In the shop daily

And it feels very good. Here’s what I’ve been working on. Finally have the chest lid underway for the video series on making this chest. The past few days I’ve been gluing up these 3 oak boards to make this lid, shooting the videos to go with it. Today I planed the top & bottom surfaces of the full lid. Even though this stock is long-air-dried, I temporarily clamped boards to the underside so I get no surprises overnight. I think I’ll chop the lid-video in 2. The first part’s nearly done, working the boards, gluing up the lid & planing it. Next will be making & fitting the cleats then installing the hinges. That video series doesn’t expire – it’ll remain available for sale on vimeo, and the plans here on the blog. Then if anyone needs a chest, get a hold of me.

the joined chest almost with a lid

I’ve been prepping the oak for the next cupboard and some of it was ready for joinery. Here’s the 2 end frames of the lower case. Beside them on the left are the 6 rails to the upper case.

end frames with panels, upper case rails on the left

Here’s the lower case of last year’s cupboard showing how those end frames work:

Meanwhile more oak for that project is planed and stickered to let it air-dry some before cutting the joinery in those parts. This is one pile in the shop, there’s two others as well.

maybe 1/4 of a cupboard

I have been planning on shooting another video after the chest one is done – making the Jennie Alexander chair. Started it in fact, before the Lyme disease got me. Lots of people are making JA chairs now, which would please her to no end. And many have made changes, adjustments, etc. I remember Alexander saying of one chairmaker “he has passed me by…” and was perfectly happy with that. Well, I haven’t passed anybody by. The way I make them is mostly the way JA made them, one or two tweaks here & there. I’ll show the whole process, including harvesting and weaving the hickory bark for the seat. It will include details of JA’s chair that I have in the shop, along side me making one. This time I’ll make the whole video before it goes up – not dribble it out like the chest. I’ll keep you posted.

JA chair posts

Other news is that I’m planning on actually leaving home at some point to teach a class or two. Not till late winter/early spring. I’ll post information about that when I get them finalized. The only one so far that’s certain is making the JA chair at Pete Galbert’s in March. No details yet – so sit tight. I’ll let you know.

The vimeo series, now 18 hours & counting

The chest plans are here

chest progress finally

A couple of things happened. First, the season changed which means the light changed. I always enjoy the way the light changes from one season to the next.

autumn light

All the interest in the chest-plans had me chomping at the bit to get back to that project. And I went back to the chiropractor on Monday. So today I began working on shooting video for making the chest lid. And so far, nothing hurts. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

ripping oak boards

There’s lots of options for chest lids. The best, no surprise, is also the most demanding. An oak lid made of multiple riven boards. Takes a big log and a lot of effort.

riven oak lid

A simple way to do it is to use a wide white pine lid. I really like these, they’re light. Fast and pretty easy. They can get dinged up, being soft wood. But that’s just part of living. We all get dinged up now & then.

oak chest pine lid

A paneled lid is another option.

one of the plainest chests I ever made

I’m making this lid out of 3 quartersawn red oak boards. It will be close to the riven-board lid. Effort is in between that and the pine lid. Maybe a toss-up with the paneled lid.


The chest plans now are on a page with the carving drawings – As far as the PDFs go – of any of the 3 of these – I had hoped to set up a place where you could just pay for them with paypal and download them. But so far that’s beyond my blog-capability. But if you want any of them as PDFs, just email me & I’ll send a paypal invoice.

Chest plans available now

After a year of intermittent work on the plans for the Braintree Joined Chest, I’m happy to announce they are now available and ready for ordering. The chest featured is based on some examples I studied (and one I own) made in Braintree, Massachusetts between 1670-1700. I made them like the originals, with riven oak as the primary wood with white pine as the secondary wood. Substitutions are up to you. The finished chest is 35 1/4” high, 55 1/4” wide and 23 1/2” deep (front to back.) 

