two wainscot chairs

A while back i showed some snapshots of these wainscot chairs. Before I left town for trip # 2 to North Carolina and then came back & made a trip to Maine, (over 4,000 miles in 3 trips)  I got a chance to shoot them without the shop in the background. The first one is a copy of a Thomas Dennis chair, generally. I changed a few things here & there; but the proportions, carving style, construction, etc all stem from the originals at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and the Bowdoin College Art Museum in Brunswick, ME. Here goes:

TD chair three quarters

TD chair overall

TD chair detail crest


The next one I made for the museum last month. Its proportions and dimensions are based on one I copied some time ago, made in Hngham, MA in the mid-17th century. The original had simple V-tool carvings and checkered inlay. I opted to just make up some carvings based on the Thomas Dennis material…so the resulting chair is a mish-mash of period work. All oak as usual for these chairs. 

PF design three quarters


PF design overall rear

PF design detail


15 thoughts on “two wainscot chairs

  1. Peter,

    Beautiful chairs. The leaves beneath the scrolls on the first chair are terrific and the back on the 2nd chair is truly a masterpiece. I attended your class in Maine at Lie-Nielsen and after reviewing your S – Scroll video 10 times carved a white oak bench on ends and back with what I learned from you. I still suck at carving but your patterns enhance anything. Traded this bench for an oak and a hickory tree-made up of old barn dried white oak planks.

    Your joint stools are my next project after I use my German Ochsenkopf (Oxhead) broad ax which is the closest hatchet under the $300 GB I could find to your hewing hatchet and it has a keen, curved single sided bevel although the shape is dissimilar to yours.

    Thanks for the lessons AL Japely (Crestwood Kentucky)

  2. Peter,

    Your work continues to inspire. They are both absolutely brilliant. The only thing I miss is a bird or two in the background. :)


  3. Fantastic work! I love the Thomas Dennis style carvings. I hope to take one of your classes some time and learn to do some of this work myself. For now I’ll just have to stick to folk art carving.

  4. Peter,
    Incredible work…I love that chair! Kudos to you. Time for me to start another carved box, based on your class at Country Workshops!!
    -Chris D (in Colorado)

  5. Phenomenal and I hope you’re used to hearing it. I actually helped you pack a chair like these into your vehicle at LN this past May. I noticed then and here too that a lot of these chairs have sort of an inlet cut deep into the arms. It seems kind of odd to me, and a bit of extra work too. What are your thoughts on why?

  6. Seriously nice. Thanks for posting. It’s hard for me to imagine the skill required for that carving. I know you say it’s easy – but it doesn’t look like it. :)

  7. You were right about flat surfaces no longer being safe. I carved the front panel on a Dutch tool chest and carved a couple of pinwheels on the top of a new rub block for the combine ( it’s oak ) since I got back from North Carolina. Look for a couple of reamers care of Plimoth Plantation in the next couple of weeks.

  8. As one who is allowed the daily privilege of using your work at the museum, my question is “who gets to sit on this chair?” I guess it’s the curse of the first-person interpreter…

    • Sally – Gov Bradford had a “carved wooden chair” in his probate inventory; I think Palmer had a joined chair also. “Men” is the immediate answer, “of some means” is the 2nd part. Not wealthy people, these are still middle-class items – but men with some substance, some pomposity. – A chair like these is designed to make a statement about status, station that sort of thing. Interestingly, over in old England, these are more common in probate listings than turned chairs are – and yet based on surviving artifacts from the 17th c; over here it’s the reverse. A small point that means little. Lots & lots of wainscots still standing in O.E.

  9. Hi there, very nice job. It’s allways a pleasure to see real craftsman. I don’t know the work of Thomas Dennis – where did he got patterns of his carvings? They seem pretty much Slavic to me (I actually know most of the symbolics from my folk culture). Thanks.

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