Delaware Valley SAPFM Meeting & Pennsbury Manor

It was a busy woodworking weekend for me this past Saturday and Sunday. While I didn’t get any work done at home in my shop, I did have a great time in two other shops.

Saturday I attended the spring meeting of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. We had probably about 25 or so folks show up for the event, and it turned out to be a very full, but interesting and informative day. If you have any interest in period furniture, you should definietely check out a chapter in your area. SAPFM is a great organization with a lot of really talented individuals.

We started out the day with a great demonstration on workholding strategies and shaping cabriole legs by William Duffield. William is a very talented woodworker with years of experience. He’s a member of SAPFM and the CJWA, and has also been an instructor at Woodcraft.

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After William’s demonstration, we got a demonstration in sawing trees into lumber on a Woodmizer from Tyler Emerick, who also hosted the meeting at his shop and warehouse in Alpha, NJ. Tyler took a 24″ diameter walnut tree that had come down last winter in the ice storms that hit northwestern NJ and turned it into some beautiful 8/4 and 4/4 slabs. Then he gave the lumber away to whatever members wanted it and had the means to get it home. There were a couple of guys who scored some beautiful 24″ wide 12′ plus long 8/4-10/4 slabs that will air dry to some really good boards over the next few years. Tyler was exteremely generous giving this lumber away and letting the chapter use his shop for the meeting.

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After lunch, I did a demonstration on building frame and raised panel cabinet doors using hand tools. I was pretty satisfied with the way the demonstration went, though after the fact I realized that there were a few things that I had forgotten to point out while doing the demo. It’s amazing how fast time goes and how much you forget once you get up there and start speaking and going through the steps. I really need to start making notes for these demonstrations. Overall I think it was a pretty good demonstration though and I think most folks enjoyed it.

Finally, to close out the day, Frank Vucolo did an amazing demonstration on Federal stringing, banding and inlay styles and techniques. To say Frank is an excellent speaker is an understatement, and his work speaks for itself. Frank is an amazing craftsman and he did a really great demonstration that left me really wanting to build a Federal period piece. Frank is also the president of the CJWA.

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Besides the demonstrations, there was also a great “show-and-tell” of projects that fellow members had completed or were in the process of working on. I think the level of talent of these folks speaks for itself in their work. Absolutely stunning craftsmanship. If you have any interest in this kind of furniture at all, or even just in traditional joinery and construction methods, you should really join SAPFM. You can’t help but learn from these kinds of events.

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On Sunday, I spent the afternoon with another bunch of great guys in the joyner’s shop at Pennsbury Manor. It was my first day volunteering at the shop and I had such a great time being there and meeting and conversing with all of the other joyners and visitors in the shop that I completely forgot to take any pictures. Perhaps I’ll shoot a few in July the next time the shop opens. If you’re in the area and you’ve never been to Pennsbury Manor before, you should definitely check it out. Touring the grounds and the manor house and checking out some of the historic crafts interpreters and out buildings is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


9 thoughts on “Delaware Valley SAPFM Meeting & Pennsbury Manor

  1. Bob- you did a great job in your presentation. As a ‘hybrid’ woodworker who came in from the power side, I don’t know enough about hand tool work and you helped me understand the potential and beauty of human powered devices. I will definitely be practicing with my planes. Thanks! Rusty

  2. Bob, in the first three pictures with William Duffield shaping a cabriole leg, he’s working on a bench top workbench. Is there more information somewhere on this mini-bench? Perhaps an article on how this one was made. It also looks like he has a Moxon vise front jaw in one of the pictures. This mini-bench reminds me of a Swiss Army knife. Thanks Bob.

    • No plans that I’m aware of. William’s bench-on-bench was based on one built by Steve Latta for inlay work, but it is his own design. You have to build it to fit your workbench, your height, and the vise you have to mount on it, so really plans wouldn’t be very helpful anyway. And you’re right, it is a Swiss Army Bench, or as William likes to call it, a Swiss-cheese Army Bench (it has dog holes everywhere, and lots of custom attachments).

