Peter lives in Kingston, Ma., in an early 19th-century house. He worked as a joiner at the Plimoth Plantation for more than 20 years. The Plantation is a living history museum that depicts and interprets the English and Wampanoag cultures in the early 1620s in Plymouth. Most of what he did at the Plantation, he says, “was joiner’s work, using riven green oak planed at the bench.
“Joiner’s work” refers to the way furniture is held together—some dovetails, some simple rabbet joints, secured with nails or wood pegs and glue. He is steeped in the 17th century methods of woodworking with most work done using drawbored mortise-and-tenon and frame-and-panel construction. The only tools required are several planes, two chisels, a marking or mortise gauge, an awl, a square, a mallet, and a boring tool—in other words, no modern machine tools.
Peter is also an expert carver. His style of carved decoration takes “inspiration from furniture and woodwork from both England and New England, spanning most of the seventeenth century. Geometric, floral and architectural elements combine to make up the designs. First-hand examinations of oak furniture in both public and private collections provide the material upon which my work is based, which I do in the traditional manner from riving oak logs and working the green wood with hand tools.
Peter is a sought-after instructor who teaches classes nationally. He has many videos to his credit, including instructional DVDs produced for Lie-Neilson Toolworks, Preview of 17th Century New England Carving and Steve Branam’s Peter Follansbee at SAPFM . His book, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to 17th-century Joinery, was written jointly with Jennie Alexander.
Photos courtesy of Popular Woodworking-The Chris Schwarz Blog.