Down by the river

12s & 16s


This has been simmering for a long time. I mentioned the other day I was about to start on the largest project yet – well, it ain’t furniture, it’s a “tool shed” according to the local authorities. It will be filled with tools after all. It’s been nearly two years since my old shop at the museum was packed up & much of my stuff stored. I have since set up a workbench here at home, crammed like many of us in the basement. I also have the luxury of a borrowed space (thanks, TC) where I set up a bench & some tools so I can/could finish photography for the next joinery book. And some stuff has been in storage since the day I packed up the old shop.

old farts

Now, it’s time for my very own – just steps outside my back door. This is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. A month or two ago, my friend Pret Woodburn found a stash of white pine 6 x 6s and 4 x 6s for sale. Decades old, no joinery cut in them. Enough for 2 buildings the size I’m working on, 12’ x 16’. So another friend & I went halfsies on them. One thing or another has kept me & Pret busy until now. Recently I got him hooked on spoon carving, so now to keep him from never leaving his house, we’ve settled on a routine where he comes up here and shows me what to do. He knows house joinery like I know oak furniture, so I’m in good hands. Our first several session were prep work, the site slopes down to the river – so some unglamorous work to get ready for today’s initial work on joinery. Framing the sills. Just 4 joints, and a bunch of checking this way & that. Then just before dark we got some help from the youth to pin the frame together.


mortise no pin


Daniel driving pins

so my mind reels with ideas for the inside. But one step at a time. Somewhere, I’ll finally be able to hang up this sign. 


27 thoughts on “Down by the river

  1. Congratulations, Peter! I’m so happy for you. Seems like you are being blessed big time for stepping out of “safety” in Plimouth and following the “narrow” path. May you get it roofed and walled before the snow! Now you’ll be able to crank out work at home . . . almost next to living off grid!

  2. Very exciting news! Your hard work and determination have paid off! Can’t wait to see the progress reports and then your sign in its new home!

  3. I’m very much looking forward to this build. These type of things are always inspirational as I’m sure many of us dream of a timber frame structure to work in. Good luck Peter and Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  4. That is just great. Not much better than having a shop where you can do whatever work you want.
    Congratulations. Looking forward to seeing pics of you making shavings in there!

  5. Hi Peter,

    Good for you. Just a thought: People like to take timberframing classes. Why doesn’t CRAFT offer them? People would have paid you to build your shed.
    Merry Christmas, Dan

    • Very good start, Peter. Have you oriented the building for solar energy gain ? And, what about windows for passive solar sunshine ? If I were to build a shop (again), I’d have two to three walls all glass but leave one wall all wood so I could lean stock up against it. My work bench would be away from the wall so I could walk all around it and work on the project. And, we should talk about insulation. Don’t mix types. That is, don’t put fiberglass between the studs and then put rigid sheets of foam, having a higher “R” factor, over the fiberglass. The higher “R” factor stuff will cancel out the fiberglass effectiveness and be of no gain.
      Oh, by the way, since I’m code officer of two towns, did you secure a “building permit” ? Just wondering.
      This warm weather is just right for your building venture. A few more weeks of this heat spell and we’ll be into January. Then guess what ?!!? It’s JANUARY THAW TIME !! You stand a chance of getting the roof on before that white stuff arrives. So, you have too many tools ! NEVER ! Remember the tour of my shop.

      Wes: W. Baldwin, Me.

  6. Hey Peter,

    Congratulations on your newest project! I expect most of us dream of building our own shops…and having a dedicated space! Best wishes for a solid and safe build!


  7. Your shop will be exactly the same size as mine. It’s the smallest shop I’ve ever used, but also the most highly functional. Everything I need is within 2 steps, and the activity can always spill outside if things get too crowded inside. You just can’t start working on too many projects at once (like I am wont to do).

  8. Peter, (2nd note)
    I like the message from above, A riving home. It’s functional and efficient. Big is not necessarily better !
    In timber framing, how about “hammer beam trusses”. Great visual effect. But needs a cathedral ceiling.
    Anyhow, your shop will be “home away from home”. Always a great place to initiate new work.
    You and the woods, and the river, and the birds, and nature in that environment, you will be in heaven.
    Or, heaven on earth with your birds, I enjoy your photos and observations. Great shots & fast shutter speed.
    You’re going in the right direction (since I can look back at my age ! ) I’m not going to wish you luck because it takes hard work and a vision of direction and achievement. Use the weather to your best advantage.

    • Some very wise words here. I agree with Wes that you, Peter, are on the “right” direction. This direction of noticing beauty, creating beauty, teaching beauty is something many persons do not seek until too late in life. You are providing others of us who are woodworkers with the truth of what really matters: learning from history, simplicity of life, honoring of children, and sharing with all with whom you have contact. I know I am a better woodworker and person from purchasing your work, and downsizing my life to its simplest form. I pray that your new workshop will extend this craft and simplicity to many others. In fact, I know it will. Many blessings. Rev. Mary Bettencourt, Westford, MA.

  9. A DREAM in flight !!!! SO Proud of you Peter..tears of joy won’t stop..

    ” come to the edge, he said.
    we are afraid.
    come to the edge..
    they came, he pushed them,
    AND THEY FLEW !!! Apollinaire

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