He used to do that, now he does this



You’ll remember I used to constantly badger people about a blog called  “The Riven Word”. Well, it is no more. My friend Rick McKee is no longer at the museum, as they say. But the good news is he has landed with some old cohorts of ours and is up to some pretty interesting hijinks. And has started a new blog about it. Right now, it’s off to a slow start, but I know he’ll bring some interesting stuff to the web…so sign up and drop Rick a note. Maybe we can guilt-trip him into writing frequently. Of course, I should speak, with my one-post-a-week of late. 

here’s Rick’s new site: http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/



students’ carvings

Recently, I got photos from two students showing the boxes they’ve made. First, Dennis Liu sent this shot of a box he started in a class we had at Country Workshops. He ended up taking his box apart at home, so he could add a till. His note said “it was a bit fussy to fit…” – Which is why I don’t do tills in the workshops! While he had it in for surgery, he decided on oak for the lid & bottom. Great look. Extra work, but well worth it. 

carved box, Dennis Liu
carved box, Dennis Liu

Then came Seth Kelley. He took a 2-day carving class at Lie-Nielsen in which we split apart an oak bolt, planed our stock & carved some patterns. Afterwards, Seth wrote to ask me about a desk box in an article I wrote in 1996 about furniture from Braintree, Massachusetts. So I sent some notes and a couple of shots of the desk box. Nice thing about these is junk doesn’t pile up on the slanted lids as easily as on a flat-top box.

seth's box open

seths' box daylight

seth box side veiw

Buried somewhere on the blog is the article about making these boxes – https://pfollansbee.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/pf_box_articl.pdf 

Thanks for sending the photos  guys. Seth wins the real estate prize by sending more photos than Dennis. But both are nice work. Next carving class is coming up at Lie-Nielsen in Warren Maine, May 11-12. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/?pg=35


Hope to see some of you there. 





Thomas Dennis chest at auction

By now, you know I am a big fan of this style of carved oak furniture. This chest is being offered at an auction in North Carolina, http://www.brunkauctions.com/lot-detail/?id=94982

It’s in pretty beat-up shape, lost its feet, top is trimmed and patched here & there, etc. But so what? The carving is all there. What fun. This is listed as attributed to the Mason/Messenger shops in Boston, but that’s a mistake. It’s Thomas Dennis from Ipswich, Massachusetts; 1660s-1700. It has never been published before in any of the numerous treatments on Dennis’ work…this one literally came out of the woodwork.


carved chest
carved chest

dennis fragment


I noticed they have added a few more pictures from when I first saw it two weeks ago. These two show each end of the chest. Clearly one set is oak, with the ray-fleck pattern from the riven quartered stock. The first pair here seem very plain for riven, quartered oak. Now it’s really difficult to judge a piece by the photos; and these are snapshots rather than the good quality shots above..but if I had a chance to see this chest, I’d look at these end panels to try to understand why they are different from one set to the other. It almost looks like the figured set are sycamore/plane tree.

side panels side panels b

Someone will get a nice chunk of New England joinery history at a discount price. The condition will keep it from getting into the stratosphere. Me, I’ll have to carve my own – after the wainscot chair I have underway now.


some new spoons for sale

spoons in rack


First off, I want to thank all those that ordered spoons last summer and fall. It is a great pleasure to have something I make reach so many folks. I appreciate your interest. I didn’t have much time for spoon work in the past few months, but did manage to collect some branches. Many branches. Too many went into chippers, I’m afraid, but I could only handle so much wood…so I have been carving spoons again for a while. I got some cherry and apple, two favorites of mine for spoon carving. It’s especially nice to have the apple, I don’t often get it. Now that I have a few finished, I posted them here – I kept a couple new ones for the kitchen, but there’s some serving/cooking spoons, and a couple for eating. 

As before, the finish is food-grade flax oil. I soak the spoons in it for a week or so, then wipe them down and let them dry. With use, they become a bit faded, you can brighten them up with another coating of flax oil, or some other edible finish. Or just watch them change and get broken in…

If you’d like to order any of these, use the comment function. That way others can see what’s available and what’s spoken for. I can send paypal invoices or you can mail a check. Shipping in the US is $6. 

any questions, drop me a note. email is Peter.Follansbee@verizon.net

here’s the link, the page is listed at the top of the blog home page too. 



Make a Joint Stool at Roy Underhill’s July 15-19

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’

Carving at Lie-Nielsen May 11 & 12

Lie-Nielsen Weekend Workshops
Lie-Nielsen Weekend Workshops
worm eating warbler
worm eating warbler


Isn’t it a coincidence that my next workshop at Lie-Nielsen just happens to fall in early May, when the warbler migration will be hitting down-east? http://www.lie-nielsen.com/documents/Workshop13_Follansbee.pdf

If you’d like to come to Maine to rive, hew, plane & carve some oak for 2 days, I promise we’ll have great fun. I was just a student there myself last weekend at Matt Bickford’s class on using hollows & rounds. It was great.

