I had a great group of carvers & box-makers last month down at Drew & Louise’s place. There was so much to cover, I shot some photos, but didn’t really do it justice. Someone should just shoot the table settings/meals. I shot some of the opening night’s pizza, but after a while, it was time to eat, not photograph stuff.

A sample of photos follows. We had Axe night, when neighbor John Krausse came w his friend Josh (I hope I remembered that right) we tried about 20 different hatchets…Drew showed us his modern bowl forms one evening. And in the daylight these folks made great boxes.

what a time!




Here’s the link to Country Workshops – if you haven’t been, get down there next year.  http://countryworkshops.org/

see Drew’s bowls and read about them here http://drewlangsner.com/

Louise’s blog is here http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/


I have a lot of catching up to do with the blog. I got back from a fabulous week at Country Workshops on Sunday…and have written several posts in my head. Which does you no good now.


today’s very quick post is to tell you that we have some spaces still in the 2-day carving class, Saturday & Sunday, September 14 & 15 at Bob Van Dyke’s place, the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.



here’s some shots from last time -

leslie diggin the posture

I thought I had a lot of carving tools

dedham panel

The middle part of the box class at Country Workshops is the 2-day section on carving – those students aced it.  Here’s a few of theirs:

aug braid student

rebecca's scrolls detail




chris' lunettes



A few very quick things. I do make furniture, believe it or not. Too much lately in fact, the shop is jammed. I see daylight at the end of August. Here is a small joined chest that I am making as a test-case for a few upcoming gigs. More on that later…it’s about 20″ high, x 30″ wide. It is a mixture of riven & sawn oak, and I’ll use some sawn pine for the bottom and rear panel.  Just like the full-blown joined chests, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/joined-chest-dvd-now-available/  all the same steps, just smaller scale. Like for a workshop sometime?


tiny joined chest


tiny joined chest B


The other day I was out walking in the park (like Muddy Waters, I guess) and saw an uprooted tree cluster. The trees were gone, and the roots hauled up, soon to be chipped. I grabbed some real curved pieces. I thought it was maple, but it seems closer to ring-porous. but not quite…

anyway, the next spoon is brought to us by the letter J. Boy, are roots wet!

The letter J

The letter J

Here are two views as I worked this one up. I can’t shoot spoon work like I can joinery. The setup is trickier. I had Daniel shoot some last week, I have to load those and sort them.

rough root spoon

hewn root spoon

carved root spoon

initial carving root spoon

While on the subject of unknown spoon woods, I thought I’d take the easy way out & ask you folks what wood this is. It ended up in my pile, and it’s excellent for spoons. Tough, but not as hard as the cherry I often use. very white, no heartwood. I never saw the leaves, so only have this stuff to look at. I’ll take it to the shop and cut the end grain cleanly to see its structure.

spoon wood mystery

spoon wood question

spoon & wood


Just finished this version of the dragon box, or is it a serpent box? red oak, white pine. It’s about 23 1/2″ x 14 1/2″ x 7″.

dragon 2013 front view

M box end view




I’ve been spoon-mad lately (you could tell, right?) – carving lots of them. But it’s May, so there should have been warblers here. I missed most of them. This spring was lousy for me, birdwatching-wise. I think George Walker saw them all. I’ve been pretty busy with one thing or another. Most of which was not birds. My timing was way off, and when I was available – well the weather stunk up the place. We had yellowlegses in the river a bit, one in this photo, 3 came in another day…

I did manage some woodworking recently, just no photography to speak of. Here’s a joined form I’ve made for a client, along with the “half a pair of joint stools…”  The form is made just like what’s in the book, just stretched out. This one’s about 80″ long. In this case,  I beef up the long rails, these are about 1 1/2″ thick, to keep them from flexing. http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

joined form & 1/2 pair of joint stools

joined form & 1/2 pair of joint stools

The tops of the stools and the form are perfectly quartersawn oak. Beautiful stuff. I don’t usually get too carried away with the natural beauty of wood. But this stuff was great. These go with a table I’ve been building. I’m not assembling the table until it’s ready to go out. At 7′ long, I haven’t the room for it to hang around. Plus that large a flat surface would accumulate stuff quickly. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/revisiting-a-well-known-collection/


