JA & PF 2007 joined stool demo, 2nd session pts 1-3

This is the second half of the presentation I did with John/Jennie Alexander in 2007 at Colonial Williamsburg. It gets us all the way through the joined stool; I think it covers turning, assembly and making & fitting the seat board. Then some slide lecture action from JA. The video just stops in mid-lecture – it’s all I have. Still better than nothing.

I’m going to make a static page on the blog with all these youtube clips, and keep it up there on the header. That way when I write more blog posts, it won’t get lost in the shuffle.

It’s been fun to view some of this (I haven’t watched it all…) – this was our last public presentation together, it was also one of our best, for which I was very grateful. The folks at CW were kind enough to give me a disc with the video on it, and I was lucky to find it after all these years. Enjoy.


JA & PF joined stool demo 2007 part 3

Here’s the 3rd snippet of the demo John/Jennie Alexander & I did back in 2007 at Colonial Williamsburg. This, together with parts one & two that I posted the other day, completes the first of two sessions we did during that program. I’ll load the rest as I get it sorted.



Here’s the first two in case you missed them –


JA & PF joined stool demo 2007 pts 1 & 2

I’m video-challenged. But every so often I take a stab at dealing with video files. I have started converting and posting a multi-part video of John/Jennie Alexander & I doing our joined stool demonstration at Colonial Williamsburg in 2007. In the early 1990s, Jay Gaynor was one of the students in our first-ever workshop on joined stools, yet he still hired us to present at the 2007 Furniture Forum.

Here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Hickory bark seat

Part of my re-discovery of the JA chair is a hickory bark seat. I know of nothing else that works, looks and feels this good. And the more you use the chair, the better the bark seat looks. I got a couple of boxes of bark coils JA had. (sorry, Nathaniel. That’s why you got the Jogge cabinet…)

Here in New England, I never get such long strips of bark as this. I think the bulk of this seat was 3 strips. After soaking the bark, the first thing I did was split each strip in half. The under-half goes on the seat, the upper half I save for lashing basket rims.

I tie the strip at the back rung, next to the post on my left. You can start on the other side, but this seems to be my habit. If I recall…

Under the front rung, back over the rear, laying over the tie. Then come back again…

and on & on…I pull it snug, but not tight. The bark soaked for over an hour and is quite pliable.



Starting to run out of this strip. I make sure the end where I will tie a new strip on is on the bottom of the seat.

Like that…

Once I’ve come around the corner, I start the weaving. This herringbone/twill pattern is over-2/under-2 for the first row.

Then over-one, under-2.

Row 3 is under 2-over-2.

I guess I didn’t shoot the next row – it’s under-1/over-2. The only skip is at the right-hand side. Otherwise it’s over-2/under-2…

The kids came out, they’d never seen me do this work before…tried their hand at it. Here’s Daniel’s turn:


And Rose’s.


Using a JA-made stick to shove the rows up tight.


The stick is tapered in thickness, so it can get under there to catch the weaver as it comes through. Next time, I’ll fill strips in the sides, and pack the top toward the back. I should get one more row up near the front rail.

Books for Sale from Jennie Alexander collection ALL SOLD OUT






I’ll try to keep this simple. I have a number of books, for most of them demand will exceed supply. When there’s multiple copies, I’d like to limit it to one copy per person. That way others have a chance. I’m not aiming to get rich selling these. I have two objectives – one is to make some money to make up for the time out of the shop for my trips to Baltimore. This trip was the first of several, and with driving and working, I was gone 5 days. Then it’s taking me a day & a half to sort and unpack up here. The other objective is to get these books in the hands of those who can use them. Alexander always enjoyed reading the blog and the comments especially.

I usually search a site like bookfinder.com to see about values, or perceived values. Some are absurd, I’ll try to be reasonable. If you’d like one, leave a comment and then we can do paypal or you can send a check.

THE CHAIR BOOK SOLD OUT – there were only 5 copies.

John Alexander, Make a Chair from a Tree. Taunton Press edition, 1978. NEW, shrink-wrapped. ALL SOLD

It’s because of this book that I’m writing this blog at all. It changed my life. BUT – when I look at the prices being asked for it – as much as I love this book, it’s insane. On Bookfinder I see prices ranging from new at $383 to used copies at $113. Similar prices on Amazon. That’s stupid.

I have 5 copies, brand-new, shrinkwrapped. $75.

If you buy one & sell it for oodles of money, your karma will get you. If I find out you did so, I’ll write nasty things about you here.

Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree, Lost Art Press. 


2 copies, new, shrink-wrapped. The book Alexander & I did together, about splitting a log apart and making mortise-and-tenon joined furniture. It includes a lot about how we researched this subject…


Benno Forman, American Seating Furniture, 1630-1730

Alexander & I used this title for ages & ages, studying the workings of craftsmen of 17th-century New England. This book is about the seating furniture at Winterthur. Lots of details on tools, techniques, etc. Some input from Alexander in the book. The edit was done after Forman’s death by his former students, Robert Trent and Robert Blair St. George.

I see new copies listed for $60+  let’s make it $45. There’s 2 copies, new, shrink-wrapped.

