My late friend Victor Chinnery once quoted a phrase he read somewhere – “think much, say little, write nothing.” This, 20 years after his book Oak Furniture: the British Tradition. I’ve been thinking of that quote this week.
That video shows a different sequence from what I did with Roy…and right after shooting that work, I left for a short class in Minnesota with Robin Wood. I got a ride up Highway 61 with Jarrod Stone Dahl, Robin and JoJo Wood. One evening JoJo showed me how she hews the spoon blank from a straight-grained blank, and once again, my techniques adapted. The gist of it is that we all keep learning as we go. Hopefully it never stops.
Now you can see one of my favorite spoon carvers, Jarrod Stone Dahl, show you step-by-step his methods in carving spoons with an axe, knife & hook knife.
I have been slow to post my schedule for 2016, and now I see that it’s almost upon us. So here are some dates for classes and presentations that I have nailed down thus far. this list is through July, then there will be more later. I have classes at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, Lie-Nielsen and Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s School. Also a couple of weekend classes are on the books with Plymouth CRAFT. Links will take you to the details, if there are any.
FEBRUARY 13 & 14, 2016. At Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, I’ll start off with a furniture-carving class,
“Carving in the 17th century style with Peter Follansbee”
This class runs through several exercises, learning about layout, tool selection and use. Over the course of 2 days, we’ll carve a wide range of 17th-century style patterns in oak. Some of the text from Bob Van Dyke’s website:
“In this two-day course, students will learn the steps and processes used to recreate carving patterns from seventeenth- century furniture of England and New England. Starting with a single gouge and mallet, we will focus on technique and posture. Also considered are proportions, spacing and the relationship between background and foreground in establishing the pattern/design. Each successive practice pattern builds upon the previous example, adding more tools and concepts. We will incorporate hand-pressure, mallet work, and the use of the V-tool in outlining designs. A compass, awl and marking gauge are used to layout the geometric basis for each pattern, but freehand work is included in each as well.”
FEBRUARY 20/21 – Plymouth CRAFT has had quite a first year! And we’ll just keep rolling into year 2. I’ll start with – what else? Spoon carving! We just confirmed the booking, so not on the website yet – http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events – but it’s 2 full days of hewing, knife work and spoon design. At Overbrook House, Bourne Massachusetts. Legendary lunch included.
I’ll spend the weekend presenting some green woodworking (spoons, bowls & what else?) at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Goosebay Sawmill, Chichester, NH. I did this show last winter, what a great venue. All those Lie-Nielsen tools, and a sawmill with timbers galore.
APRIL 1-3, 2016, back at CVSWW. a 3-day class in making (and carving) a frame & panel. Think of this as a crash course in joiner’s work, using oak, mortise & tenon, and frame & panel construction. Come help freak Bob Van Dyke out with the carvings –
“Build- and Carve- this Frame & Panel with Peter Follansbee”
In this three day class with joiner & carver Peter Follansbee, students will explore the fundamental aspects of 17th-century joiner’s work. This frame-and-panel project has all the elements of a larger joined chest, but in a scale that fits the time frame. We’ll use oak we rive and plane for the framing parts; and quartersawn stock for the wider panels. Drawbored mortise and tenon joinery and carved decoration will be the a major focal point. A true crash course in joiner’s work. Now, where’d I put that axe?”
[much later in the year, September – Bob & I are planning to repeat out “one-weekend-per-month for X months” joined chest class. The full project, log to chest. Homework, travel, a museum field trip to study originals, this is the whole show. We did it last year with about 9 people whose scars have mostly healed. Dates to be announced as soon as we figure it out. I’d like it to be 5 weekends, but we’ll see. No drawer this time, so fewer pieces to rive & plane.]
“Your instructor, Peter Follansbee, (free range at last!) gnaws woodworking down to the marrow! Celebrate the liberation of our foremost man of organic woodworking with three days of Scandinavian, “upside-down” bowl carving. Starting with a walk in the woods you’ll learn shaping and carving technique from bole to bowl!”
[there is a spoon-carving class before it, but I guess it’s filled. there’s other spoon classes – (Plymouth CRAFT & Lie-Nielsen) or get on the waiting list.]
