more new carvings to come

chest w drawer, Plymouth Antiquarian Society
chest w drawer, Plymouth Antiquarian Society

Last week I went to the Plymouth Antiquarian Society in Plymouth, Massachusetts to see this chest. It dates from the 1680s, made in Marshfield. Today this is called a  six-board chest, in the period just a “board chest” or “board chest with drawer.”  Oak front and pine otherwise. It’s the carving I wanted to see. Carved furniture from 17th-century Plymouth Colony is rare, usually it’s decorated with appied moldings and turnings.

I wanted to learn these two carving patterns for my upcoming demo at Winterthur. I intend to carve the upper design as a box front. In fact, there is a box with just that pattern at the Brooklyn Museum.

detail, Plymouth Antiquarian Society chest
detail, Plymouth Antiquarian Society chest

I did a quick run-through just so I wasn’t flying totally blind when the demo starts. For the carving itself, I used only 3 carving tools; a V-tool, a deep gouge, and a very shallow gouge. To accent the molding I used a smaller gouge.

PF carving
PF carving

There’s another version of the carving on the drawer front of this chest, more on that one next time.

to learn more about the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, see their website:


6 thoughts on “more new carvings to come

  1. Peter,

    I’ve seen this style chest before, with I think the same motif pattern… was this style of carving only found in plimoth county? Also, were the fronts of the chests nailed to the sides, like the smaller boxes you make?

  2. How about a picture of the tools used? Would be a helpful addition for those of us putting a tool kit together.

  3. .

    The floral motif appears to be based on Tulips – Dutch influence, perhaps.

    Rather than a Sun motif, could the semi circle be based on the cardinal points of the compass? Familiar to all in a maritime environment and based on simple geometry with a compass.

    Just a thought.

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