Look out your window & I’ll be gone…

One day a visitor to the museum asked me “How long have you had the greatest job in the world?”

overall view
overall view

Certainly that’s a pretty accurate assessment. For a woodworker, my day job has been a blast. For the past 20 years, I’ve gone to work, got set up in my shop, and made stuff. All that was required of me was to talk to people about what I am doing. Did you ever meet a woodworker who  doesn’t like to tell people about their projects?


But now it’s time for me to hang it up. I decided a while ago to leave Plimoth Plantation so I can concentrate on a range of wood-working that falls outside the guidelines of 17th-century English furniture. That work continues to fascinate me, but I’ve been drawn in several different directions in recent years, some re-visits of work I have done before (baskets, spoons, bowls) some new areas I hope to explore. A book to finish, for example. And other stuff. 


I still don’t know where i’ll set up my tools next. For now I have a bench here at the house, and one tool chest. My spoons & stuff I can do out in the yard, down by the river. Or in the kitchen, except for the hewing. I’m not rushing into a work-space; I hope to find the right spot before long though. The blog ought to get more active again. Right now my teaching schedule is pretty well booked for 2014, but I might add some stuff to it. I’m going to be continuing to post things for sale, (maybe move it to an etsy site) because I still need to create income… so if you need some woodsy handicrafts, or lectures/demos, etc. – here I am. 


My years at Plimoth have been astounding. I met people from all over; made great friends, even got a wife. Made connections that hopefully will stay with me for many years. I can’t begin to list all the highlights, among them were three great trips to England as part of my research, poked around in museums there & here in the US, and talked, talked, & talked some more. I learned more than you can imagine, from working day in & day out, from co-workers, and from visitors. The stooped-over Romanian carver who used 7 mallets of different weights, Mark & Jane Rees showed up un-announced one day when I was making tools, the Brazilian man who cried because my shop looked just like his father’s of 50 years ago, the time Pret used his axe to cut Paula’s hair on the chopping block, the Amish man who knew Daniel O’Hagan. I have a million stories. So my thanks to all my friends & visitors past & present at Plimoth. It was great. 


Whenever I travel to teach, (or as I did just recently, as a student) folks from all over who read this blog often mention seeing me at the museum, or wanting to come visit. Just in case you’re making travel plans along those lines, here’s notice – my last day is June 27th. After that, I’ll be like most other woodworkers, laboring away – head down, alone, & silent. If I get lonely, I’ll work in the front yard, and talk to passing cars… “It’s oak, I’ve split if from a log…”

sixteenths red oak
sixteenths red oak


46 thoughts on “Look out your window & I’ll be gone…

  1. Devastating news for the plant; exciting and wonderful news for you and your family. I’m glad I got to work alongside you for a little while, I’m one of the lucky ones.

    Will you be making yourself a leaving gift??

  2. Godspeed Peter

    I wouldn’t be where I am today without your inspiration ; it transformed my life.

    Always a student,


  3. Wow! Quite a step. I wish you all the best.



    Susan F. Peters | Mortgage Consultant Mount Vernon Mortgage Corporation 440 Washington Street Weymouth, MA 02188 781-337-2432 | Office 800-869-5882 | Office 781-337-2885 | Fax SPeters@MtVernonMortgage.com | Email Mount Vernon Mortgage Corporation is a Massachusetts Licensed Broker MB1492/NMLS 1492 Susan F. Peters is a Massachusetts Mortgage Loan Originator MLO36868/NMLS 36868

  4. Can you imagine the size of box required to hold all of the memories? May you continue a lifetime of acquiring amazing memories. I shall look forward to your blog for the Continuing Adventures of ….

  5. Well I guess I won’t make it there before you leave Peter, but you have been a great inspiration to me, and I will continue to follow you online. I hope to afford a class one of these days!

  6. Well, I guess I can no longer postpone that drive up to Plimoth to see you without your teacher’s hat on, so I’ll make the drive up in the next two weeks…will bring along the joint stool I built….and the mallet you embarassed me into turning for myself. :-) Regards, Larry

  7. Wishing you lots of luck in your next step. I guess it wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m sure your talent will see you through.

  8. Joiner’s chops aside, NO ONE has ever done a better job interpreting the past to the present. No one.

    You are irreplaceable.

    And we are all of us looking forward to see how your excellence branches out. I still have the broom sticks when you wanna play half-ball again yo!

  9. One small step for Peter, one giant step for woodworking. I’m so glad I managed to get to see you in your den last year Peter. All the best for the future. I can’t imagine it will ever be dull for you.

  10. Good luck in your endeavors Peter. So glad I got to see you in action at Plimoth before you left. Looking forward to seeing what you get into next; and the new book. I really hope to get to take another class from you somewhere down the line. The week spent at Roy’s last summer taking your joint stool class was one of my best. Memories that’ll always stay with me.

    So, do you get to take that awesome spring pole lathe with you?

  11. Peter:

    Sorry to hear about the leaving, but excited for you also. Thank you for sharing your knowledge so freely over the years. Looking forward to hearing about your future adventures.