A wainscot chair got done recently. This replaces in my shop an earlier version of this iconic chair, my first version sold last fall. We’ll see if this one sticks around or not. I have to get in the shop and shoot some proper photos of it soon. Before it gets too dusty…


my version of a Thomas Dennis wainscot chair

my version of a Thomas Dennis wainscot chair

A few weeks ago I made a carved box for EAIA. They ordered it from the museum, and then it went in their auction. Someone ended up with it, I hope. This one was also made from quartersawn oak, with a pine bottom. It got away w/o real photos, or measurements. It’s about 7″ high, x 20″ wide. I try to keep up with a record of these things; and in recent years have not missed much. Previously, I made a slew of these carved boxes and never shot them at all. From time to time, I hear from people in the past who say, “I still have my box…” and I had forgotten I ever made them one…

carved box, May 2013

carved box, May 2013

Still have some slots open in Roy Underhill’s Woodwright School for the joint stool class in July. Fun will be had. Come on down…




Recently, I got photos from two students showing the boxes they’ve made. First, Dennis Liu sent this shot of a box he started in a class we had at Country Workshops. He ended up taking his box apart at home, so he could add a till. His note said “it was a bit fussy to fit…” – Which is why I don’t do tills in the workshops! While he had it in for surgery, he decided on oak for the lid & bottom. Great look. Extra work, but well worth it. 

carved box, Dennis Liu

carved box, Dennis Liu

Then came Seth Kelley. He took a 2-day carving class at Lie-Nielsen in which we split apart an oak bolt, planed our stock & carved some patterns. Afterwards, Seth wrote to ask me about a desk box in an article I wrote in 1996 about furniture from Braintree, Massachusetts. So I sent some notes and a couple of shots of the desk box. Nice thing about these is junk doesn’t pile up on the slanted lids as easily as on a flat-top box.

seth's box open

seths' box daylight

seth box side veiw

Buried somewhere on the blog is the article about making these boxes – http://pfollansbee.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/pf_box_articl.pdf 

Thanks for sending the photos  guys. Seth wins the real estate prize by sending more photos than Dennis. But both are nice work. Next carving class is coming up at Lie-Nielsen in Warren Maine, May 11-12. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=35


Hope to see some of you there. 





meet me in the country

meet me in the country

Drew Langsner tells me there’s two spaces left for this summer’s box-carving class at Country Workshops. Once these two are filled, there is no second chance for this class in this spot – so if you’re thinking about having a great time down in the western North Carolina mountains, think faster…Then get a hold of Drew at http://countryworkshops.org/

see this post, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/may-be-the-last-time-i-dont-know/

here’s more http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/

I know there’s many obstacles; money, time, logistics…but you will have a great time if you come. It’s about more than making a box & carving. It’s truly an immersion experience. My life changed because of my time spent at Drew & Louise’s place. It’s that simple. 


Sometimes I buy two copies of a book on purpose, other times it’s because I can’t find it, buy the replacement and then later find the first. So a while back I sent George Walker http://georgewalkerdesign.wordpress.com/ a copy of the 1981 journal “Furniture History” because it has an article by Anthony Wells-Cole about the “strapwork” design found on oak furniture in Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts from the seventeenth century. Wells-Cole ran down the existing work in oak, then looked at possible sources for it, including stone monuments and print sources. The article is titled “An Oak Bed at Montacute: A Study in Mannerist Decoration.”

Hans Vredeman de Vries, 16th c

Hans Vredeman de Vries, 16th c

I’ve been prepping lately for my now-postponed carving class, so had the chance to review a lot of photos of various carving patterns. The strapwork one in the Wells-Cole study in particular always fascinates me. I have carved it umpteen times. Never the same twice.

strapwork boxes big & small

Based on markings still visible on the old ones, one method for layout seems to be horizontal and vertical centerlines, then spacing things outward from there in four directions according to the size of the timber, and the size & shape of the tools.

carved box, Thomas Dennis, 1660s-1700, Ipswich, Massachusetts

carved box, Thomas Dennis, 1660s-1700, Ipswich, Massachusetts


this next box has an abandoned layout partially struck on its inner face of the front board. I always get excited by this sort of evidence, march off & adopt it at my bench, then I pull up and think, “wait a minute, this is a mistake – that’s why it’s not done!”

Dennis - 193

dennis deed box

I usually work outwards from the center, and most often start with a circle there, then the bands/straps working east/west/north/south.

