a bunch of things underway, as usual. What’s different is now I have to get them done & out of here in the next 2 months. They’re going ahead w rehabbing my shop, so I have to move stuff out…well, it’s some motivation to finish up stuff & organize.

here’s pictures, in no particular order. 

One of the projects is the chest of drawers I started last winter as part of the presentation I did at Winterthur. I picked it up again after about 6 months, and brought it to Historic New England last week. I really am enjoying this work; pretty new to me. I have only made a few examples of joined work with turnings & moldings for the decoration; and just one in the last 10 years. Matt’s planes & techniques are real winners. I’m slower than death, but give me 20 years of practice & I can keep pace with the carvings.

More to come on all these topics.




Matt Bickford’s book & planes http://www.msbickford.com/

I’ve forgotten now just exactly how it all went; but making the rail stock, then cutting tenons was among the first order of business once we had the riven pieces in the shool/bench room. Here’s an example of just how dead flat this wood was; these tenons in the first photo have not yet been pared – they were this flat and even from splitting the cheeks. When the oak works like that, the joinery is a snap.

great rough tenons

Here’s Jerome sawing shoulders, prior to splitting the cheeks. the students learned about working with stock having an irregular cross-section. Sometimes it does not lie flat on the wooden bench hook for sawing. This can make things confusing when you are trying to saw to the line – sometimes you’re not sawing parallel to the bench top, because of the tapered cross-section that stems from riving.


Then splitting with a chisel. Here’s Tony giving it a smack.

tenon splitting

Bill caught looking at the camera – he’s supposed to know better.

caught bill looking

A few rails with scratch stock moldings cut on their lower corners.

scratch moldings

Then came making the stiles, and mortising. Well, layout before that. The old “two-consecutive thoughts” situation…

The guys really bore down & chopped & chopped. 16 mortises is a lot if you’re not used to working this way. Here’s John & Kelly having at it.

more mortising


Then while packing to go to Lie-Nielsen, Roy took some time out to show us the passer drill that he & Peter Ross collaborated on. It’;s based on a British version, used to cut out the cavities for inlaid brass or other metals in the stocks of squares and similar tools.

passer drill detail

passer drill


ready for brass inlay

old & new

Here’s a link to the whole story pretty much. I think he did it on the show one time, or in Popular Woodworking. I found this one on the web…

Just back from teaching the joint stool class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. This class went better than any joined stool class I have done. My thanks to all the students who came from near & far (Dave from New Zealand took the mileage prize -if there was one. Other than he had to eat all the local food they put in front of him. “What, no possum?”) Very nice people, and all worked very hard in tough weather…

When I travel I don’t usually check email, blogs, etc. It’s nice to be disconnected, but also I have lots to focus on when teaching. We had 9 students making joined stools at Roy’s last week. That’s lots of chances for stuff to go wrong. So night-times I was trying to figure out the next move. And recover from the heat & humidity. So now I’ll run down some of what we did. Here’s a look at the first day’s work. First off, we had a great batch of oak logs. Three sections that were 24″ long, and almost that wide. AND they split flat in the radial plane. That meant no twist, thus easy planing. But these guys didn’t know that yet. 

first splits

splitting open the oak sections

It looks like this one got opened into thirds, then broken down into the eighths I had marked out. I only saw this now while sorting photos. And I took the picture! The humidity was so high that my camera lens fogged up at one point. 






split how

the peace oak

Here’s Jamie using a very large froe to bust out some stiles from the 1/8ths. We wanted 40 stiles and got ‘em. 


Then it was into town for lunch, then some bench work begun – starting to plane the rail stock. Very green oak, with an extremely high tannic acid content. We learned about cleaning tools quickly. 






