Spoon, Interrupted

If you’re like me you’ve been thinking, boy-howdy it’s been slow news these past few months, I sure could use a janky video of hairy dudes burning up spoons beneath a singing owl to stir things up.

We got you.

The backstory: A friend recently sent Paula Marcoux and Pret Woodburn a useful device (CharCone 24) to make small wood leftovers into charcoal. This act of generosity happened to align with Peter Follansbee’s need to rid his shop of spoons which, for whatever reason, didn’t make the grade.

Here’s the video evidence set to New Slang by The Shins.

(Video provided by Paula Marcoux–And sorry but that is not the late Christopher Lee making a cameo at :49)



While the masses stumble about in a pumpkin spiced haze, savvy Plymouth CRAFT people know there’s more to Autumn than imitation flavor-

Riving and Hurdlemaking Weekend is coming up-October 28-29th at the Pinewoods Dance Camp, the same camp where Greenwood Fest is held. Peter Follansbee, Pret Woodburn and me will help you build your own hurdle-gate and work with you to refine your green woodworking techniques and understanding of wood grain and edge tools. All levels of experience are welcome. There’s food created by the amazing Paula Marcoux and cozy lodging is available at the camp. Sign up soon-spots go fast.

Also, don’t miss the Autumn Celebration on September 29th at Plymouth’s own Mayflower Brewery. There’ll be a kimchi demo, accompanying Korean IPA, and music by local favorites The Dinghys. Sponsored by both Plymouth CRAFT and Edible South Shore and South Coast, you can sample the world while enjoying the locally grown and made.

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Barn the Spoon

We took a little break from cleaning up several hundred thousand woodchips and shavings the morning after Greenwood Fest 2017. 

It was then that Follansbee asked me to take out my phone and shoot a quick video with he and Barn-The Spoon-Carder, one of the festival’s presenters. Barn, you see, had just written a new book–SPON: A Guide to Spoon Carving and the New Wood Culture–and there was some confusion as to the proper pronunciation of the title. If you are remotely interested in spoon carving and green woodworking, this book is a must-own.

These two need to take this show on the road-

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The world is filled with people who are no longer needed. And who try to make slaves of all of us.


And they have their music and we have ours.

-Woody Guthrie




Just 10 riven parts


Come out of oak trees


And a few pins besides

Worked by hand


photo by Marie Pelletier

With wedges and froes


Hatchets and drawknives


photo by Marie Pelletier

While the wood is green and forgiving

And all joined together



photo by Marie Pelletier

To fold away your sheep

Or that cilantro

That you keep

Perhaps your look

Before it leaps-

Come learn from

The bearded man named Follansbee


Who wants you experience

The joy of making useful things

From the tree itself

It’s a lesson in wood grain


And efficient use of edge tools

Taught in the woods between 2 ponds

Where the fire will warm you

As you carve by the light of it

Nourished by real food


photo by Marie Pelletier

And friendly company

Hurdles to keep

Your interest in green-woodworking


photo by Marie Pelletier

Grazed and well-ordered


Still time to sign up for:

Riving & Hurdlemaking Weekend 

Splitting logs & practical applications, with Peter Follansbee and friends

Oct 29-30, 2016 9 am-4 pm 

Meals provided/lodging available

Pinewoods Dance Camp, 80 Cornish Field Road, Plymouth MA

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The Taming of the Screw

Couplets have been rhymed and codpieces have been salted away.

The Worcester Shakespeare Company bids farewell to another great summer of outdoor theater at The New Napkin Stage in Whitinsville, Mass.

For the last several years we’ve raised up an ongoing reproduction of a Shakespearean stage (based on London’s Globe Theatre) and taken it down when the play has concluded its run.

This makes us not a little melancholic-


But the show mustn’t go on…


Then the hammer says to the mallet, you catch my drift?







Mel and Chris are always there to help-



Mr. Starbuck wilt thou not chase the pumpkin spice latte?


Chiaroscuro or gtfo



Some of the players themselves came to lend a hand in the deconstruction-



Bucket o’ Pins, a seasonal delicacy-


Brace yourself-


So much drama and yet the post is still good as newel-


One of our crew (whose name begins with CHRIS) was once a roadie for a certain band…


If you think that is real marble then you are in the throes of a phallicy-


Phallicy, because, you know, phallic.

Arise, I bid thee!


Soon to be roaming numerals-




When Broseph needs a smoke now, and then-


So they loaded up the truck and moved to Chiltonville…








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Picked up Pieces

The grain always changes direction around a knot, and other deep thoughts…

Inspiration greets this man everyday in his workshop:


Bansky was here.


Anyone who’s ever peeled a potato is a carver. But some just take it to another level:


If you can say, that was my father’s saw, generally you can consider yourself lucky.


The Christmas Tree Shop, at the gateway to Cape Cod, boasts the largest thatched roof in the USA. I think about that when I’m inside buying cheap sponges and cookies in metal tins from Denmark-



This English oak was already 100 years old when the Normans came to dinner:



Job-site planing is basically hatcheting. Get that shit done, son.