PF in process

PF in process

adding leaves inside the strapwork

adding leaves inside the strapwork

This time, I marked the pattern left and right, but only on the top half of the board. Then it’s easy enough to copy from there to the bottom half. Then remove the background. 

the second half

the second half

removing background

removing background

Depending on a number of factors, one of which might be whim, you can make the curved straps that run along the top and bottom margins either broad and shallow, or taller and tighter. Once you learn the vocabulary, you can combine these parts in a streaming run of designs, never to be repeated…

Here’s broad & shallow:

Dennis -broad layoutversus taller and tighter:

Dennis - 209

Those are both the same maker, Thomas Dennis again. Here’s more variations:


strapwork panel

winterthur top rail box HNE

hennock strapwork (2)


Then, don’t forget this one: http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/thomas-dennis-eat-your-heart-out-this-is-oak-furniture/

(The photos in tonight’s post run the gamut from my own, others from Trent, Rob Tarule, and a couple clipped from books. thanks to all…)


rear view joined chest

rear view joined chest

Got some photography done the other day…this one’s a joined chest that I have had around a while. I was waiting to hinge it until I could photograph the process. This is the one with the wooden hinges. Here’s the front view

joined chest

joined chest

You can see this chest in process during the Lie-Nielsen video I did on making a joined chest.  http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/new-dvd-is-back-again-make-an-oak-joined-chest/

First the wooden hinge; then the interior view, with the till.

chest open hinge

wooden hinge

chest open till


Finishing up a couple of customer’s boxes at the same time…

box 2013 finished

box 2013 open

box 2013 B open

box b detail carving


CW 1


If you are tired of hearing me write about Country Workshops, go read another blog right now…last week I heard from Drew Langsner and we were writing back & forth about a few things. He mentioned that 2013 might really be the last summer of guest instructors’ classes at Country Workshops. I knew it was coming; but it’s still a big deal to me…this is where I learned woodworking and so much more. I first traveled to Drew & Louise’s place in 1980, and have been a regular there off and on ever since.

Drew says he will keep teaching his 4-person classes in chairmaking and spoon & bowl carving, and the tool store will keep running. But the full-blown, summer, large group experiences will probably  come to an end. Imagine having between 8 & 12 people, sometimes more, coming to your home 5 or 6 weeks each summer, SINCE 1978! And feeding them, 3x a day…like you wouldn’t believe.

So – if you haven’t been – make some arrangements, shift your schedule, gas up the car. If you have been, time to come back for the semi-last hurrah. Come and take my class. If you folks don’t sign up, I don’t get to go. Or take any of the others. Carl Swensson will knock you out completely in making Swiss cooperage. Carl is one of the best, but little-known, woodworkers in the country. Osamu Shoji will be coming from Japan, for a class in Making a Folding Byobu Room Divider… see the website for all the details. Sign up for the newsletter from Country Workshops…it’s full of good stuff. http://countryworkshops.org/

So will I see you in the mountains?

Here’s previous entries on CW http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=Country+Workshops

Here’s pictures, in no particular order

willie's class PF JA etc

JA at CW



Japnese woodworking

You're Almost There!



CW 7 boomers

CW 8 workshop

CW 9 end to end

CW 10

CW 11 my favorite chair

CW 12 garden fence

bowls and spoons


CW 6 shop view

CW 5

CW 4

CW 3

CW 2

CW 17 up to the new old barn

CW 16 barn

CW 15 wille spoon

CW 14 a cat

CW 13 smoky joe



I added some things to the static pages on the blog tonight.

white oak box, detail

white oak box, detail

This box I just finished photographing the other day, I had finished the box up in Maine when I taught at CFC in Rockport last summer. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/carved-boxes-fall-2012/

a few spoons

a few spoons

I had great plans to make a slew of spoons for Christmas presents…but that didn’t happen. The road to hell, etc… As a result, there are only a few spoons available this month. Here’s the sampling:  http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-the-only-ones-i-will-have-this-month/

BK-MAJSFAT-2T smallA reminder about the Joint Stool book, and the DVDs, including the newest one from Lie-Nielsen about making a joined chest…


This one doesn’t need its own page, but I have another turned book stand for sale. Once again, it’s part of the “here’s the end of that walnut stash” department. This one really is the end, unless you count the four wide but short quartersawn pieces I found while cleaning the other day…

I end up crating these inside a cardboard box to protect them during shipping. So the total is $180 shipped in the U.S. Email me with questions if you are interested… SOLD

walnut book stand walnut book stand w owls walnut book stand rear

H: 18 1/2″   W: 14 1/2″  D: c. 15″


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