woodworking at home, sans workshop

My woodworking shop is at the museum where I work…I have none at home. Our house is a little 19th-century four-room affair, full to the brim w oak furniture & kiddie stuff. No room for a shop, and a watershed in the back yard, so an act of Congress to get a shop built here…

So when I want to do woodsy-craft at home, it has to be simple, portable & few tools. Spoon carving suits that just fine, and takes up much of my non-work work. More on those again later.

But way back before I got on the joinery kick, I was a green woodworking utility player; ladderback chairs, windsor chairs, spoons, rakes, firewood carriers – and more. But the thing I made the most for a few years was baskets.

25 years ago

I made them usually from white ash, it’s what was/is the most common wood in southeastern New England that would work. Occasionally I’d get a white oak sapling and make splits from that. These two I kept all this time, a few others besides. 

l – ash basket, r – oak basket, late 1980s

At my shop, I often make turned chairs from ash. And whenever I have a log of it around, I try to squirrel away a few bolts’ worth of ash splints for basketry. (these days, whenever I have an idea for the blog, I find I have already done it – two years ago, same month – here it is: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/extra-curricula-work-baskets-spoons/ )

Fast-forward to some hot weather, and fill the kiddie-pool. While the kids wait for the water to get warm enough to get in, I have been soaking some splints & weaving some baskets.

fill the pool

These days my basket work is a lot simpler than it was back 20-25 years ago.  Back then I made them in the workshop, and had a shaving horse and all manner of tools at hand. I shaved and bent solid rims inside & out on the basket, sometimes even filling the space between them with a third-section for the rim. 

3-piece rim

Now I try to make them with just a knife and scissors. If I aim to make them too finicky, I’ll never finish any of them at this point.

basket making 2012

Here’s a few more shots Rose & Daniel took today.

the locust in the background has a story
Daniel’s candid shot

Some other stuff going on today:

mallard & chics

And the white-breasted nuthatch with its takeaway meal (click this one so you can see it) :

sunflower seed takeaway

Here’s how the locust tree gets in the story – the worst case of poison ivy I’ve had in 30 years, maybe the only case…finally had to go to the doc for steroids. 

mortising video from Lie-Nielsen

I just found out this was posted at Lie-Nielsen’s YouTube channel…we shot it in May while I was up in Maine. I first heard of this teaching technique when Roy Underhill collaborated with Frank Klauz at an early Woodworking in America. I wasn’t there, but maybe had seen some video of it. Roy then showed me how to do it the first time I taught at his school. I  did it as a slide-show on this blog I don’t-know-when, so now you get to see it as Conor & crew shot it.

Here it is:

Rabbet planes posted for sale


We went to the beach this AM, I was even able to get in the water at Plymouth Beach, which rarely happens. Here’s the current run-down on the rabbet planes:

Michael Rogen # 1

Jerry Palmer # 2

Bill Rypka # 3

Mike White # 4

Steve Racz  # 5 & # 7

Kevin Cwalina # 6

Megan Shogren # 8

Rusty Burwell # 9

John Dilsaver # 10

So I think that just leaves the grooving plane. NOPE, SOLD.

Eventually there will be more tools. Meanwhile, I’ll try to get back to woodworking, rather than record-keeping & postage. I’ll be in touch with the folks whose names appear above…

Thanks again for helping clean the place up…and Daniel’s hawk is, of course, not for sale. 

Here are the rabbet planes that we have for sale. These will be the last tools for a while, until I get some more up from JA’s place…

I spent a lot of time last night searching the web for prices on rabbet planes. Got way too distracted & almost bought some AJ Wilkinson planes. I ditched out of searching just in time & made up the prices. So most of these are either $30 or $25 plus shipping.

If it’s tools you are looking for, they’re out there. I have recently bought tools from Josh Clark http://www.hyperkitten.com/tools/ForSale/  and Patrick Leach http://www.supertool.com/. Also Ed Lebetkin down at the Woodwright’s School, Ed has no website that I am aware of, but if you are down at Roy’s school, then you know the drill. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/. Another source is Martin Donnelly’s auctions http://www.mjdtools.com/auction/auct_main.htm. And on & on.

