Peter Follansbee, one of the authors of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” dug up some photos of historical examples of chairs that Randle Holme drew in the 17th century.
The photos of chairs are here. Peter also wrote up a list of many of the terms for chairs and stools he has encountered in his research. Crazy stuff. Check it out here.
Also, since Peter left Plimoth last year he now has even more items that he sells on his blog – spoons, beautiful bowls and even some carved panels. If you like Peter’s stuff, this is a direct way to support his pioneering work. His current batch of items for sale is here.
Jennie Alexander requested that I show a photo of her bench hook (aka planing stop) that is made with a bit of saw steel. If you look close you can see the mortise she cut in front of the wooden pillar to prevent someone getting bit by the “toothy critter.”
Earlier this year I visited Jennie in Baltimore to interview her for an upcoming feature article I am writing about her life’s work – green woodworking and chairmaking. We also discussed some upcoming projects between her and Lost Art Press. More on that as it develops.
It is difficult to overstate Jennie’s influence on the craft. “Make a Chair from a Tree” – the first woodworking book published by The Taunton Press – changed the trajectory of many people’s lives, leading them into a lifetime of building things with their hands.
The chair that is the subject of that book is something both ancient and thoroughly modern. It is mixed with equal parts traditional joinery and Jennie’s personal approach to the craft and design. And while I have built many chairs during the last 20 years and sat in hundreds more made by fellow woodworkers, Jennie’s chair is the most perfect and delightful one I have ever encountered.
It is lightweight, strong, incredible comfortable and beautiful to behold.
When you sit in her chair, only one thing flashes in your mind: I must make one of these.
Even though I’ve been writing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years, it’s still a thrill to be on the cover or the front page. This month, a campaign-style bookcase I built for a customer is on the cover of the October 2014 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine.
The folding clamshell bookcase is my own design that is inspired by bookcases I have observed and measured during the last few years in my research for “Campaign Furniture.” The bookcase is in sapele. The finish is garnet shellac.
It’s a really good issue of the magazine, overall. And if you don’t subscribe, here’s where you can remedy that.
In addition to my piece, there’s a great article by Willard Anderson on restoring wooden-bodies bench planes. And Don Williams, the author of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible” has plans for a clever sawhorse that folds flat.
Oh, and Peter Follansbee, the author of “Make a Stool from a Tree” is now the Arts & Mysteries columnist. (Congrats to both Peter and the magazine.)
When I visited Peter Follansbee in his shop at Plimoth Plantation in 2012, it looked as if his shop had always been there and always would.
I wouldn’t call it cluttered, exactly. It was quite tidy. But it was filled with 20 years of tools, work and the bits and pieces that come with a joiner’s life. (For photos from my visit, go here.)
But after 20 years, Peter has left Plimoth to strike out on his own. On one hand, I could not be happier for Peter. Walking away from any organization with its meetings, internal politics and hassle is liberating. But it’s also the end of an era at Plimoth. It appears that Plimoth will not replace Peter.
Peter said they were talking about adding a candle-dipper and soap-maker in his place.
While I have nothing against candles or cleanliness, this is a step backward for woodworking research into the 17th century. Peter, Jennie Alexander and a few others have been at the core of exploring and understanding the lively and robust furniture and tools from the 1600s.
No longer will you be able to visit Plimoth and watch Peter dismantle oak trees with sharp tools and a sharper tongue.
But there is a bright side to all of this. Peter is not slowing down or retiring from joinery. I spoke to him a bit at the Lie-Nielsen Open House last weekend about his new life and he’s keeping quite busy with commercial work, carving spoons and bowls and (I hope) finishing up a book for Lost Art Press.
That book, tentatively titled “Joiner’s Work,” will focus on the tools, methods and typical pieces of a joiner from the 17th century. He’s been at work on the book for some time – now he just needs the shop space to finish it up.
So if you love Peter’s work like we do here at Lost Art Press, you can lend a hand by following his excellent blog, picking up a copy of his book or DVDs from Lie-Nielsen or perhaps buying a spoon or bowl from his web site. Peter’s no charity case, but every little bit helps when you are starting out on your own.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Hey Peter, sorry about the title of this post. I couldn’t think of a good Bob Dylan song to go with this post. Hence, Elvis.