Wednesday, February 9, 2011

17th Century New England Carving DVD

Many of you are familiar with Peter Follansbee who builds authentic reproduction 17th century New England furniture and writes the blog Joiner's Notes.

Peter works almost exclusively in oak. He splits the logs, planes the boards, carves them, and joins them. From start to finish, he works wood exactly as they did three centuries ago.

Most of his pieces include ornately carved designs which mimic those found in museums and private collections—pieces he has examined first-hand.

Lie-Nielsen produced an 88-minute video in late 2010 featuring Peter and his carving techniques. In the movie, Peter explains the tools and materials, and the postures and grips needed to replicate these patterns.

You only need a few carving tools (he uses four or five gouges and a v-tool, awl, dividers, square, ruler, marking gauge, punches, and mallet) in order to produce this style of carving. This is great news for those who would like to try their hand at it but who don't want to part with a ton of money.

The proper handling of tools, and the procedure for carving decorative motifs and three different patterns are thoroughly covered. Peter starts with some practice cuts, followed by a simple repetitive design and two more layouts which escalate in increasing complexity upon the first.

Peter very clearly and concisely explains and demonstrates his techniques. He removes all the guesswork and leaves you feeling confident about being able to accomplish this style of carving.

The video captures various angles while Peter is working—close up and far away—so you can see his stance, the way he holds the tools, and the cuts he's making.

Included in the DVD are pdfs of some simple layouts, a glossary of terms, a list of selected reference material, and a photo which shows the incisions made by Peter's tools so you can see the sizes and sweeps of the gouges.

If you are interested in learning to carve pieces like this, the video will definitely help you. Combine that with the vast amount of knowledge that Peter generously offers for free on his blog, and you will have a firm grasp on how to do it.

In case you've never seen Peter in action, you can view a video I shot of him at the WIA Conference in 2009 which shows some of his fancy moves.

Here is a link to an article that Peter wrote for Woodwork magazine in 2009 which shows one of the patterns that is featured in his DVD.

Peter was featured on a Woodwright's Shop episode—season 27, number 2701. Here is the link.

The photo of the carved box is from Peter Follansbee's website.
The photo of Peter is one I took at WIA.


Dyami Plotke said...

Looks, neat Kari. While we're on the subject of carving, how's your relief carving coming?

Badger Woodworks said...

I highly recommend this DVD, I've watched it multiple times now.

Also, if you're looking to pick up his set of tools in "swiss made" I've gotten the numbers/sizes figured out. You can check out the tool set here in my blog.

Hope that helps.


Kari Hultman said...

I had to put it on the back burner, Dyami. I'm hoping to get back to it in a few weeks.

Kari Hultman said...

Badger, thanks for the additional information!

gchpaco said...

There were a lot of points earlier in the DVD where he would adopt what I thought was a really weird chisel position (where he's holding it with his fingertips as it points roughly toward him) and wondering why when I've needed to do that, I've never needed that particular motion.

Then, it came to me; I just switch hands. Ambidexterity is weird.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari. Peter was also featured on the Woodwright shop season 27 show number 2701 here is a link to it online at PBS


Shannon said...

Thanks for the review Kari, I have been eyeballing this since it came out and have put it off cause I have too much else to do right now to be distracted by this style of carving. It is inevitable and your review just made it a priority.
I cannot agree more with Kari about Peter's knowledge and presentation style. His lecture at WIA in 2009 was my favorite by far. He is a student of the furniture and the period and really brings it to life when he talks about it. I don't normally drop links to my own site, but if anyone is interested, this was my take on his WIA presentation.

Kari Hultman said...

Excellent, Kevin. Thanks for the link--I added it.

Shannon, Peter's presentation that year was also my favorite. I heard that from other people as well.

Kari Hultman said...

Gchpaco, he did show some handholds that I'm guessing speed up his cuts because he doesn't need to rotate his body—just alter his grip.

Alex Comes said...

I'm always impressed by carvers. I've no carving experience whatsoever. When I look at the pic with Follansbee pointing, it looks like it would take a lifetime to carve that.

How many hours would a skilled carver put into something like that?

Kari Hultman said...

Alex, once you break it down into steps, carving is something that many people can do. The other thing is, if you get into carving and really like it, time flies. It's a very Zen form of woodworking.

Al said...

I had the same question as Alex. How many hours would go into a piece like that?

Kari Hultman said...

I asked Peter how long it took him to carve the large piece in the last photo and he guessed about 12 hours. No more than 15, he said.

Helen said...

Thanks for the review Kari!! After my first carving project, I think I am hooked :). It is certainly very meditative :)!