misc notes

I want to stop & thank folks for their comments here. I’m relatively new to this sort of thing, and like many, often wonder if anyone is listening. Several people have commented regularly, & I appreciate it, Mike, Heather, etc.

One comment from James runs thus: 

“Love your blog, as a collector, i have always been fascinated by the construction details of early american furniture. Many thanks to you for taking the time to present this information as well as the fabulous joinery. I follow with great interest.”

James, I appreciate your interest. I have greatly benefited from working with collectors as well as curators in my efforts to study period work. Having access to the original material is essential to being able to understand the construction and decorative details. We’ll work out details for your joined stool soon.

Robin Fawcett, a turner in England, wrote about safety in the shop:

“I love your workshop Peter, and feel quite jealous. But you really shouldn’t stack those tools across the lathe bed . . .

As part of my “Risk Assessment” for Public Liability I have to mention that I never do this as there may be:-
a. Possible damage to operators feet ! & b. You might damage your carefully sharpened edges if they fall !

The oak looks very nice…How do YOU deal with the affects of oak (tannin) on your hands ?
I was recently talking with a guy who works with 200 year old oak from the HMS Victory and his hands were terrible !

PS The carved panel in the background of the lathe picture looks v. interesting”


Thanks Robin for the note. I’m very fortunate working in the museum, I have plenty of space…but by November it is always quite cluttered. It only gets a proper cleaning twice a year, December & March. So right now, it’s tough getting around. there’s about 10 or more nearly finished pieces of furniture in there.

I always have kept the turning tools on the lathe bed – that’s where they go. The ones that are in racks on the wall rarely get used…the others are always at hand. See Van Vliet’s engraving from 1635. I’m pretty careful about not knocking things about. I don’t remember any great trauma from dropping tools, some have fallen before, but nothing serious. I’ve never been knicked…

van Vliet's turner, 1635
van Vliet



  The tannin issue I have heard you mention in your use of Chestnut in England. The oak here, like all of them I think, has a high tannin content; and when totally green can wreack havoc on tools and people too. By the time I am turning the oak it’s been planed for a few weeks anyway, it’s never right out of the log to the lathe. So that initial surface drying helps matters. I have seen staining from tannic acid to be a problem mostly in real hot, humid weather, which we have our share of in June-August.

Thanks for the compliment on the carved chest front as well. It’s one I did this spring with my now-gone apprentice. I did the front of the chest, he did the rear framing, and assembly. It belongs to Plimoth Plantation. It’s based on work made in Ipswich, Massachusetts c. 1660-1700.

joined chest 2008
joined chest 2008


 The Ipswich joined work is derived from Devon, same period. The nicest examples of that work that I have seen are in a church in Totnes, Devon. Beautiful carving, some of the best I have seen of English joiners’ work. I just did another box front the other day with related carvings.

box front
box front
That’s it for now. thanks again all. Joined stool pictures soon.

5 thoughts on “misc notes

  1. “I’m relatively new to this sort of thing, and like many, often wonder if anyone is listening.”

    As the blog is new, it’s going to take some time to develop readers. I predict a big future for your blog as well as joinery orders which is why i am getting my stool now and avoiding the rush!

    WOW @ carving on box front, it’s gorgeous.

  2. Ooooh, I love that new box front carving. Beautiful balance and design. Your blog is such a guilty pleasure. Makes me want to put down the brushes and pick up the chisels. And, I’m here to tell your readers that “I’ve never been nicked…” is just a teeny exaggeration ! But you are indeed good at working in small places.

  3. Peter,
    I love your blog and I check it everyday for new posts.The pictures you post are great and they are an inspiration.

    I just recently finished my springpole lathe out of heavy oak timbers. I looked at your photos a lot as a guide. Just a few minor adjustments on the tools rest and I’ll be ready to start on a stool.

    By the way if you need your shop cleaned I’d be more than happy to pull my truck up and empty it out….I mean clean it.

  4. Hi Peter,

    Just popping by here for the first time. I have enjoyed your posts on the greenwoodworkers forum and nice to see even more here. I shall be back.

    A thought on the issue of tools dropping off the lathe or not. I think most UK pole lathes are built of considerably lighter stock than yours and vibrate and move a little during use so tools more likely to wobble off.

  5. Robin

    thanks for the note. Your blog was one that finally got me to do mine…
    You’re correct, my lathe is quite stout. But it’s based on an English engraving, so I wonder why there aren’t more heavy, framed lathes there? But as you have pointed out, there’s little investigation into recreating seventeenth-century stuff over there. Too bad, there’s so much material to study there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s