    God bless,

    -Nathan W.

  12. Sad to see another Pilgrim adventure off on his own, but happy for you nonetheless. Hope you’ll still be able to visit us at the Mill from time to time. Best wishes with your new chapter!! – Jen and the Gurney’s crew.

  13. Best of luck with the new endeavors. I’m glad I got to meet you a few times via visits, NBSS and EAIA.

    You could always do a brief stint working for Michael Burrey as so many of my classmates did for a while after working at the Plantation. ;-)

    Take care,

  14. How exciting for you, Peter! I’ll be sad not to be able to visit Plimoth and watch you in action….but glad for maybe more opportunities to take classes from you! A mixed bag, I guess. I might have to amend my Fathers’ Day weekend travel plans to support one last visit.

    I offer my best wishes for your future endeavors; I’m sure it will be an exciting time! And I look forward to following along on your blog!


  15. Peter, well from our conversations I’m not surprised, but still sad to see you go. On the other hand what an exciting time for you, I’m sure you will succeed and do well in your new journey! All the best, Bill

  16. I can not judge whether it is a good post or not. I wish you that it is a good post and a good start for you in something new! Best of luck!

  17. Well. It will be well. As always you and your family have all my best wishes. And, welcome to the club.

  18. Peter,

    I fear that detaching from the corporate culture will leave a pinhead vacuum in your life.

    Others may rush in to fill it, but keep that SHOULD filter turned to 11 and all will be well!

    Godspeed Brave Follansbee!
    and may the Grain be with you!

    See you soon!


  19. a comment from Carol Miskovsky Colwell —

    Peter- don’t know if you recall the Handleys – Vinnie & Carol ( 1998-2001) – Vin is gone now , but I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know how much in awe he was of your work. I still have a spoon hanging in my kitchen and rake tines( he passed before he made the shaft) – two things that he was so very proud of – two things he would NEVER had made if we hadn’t had the life changing experience of living in the 17th century. My very best wishes for your future – and thank you for the happiness you brought my Vinnie .

  20. A comment from Anne Phelan:

    The 27th will be a dark day for Plimoth Plantation and the thousands of people that had the great fortune to meet Peter and see his incredible craftsmanship. Not to mention that winning personality. Love you Peter!!! In case of fire, I’m grabbing Oliver and my two little tables that Peter crafted…..

  21. Safe and happy trails to you Peter….I’ll miss know that you’re at the Plantation, but excited for your new future. Tell M, R, and D I think of all 4 of you and smile. :) Robin O

  22. Ah, bother. My partner and I had plans to visit you at Plymoth next month, but we will be too late. 8-( Good wishes from Australia.

  23. As I think about the adventures that await you, “Man of La Mancha” keeps running through my head….and that’s a good thing. May the wild winds of fortune carry you onward, Peter!

  24. Most of the time, all we’ve got to do is “cast off”. The wind has a way of taking us where we need to go.
    Dennis Laney

  25. My opinion on Slowwood’s question at #23: It *is* a good post, at least for Peter. Not so much for Plimoth. I thought you might be starting to feel too confined when your interest in spoons and basketry picked up.

    Not all of us have the strength to go with our gut and walk away at the top of our game. You knew it was time. It’s not “goodbye” for us in the woodworking community. Oh no, not at all.

    Best of luck, Peter!

  26. Peter,

    A few years back, you wrote about the merits of working walnut.
    Definitely, something was up.
    Plimoth’s loss is our gain.
    Thank you for your insight, friendship, and humor.
    I wouldn’t be at CW if it wasn’t for that visit to your shop in ’99. Can’t believe it’s been over a decade since we’ve worked together. I count myself fortunate. Looking forward to the book and future postings.


  27. You were a great instructor at the *other* CW (with the great food). I am still drawing on that class. I hope you’ll have time to come out to the PNW for classes, birding, or Spoonfest Northwest.

    I am looking forward to what comes next, as I expect you are as well.

  28. I feel I should say something poetic or profound but I’m kind of happy that you might have some more time for woodwork , I need four carved black walnut panels for a set of doors I’m making ,will email you. I know you will be a success whatever you decide to do. Time to get off the plantation. Peter

  29. Best of luck on the next phase of your career, Peter! I know you’ve influenced a lot of people who’ve seen you work. I’m one of them. I look forward to more!

  30. Great and good luck to you Peter. I never had the good fortune of meeting you, but with this thing called the internet, I kind of think I know you. I have seen you on “Roy” read your blogs ect. Wish you all of the best.

  31. The day I received your email I also received it within a few minutes from my brother, also a furniture maker and in Maine; I’m just getting a chance to respond now. Though I only had a chance to see you in action a limited number of times while you were at Plimoth, it was comforting knowing you were there carrying on the traditions. I have no doubt you have trained others to do the same at the plantation, though you do have a special presence. Your step forward is bold and wonderful. Please do keep in touch and if you want to produce any more articles for the magazine, let me know. I hope to see you out and about. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s