Look at this

Look at this:

chip carving

Winston James, a reader of this blog, bought one of my spoons a week or two ago. With his check, he sent this example of his work, in basswood. I’m thrilled to have it, it’s on display in the kitchen now. Thanks Winston. Nice going. (the lighting is weird because I shot them quickly in the shop before I went to Maine…)


Now, who’s going to cut this stuff in oak? Any takers? If you KNOW how it was done in oak, I’d like to hear it. No speculation, just the facts…

17th-c chip carved oak desk



on & on about hatchets

Whew. I’m just back from a week of riving, hewing, planing & carving as seven students & I made oak boxes from a log at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, ME. Also one wicked croquet game, followed by an incredible juggling demo. It was a good week. 


The students quickly learned the benefits of hewing, mostly once they realized that it meant less planing.

Who knew new hew

Which brings us again to hatchets.

Pretty much the number one question I get is where can I get a hatchet like the one in the book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. http://www.lostartpress.com/Default.asp 

my everyday hewing hatchet

Well….I don’t know. So a couple weeks ago, Chris Schwarz was visiting my shop & we shot a short piece about how you can use several different configurations of hatchet to remove excess stock. Here’s Chris’ video



This prompted some discussion in the Lost Art Press blog…some offering that the Gransfors Bruks company makes a single-bevel hatchet, which they call the Swedish Carving Axe. BUT my memory of that hatchet is that it’s not really a single-bevel hatchet. It’s designed in part by Wille Sundqvist, a great inspiration to many of us; but Wille doesn’t make flat stuff like what I use in joinery. My suspicion was confirmed, it is a double-bevel hatchet with bevels of different lengths. Hhere is the description from GB (thanks to Joe Olivas for chasing this down & sending it to me)

“Gränsfors Large Swedish Carving Axe
The Gränsfors Large Swedish Carving Axe is used for woodworking and shaping wood. The axe has been developed in collaboration with master craftsmen Wille Sundqvist and Onni Linnanheimo, with inspiration from old designs. The Large Swedish Carving Axe has a relatively long, curved cutting edge which is double-sided as standard. The axe is also available as a special order with the edge ground specifically for right-handed or left-handed carving. The right-handed Swedish Carving Axe has a broader, straight rather than convex, bevel face on the left side of the edge, if the axe is held in the right hand, and a shorter, straight bevel face on the right side of the edge. The left-handed Swedish Carving Axe is the same but in reverse. The broader, straighter face, on the side nearer the wood, provides excellent support when carving. The handle has an uneven surface, giving good friction for a firm grip.”

I like their tools, but it’s not a single-bevel hatchet. Further, Drew Langsner points out on the Country Workshops page that the GB carving axe needs some work on the bevels for accurate hewing. http://countryworkshops.org/Axes.html This fits with the GB description above in which they talk of special orders with one long bevel and one short bevel, both of which are straight, not convex.

(Drew’s choice of words is “flat” not straight. It took me a minute to know what GB was talking about.)

The point of the video Chris & I shot was to offer that you don’t absolutely have to have a single-bevel hatchet to prep stock for joinery. It makes things easier, but you can do it with a double-bevel hatchet too.

I have several hatchets. The large, German ones I like best for joinery stuff, i.e. making flat boards.


The small double-bevel ones I mostly use in spoon carving, but they can serve to hew flat faces too.

it can be done

The large Wetterlings I got from Lie-Nielsen is also for hewing, but when I have a lot of stock to remove. (I don’t find it on their website, but it’s in their showroom…write to ask about it http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?cat=558 )

Wetterlings from Lie-Nielsen



If you have only one hatchet it might be best to get a medium-sized double-bevel hatchet like the Hans Karlsson one Country Workshops now carries. I use mine all the time…Then keep looking for a single-bevel one.


Some are interested in the small Stanley hatchets that Jennie Alexander modified by grinding the “back” face down to a single-bevel. Maybe we’ll hear from JA on how that was done…here’s the tool:

JA modified hatchet
JA modified hatchet


I know there’s a single-bevel hatchet made by Ox-head. I have never used it, but saw it one time & it seemed a bit off to me. It looked like it had a secondary bevel on the flat side, but not big enough to actually be a bevel, just large enough to keep it from working like a single-bevel hatchet. Does anyone use one of these? I’d like to hear from you if you do. Send me one to try & I’ll send it back to you…

a recent post about the hewing hatchets is here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/the-hatchet/

First of 2 Maine trips – Lie-Nielsen this time

Thanks to all who inquired about spoons, most are boxed and ready to go. If I don’t get them out of here today, I’ll go to the Post Office on Monday.

Right now, I’m packing at home, then later packing at the shop for the first of two Maine trips this month. This weekend is the summer version of the  Lie-Nielsen Open House. These things are a lot of fun. The line-up is always great. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?page=summer_open_house


Matt Bickford’s planes

This time, among all the other folks you’ll see there,  you can get in line to see Matt Bickford – I saw parts of his book and it makes you want to plane moldings all over the place.

Chris Schwarz is going to be there too, along with a cast of many. Come & see us. Friday & Saturday. Summer, Maine, woodworking, LN tools, – how can you go wrong?