  3. Actually I wasn’t looking for plans per se, but more the main points of the bench and enough visual detail to give me an idea as to what’s there and it’s position to the rest of the bench. After posting my comment I did find a few pictures of Steve Latta’s bench, and see that William’s bench is sort of a fancier version of Steve’s, but essentially the same. William has added a Moxon vise to his bench. I also found some more pictures of William’s workbench. So, for now, I think I have enough information to put something similar together if I ever want to.

    • At the Loxahatchee Toolworks, this bench-on-bench’s official title is the Loxiliary Bench.

      There are no measured drawings, and I doubt there ever will be. They would not be practical, for the reasons Bob gives. I built it as an experimental test bed and a teaching tool on work holding and reducing back pain. I do not expect anyone will start with the same components, or use the same construction techniques, or implement all the bells and whistles I demonstrate on this one.

      The important design parameters are to get the work surface to the right height (about elbow high), to be able to attach it securely to whatever substrate is available wherever you want to work, be it your joiner’s bench, a work-mutt, a picnic table at the park, a barn beam set up on a couple of saw trestles, or an F-150 tailgate.

      I have lots of construction photos, photos of mounting options, accessories and work holding arrangements, and copious notes, but I don’t have a blog, and none of it is on-line yet. Does the world need yet another unrefereed woodworking blog? I’ve had a couple of inquiries from other bloggers about hosting the information on their blogs, instead of starting from scratch.

      The Half-a-Moxon is a very recent addition, and I have a bunch of notes and photos on how to build and install that as well. The idea for the vise was inspired by the extremely well designed and well made Benchcrafted hardware, but I used 3/4″ threaded rod and matching nuts from the home center. The other important design parameter is that you’ve already got the top of the bench at the right height for sawing dovetails, so there is no need for a back jaw. The threaded rod is simply bolted to the front legs. Instead of cast iron hand wheels, I turned mine from hard maple.

      These gizmos are getting more popular all the time. Frank Vucolo had another one in his trunk at the SAPFM meeting, but decided not to use it for his demo. You don’t need to attach the legs to the top with dovetails. Frank’s uses plywood boxes for legs, put together with Kreg pocket screws. One of Steve Latta’s is held together with figure-8 tabletop fasteners and flat head wood screws. He has more than one. I’ve seen photos of another one of his that uses dovetails.

      You might get a chance to see, measure, photograph and try this one out in person at a future venue. I’ll bring it to next week’s CJWA meeting, just to show the new Moxon jaw, since they’ve already seen the rest of it, and to the fall Virginia chapter SAPFM meeting in Fredericksburg.

  4. Bob,
    Google turns up nothing when searching for ” octagon gauge” . Got any details, as I plan to make cabriole legs some day, and if needed, I’ll make one.

    • You don’t need one to make cabriole legs. I’ve never used one and I’ve made tons of cabriole legs. Watch my podcast episodes on making cabriole legs from the porringer tea table series to see how I do it. Using the gauge is just one way of accomplishing the layout. There are plenty of others as well. If you really want to make the gauge, google spar gauge and that should turn up more. The gauge’s design was originally intended for making tapered octagonal spars for boats. When scaled down they work well for laying out tapered octogonal table legs too, but you can layout the legs without one too.

    • You don’t need it. It’s training wheels. To get to round, if you’re not comfortable with just doing it, it helps to start with square, knock off the corners to get to an octagon, and knock off the corners again to get to a decahexagon or a hexadecagon, whatever. Another controlled way to get to the octagon, by eye and spoke shave, is to start knocking off the corners at about a 45° angle, until the chamfers are the same width as what is left of the squared flats.

      If you really want to make the gauge, just make one hole for one pen. Two pens is better to illustrate the concept, but one pen and two passes is a lot easier to control. The one I showed is too big to use efficiently on that table leg. I actually built it for rounding a spar.

      I’ve even seen a spar gauge with another hole for getting to sixteen facets, but that is so quick on a furniture leg using just a card scraper, that laying it out beforehand is a considerable waste of time. Rounding a mast, boom or a yardarm from a whole tree for a tall ship is on a totally different scale, and there the spar gauge can be very useful.

      Consider a claw and ball foot. The ball ends up round, or close enough that it looks round, and there are no jigs that would make it any easier or more precise than just doing it. Your most important, and most accurate, tool for judging fair curves is your finger tips, with your eyes coming in a close second place.

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