I knew I shoulda made 2

I haven’t made one of these in over 20 years – a phrase you’ll get sick of hearing here. I’m preparing to head north for the Lie-Nielsen Open House – and have lots to do. On my list was a brief woodworking project. The other day I had shown a shot of me at a shaving horse, making long thin hickory bits.

everything old is new again

Then I bundled up their ends with packing tape, and jammed a piece of scrap wood between them. Let them sit a while.

bound & bending
bound & bending

Then made the tiniest frame; 8 1/2” x 10 1/2” or so. Red oak. Drawbored mortise & tenon.

first joinery I have done in a while
first joinery I have done in a while

Then I kept on going & forgot to shoot the steps. Nothing terribly enlightening anyway. When Maureen came through the work area & asked “what are you making” – when I told her, she said, “No, really, what are you making?”

wood carrier

A Chinese wood carrier. Really. For carrying any kind of wood, though. Doesn’t have to be Chinese. I first learned these in 1986, I know because here is a letter from Daniel O’Hagan showing me how it’s built.

daniels note


And he got the idea from the book China at Work, by Rudolf Hommel, (orig 1937, MIT Press 1969.) The text says they used 2 of these, hanging from a pole across their shoulders, to bring fuel to porcelain kilns.

china at work wood carrier


I wanted it so I can drag a bunch of spoon blanks up to Maine…right now there’s 18 pieces in it. If I were to fill it higher, it’d be too heavy to be comfortable. This way you can hook your elbow under the top piece & away you go…

18 billets one hand

I knew I should have made 2.


10 thoughts on “I knew I shoulda made 2

  1. I think I understand the “wedged” part but I’m a little fuzzy on “pinned”. Am I driving a nail through the upright from the side of the frame?

    • Mike – I used to use a small headless wire brad. bored a pilot hole through the frame to just catch the upright. I guess “belt & suspenders” would apply. This one’s just wedged. we’ll see how it works out.

  2. I’m glad to see you’ve wasted no time including work outside the context of plimoth. looks like an elegant little carrier. maybe a version for the nicer restaurants on the cape on the drawing board?

  3. Well if my Dad sees that on Saturday I am positive I will be making one the next week. If he does not I can make him one for his birthday. Neat idea either way!

  4. Hey Peter, That’s a nice piece of work. In the 70’s Chuck Cox and I riffed around with different variations on the China at Work design. Some were like the ones pictured here and some I steam bended so they had a “U” shaped handle. All still in service after years of hauling countless cords of stove wood!

    I really like your lighter variation and for spoon blanks! What could be sweeter. Keep the blogs coming! And, you’re welcome to stop in on your way to/from Lie-Nielsen or use our house as a way station.

    My wife, Faith, grew up in Manomet and her first career as an archeologist began by working with Jim Deetz at Plimoth. So, we know the trip to and from the Plymouth area!

    I’m just back from a few days at Dickinsons Reach/Machiasport. All was quiet & peaceful at Bills after “Arthur’s” 6″ of rain and 70 mph gusts – brought down a few big trees including a nice white birch (enough bowl and spoon wood for some time!). I’m inventorying the tools there to come up with some ideas for getting others involved in keeping his legacy of a hand built life moving along. Any ideas are welcome!

    All the best, Peter

    Peter Lamb & Faith Harrington 3 Sea Oaks Lane Gerrish Island Kittery Point, ME 03905 USA (603) 848-3000 – mobile

  5. Peter, you bring back memories. The only place I have seen one of those carriers is Spotts Lane, Bowmansville. On the porch near the door. Nice to see Daniel’s handwriting again.

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