BOTH SOLD,  8:30pm eastern time


Robert Blair St. George, The Wrought CovenantSOLD

What the hell does that mean? you ask…

An over-wrought title to a great book about 17th-century furniture from Plymouth Colony, 1620-1700. An exhibition catalog featuring oak (& pine) chests, chairs & cupboards. Cradles, boxes and more. All B&W, it’s 1979 I think. BRAND-NEW copies, never used. I remember when JA bought up the remaining lot at the museum that held the exhibition originally.

I see used ones for $50, new copies for something absurd.

2 copies here, $75.  BOTH SOLD,


Sotheby’s catalog of Clive Sherwood sale, 2002 SOLD
A great little publication jam-packed with English joined furniture. Over 400 lots, all in color. 270+ pages. Mostly furniture, some associated decorative arts = warming pans in brass, candlesticks, etc.

1 copy. $35


Norman Isham & Albert Brown, Early Connecticut Houses. SOLD

a really nice book on the subject of 17th-century Connecticut houses. This is not an antique copy, it’s a Dover reprint. Was used, is in good shape, but the cover is light-faded. I only see one copy right now. there might be another later…


$10. How can you beat that?


Don & Anne Wing, Early Planemakers of London.  – SOLD

I love this book. Great research, well photographed and designed. The book is a real treat for tool-nuts. Early tool nuts.

Barely opened, Alexander signed his name inside it. Includes the fold-out chart about planemakers.


Eighteenth-Century Woodworking Tools: Papers Presented at a Tool Symposium May 19-22, 1994 – SOLD

This one’s a great little book. An exhibition organized by Jay Gaynor, there are articles by Philip Walker, Paul Kebabian, Jane & Mark Rees, Charles Hummel, Roy Underhill and more.

Used, but not much. One copy. $65.


James Gaynor and Nancy Hagedorn, TOOLS: Working Wood in Eighteenth-Century America – SOLD

The exhibition catalog that accompanies the title above.



Clean-up time at JA’s

a sea of chairs

Well, that was quite a trip. I usually take pictures when I travel, but this past weekend I was far too busy to get near the camera much. A group of us descended on Jennie Alexander’s home & shop to begin sifting and sorting the shop/woodworking-related books, papers, and what-have-you.  For me the absolute highlight of the whole weekend was a spontaneous 20-minute examination of about 25 chairs, maybe more. Me, Geli Courpas, the first “apprentice”, Nathaniel Krause, the last-apprentice and Bob Trent. “Which one’s older? Which one’s turned, versus shaved?” And more.

Geli Courpas, Nathaniel Krause & PF

JA & I sold off many of the “extra” tools many years ago. That’s a good thing, because there were so many books, magazines and papers it isn’t funny. But there still were a few tools to gather, then disseminate.

a few tools left

Trent did an amazing job sorting the stacks. Many of the notebooks, including the correspondence between JA & me, were donated to the research library at Winterthur Museum a while back. But there’s lots of stuff still there. I haven’t read the older notebooks, but I plan to next time I’m at Winterthur, Trent says they go back to 1973, five years before the book Make a Chair from a Tree.

I brought home lots of books, maybe 5 or 6 boxes. Many are ones I’ve known all these years. I spent lots of time in that study. Some are to keep, some are to sell here. I’m going to start right in. That hadn’t been my intention, but I have no place to store all of these, so the sooner I move half of them the better. We’ll do it like we did the tools, or the way I usually sell spoons, etc. I’ll post them here, you leave a comment of what you want, then we can make a transaction through paypal, or you send a check. International shipping is extra.

so – books for sale tomorrow night. Some of Alexander’s book, some oak furniture books, some tool history books. I’m going to do one box at a time. If you are interested, watch for tomorrow’s blog post.


now they know how many holes it takes to make the Bradford Chair

Done. what a relief. Assembling this crazy chair is quite a test. One pair of hands is just barely enough. Earlier I had assembled the front and back sections. Now it was time to do the whole thing – sides and seat. Start by knocking the spindles in the rails. There are three sizes of spindles on the sides – longest under the arm, shortest under the seat and slightly longer than that above the bottom stretcher. Gotta keep them all together and ALL RIGHT SIDE UP. I hope none of mine are upside down.

Here’s one side unit driven into the rear post. I glued this chair, and wish I had bought a new bottle of glue. I was down near the bottom of this one, and it make horrible farting sounds as I squeezed it to get the glue out. I don’t use glue often enough to keep it fresh, or I would have used the liquid hide glue. My bottle of that went “off” due to neglect.

Test-ftting the front on to gauge the seat pattern. I didn’t drive this all the way on – that only happens once.

After much fiddling around, I made a seat template that I felt was close enough, then cut out and beveled the oak seat board.

and knocked things together. It took some heavy pounding, and eventually some bar clamps to pull things together.

I got it in the end – no calamity.

it’s funny to stand it beside the JA chair. Both icons. Both for adults, but you wouldn’t know it from this photo.


I think the answer is 112, but that counts the rectangular mortises too. Skip them it’s 108.

Thanks to Pilgrim Hall for letting me copy their chair(s). https://www.pilgrimhall.org/ce_funiture.htm 

Here’s Scout the Cat. He sleeps like that.