Here’s their pictures from last summer http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150244856748016.321489.100708343015&type=3

Spoons for sale


basket of spoons

Well, I’ve gone & done it. Posted about a dozen spoons for sale. I stink at selling things. Always have. But after getting enough requests for spoons, I decided to give it a shot. I have made a bunch  of these spoons, and they are certainly more affordable than joined chests…so if you need some gifts, or a chance to replace some awful machine-made kitchen spoons – here’s your chance. Any questions, send me an email.

Thanks for looking. The spoons page is on the header of the blog’s front page, and here is a direct link:


I’ll get back to woodworking techniques and the usual stuff on the blog soon. While I hope to keep selling things here, I do not intend to turn it into a retail gig only…expect the usual furniture studies, shop work, birds & kids’ drawings…and whatever else comes up…



patience with box lids

One picture, one note. It’s about patience.

brand new, & 10 years old

When I make boxes and chests for use here at home or for sale, I usually use oak for the carcass and white pine for the bottoms and lids. People often ask why I mix the woods that way. One simple reason is that I find period examples from New England done that way. I  can make lids from single wide boards in pine, where oak lids would need to be glued-up from a few narrower boards. (2 boards for a box lid, 3 or 4 for a chest lid).

It also saves the oak for the next carved piece. Pine is lighter in weight, which puts less strain on hinges over time.

“But the color…” they ask. When the box is new, like the one in the top of this pair, the pine is nearly white. Even with a couple of coats of linseed oil. Sometimes it’s yellow instead of white. In either case, it’s different in color from the oak when new. But wait…the box on the bottom of this pairing is the same format, oak carcass and pine lid & bottom. It’s about 10 years old, and has just seen ordinary use here at home all that time.

So if you are patient, the colors of the woods sort of mute together in time.

Or you can pay extra, (or work more if you make the box) and have an oak lid.

carved box class, July 23-27

one done one started

July is a great time to come “down” to Maine – so why not get over to the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s website & sign up for making a carved oak box? You can’t find a better place to be, and we’ll have some fun with red oak… http://www.woodschool.org/furniture-making/17th-century-carved-box

This is the last box class I’m scheduled for this year.  Maine is one of my favorite spots, this will be my first time teaching at CFC. I visited there earlier this year, it looks like quite a place… here’s a set of photos from that visit:


busting open an oak at CFC

We’ll have some oak to learn riving with, but the boards for the boxes themselves have been split out and are drying a bit…so we’ll plane those, do a series of carving exercises, then dive in & carve the panels for the box.  Rabbets, wooden pins, hand-wrought nails, all that kind of stuff. I’m going to bring some Atlantic white cedar scraps, this class might be the one that we include a till inside the box. I often make the sides & bottoms of the tills with cedar. Oak till lids.

Here’s my latest box, oak with white pine lid, cedar bottom. This one features wooden hinges, this is what we’ll do during the class.

carved oak box, July 2012

Here’s the hinge:

wooden hinge

The more students I get means I get to do more teaching – so if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time. See you in Rockport, ME July 23-27.


walnut book stand for sale

walnut book stand


Slowly I am coming around to almost liking some walnut…how’s that for a qualifying statement? Much of the stock I had last year was excellent quality – straight grain and clear. Around the shop I have been making boxes and boxes from it, practicing dovetails.

But one task that I really like it for is turned work. So I sawed out some blanks and made another book stand recently. Here’s a post about these creatures https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/turned-book-stand/

Since that post I have seen another 17th-century example; essentially a joined & carved version. I am making some of that style for a magazine article soon…I’ll show it here on the blog after the article runs.

This walnut one is for sale. Price is $150 plus shipping. Email me if you are interested.  peter.follansbee@verizon.net

Overall height is roughly 18″ ; width is about 14 1/2″ – depth around 15″.

The last walnut one didn’t hang around long, though.

book stand


Here’s a view of the mechanism

book stand ratchet system

spoons soon

The other day, I wrote about woodworking at home without a shop… https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/woodworking-at-home-sans-workshop/

The most common woodworking I do in that vein is the carved spoons that I have featured here from time to time.

eating spoon


Back when I first started woodworking in the late 1970s one of the main books I used as reference and inspiration was Drew Langsner’s Country Woodcraft (Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA. 1978). In that book is a chapter featuring Wille Sundqvist, who taught spoon carving to Drew (and scads of others….) 

I carved a couple clunkers, and ultimately made my way down to Drew’s to learn chairmaking and many other green woodworking crafts. In 1988, I was the summer intern at Country Workshops, and that season featured a class taught by Wille’s son, Jogge Sundqvist.

I took the class from Jogge, and got to peer over his shoulder as he was filming the Taunton Press video companion to his father’s book Swedish Carving Techniques. The book is long out of print, but the video Carving Swedish Woodenware is available as a DVD now: http://countryworkshops.org/books.html

hollowing the spoon


I kept on carving spoons whenever I ran across some likely woods, and had the time. For the past 10-15 years, that’s been pretty steadily. Long-time readers of the blog will remember my excitement when I got to steal a week away from my family to go take a refresher course from Jogge – (here’s the post from Aug 2010 when I got back from that class https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/one-of-the-most-exciting-classes-ive-been-to/ )

basket of spoons

Well, now I’m finally over-run and have decided to throw my spoons in the retail ring. I am working now at photographing some for the blog, and will have them for sale in the next week or so…if you are one of the folks who’ve been asking, then this is your answer. Spoons soon.


chip carving & finials