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North House Folk School

Carved Decoration--17th Century English Style

Peter Follansbee has specialized for 25 years in making reproductions of 17th-century style oak furniture, based on originals from both England and New England. Most of this furniture features extensive carved decoration. This 3-day class will explore the carved decoration in great detail. Using just a few carving gouges, compass and mallet, students in this class will learn how to lay out and cut numerous forms, patterns and combinations of carved decoration. We’ll see how the shapes of the tools help determine the patterns, and how different techniques combine to complete different designs. Proportions, spacing and the relationship between background and foreground in establishing the pattern/design are key components of this work. Typically, we begin with very simple elements using just one tool, a small gouge, and the mallet. From there, each exercise expands on this foundation and each succeeding design adds more and more complexity. Various shop-made punches highlight the carved designs. A range of designs will be covered, all drawn from surviving examples studied in museum and private collections. We’ll run through a series of patterns, culminating in a full-scale pattern typical of a box front or chest panel. We’ll include a session looking at slides of surviving carved works from both England and New England.

Registration in the March 2017 session of this class includes participation in mini classes & excursions on Friday, March 3, as part of Wood Week for no additional tuition cost. More information will be provided after registration. Please plan to participate! Peter Follansbee will also give a public presentation on Friday evening.


Tue, Feb 28, 2017 - Thu, Mar 02, 2017 Course Full - Please call for wait list
(Early bird tuition deadline: 01/17/17)
* Sat, Mar 04, 2017 - Mon, Mar 06, 2017 Course Full - Please call for wait list
(Early bird tuition deadline: 01/21/17)

Course Details

Length in days:


$300.00 per student (Regular rate)
$285.00 per student (Early-bird rate)

Varies ($40 and up)

Beginner to Advanced

* The Feb 28, 2017 course is part of the Wood Week event

Making it happen:
  • When should I enroll?
  • Do you take last minute registrations?
  • When will new course dates be posted?

You will need the following tools for this class:

  1. Compass
  2. Awl
  3. Marking gauge
  4. Ruler
  5. Carving mallet
  6. Gouges: the following are designations from the Swiss-Made line of tools. You don’t need these exact sizes, just something close to them. Your designs will be determined by the tools you have: Gouge #9 Sweep 7 mm, Gouge #7 Sweep 18 mm, Gouge #9 Sweep 15 mm, Gouge #8 Sweep 18 mm, Gouge #5 Sweep 12mm, V-Tool #12 Sweep 8mm
Peter Follansbee Peter Follansbee

Peter Follansbee  began learning traditional woodworking in 1980 when he attended John D. Alexander's second chairmaking course at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops in Marshall, N.C. He continued to attend workshops there; studying a number of techniques; timber framing, basketry, spoon and bowl carving, Windsor chairmaking, etc. Following the inspiring example of one of his teachers there, Daniel O’Hagan, Follansbee gave away his power tools in the mid-1980s. He does not miss them. Starting in about 1988 he began an informal apprenticeship with John Alexander as they investigated 17th-century style joinery. This became Follansbee’s sole woodworking focus. From 1994-2014 Peter was the joiner at Plimoth Plantation. His work is seen in museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Chipstone Foundation’s collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. He writes furniture history articles for Chipstone’s journal American Furniture and a regular column “Arts and Mysteries” for Popular Woodworking Magazine. He co-authored with Jennie Alexander Make a Joint Stool from a Tree, (Lost Art Press, 2012). Follansbee’s next book with Lost Art Press is   on carved oak furniture, and is in the editing stages now. He has taught workshops around the country, and in the UK and Sweden.

More about Peter Follansbee
Carved Decoration--17th Century English Style

Carved Decoration--17th Century English Style

Carved Decoration--17th Century English Style