Hey Follansbee, we found this perfect half-ball at the job-site in Norwell:


You bring the broomstick I’ll bring the Fanta Grape-


See that house? The new one with the plastic shingles, vinyl windows, and a witches brew of whatnot imposing itself on that little pond?


Roughly 225 carving knifes, 148 bowls in various shapes, a few stock knives and a football stadium full of hand-wrought spoons, all drove past it on the way to Greenwood Fest 2016.

It’s all about the juxtaposition.


I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t say WICKED PISSAH again until they re-animate Teddy Ballgame’s frozen head-


Ted Williams aka The Splendid Splinter


Just came back from our tax dude…he made a snide comment about students majoring in Underwater Basket Weaving and I was like, what’s so wrong with that?


Scott Landis of The Workbench Book fame, is a driving force behind GreenWood, a visionary enterprise making the world a better place by saving forests, aiding local economies, and producing beautiful work: http://www.greenwoodglobal.org/

Take a minute to check them out–


GreenWood chairs made by locals in Central America.


When the applewood ladle I clumsily made in the late 80’s finally fails, I want it to go in the line of duty, stirring a big pot of Nana’s favorite spaghetti sauce.


Before Prozac, men with large mustaches and hand tools would chamfer all the sharp corners in the world.


Have you seen this? JoJo is on the cutting edge of making traditional craft relevant again:


This guy Justin writes a really nice blog

Here’s his fresh take on Follansbee’s 17th-century furnishings in their natural habitat:


The Great Pyramid of Giza is out of square and we’re all looking at you, ancient aliens.


Capable is the new sexy.


We had an amazing visit with Plymouth wonders David B. and Elizabeth C. last month and there’ll be more about that later.

Meanwhile the sophomore in me couldn’t resist taking a picture from one of David’s many esoteric books:


plumbing sext


The wet/dry shop vac is the most ambiguous of the tools.


Melancholic carpenters are drawn towards the coping saw.


Sincere question from a novice carver: How do you know when your carving is done?


Gonna go out on a limb here and say that Jögge Sundqvist’s work is among the most colorful, naturally-inspired craft going on in the world right now–


He is a born teacher as well as a ROCK GOD


That’s not music–it’s a rhythmic working pattern.



Why wait?



Well that about covers it.
-tarp salesman




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instant coffee and 8 pennys

This is a story about grandpas–those tinkering, puttering, handy fellows who did unheralded and often excellent work down in their basement shop while managing to keep things impossibly organized.

It’s a story from a bygone era full of snappy jingles, instant coffee and brands and vendors which permeated a time when people smoked inside. stowed their ashes in avocado green ashtrays and framed picture windows with orange curtains.

I helped a friend clean out his late grandfather’s shop recently.

There was a dumpster in the driveway. It stood beckoning, its open end like a mouth waiting for us to just chuck everything inside and walk away.

But we all agreed it would be wrong to junk so many things which were not only still useful, but were a physical memory of a life spent creating and organizing with such a careful attention to detail.

The milk crates we carried up from his workshop were brimming with cans and jars, themselves full of hardware and organized down to the last finish nail. This was an autobiography written from storm window fasteners and curtain rod hardware.

Metal cans with marked lids are a must in every organized basement shop:


The decorative finish is a bonus and would brighten any workspace-


Clearly coffee was an important component of grandfather’s life, as it should be:



Though he seemed willing to try different brands…



And he experimented with diverse methods of brewing as well-



Perhaps the good folks at Mansion Inn were on to something with their new and fancy keyless can




This coffee staple contained not staples but galvies-


There were jars–relics, really–which evoked fond memories of stores long-since closed.


Still, even at 39 cents, I’m not buying-


The brands grew less familiar as we dug towards the bottom of the milk crates-


I once got margarine on my dungarees while riding my stingray.

And this is what happens to your margarine when it freezes, kids:


Peanut butter was very well-represented in grandpa’s basement shop-



Choosy mothers may have chosen Jif, but not our man:


That label on the Skippy jar says Angelo’s and some of us still call the little supermarket in Manomet, MA by that name, though it’s gone now 30 years.


Churned for easier spreading also makes for a great conversation starter about the ‘birds and bees’-


You had us at churnt. The contents within are inconsequential.


Some labels kept it simple and needed no further elaboration-



I can only imagine the glory of those long-forgotten condiment wars, between the Mastermixt, the chilling and the beating til fluffy:



Has anyone written French’s for recipes lately? Can we download a PDF?


This particular jar reminds us that it is delicious as we throw up in our mouth a little-



As the jars became smaller, so their contents turned more esoteric:


SHOE COLORING, by Lady Esquire.


All that glitters retains its full flavor when the cap is replaced-



Obligatory baby food jars-


Looks like stewed peaches for Brad-


The magic happened…


on shelf #3-


Paper goods, in such excellent condition, reveal a knack for careful curating as well as a dry basement-



And this–a faux-grained paper to class-up your pedestrian containers:


When was the last time you made a “small” wastebasket from a potato chip can?

