Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SAPFM NE March 2013 Meeting

Matt Cianci sharpening a saw.

Once again, the SAPFM New England chapter March meeting was held at Bob Van Dyke's Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in Manchester, CT.

The place was full due to the excellent lineup of speakers on the agenda: Brock Jobe, Don Williams, and Mary May. In addition, planemaker Matt Bickford and saw wright Matt Cianci had tables setup.

Bob Van Dyke opens the meeting.

Freddy Roman, SAPFM New England chapter coordinator, talks about upcoming events for members.

Brock Jobe, Professor of American Decorative Arts at Winterthur Museum, gave the morning presentation. This was a study of turreted tea tables and their development from English card and tea tables.

He had some great photos showing various construction details, particularly how the legs were fastened. Some of this information will be published in book form in the future. I love the graceful form of all these table types and hope to build some of them.

Brock Jobe presenting a study of turreted tea tables.

Matt Bickford demonstrating his magnificent wooden moulding planes.

Look at the beautiful ribbons this plane produces!

One of the interesting projects in the area is the restoration of the Strong-Howard House in Windsor, CT, through the Windsor Historical Society. Christina Vida, WHS Curator of Collections and Interpretation, described how they'll be furnishing the house partly with replica furniture in partnership with the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.

CVSW will offer classes in these furniture designs, and students may submit their work for juried acceptance into the house. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills, build some beautiful furniture, and participate in a historical preservation project.

Christina Vida describing the restoration of the Strong-Howard House.

Mickey Callahan, SAPFM co-founder, talking about the new editorial board for SAPFM's annual journal, American Period Furniture.

Don Williams, now retired from his position as senior furniture conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute, gave a presentation on restoration where he discussed balancing the decisions that had to be made among competing criteria.

He showed us the decision-making model he's used for decades to help guide him through the process of restoring a piece of furniture. This balances the needs of the object with the needs of the user, the technical limitations of the materials and skills with the desired outcome and quest for perfection, and the resource management of finite time and money with the ethical constraints to preserve historical materials and documentation and allow retreatability.

He showed us several examples of applying this process as well as some of the specific restoration methods. Some items were used everyday in private homes, while others were intended to remain for years in static displays. Each situation had different requirements and various ravages of time to overcome.

Meanwhile, he had to decide how much of the visible history of the object to leave in place. As he said, once you clean off the dirty patina to show the grain underneath, you can't put the dirt back if you don't like the results.

Don Williams demonstrating a wax finish burnished with a polissoir.

Carver Mary May gave a demonstration of carving various decorative moldings. These could be used for picture frames or for architectural moldings that might run into the hundreds of feet. She does beautiful work, and like all carvers, makes it look deceptively easy.

Mary May demonstrating sharpening a carving gouge.

Matt Cianci finished up the day with a presentation on one of his hand-made handsaws.

Matt Cianci explains the cant of a backsaw he made.

SAPFM membership is open to anyone interested in period furniture, whether you are a maker, a restorer, a collector, or just enjoy learning about the history of these beautiful pieces, from hobbyist to professional. As you can see, one of the great benefits of membership is a chance to meet people like the presenters here.


  1. Ah! That's it. I need to join! Why have I been so slow to sign up? Thanks for pushing me over the edge, Steve. I've been intending to for a long time.

  2. Thank you for publishing this review of the SAPFM meeting which circumstances did not permit me to attend. As a long time member of NWA, I look forward to meeting you at Showcase 2013 in Saratoga Springs.

  3. That's quite a collection of talent you have in the New England chapter Steve. It's fantastic what a wealth of knowledge we have in SAPFM. The membership fee is one of the best bargains in woodworking.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.