This week I’m performing the final edit on Peter Follansbee’s forthcoming book, “Joiner’s Work.” If all goes to plan, it should be released in April.
Peter started work on this book eight years ago as a way to expand on the work from his book with Jennie Alexander, “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree.” The new book covers the construction of carved boxes, numerous chests, a bookstand and the fantastic geometric carving that blankets almost all of his woodwork – including his kitchen cabinets.
Because “Joiner’s Work” is firmly rooted in 17th-century American technique, it contains an outstanding guide to processing green wood from the log to the finished part. I don’t know anyone living who has done more of this sort of work, and so Follansbee offers no theories, ideas or concepts about green woodwork. Just hard-won experience: what works, what doesn’t and what to do when things go wrong.
The projects are similarly no-nonsense, and Peter declines to offer 21st-century precision – such as CAD-perfect construction drawings – as a way to build 17th-century work. Why? If you’ve seen 17th-century chests where the builder used a router to help carve the panels, then you probably already know the answer in your heart. It looks wrong and silly. Instead, Peter offers a flexible way of approaching the projects that allows you to use what you have on hand to create boxes, chests and other work.
My favorite section in the book is on the carving. Peter unlocks the simple geometry behind the patterns he uses and shows – step-by-step – how he lays out and executes each cut. He insists that the tools and techniques are simple. After reading it, I believe him. It is simple. It’s just amazing to me how the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Finally, I have to say something about Peter’s voice throughout the book. If you’ve ever taken a class from him or attended one of his lectures, you know he has a sharp wit. And he uses it to cut things apart. This book has the Full Follansbee. Reading it is like listening to the guy. It’s a delight to read.
We’ll post more details about the book, and when it will be available, shortly. “Joiner’s Work” was a long time in the making, but I promise it will be worth it.
— Christopher Schwarz