow through the shop have borne out.
stevenbunn Wed, 12/28/2016 - 16:01

Gottshall Tall-case Clock Hood with Door Installed


The Gottshall pattern clock hood with the finished door installed.
I prefer the Franklyn Gottshall's method of constructing the door for a Tall-case clock hood, over the method shown in plans published by both Lonnie Bird and Eugene Landon. On the plans for their doors, as published in FWW, tenons cut on the ends of the door's arched top fit into mortises cut in the side stiles. The stiles run long. When the top arc is drawn onto the glued up door frame, the curve cuts across the upper ends of both stiles. Gottshall makes the wide top rail of the door extend the full width of the door opening. The side stiles have tenons cut on their upper ends which seat in mortises cut in the lower edge of the top rail. This strikes me as better both visually and as a construction technique.
Gottshall's door overlaps the front of the hood opening with a 5/16 inch dia. lip. The radius is carried around the arc of the curved top rail. It does not show clearly in this photo, but when seen with the naked eye the rounded top edge of the door adds to the shadow line making the door to case gap at the top of the door look exaggerated. When I use this door pattern again, I think I will not cut a radius on the edge of the top rail, at least until I've seen how the door gap looks.
Finally, given the high cost of Ball and Ball tall-case clock hood hinges, I think I will grind my own from brass bar stock picked up a the hardware store. Gottshall gives hinge dimensions in his drawings.
Thanks for stopping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 12/25/2016 - 14:43

Building a Door for a Franklyn Gottshall Tall Case Clock Hood


This tall-case clock hood is based on plans published by Franklyn Gottshall.
After building and fitting a door to the hood of the Lonnie Bird pattern clock case I built several years ago, I decided it was time to complete a door for this clock hood. Plans for this clock case were published by Franklyn Gottshall. As I have only photocopies made of the clock's plan pages, I can't tell you which of Gottshall's books of measured drawings these plans come from. The door frame was glued up in early December. Then I came down with the flu. I was flat on my back or sitting in a chair for two weeks. Needless to say we got a very late start on decorating for Christmas. I didn't get a tree until Wednesday of last week. This is the first Christmas season in years where we didn't go over to our nieghbor Brad Blake's farm to cut a tree. Time. lack of energy. and neither of the boys around to make the trip special made me opt for a tree purchased off a parking lot in town. Since dinner today is just for Ann and I, Andrew being in Seattle and Ian cooking Christmas dinner at the Highlands, I am baking pork pie for the two of us.
With a few spare minutes available between opening presents and starting the pork pie, I slipped out to the shop and took this picture.
To fill the empty dial frame I set one of the antique hand-painted clock dials I have picked up over the years in the hood. This one has obviously lost a lot of its original paint. I was thinking of sending it to Angela Piacine to be restored. I hestitated about following through on this because the female figure in the upper right spandral is a 'pink lady.' Every clock dial made between roughly 1760, when engraved dial faces started to fell out of fashion and into the 1830's, was hand painted. Most of the painters are unknown. There is one unknown artist whose works can be identified because he always painted one of the female figures, representing either the muses or in this case the continents, pink. I ended up with a dial face probably painted in the 1770's by this unknown painter. Given the dial's probable historic connection to this lost artist, I am not going to have the dial repainted.
Enjoy the day with your families. Thanks for looking in. STB