Author Topic: Townsend Bellflowers  (Read 8268 times)

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Townsend Bellflowers
« on: December 29, 2006, 10:13:07 AM »
I am making a reporduction (two actually) of a Townsend Pembroke table with the traditional Townsend Bellflowers.  Does anyone know how to do these?  Thanks for your help.  I have attached a low-res scan of such a Townsend leg.
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 11:39:31 AM »
For those who have read this and are interested in the answer, here is the consensus from several sources (Rob Millard, Garrett Hack, and Tom McLaughlin):

Using rubber cement and paper between layers, glue up about 6 layers of holly veneer gluing the outline of the bellflower on top.  Use the scroll saw to cut out the stack.  Clean up with files.  Seperate the layers.  Lay one down.  Carefully scribe lightly with a very sharp knife, then do it more deeply.  Use a combination of fine chisels and/or dremel tool to excavate the area.  Glue in with hidde glue.

The good news is it works pretty well.  The bad news is the first one took an hour.  Only79 to go. :-)

Stephen Gaal
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.

steveb

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2007, 01:21:54 PM »
I used a slightly different initial method. Instead of trying to cut out different size bellflowers, I drew one up on my computer drawing program, emailed it to Dover Inlay, and paid them a modest price to cut out mulitple copies, with the same shape, in different specified sizes. There was a slight burning on the surface of the pieces, from their laser I guess, which easily came off when I scraped and sanded after inlaying.

Steve Bodner

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2007, 01:44:07 PM »
Dear Steve:

What a great idea!  What drawing program did you use?  How happy were you with the result? 
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.

steveb

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2007, 02:32:50 PM »
I use the Canvas program with a Mac, but I assume that any drawing program would work. I had to save the figure in a specific format that Dover Inlay requested, but I forget which format it was. I was very happy with the result. Very uniform quality, and low price. There is a fixed price to set up their tool, and then a very low charge per piece, so I made lots of extras. I asked them to use a maple veneer.

Steve Bodner

Woodmolds

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 109
  • Professional Wood Butcher (Architectural Millwork)
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2007, 03:27:13 PM »
One of the things that is so neat about CAD is it's ability to scale to several different sizes. I made the attached patterns based on several pictures I'd seen. I took the elements of several and combine them to create patterns I liked. I use a program called Visual CADD V5 that very easy to learn. You can be using it productively in  one or two sessions. The reason I had drawn these was my intentions are the same as Steve. Have someone laser the parts and put them together.
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.? Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2007, 04:20:39 PM »
I wish I had been smart enough to do this myself.  There is a certain, shall we call it, lack of uniformity in my bellflowers.  I will post a photo of the finished tables here when done.  I did order my lampblack as suggested by Rob Millard to mix with hide glue to add to gently cut tracks to add accent.

I will be very happy when this particular project is over and I can do something simple like a Townsend Secretary. :-)
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.

Woodmolds

  • Forum Master
  • ***
  • Posts: 109
  • Professional Wood Butcher (Architectural Millwork)
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2007, 05:15:37 PM »
"There is a certain, shall we call it, lack of uniformity in my bellflowers."

I suspect this is the exact reason the "purist" amongst us would frown at the thought of having the pieces laser cut. While not done in the original way I think laser cut pieces for inlays is still keeping with the spirit of days gone by. The cabinetmakers of the past used the most productive means available to them. It is known that somethings were outsourced. It's only time efficient if you're cutting one or two by hand. I think my time would be better spent doing things the machines are not as economical at yet, such as hand cutting dovetails, or carving, which will catch someones eye quicker than the uniformity of laser cut inlays. After all you're building an heirloom not an antique.
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.? Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007, 01:37:27 PM »
Almost done with these [email protected]#$%^&*( tables.  I do have one more question for the experts.  It appears that the table edges are concave.  Is there an accurate form or shape for this available anywhere?

Thanks.
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.

Ted_Owen

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2007, 02:47:52 PM »
...Lay one down.  Carefully scribe lightly with a very sharp knife, then do it more deeply.  Use a combination of fine chisels and/or dremel tool to excavate the area.  Glue in with hidde glue....

Stephen Gaal

Steve Latta teaches that method, slightly affixing the petal to the background with a couple small drops of hide glue before scribing with the knife. It you don't use the glue, as I didn't the first time I tried it, the piece will move too much while scribing.

Steve also used a Dremel for routing out the field. Use a 1/32" bit and hold the Dremel tool in a small router base that you can buy from Stewart-MacDonald, http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Dremel_rotary_tools,_attachments/Precision_Router_Base.html. You can also gets bits from them, but they are down-spiral.

Lie-Nielsen is about to offer small hand router (271) bits that they developed with Steve. You can order them now, and they are expected to start shipping later this week.

An alternative overall method is to skip the scribing and use the same chisel from the petal to mark the field. Steve didn't teach this method, but another student was doing it, and it worked fine. Chisels in #7 sweep is what we used for those petals, IIRC.

Good luck.

Best, Ted

handi

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2007, 10:41:43 PM »
When considering laser cut vs hand cut, keep in mind that most of the shops that made this furniture originally farmed out quite a lot of the detail work. It was an age of specialization. Inlays, carvings, marquetry and even turnings were typically jobbed out to subcontractors.

In that light, buying inlays and such (provided that they reflect the quality level of the rest of the piece) is not, in my opinion, "cheating".

Personally, I prefer to do it all myself, I often take on specific projects just to have an excuse to attain new skills. But heck, almost no one I know, including myself, makes their own hardware!

Just my 2 cents,

Ralph

Stephen Gaal

  • Forum Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Period furniture
Re: Townsend Bellflowers
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2007, 09:45:51 AM »
Dear Ted and Ralph:

Thanks for your thoughts re the Townsend bellflowers.

I thought about cutting each bellflower using the appropriate sweep chisels, but since I had 2 tables, with four legs each, with two surfaces per leg and five bellfowers per surface, I decided that I simply couldn't get 80 bellflowers looking similar enough to go that way.  It is the approach I took with the bookend inlay above the bellflowers and it worked very well.

I also looked at this project as a learning experience.  I added veneering and inlay to my skill set and feel pretty comfortable that I can probably do anything I wnat within reason.  On the other hand, my education probably had the price tag of a semester at an expensive private college.  :-)

Best wishes,

Stephen Gaal
Stephen Gaal

[email protected]
603.284.7183

Interest is in 18th century furniture including Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal.