Make a 17th Century Carved Box

with Peter Follansbee

One reason that 17th century woodworking is interesting is that this is the historic period just before the advent of the industrial revolution. In the 17th century woodworkers were still using hand tools that were actually handmade. Materials were prepared directly from a natural source. This meant that woodworkers were really woodworkers; they had to actually complete every step in the conversion of a log to a finished product.

Class participants will use the same types of tools and techniques that woodworkers in New England used in the 1600s. The project is a carved oak box, complete with hinged lid. The approximate size is 6” height, 14” length and 8” wide.

The course begins with riving billets with wedges, froes and a club from a freshly cut, high grade red oak log. These are sawn to length and hand-planed to become flat boards that will be the sides, top and bottom of the box. Scrub and smoothing planes will be used, along with a try square and winding sticks. The box front and sides are embellished with low relief carving before doing the joinery. Carving tools include a mallet and various small gouges, scratch awls, a compass and punches (used to create surface textures). The sides utilize a rabbet joint (handmade, of course) secured by rived oak pegs and traditional hide glue. The box utilizes wooden pintle hinges and hand wrought nails to secure the lid and bottom. The course also includes a slide lecture on 17th century joinery.

The tuition is $975. This includes: materials, use of specialty tools, meals and accommodations. Students will bring a kit of the more common tools that are needed.

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