Packing to go to Roy’s this week. Joint stool class, followed by TV shooting…so I have been very busy, but not much to write or show…


here is a neat little thing a friend brought in the other day for me to look at. I had nothing concrete to say about it, other than it’s really nice. Said to have been brought from England or Wales, guessing by the family story late 19th/early 20th century. Looks like it’s seen a lot of use, for some reason or other. Hung on the wall…

front viuew


painted panel

mini cupboard


Here is my small joined chest. It was really hard to not carve this. It’s semi-assembled, but I knocked it apart today to pack in the car. We’ll build it on Roy’s show. If all goes well…

mini chest

joined chest, H: 20″ W: 30″ D: 15″


chest floor

inside, showing till & floor

Meanwhile, at the house – “PLAY BALL!”



Just read Phil House’s book Perfect Once Removed. A reminiscence about 10-yr old Phil, finding out his cousin was Don Larsen, who later that year (1956) pitched a perfect game in the World Series.



Well, now it’s April, which means it’s practically May. Might as well be June, which makes me wonder what you’re doing this summer.

What you could do is come to Pittsboro, North Carolina to make a joint stool at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/

Out at the mill, we’ll split out an oak, and get to use a lot of wedges, hatchets and other big tools.

splitting oak w wedges

splitting oak w wedges

hewing at the mill

hewing at the mill

Maybe the owls will come out to watch.

Roy's barred owl

Roy’s barred owl

Next, we’ll take the pieces into the school’s bench-room in town and get to planing.

If we make enough shavings, the Bag Man appears.

lots of planing to do

lots of planing to do

the Bag Man

the Bag Man

Mortise & tenon joinery, drawboring, chamfering (turning for those full-tilt crazies) – it’ll be like the book come to life. I don’t remember what’s in the book, so I’ll be making it up as I go along.

chamfered frame

chamfered frame

pole lathe practice

pole lathe practice

There’ll be tools galore, I’ll bring mine, Roy’s school has tons, then there’s Ed’s store upstairs!

overall ed's

some of ed's planes

If you wanted to know about green woodworking, then a week with me & Roy ought to do it. It reminds me of Twain’s quote about Kipling: “Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.”


Seriously, it’s a great week there. if you are interested in learning the craft of oak joinery with old-style tools, here’s your chance. My box-carving class at Drew Langsner’s is full, with a waiting list – so this is the only other week-long class I have this summer. Unless you’re in Germany in June! http://www.mehr-als-werkzeug.de/course/KU1631301/Carved-Box.htm

So get going. Get over to Roy’s website: http://www.woodwrightschool.com/elizabethian-joint-stool-w-pet/

get goin'

get goin’

half a pair

half a pair

I have two joint stools to finish to go along with a table and joined form I am making. For the seven-foot long table top I opted for quartersawn white oak. So I made the tops of the stools and form from the same material. Yesterday I planed the board for the stool tops. I kept it at double-length to make handling it easier while I planed it flat and dressed the thickness. I decided to keep it that way while I ran the molding too.

 I trimmed it to width, then dressed both faces and trued up the edges. I then crosscut both ends and marked out the middle where I eventually would crosscut it in two.

 I marked out the 7/8” wide thumbnail molding spacing with a marking gauge along both long edges. Then I followed the steps I outlined in the joint stool book for making the molding; a rabbet plane (in this case, a filester) to begin to define the depth, then bevelling off the shape with smooth plane/jointer. I fiddled a little with a hollow plane like what Matt Bickford does; I had the rabbet, then I chamfered that, then ran the hollow a bit. It was just a bit shy of the right size, and was not perfectly fettled. So it served to further rough out the shape, but I still did the final definition with the smooth plane.

filester plane

filester filetster plane

hollow plane

hollow plane


shaping molding

shaping molding

I ran this molding along both edges, then did the two outside ends. Here, I marked the width with a knife and square, rather than a gauge. Then cut it apart and finished each seat with one more molding. Usually I do the end-grain moldings first, but in this case it was worth reversing that order.

quartersawn stock

quartersawn stock

The wood is amazing quality; clear, wide and perfectly quartersawn. Air dried. The next best thing to riven. I then finished shaping the seats, and bored one & fit it on the stool. Just like in the book…. http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

boring & pegging

boring & pegging

 Now, fresh on the success of “Riven Cedrela” I have the phrase “half-a-pair of joint stools” ringing in my head like “four-and-twenty blackbirds…” so stay tuned. It could be my first nursery rhyme. 