PF molding


First-rate facility, nice group of people and as you know from reading this blog, I’m a fan of Matt’s work…so it was a winner all around. He’ll be back there teaching later in the summer, I think. https://www.facebook.com/lie.nielsen.toolworks/photos_stream

My class last year made the largest pile of shavings I have seen in some time, and even got a bunch of carving done too. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150825497703016.396964.100708343015&type=3 


So – May 11 & 12. Will I see some of you there? Here’s some stuff I have carved this past week…

lunette detail

s scrolls

chair panel etc

chair carvings


Wille Sundqvist film project



I drove home from Maine last night, (507 miles round trip) and was thinking about many things. One was my upcoming trip this summer to Drew & Louise Langsner’s, and what that connection means to me. Then this morning I got the Country Workshops newsletter with the official announcement about this project; …a film about Jogge’s father Wille. So before I go to work, I wanted to let you know about it.  Drew Langsner and Jogge Sunqvist told me the gist of it last fall. You can read it from this link. willeproject

When I know more about the fundraising, etc I will post again. This is a film I really am looking forward to.

right from wrong

Snipe w its bill
Snipe w its bill

Got a new snipe photo today, so I will refer you to an earlier post about hinges…this snipe photo is better. Somewhere I have a great one- but no time to look for it now. We saw about 6 of these guys rooting through the grasses in Marshfield this morning. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/setting-gimmals-you-might-know-them-as-snipe-bills/

I’m all grown up now & I know right from wrong. And the spindle in the bottom of this photo is wrong. These are for a bedstead I have to make in ash. About 12″ long, there’s a row of them at both the head and foot of the bed. 

right & wrong
right & wrong

I blame Curtis Buchanan. I watched him turning his chair parts last week, and all those curves got in my head. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/how-to-make-a-comb-back-windsor-chair-w-curtis-buchanan/

The bottom one is more curvy than the piece I am supposed to be copying. With such short lengths, I can turn plenty of extras and pick & choose which I want.

defining some shapes w skew chisel
lg gouge
using large gouge to bring it down

Here’s an original:

MFA bedstead spindle B

I need five large & five small, so I’ll turn a bunch and get there in the end. 

Meanwhile I carved some parts for a wainscot chair I’m building. My great big carved one finally sold & I miss having it around. I had some great wide quartersawn white oak to do the panel, 14″ x 16″ or so. I have carved these designs so much now that I make my own patterns by combining bits of this & that. Thus this panel is not a copy of any particular piece, but is firmly rooted in that Ipswich, Massachusetts/Devon England style.  (so yes, David Cawthray, air-dried timber is fine & dandy. Quartersawn is best, but if you must use flatsawn, don’t let that stop you https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/about-flatsawn-stock-again/

carved chair panel


carving raking light

recent work

wood ducks
wood ducks

I haven’t been just goofing around. I have started several things in the shop. One of which is resuming my dovetailing practice. It’s not a joint I have used much over the years; but I have done several in the past two years. The 2nd toolbox is well underway; I started the sliding trays the other day. This time in pedestrian tulip poplar. Oak clapboards for the bottoms.

tool tray DTs

tool tray

Last time I put scrap carvings in as the bearers for these trays, I liked that result so much I did it again. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/it-was-the-rust-that-got-me/

carved bearer for sliding tray
carved bearer for sliding tray

Cutting dovetails is much different than my usual mortise-and-tenon work. Much less physical. Here’s the deep drawer for the chest of drawers I’m working on. I pin the drawer front to the bench with a holdfast in the bench’s leg.

scribing DTs w knife
scribing DTs w knife

Last year I bought a knife & awl from Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce Toolworks   http://www.bluesprucetoolworks.com/ . When I ordered the tools, Dave asked me what wood I wanted for handles. I said it didn’t matter…but was pleasantly surprised when I opened them and saw oak!

Blue Spruce knife
Blue Spruce knife

But dovetailing ain’t like mortising. The chopping is about the only time I sit in the shop. Feels funny. Back to mortising next week…

chopping while seated
chopping while seated

Here’s the mocked-up drawer corner. Good enough for me. I think of the translation of Felebien, https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/felebien/

speaking of joints “blind in one eye.” It’s a big drawer, about 10 1/2″ deep, by 36″ wide. I’ve made smaller chests! Pine front, oak sides. The front gets moldings & turnings. First, it’s off to Matt’s class this weekend…to learn moldings from someone who actually knows what they’re doing. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/documents/Workshop13_Bickford(April).pdf

blind in one eye

mocked up drawer jouint


Here’s the help, laying out carving designs on the next batch of spoons. They were like a hurricane; blew in, a bit of a concentrated frenzy, then gone to the next thing. Spoons soon.

they see patterns very well
daniel's spoon chip carving pattern
layout begun, even before the spoon is done