recent work

I’ve been in the shop most every day lately; though some have been more productive than others. Pret the other day said “Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s a day off, or an off-day.” Sounds about right.  I have another square table nearing completion. This one had a slew of turned bits.

two sections of the square table frame

They’re heavy items; posts and stretchers are I think 2 3/4″ square. Top rails are 5″ high…

detail square table

The top is glued-up now; soon I’ll finish planing it and then I can assemble the table. There’s two joined stools that go with it. These are unusual in that the legs are all plumb – no “rake” to the side view. The table and stools are all headed for the Old House in Cutchogue, N.Y.

Another project is wrapping up, it’s been around for far too long. These are the head-posts for a bedstead I’m making. They are sawn ash, replacing some oak that wasn’t quite up to speed.

Here’s the footboard. These are actually timed pretty well right now, they’re destined for Arizona. So assembly during the driest part of the year here will work out well. That’s my excuse for going so slowly on this one.

A while back the kids & I helped Maureen set up at a craft sale in Rhode Island. It was great to see all her recent work displayed in one spot. The leftover work is on her etsy site – 

and her Instagram site is



I posted this little box I finished up for Maureen’s birthday on Instagram and it was a hit. Just something different I guess. It’s a real hybrid; Alaska yellow cedar used to make an ancient Scandinavian-style box with drawer. 5″ high, 6″ x 11″

Mine’s not a copy of anything in particular, just based the idea on some old boxes from around Scandinavia. I dovetailed the corners; and put a sliding lock down through the box front into the drawer front. This is because I have a similar box for my spoon carving tools I use with students; and its drawer is not secured. Carry it wrong, and it dumps the drawer out.

The pathetic part is that this box sat 80% done for well over a year, before I dug it out the other day, gave it 3 hours’ worth of work & was done.

Here’s the website I once used to search for things like this; this link is a search result I filtered a bit: 



Spoon carving class in January 2019

Yesterday’s announcement of the ladderback chair class was a hit. Filled up quickly. We’re toying with the idea of adding a 2nd session some time in 2019. We’ll need to look at schedules to see if Paula, Pret & I have spaces in ours that align with some in the venue.  I think Paula will make a waiting list in the mean time.

Right now, I don’t have a lot of classes scheduled for 2019; there’s a couple to be announced in January. And I’ll add some here and there as holes get filled in various schedules. But yesterday I completely forgot to mention we’ve got a spoon carving class coming right up in January. Saturday & Sunday January 19 & 20, with an optional third day  on Monday January 21.

Plymouth CRAFT Spoon carving class, Overbrook

That third day is available as a stand-alone; we’re calling it “advanced” but in this case all that means is you’ve gone through the bits about learning knife grips, hatchet work, etc and for this one-day session we’ll be able to concentrate further on spoon shape and design. Most of the work that day will feature natural crooks.

Here’s the link to Plymouth CRAFT for details –

I’ll have hook tools from Wood Tools, a few hatchets for people to try, including several different makers. Newest one is Julia Kalthoff’s –

And lots of spoons for inspiration.


Make a Chair from a Tree – Plymouth CRAFT workshop May 2019

Well. Here goes. 2019 marks my maiden solo voyage in teaching students how to make Jennie Alexander’s ladderback chair. My version of it anyway. We’ll be following the general format I learned from JA and Drew Langsner, who together and separately taught this class for decades. I learned a lot from both of them about this chair; and assisted in classes at both Country Workshops and Alexander’s shop in Baltimore. In the early 1990s I worked with JA on the 2nd edition of the book Make a Chair from a Tree.

Riving, drawknife work, boring with a brace & bit, mortise & tenon joinery, steam-bending. Lots to cover in this class, it’s where I began as a woodworker in 1978.

boring mortises
chopping slat mortises


drawknife & shaving horse

We’re going to do it as a 6-day class with Plymouth CRAFT, just 6 students in the class. Dates are Friday May 3- Wed May 8th. 6 spots, so if you think you’d like to tackle this (and 6 days of Paula’s lunches) best sign up early.

(Two things – I wrote “solo” but Pret Woodburn will be there to assist much of the time. He just never wants credit for all his helpfulness. And May? – what was I thinking? It’s the pinnacle of the birding year – right after this class, I’m going to Mt Auburn Cemetery to see warblers during their spring migration.)

Spoons, videos, chairs – for sale

In between my furniture work, I got a chance to finish some spoons (a few begun in Australia, so weird woods to US eyes). I also cleaned my desk and found some videos I did with Lie-Nielsen. If you like any of either, leave a comment below, then I’ll send a paypal invoice later. Price includes US shipping. Additional charge for shipping beyond.

December spoon 01 – SOLD

One of the Australian spoons. Casuarina, sometimes called “she-oak”. This one was all sapwood, or nearly so. I had some students struggle with heartwood of the same tree, but I found this one quite agreeable. Great figure in it, for those that like that stuff.

