Hangham Style

Just a little side project, they told him.

Install an 11′ mantel between two posts in a new timber frame.

Shouldn’t take more than a week.

And we’ve even got the stock for you!

A barely audible alarm went off in the back of Justin’s busy head…

Over the next 2 weeks it grew louder and more insistent–like a Canadian who’s just about run out of Molson on a camping trip–until it was drowned out only by the dissonant whine of a plugged-in planer and the need for a smoke.

Oh hey, devil hemlock–dry, twisted and left-for-dead–which no human in the history of the world would ever want to touch or even burn, let alone square and build-out.

It was so awesome that the install happened to fall on the heels of all that cheerful and sublime carving at Greenwood Fest. 

I remember when we used to work happy and well-adjusted wood with idiosyncratic Swedes and dreadlocked Englishwomen.


Juxtaposition? More like Suckstaposition.

Other than being a day-long avoidance of trashing a fine house which may or may not have been hosting a party with Marky Mark within a fortnight, things ended up fair and square. The client was pleased, there were no holes in the plaster, and all the joints fit like Tupperware lids.

You had this all along, ked.




















painting by Jones River artist Marshall Joyce

Don’t you DARE put your drink on the mantel without a coaster.

We’re looking at you, Wahlberg.


Speaking of green wood…

If you can scrape together the ducats, the upcoming Plymouth CRAFT workshop with Dave Fisher is a great way to say goodbye to July this summer.


Dave is as amazing a craftsman as he is a nice guy.  Check out his blog for inspiration: https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/

We were lucky to have Dave at Greenwood Fest 2016 and to see him teach and create extraordinary bowls.  Breathtaking work, really.


Course fee includes materials as well as incredible fare by Paula Marcoux. It’ll take place along a beautiful estuary south of Boston. Well worth it.

For info: http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=bowl-carving-with-dave-fisher

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18 thoughts on “Hangham Style

  1. Hello Rick…

    Love your posts…and the work done…

    When I see one’s like this my fascination for the “psychology” of what we do (and the way we seem to do it…or think about it) peeks up to say…”hello.” That so much of what we do is as much “technique” and “system” as it is a normative culture of what we are saturated in as it regards “modality.” So curious a thing it is…that perhaps more is “cultural/psychological” and less…a logical way of doing something…or the way we learned it…

    I have been faced (and having seen many others face) this very challenge many times over the decades, I am always astounded by the difference in approach between the Easter ancient methods (aka line layout) and the Western thinking on this subject…(aka the much more modern “edge rule” thinking.) I had to actually put in a mantel in the same awkward (after the fact) situation with a Cant of Chestnut Oak that was as twisted as an Old Barber’s pole…

    The divergence in it (and thinking about it) comes after the “winding sticks” and trying to create a “perfect timber” out of it….In the west…as seen in this post…a “perfect timber” is created within…(Well done by the way.) However, there seems to be so much more work to it compared to most of the “Easter Line Layout” systems. For example 真墨 (Shinzumi: Center line or Soul line layout) in the process of 墨付け (sumitsuke: Another term for general “layout” but literally means “Blackening the face.”) within Japanese layout as just one example of Eastern layout.

    As such, the main divergence would fall at the photo in this post of the “ideal timber” being lined at the end of a beam and all the subsequent “squaring work” that follows it. In most of Asian (and Middle Eastern methods) a nice referend side (the “flattest” one if you will for better terms would be selected and “cleaned up.”) then the “soul line” of the timber would be established and “cross” placed on the timber…with a single 真墨 (Shinzumi) snapped on each side in ink corresponding to the “soul line” within the timber itself…From here the “twist” would be pretty much be left alone and only the timber itself cleaned up aesthetically for appearance and joinery laid out and cut according to the “soul lines” reference within…

    Whenever I have been faced with these tasks (and the two methods compared side by side) the Western methods always involve so much more labor and material removal…it seems… Josha’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMPfzOVmtqo) video is one of the best current examples of this work being demonstrated I have seen done by a Westerner…

    Keep up the great Posts!



    • Rick says:

      Good to hear from you j. Thanks for taking the time to put that down. So many ways to process and build–it’s good to keep an open mind. Great link. I am fantasizing about that chalk-box…

      • Sorry if I got “long winded” Rick…ha, ha…That was short for me…

        I love the top of…. “normative cultural tendencies in means, methods and materials”… as different culture approach a creative medium…It is simply fascinating…

        Again…much thanks…for such great posts!

        Josh is a wonderful young man, and we are going to continue to see great things out of him…I have know doubt! It’s hard to believe that just about everything we see in his videos are “first attempts” (or damned near it.) Further…!!??…he is brave (and kind enough) to document the outcomes in such beautiful and elegant ways for others to learn and be inspired by…Simply a gifted and brave (Semper Fi) human…Glad you enjoyed the link, and I look forward to more of your post as well…



  2. Joey White says:

    Of all the wood freaks and weirdos at the fest, Justin was one of my favorites. That dude is alright.

    And don’t worry about Marky’s coasters, I doubt he can reach.

  3. hiscarpentry says:

    Looks great Justin! That’s a load off, I’m sure.

    • Rick says:

      Keegan was understandably sheepish about being featured so prominently in a post. Said he felt narcissistic, and a little hesitant about mom seeing him flipping the double bird.

  4. Linda Master says:

    You guys are amazing! Love your posts—

  5. John Wolf says:

    There must be some phrase more descriptive for that condition than simply “out of wind”.

  6. Matt Robin says:

    1973 Pre Apprentice Carpentry course, Carl T Cotter Vocational School,Toledo Ohio Robert Whatley teacher with many years union carpenter across the nation. His mantra Hemlock is never to be used for use in building anything other than a fire.A side note his favorite drink was the Harvey wall Banger.

  7. Kinderhook88 says:

    What a cool post! The mantel is stunning, and the prose is charming (as always). You all are awesome – I’m always on the lookout for Blue Oak in my inbox!

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