Here’s the link to Alexander’s rabbet planes. Also on the header from the front page of the blog.


red tail hawk

back to oak

Boy, you sell a few dusty old tools & watch the readership soar! Oh well…it’s back to shop-work. Today I planed red oak for a good while…

planing stiles in red oak

This is my favorite exercise – hewing &  planing. When I have good oak stock, I can do this for days on end. Here I am working on stiles for a grossly over-sized joint stool – it’s like the joint stool book on steroids. 

planing detail

These are 3 3/4” square, and about 37” long. I weighed one for fun, 17 pounds…no wonder I got tired. They are for a joined table, like the one I saw 
at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT.  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/revisiting-a-well-known-collection/

The oak is from that great log I wrote about last week, https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/splitting-a-nine-foot-log/

Here are the four stiles, and a joined stool for a sense of scale.

Tomorrow I have to clean the shop – all that red oak, it’s rather fragrant.

last words (hopefully) on tool sales & a joined chest


Sorry to drag out this discussion about selling JA’s tools, but here is one (last) sermon on the subject. First of all, thanks to all regarding the comments, I read every one of them, Alexander did too. we are grateful for your interest in our joinery undertakings. We never could have envisioned twenty+ years ago that it would turn into this.

I never felt that anyone was whining. I read it as a few folks felt they missed a chance, & were offering alternative ideas on how to proceed. I greatly appreciated everyone’s ideas & comments. The general consensus is that the way it has worked is fine. Some feel otherwise, but to my ears, no one came on strong complaining. Mostly I got that people are hip to the idea that we are trying to get these tools out from boxes collecting dust & back into use in woodshops.

I just want to remind everyone to be nice in your comments. I have only deleted one or two comments over 4 years of this blog – but I won’t have folks sniping at each other. There’s plenty of that on the web – we don’t need it here. Green wood, hand tools, furniture history, a few birds & some kid drawings – that’s most of what this blog is about. let’s keep it that way.

Friday June 22 I will post about 8 rabbet planes. All useful, working planes. I’ll probably get the post out in the mid-morning, east-coast-of-America time.

Meanwhile, here is the latest joined chest I just finished last month. Not a copy of an existing chest, but I took my usual liberties with the Devon, England/Ipswich, Massachusetts stuff. Oak & pine.





a note about today’s tool-selling on this blog

a quick note about me selling tools for Jennie Alexander. 
Thanks to all who responded & even those who visited the site. I am sorry it’s such a whirlwind – the 6 planes got snatched up in something like 20 minutes. I know that means lots of folks who wanted them didn’t even get a chance. So let’s figure it out. I chose the first-come, first-served because it’s so simple from here. But, all around, there ain’t no graceful way, as Rusty Schweikart once said about zero-gravity defecation.

here’s two comments from tonight:

“That went too fast. Do you have a couple hundred more you can sell?

That’s the only way I am going to get a crack at a Peter Follansbee plane…lol”

There are more planes, and other tools. Not sure what, or how many. Someone asked about hatchets. Don’t hold your breath. And these are Jennie Alexander planes/tools, not PF examples…


“Yeah, I agree with Eric. First come first served is a win for those who can sit in front of the computer and refresh all day. When I did a ‘free stuff’ post on my website, I took note of all interested parties, assigned them a number, and used a random number generator to ‘pick a winner’. I know it’s more work for you, but it would give some other folks a fair shot at owning some fabulous tools. Just food for thought.”

I watch a couple of tool-dealing sites, Patrick Leach’s monthly list, and Josh Clark’s Hyperkitten list. Both sell to the first-responder. I have missed things there, it’s easy to do. As one comment said, for those of us who don’t sit in front of the computer all day – we have no shot. That’s me for sure.