I’d like to include a word about Jeff Lefkowitz. If you’re not aware of his work, a little background. A chairmaker and teacher, Jeff first came to my attention through the plans he worked on for Curtis Buchanan’s Windsor chairs. As plans, they convey all the details you need when building the chairs. But they’re also just exquisite images. If I had wall space in my shop, I’d stick some on it. Jeff went on to do other plans you might have seen, Tim Manney’s shaving horse, Dawson Moore’s spoon mule, Jarrod Dahl’s pole lathe, chairs by Pete Galbert and Bern Chandley – I’m sure there’s more. And two sets of carving patterns he’s worked on with me. 

This time I threw Jeff a challenge – working up detailed drawings for a joined chest with a drawer – something that to my knowledge he’s never seen in life. Or is certainly not familiar with. Very un-chair-like. We went back and forth over the past year. Picking the project up, then setting it aside now and then to come back to. Jeff fits these projects in between his chair-classes and his home life. Always in this project, it was Jeff pushing for more detail, better explanations. 

some of the carvings

The plans consist of 6 pages, 24” x 36”. The first four are the chest and its components and joinery, these are drawn by Jeff in his usual detailed and clear images. The last two pages are the carving patterns on the top rail, drawer front and panels, as well as diagrams of the geometry used in the layout for these carvings. Scaled drawings, a stock list and construction details throughout. There’s even some filler showing how to make it as a chest with two drawers, I was able to measure two of those when I did the research about these chests many years ago. 

interior and moldings

You could build the chest from the plans, but they  also serve as a companion to the series of videos I’ve been making on vimeo. That series is not yet done – I got laid up with lyme disease and missed 2 months of shop work. I’m getting back to it – there will be at least 2 more, maybe 3 more videos. The lid, some sharpening of carving gouges. Maybe installing a lock. 

One minor blip in the printing resulted in one drawing (bottom left image below) coming out lighter than the rest. Rather than scrap 600 pages of paper – I decided we could live with it. It’s still readable, just light.

The plans are $90 and come rolled in a cardboard tube. Shipping in the US is $9.00

International customers, I’ll send you a PDF and you can take it to be printed.  $70 for the PDF. Email me at

Chest Plans; Braintree Chest with a drawer, 6 pages, 24″ x 36″
rolled in a cardboard tube, $90 plus $9 shipping in US.

Buy Now button

Here’s a short video showing what’s included in the drawings.

Carving Strapwork video: fixed. I hope.

UPDATE – Oct 5. Well, sorry about yesterday’s video mess-up. I was trying to be so smart that I knocked much of the soundtrack out-of-whack…I think it’s right now. So if you watched yesterday, I apologize. And if you’re watching today – I have my fingers crossed.

“Strapwork” carving is a name given to patterns like the one above.  

In 17th century New England work there’s only a few examples; all attributed to Thomas Dennis of Ipswich and/or his apprentices. There’s no know English records of him, but the objects that descended in his family, and the related ones attributed to him, closely relate to oak furniture from Devon, England. And there’s plenty of strapwork there.

detail of a box descended in the family of Thomas Dennis, now at Bowdoin College Museum of Art

I love carving them, they’re a very detailed pattern. Quite demanding. In my second set of carving drawings there are a few examples and I’ve finally got around to making a start on videos to go with those drawings. The first one was doing the layout and for the video I did it on paper so it would show up for the camera. This 2nd in the series shows carving a piece that I’ll eventually use as a box front. It’s about 6” high by something like 20” wide.

Strapwork carving is slower than working with a V-tool for outlining stuff. And making a video about strapwork carving is slower still…it took me about 1/2 a day to carve and shoot the stuff. But the edit took at least 2 more days. But now it’s done.

To order the carving drawings, use this link

The 2nd set is the one with more than a full page of strapwork patterns. The drawings are 24” x 36” and come rolled in a cardboard tube. At this time (Oct 4, 2022) the first set is out of stock – I’m planning on reprinting it soon.


The previous video in this series is here –

And one of the many posts I’ve written about strapwork is here:

Otherwise, put “strapwork” in the search button and stand back.

I always keep an eye on what Paul Fitzsimmons posts about the oak furniture he sells. No one has seen more Devon furniture than him.