APRIL 30/MAY 1, 2016 : Plymouth CRAFT again, this time ash basketry.
We did this class this fall, and I was astounded at the students. They whomped on some ash logs and everyone wove a couple of baskets. The baskets are perfect to keep your spoon-carving tools in.
May means Maine – up at Lie-Nielsen we’ll be carving spoons. I’ll be watching birds in the earliest hours, but class doesn’t start til 9. I think I spent 5 weeks in Maine this year, can you tell I like it at Lie-Nielsen?
JUN 10-12, 2016 GREENWOOD FEST – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=greenwood-fest-2016 well, this one’s sold out – but there’s a waiting list. A 2 1/2 day lovefest with green woodworking in the pinewoods of Plymouth MA. I’ll be presenting my oak furniture game, but there will be heaps of stuff to do. 8 out of 9 of the instructors carve spoons furiously…
Lots going on around here. Tomorrow I will be at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts for the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event.
I’ll be working on spoons; but I’ll have some hewn bowls and other stuff with me. I have some classes scheduled with LN for next year, and I’ll be posting my teaching schedule here soon. The event at Phil’s runs two days, but I’ll only be there Friday. Have to teach this weekend for my last class of the year, at Plymouth CRAFT. Speaking of which…
The Greenwood Fest 2016 pages on Plymouth CRAFT’s website – there’s one on instructors (still lacking two profiles) and this one that answers some questions about the format and venue. http://plymouthcraft.org/?page_id=2268 And one for the registration which opens tomorrow at 9AM eastern time.http://plymouthcraft.org/?page_id=2272There’s a few tabs at the top of the page for Greenwood Fest.
The Greenwood Fest takes up a lot of time in planning, but there’s other stuff going on too. Next week, I’ll have some spoons and things for sale here, probably the last of the year. I’m slow. I have some oak furniture to get back to (wainscot chairs and a chest) and I have also started planning work for my biggest project yet. Can’t wait to have something to show you…
Last weekend was the class Jogge Sundqvist taught at Lie-Nielsen. I managed to stick my nose into it, but did almost no woodwork. Instead, I listened carefully, and tried to get around and see all the students as they worked. I failed in that regard, but there were too many interesting people there!
As always, it was great being there for Jogge’s class. His techniques and skills are extraordinary, but so is his outlook on craft and all its significance. I wish this class had been longer, but I still wouldn’t have seen it all. The class wasn’t about making a spoon, or this or that – but about techniques and the whole outlook Jogge uses in his sloyd work. Reading the trees, and seeing what’s inside them…that sort of thing.
Here. you see what a dull teacher he is, as Geoff Chapman busts open a birch section.
We had great weather, so got to have much of our work outside behind the toolworks. Roy Underhill had sharpened this saw for the LN Open House, so we put it to good use.
Really, Jogge is great & all that – but Kenneth, get up off your knees. It’s not like that!
The class made butter spreaders…I forget whose these are. They aren’t mine, that’s for sure. I started two and am not even sure where they are at this point. They’re great for practicing knife techniques.
The other “project”was a decorative distaff, one of the fittings for a linen wheel. Jogge showed us some historical examples that displayed a great array of decoration. To me, they looked like turned things made square…here, Masashi, Kenneth & Eric are looking one over & discussing its features.
When lining up an auger bit for boring, Jogge suggests getting a photographer to help you sight the angles…(I wasn’t the only one – there were about 4 of us at the same angle)
On the 2nd day of class, Drew & Louise Langsner showed up, having come up to Maine ahead of Drew’s class there the following weekend..here they are meeting Dave Fisher.
Dave and Eric Goodson both wrote about the class also –
I’m just back from two-plus weeks in Maine. Jogge Sundqvist came over from Sweden to teach a 2-day class in the techniques of sloyd; working riven green wood with axe and knife. It’s always greatly inspiring to work alongside Jogge.
I sat on the other side of the monitors while Lie-Nielsen shot a video the week before the class. Then after the class several of us, including Drew and Louise Langsner, took off on a mini-tour of coastal Maine, making several stops including a visit to Dickinsons Reach, the site of Bill Coperthwaite’s home for many decades. Here’s old friends and new: Drew Langsner, Peter Lamb, Louise Langsner, Jogge Sundqvist, Masashi Kutsawa.