Workshops and classes take a lot of planning; and it seems now that schedules are planned further ahead than ever before. I have been asked about summer of 2014 already…

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If I am to get out west, (real west, not Connecticut) then it’s time to get cracking. I have two classes planned at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.  http://www.ptwoodschool.com/Home.html  I’m really looking forward to getting out there, and meeting Tim Lawson, Jim Tolpin and others…But…I need students to make it happen. So, if you are out left, and want to learn some funny, old-timey joinery and carving – it’s time to get to it. If I am to see some western birds, then let’s get serious. 

joined stool, chamfered not turned

joined stool, chamfered not turned

Port Townsend WA

Port Townsend WA




The dates are April 22-26 for the joined stool class, and the following weekend for 2 days of carving, April 27-28.


Will I see you there? 

To read more about the school, here’s what Schwarz said some time ago, http://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/woodworking-at-the-end-of-the-world

The joint stool book has been out a while now, so once you’ve digested  your copy  http://www.lostartpress.com/Default.asp go get at some oak & let us see what you came up with. Hopefully summer will let go soon, so the heavy work of busting open a log won’t seem so daunting. I know I have cut back on what I have tackled during the heat & humidity…

Here is a stool sent in a while ago by Larry Barrett:

Larry Barrett joined stool


side view

Here’s what Larry had to say:

“Hello Peter and Jennie
Attached are a few photos of joint stools, carved boxes and chairs – all made thanks to things I have learned from you both, either via your new book, Peter’s blog, or classes with Jennie.  I have a good sized black (or maybe red) oak and a chestnut oak on the ground so there may be more to come.  Thanks again,
Larry Barrett”

We’re thrilled to see this sort of work = so keep them coming. If you are working your way through the joint stool book, send me some stuff. we’d love to see it.


If you don’t want to carve your stool like Larry did, and you need to liven it up, get out the brushes. I had an ash stool frame hanging around the shop for quite a while, and last week I put a sawn white oak seat on it, and then set about painting it. Here’s the initial result



The first step was the black squiggles and dots, then a thin coat of iron oxide mixed in linseed oil went over that once the black was dry to the touch.

Here’s one example of the inspiration for this, a painting by Judith Leyster, early 17th-c in Netherlands:

Judith Leyster painting


Another is this painting by Nicholas Maes:

Old woman saying grace



Today is February 25th, the Lost Art Press website says that free shipping on orders of the joint stool book end on February 27th.

So if you haven’t ordered the book yet, and want to save a few dollars …order in the next couple of days.


then go get a log…

scoring the end grain

I was looking through some old correspondence between Alexander and me; from 1991. In it, we mention that such-and-such would be good for “the book.” Slowly we were assembling what we thought we knew about joinery techniques, all with the plan to publish it as “Make a Stool from a Tree” – drawing on the title of Alexander’s 1978 chair book.

Things happened. 1994 I got a job, both a blessing & a curse. then later I got married. A blessing. Then later still, twins. double blessing.

And the book got shelved a number of times. It was always on-going, but might sit for a year or two sometimes.

And I am glad it did. things happen for a reason, and last spring, I was in Saratoga Springs, NY where Chris Schwarz & I were roped into judging of a bunch of woodworking entries in the big show there…it went on for hours, & they didn’t feed us.

Turned out to be  a good thing. Off we went to some great pizza joint, where Chris was to meet Matt Bickford to pitch Lost Art Press to him for a book…while we waited, Chris pitched to me too.  So all those years, turns out we were waiting for the right publisher to come along.

The book is ready for ordering now, follow this link to Lost Art Press. Free shipping on orders between now & Feb. 27 http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm

I’ll have more to say about it, & so will Chris on the LAP blog.


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