Saturday, October 10, 2009

Peter Follansbee

The biggest highlight for me at the WIA conference was meeting Peter Follansbee, maker of authentic reproduction 17th c. English and New England, highly carved furniture. Peter works at Plimoth Plantation building pieces to outfit the homes at the museum.

Peter lays out patterns with a compass, frame square, miter square, and awl (no pencils!). Some design elements are carved freehand, and background fields are carved with gouges and left faceted.

Imperfections are found in original pieces, so Peter allows them to remain in his work as well, explaining that our brains overlook discrepencies when viewing repeating patterns. Hence, Peter's work has a true old world appearance and charm.

I made a video which shows close ups and far away shots so you can see how he holds the carving tools. Notice that to make a shallower cut with the V-tool, he tips the handle down a bit. The handle is tipped up for a deeper cut. Too steep and the gouge will dig into the wood; too shallow, and the gouge will just skip off the workpiece.

Peter works mainly with red oak and chooses wood with tight grain. If the growth rings are too wide, the grain pattern is too distracting.

The photo with the block of wood shows cut marks for the gouges and V-tool that Peter uses in case you'd like to try this type of carving.

Check out Peter's blog for a list of reference material for 17th c. furniture.

Watch the video in high definition here.


Bill Satko said...

Being a fan of Peter's work, I really appreciated the photos and the video. Thanks!

Frank Vucolo said...

Excellent video, pics and text, as usual. Thanks.

And of course... great music. The bar was set high a while back with Bell Bottom Blues, but you keep coming through!

Off to iTunes to find some Michelle Shocked


Charles said...

You're videos are always such a joy to watch. They're little works of art in and of themselves!

Peter does some amazing stuff... Wow!

Bob Tinsley said...

Great video, Kari. I saw Peter when he was a guest on St. Roy's show. It's amazing how fast he is.


Kari Hultman said...

Bill, glad you liked them!

Frank, thanks! I'm not sure I'll ever find a song as good as Bell Bottom Blues, but I'll keep trying. One that surpasses it (for me) is Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.

Thank you, Sunshine. :o)

Bob, I couldn't wait to see him in action. In fact, I sat in on two of his seminars.

Megan Fitzpatrick said...

I shouldn't say this...but of all the presenters at WIA, he's the one from whom I most want to take a class (and make the perfect box to hold my complete Shakespeare doncha know!)

Kari Hultman said...

Megan, I couldn't agree more!

Shannon said...

This was hands down my favorite seminar at WIA. That's saying something too! I got some great footage too and I still wading through it to put up a post. I love how few tools he uses to create this stuff. It really lowers the barrier to entry to carving that a lot of labor under.


Brighton POD said...


Great blog, you obvoiusly share a passion with me. I am a carpenter from Brighton, England. My website is here:

I have added your blog onto my business blog here:

And you are on the roll of my furniture blog here:

Check them out and see what you think.. Look forward to your next posting! :)