It’s nearly 2 years now since Bill’s death, but as a small group of us explored his homesite, his impact was tangible. Jogge found tools and gifts from his father, Wille to Bill, and we spoke at length about the 1976 trip that landed Wille at the Langsner’s home in western North Carolina. Thus began Country Workshops, the school the Langsners have run since about 1977, which is where I met John (Jennie) Alexander in 1980 and Jogge in 1988.
Thanks to the staff at Lie-Nielsen, all the great students who came from near & far, and our hosts on the tour. More to come. Lots to think about. I have to sort out my desk, pay some bills and tend to some household stuff, then it’s back to woodworking. I’m so full of ideas, I don’t know where to begin.
No woodworking photos lately, too busy. I lost a bunch of time to car-shopping, I finally gave up on my 1999 edition and got a new used car. But as we have been working around the house this summer, we’ve been treated to seeing the red tailed hawks that nest somewhere near here. I have never found the nest, but every year, we meet a new hawk or two. They are particularly visible once they are out on their own, screeching & yelling as if to say “why aren’t you feeding me?” One of the juvies showed up tonight as we sat outside eating our dinner.
As I have been hewing the tulip poplar bowls, I’ve had some questions about those tools. I’ll show you the tools I use for this work, but I haven’t really concentrated on much bowl carving over the years, so only have a few tools for that work.
The hatchets/axes I use are the same for spoon carving; double-bevels, curved cutting edges. So I’ll skip over those and go right to the adze I use for initial hollowing. It’s made by Hans Karlsson, I got my first one from Country Workshops many years ago & it remains one of their most popular tools. http://countryworkshops.org/Store.html I just bought this 2nd one this year, knowing that when teaching it would be helpful to have some extra tools for students to try.
Here you see the new (left) and old (right) – I’m not sure the old one was ever as long as the new one is…did I really sharpen away that much metal in 25 years?
A nice new leather guard made by one of my students, Matt Schror, complete with embossed dragon. (if you’re inclined, write Matt about getting one – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Then, gouges. I use mostly bent gouges; those that have a long curve in the shank. My garden-variety ones are Swiss-Made, wide mostly, around 1 1/2″ wide. I use two “sweeps”, # 5 & 7. I have one narrow # 5, about 3/4″ wide, to finish off the shapes when the bowl is dry.
The best new gouge I have is one made by Nic Westermann, his “swan neck” gouge. I got mine through Lie-Nielsen. It’s unreal how good Nic’s tools are…
I sometimes use a few other tools; occasionally a straight-bladed carving gouge, like a wide #5, on the outside of the bowl. In some deep bowls, I have used these gouges, (poorly named “spoon” gouges – though you can’t effectively use them for spoons) – about 3/4″ – 1″ wide. Shallow sweeps, these are clean-up tools.
I use wooden mallets. My friend Drew Langsner, who has made so many hewn bowls it’s not funny, uses a steel hammer, with hooped gouges. Mine are two different weights. the larger hickory one is 30 oz., the smaller one is an equally hard unknown wood, and weighs 18 oz. When I need to remove more wood, I pick up the heavier mallet. (the small mallet was given to me by a student, and to my shame, I’ve lost track of who…if you’re reading, chime in, I’d love to give you credit. It’s a nice mallet).
Bench work I keep pretty simple. On a stout low bench, I use 3 pegs and a wedge to fasten the blank for adze work.
At the workbench, I added long wooden dogs to hold the shaped bowl for detail work inside & out. A notch on the inside face helps grip the handles.
Small bowls get blocks stacked inside to grab them in the face vise.
I have 5 videos out with Lie-Nielsen, two on decorative carving for furniture, one on making an oak framed (wainscot) chest, same for a chair, and the most recent one on spoon carving.
I shot a new one this spring on making carved oak boxes…with more to come later. Many of you have written & asked about downloading the videos, instead of buying a physical disc. Lie-Nielsen has been working on setting up streaming of their instructional videos, and the first few are now available on their website. They tell me they are re-arranging the website, but right now the video titles are here: https://www.lie-nielsen.com/search?q=Peter+Follansbee