The Road to Hell…

This clean-up is harder than I thought. It takes longer, anyway. There’s a pile of baskets, the best of which are here – some finished, some nearly so. All of these were sitting up in the loft for a year-plus. But at least now they can get used.

Here’s the ones for today’s work – I have some last bits of hickory to split, shave & bend for handles & rims.

Two stools – the one on the right is brand-new, just finished last week, maybe it was the week before.

The joined stool is #3 of a pair. I made parts for three when I was making them for the Cutchogue Old House project. Then realized the order only called for two. So this stool, all turned & joinery cut, went up into the loft. I brought it down when I was prepping for my Winterthur demo last month, did some quick carvings on the rails, then pinned it. Today I plan on making the seat board, pinning that & tomorrow painting it red.

Birch bark canisters.

Ugh. I am very taken with this work, but have only spent a little time with it. Last fall Plymouth CRAFT hosted a class by Jarrod Dahl – and I learned a lot from those sessions. This one I had cut the finger joints some time ago, made a bottom, but ran out of bark so couldn’t make the bands that usually go around the upper & lower ends. I decided last week to forget them, and made a top for it, and fitted it with a basket handle. A little chip carving finished it off. 6 1/2″ diameter, 9″ high. 

While moving some large books around in the house, I found a small sheet of birch bark that I had flattened & forgot about. It turned red – I don’t know if that was from the book, the paper between it & the book or what.



 But I made a small canister from it, and had some short pieces to make the bands. Now a handle & it will be done.

Some post & rung work:

The ladderback chair I started during Plymouth CRAFT’s first chair class early in May. It came home in pieces, but I figured I better build it now or just burn it. Assembled it yesterday. Slats are next. The stool parts beside it are overflow from the finished stool above. So I’ll finish both of these up, then they are slated to get rush seats instead of hickory bark.

In my cleaning, I keep running into bits of wood stored around – “Oh, that’s going to by X, Y or Z someday.” This one is mahogany – a wood I have never used. I think Bob Van Dyke gave it to me. One little piece, what could I make from one piece? One of Roy’s sliding lid boxes. 

I’m not going to spoil it for those that don’t know these little puzzles. You can watch him make one here –

And look – one more. This carved box only needs a lid and some paint to call it done. OK, I know what I have to do now, better get away from this desk and do it.









16 thoughts on “The Road to Hell…

  1. Hi Peter, I am interested in purchasing one of the large baskets with hoops.. Are any available for sale?

    Steve Fletcher Museum Guide @PP

  2. Those projects are very close to be done, congratulations! Could you briefly describe what wood (and technique) did you use to make the bottom and lids of the birch bark canisters? Thanks!

    • Charles – white pine. dry stuff. Cut out the shape, in this case they’re circles. Sometimes they’re ovals. Slightly bevel the edges and jam them in. The bottom gets secured with small square pins driven through small pilot holes. The handle to the large one is ash or white oak sapwood, I forget. It’s tenoned through the lid, and wedged inside.

  3. I love you work. I’m interested in the stools. probably can’t afford them but interested. the one with the woven top reminds of the chair we have in the family from the Whites (we are related to Peregrine White who was born on the Mayflower and the Aldens) We have a chair that came up through that family of similar type with a hickory woven seat.

  4. Thanks! I always struggle with the end grain on a circular shape like that, I tried in harder wood (apple – too hard, black walnut – the stock I have available is too narrow) and softer ones (fir – a bit too brittle, stains too easily, linden – my last test, it will be pretty good I think), but I never tried pine, I will do so.

  5. People should buy baskets like this and use them! I have some white oak baskets that my mother commissioned in 1970. It would take many train cars to hold the produce those baskets have carried from the garden to the house. They thrive on it and are so much nicer to use than plastic or metal buckets.

  6. Also, I just did a quick head count around the house. I have 34 white oak baskets. From crude ones me or my dad made to a Mary Prater egg basket. If you would like to see some southern baskets I would be happy to email pictures.

    • Thanks for asking John, but that too went to my wife. I hope to have some work for sale in June; carved boxes, several baskets – a joined stool. I’ll post it all here when it’s ready. The large birch canister too.

  7. I’m curious what Your bride will keep in the box. I made one of those for my daughter’s fourth birthday to keep her pocket knife in. Just made a Jögge inspired one for my son’s fourth for his knife too!
    I unfortunately can’t make spoon day this year. I’ll be missing you all. Hope it’s a fantastic time!

  8. Your spring cleaning is much more interesting than mine. My spring cleaning usually goes “Oh, look, here is a bunch of soggy cheerios my toddler threw in a corner unnoticed….. oh, look, a dead animal the cat dragged home…. oh, look, packing supplies from my last Amazon purchase….”
    Beautiful work. If they ever have another Handworks festival in Amana Iowa (LAP, Benchcrafted, Lee Nielsen etc all come) will you be attending? Simply selfish question as when I buy your latest book I’d like to get it autographed :-)

  9. When you started the cleanup you had some tools for sale. I won the bid for a plane but never got a paypal statement from you. Did I just miss it? Or are you still cleaning out?

    Bruce Brittain

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