My goals are basic. JA has a lot of tools. I have a lot of readers. I figure selling these now gets the $$ into JA’s pocket ( I get a small share, which mostly covers my time here & w boxing, etc…) and saves me the hassle of dealing with it when Jennie is but a memory. If I wait, then it’s U-Haul time, with a storage unit too. and I’ll end up selling most of them. I intentionally priced them at reasonable rates, I thought. I watch some tools on the web. Mostly I thought about what I would pay for a tool like this or that…

What about an auction? Would you folks be up for that? JA suggested it & I declined, thinking it’s more work for me. But maybe it will work. In the end, if selling the tools becomes too cumbersome, I have to bow out. It will only work for me if it’s easy, I have little time to dedicate to this endeavor.

Let us know if an auction is something worth looking at. Not Ebay…just here on the blog. We could set up time limits & see what happens. In the end, I want to be able to get these tools out to folks who can appreciate them, without alienating too many readers. It would be fine if I were a tool dealer, then I could justify spending the time to really get it right…but I’m more of a bird-watcher who tinkers in joinery, and is trying to run a dedicated yard sale here on the blog.  
comments, please.

tools for sale

I posted a separate page for selling some tools… here’s the link or you can get there from the list of pages at the top of the  blog’s front page: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/tools-for-sale/


These are working tools from Jennie Alexander’s collection. JA has many tools, I have many tools. So rather than deal with this once JA is on the boneyard, we’re shifting them now.

It will be simple. See something you want, email me or leave a comment. If you are the first one for that tool, it’s yours. Shipping’s on you, we’ll figure out the details. Paypal or check. if you want paypal, I’ll send a link when we get to that point.

today’s set is a bunch of bench planes. Next time, rabbet planes.

if it works, there will be more to follow.

now, some birds.

cooper’s hawk Daniel
cardinals by Rose

what’s happening to me? walnut & dovetails – what’s next?


last year I finished this walnut chest. I was way out of my league making it, but it came out generally OK. I was left with a bunch of walnut leftovers…so many became parts of my tool chest. The main tool trays within the chest are quartersawn walnut that I resawed from the 1” thick stuff.

sliding trays, walnut

Then I continued by making smaller trays that within trays – and now I can’t stop. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/nothing-so-needs-reforming-as-other-peoples-habits/

I have gone on a tool-organizing frenzy. This past week I made a couple more, one for some carving tools, one for mortise chisels.

mortise chisels, carving tools

Today I got it in my head to make a small box with a drawer underneath. Ultimately this is going to  be divided up somehow to store a slew of piercer bits.

walnut tool tray w drawer

This batch of trays is homeless, the tool chest is already full. Maybe next winter I’ll make tool chest # 2.

Next week, I plan on finishing this walnut carved box. More DTs…I’ll get the hang of them yet. 

carved walnut box

Tomorrow, I plan on posting some of Jennie Alexander’s tools we have for sale. Starting with some bench planes. 

my next workshop, July 23-27 at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

It’s about five weeks-plus until my next workshop. This one is making a carved box, this time up in Maine at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockland.

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Dates are July 23-27, the website is here: http://www.woodschool.org/furniture-making/17th-century-carved-box

I got a bit of a tour when I was at Lie-Nielsen in May, and it looks like quite a spot. Lots of space, and plenty of windows. I split open a log during that visit, and it will become the stock for our boxes.


Here’s some photos of that visit http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.444969838865640.115456.181880515174575&type=1

Browsing through the school’s website, I am thrilled to be included in such a list of instructors. This will be my first time at CFC and I am really looking forward to it, & to being back in Maine again.

carved box 2011


The boxes will be oak, with pine lids and bottoms. Iron nails, wooden pins – all period techniques. I’ll have some of my boxes with me as examples, and a slew of carving tools, mallets, axes, planes, carved samples, study photos, etc. It should be great fun. If you are inclined, get over & sign up now. Birding was great in May, July will be slower, but should still see some stuff. See you in Maine, I hope.

wood pile

Do you burn wood at home? How do you stack it? My friends at Plimoth posted a piece about the picturesque woodpiles in the recreated 1627 village there…these things often confound visitors, and Rick et al have given us the lowdown on how they came to be.

Something this incidental is a tough piece to research. Nice stuff.

Have a look. http://blogs.plimoth.org/rivenword/?p=2749