L: 9 5/8″  W: 2 3/8″



December spoon 02 – Rhododendron. Maybe the last of that batch I cut here last spring/summer. A nice little crook with a big bowl.

L: 6 3/8″  W: 2 1/2″


December spoon 03; SOLD
Black Walnut. I was cutting & splitting firewood last week (next year’s firewood, this year’s is all stacked) and found this radially-split section of walnut. Too straight & clear to burn, too small to be part of furniture. So a serving spoon.

L: 11 3/4″   W: 3″


December spoon 04; SOLD
a very long serving spoon/stirring spoon. Decidedly crook’d shape. Apple.

L: 15 7/8″ W: 2 3/4″



December spoon 05; SOLD

another big one. Another Australian timber. Called “native cherry” – Exocarpos cupressiformis related to sandalwood. It was a real nice wood to carve; like our fruit woods, a little softer than some. Smooth.

L: 15 1/8″  W:  2 3/4″

The handle was large enough for me to carve an S-scroll like I use on boxes and chests.


December spoon 06; I think this one’s birch. A steeply-curved and swept shape.

L: 9 1/4″   W: 2″


I’m still taking orders for the ladderback chairs I wrote about a while back. To be delivered early in 2019. I have 3 mostly done; and more underway.

The chair is about 34” high, 18” wide (across the front) and 14” deep. Seat height is 18”.
$1,200. A deposit of $200 will reserved one for you. To be delivered/picked up starting late January 2019. Email me at if you’d like to get on the list for one of these. The deposit through paypal will be $206.

Details here;



Carved Oak Boxes –SOLD 

in this disc, I show how to make 2 versions of the carved box; the usual flat-lidded box; and a slant-lidded desk box. Includes a section on carving too. 270 minutes on 2 discs.



Joined Chest – SOLD 

making an oak frame-and-panel chest, from the log.

213 minutes


Hewing Wooden Bowls –SOLD

a few different versions of hewn bowls, with adze, hatchet, gouges & more

175 minutes


17th Century Wainscot Chair – TWO COPIES AVAILABLE

Making a frame-and-panel chair, with turned front stiles. From riven timber.

218 minutes


17th Century New England Carving – SOLD 


My first video, showing the beginning stages of this carving style. About 5 different exercises, the last one being a box front.

88 minutes


17th Century New England Carving: Carving the S-Scroll SOLD 

5 or 6 different versions of the S-scroll, a design used on so many period pieces. I continue to carve these designs endlessly after all these years.

100 minutes

pictures from the box making class in Kyneton Australia

The 2nd half of my Australia trip was with Glen Rundell, chairmaker in Kyneton, Victoria. Glen kindly hosted a class on making carved oak boxes. Here’s Glen & his son Tom working at carving during one  of our lunch breaks. 

He just happened to have some English oak he milled years ago, so we dove into carving; filling spaces as much as we could.

practice carving


heads down, everybody at work

Nine students worked all week; learning the carving patterns, then sizing the oak for each box. Working out the wooden hinge; fitting a till – it’s a deceptive project. Lots has to happen just right.

raking light


notches for the till

The corners were glued and pegged, Glen made short work of shaving enough pegs for everyone…

square peg round hole


box ready for lid

We used Peter Ross’ hand-made nails (a bag of nails in your luggage gives the folks in the X-ray area at the airport something to look at…) to attach the bottoms, and the cleats under the lids.

nailing the bottom


who’s the rubber-necker on the left?

The students did great work. Here’s a shot of 7 boxes – one got away before the photo, one student took his box home to assemble. 


It would take more than one blog post to cover Glen’s work. His website is here:  and Instragram

Glen & his wife Lisa also run the Lost Trades Fair – an astounding event that I hope to see some day ttps://

There’s also a retail shop in Kyneton, used to be called “The Chairmaker’s Wife” but now I think it’s Lost Trades: The Artisans Store –

and a few more Australian birds:

First, New Holland honeyeater

Eastern spinebill


Red wattlebird

Yellow faced honeyeater

yellow faced honeyeater

Rainbow lorikeet

rainbow lorikeet

the week in pictures

Just photos, and some captions.

mortising a joined stool frame


I bore the peg holes to mark it “done”


shaving rungs for JA ladderback


Mortised these posts, then shaved with a spokeshave to finish them


joinery tested for the 2nd joined stool frame


some spoon carving at the end of a day


new old shop stool by JA; pre-1978


unrelated – two scrolled & molded table rails and two bed posts


stile for joined table; 2 3/4″ square


turning one of the stiles

Thinking about self-taught turning – “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

turning detail


Jones River this morning


Nice to see the sun today

Dickinsons Reach calendar


It’s calendar time again. Plan ahead and get yours for 2019, 2030 and 2041. Support the folks who are stewards of Bill Coperthwaite’s legacy – details here for the Dickinsons Reach Community –

for the calendar – 2019 DR Calendar letter (1)

Here’s a recent magazine article about how things are evolving out at Bill’s place –