And you just don’t hear the word trinket enough anymore-


Doesn’t it always seem to be the smallest things which remind you most of someone you miss?

I never knew this man but it feels like I did.

We raise our hot-dog-relish-jar to a life spent in quiet craft and exemplary organization in a basement workshop from another era-

One which we can still learn from.










Wilford Brimfield

Brimfield Flea Market, 2016


Elvis will leave the building for $75-

Haunted Raggedy Ann dolls and enormous phallus carvings notwithstanding, the most enduring image from that day at the biggest outdoor flea market this side of Worcester was that of the tall and ripped gentleman reverently holding up a 4′ bucking saw. I thought, this jacked dude was born to use that saw–he probably comes from a line of French/Canadian lumberjacks who crosscut the Northwest Passage!  It was only when he turned the saw over and I saw it richly detailed with painted flora and fluffy sheep and whatnot that I realized what a gross generalization I’d made. This man had no intention of using his prized objet d’art beyond hanging it above his mantle at home. And that’s ok.

Brimfield caters to every taste.

I happened upon a re-purposed tool myself:


Some playful human had turned this lovely beetle into, well, a beetle. The seller, god bless him, wasn’t aware of the visual pun he was selling but he assured me that it came from the classic RING THE BELL carnival game of testing one’s strength. For my part, I was drawn to the rings and the overall reasonable condition of the head and handle. The head was close-grained and hard, possibly elm but I’m not sure. I told him that I planned on using it as a splitting tool and for knocking framing timbers together though I’m not sure he understood or particularly cared. He parted with it for $8.

Gems and junk did jump together up and down that long strip of tents and vendors.


Like many of you, I was drawn not so much to the colorful and bold, but the muted rusting things on the fringes and under the tables, scanning more for overall hue than for detail. That’s often where the real finds are.

Several of the proprietors were already beginning to pack up for their next gig.

Under a large tent beneath a table, I found this box before the man from Maine stowed it away. I had no idea what was inside, if anything, but the box alone was worth a better look.


Mr St. Charles kept very good care of his saws–a mix of crosscut and ripping. While I’m not usually in the market for old handsaws, Maine made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He really didn’t want to lug it all back down east.

Thank you, Edward. I hope to give these saws as good a home as you once did.


There was a notable lack of chisels at this season’s Brimfield. Overall, there seemed to be fewer tools than I remember.

But for my boon companions, there were treasures around every corner:


My wife is a miller. Gears, man. Gears are her thing.

And has there been a good pencil sharpener made in lo these last 40 years?


No one knew what this was-


No doubt Kevin had the find of the day with his bell-bottomed leather sexy-time pants:


And I was compelled to spend time with this compelling fellow below.

I call him Andy.

Andy and I spoke for hours on existential despair, proper use of sunscreen, and the best places to find Pokémon:


shhh, my friend, shhh–just let the zinc oxide do its work…

Amy carried my new beetle as well as a 4-foot crow bar for most of the hot afternoon because she is stronger than me and she apparently misses the fleshly mortifications of the Appalachian Trail.


It was hot, it was late, we were running out of gas and we were running out of kettle corn.


Kevin, impulsively, donned his new leather bell bottoms, rode a rainbow across the road and hitched a ride with the groovy kids on the bus.


He was last seen in Vermont with Andy and Elvis.


You know you can receive an email notification when I post this drivel, right?

Just pick a single post and scroll ALL the way down to the bottom for the FOLLOW button. 



Playing many parts-

Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.

(Act II, Scene I, As You Like It)

That’s some dank verse, Will.


Amy with the season’s first performance on The New Napkin Stage.

A few years ago, we cut a frame for the non-profit Worcester Shakespeare Company and their Artistic Director Mel Cobb, who helped with the building of the replica Globe Theatre in London.

Each summer WSC performs Shakespeare along the scenic Blackstone River in Whitinsville, Mass. It’s a talented and energized group from all over the world who put on the best Shakespeare locally. This year’s play is As You Like It.

For us, it’s a July tradition to truck the stage’s many parts 60-odd miles from Plymouth where they are stored for the off-season.

 Once we remember which part goeth where, that puppy is raised.


As is tradition, Mel, Chris, and all the players help us raise the timbers.



The “pillars of Hercules” were made out of a single piece of pine. The impossibly talented Pen Austin painted the faux marble.


Detail of Pen’s “heavens” panels.

A little more has been added to the stage each year, bringing the experience that much closer to the ol’ scribe’s original vibe.

After we raised the main stage, we scooted back to the framing yard to cut this year’s addition: A 2-story wing off stage left consisting of chambers for Lords and Ladies, who, historically, wouldn’t be caught dead with the hurly burly down below in the cheap seats.

Michael laid the frame out via proportional geometry, which is a whole other story.


With the help of several chisel and saw jockeys, we got busy cutting. Scene 1, Act 1 was breathing down our necks.


Amy and Kevin cutting joints in iambic pentameter.



Brock paring a tenon for The Bard



MLB test-fitting braces to avoid a Shakespearean tragedy.


As You Like It, A Space Odyssey.


nonplussed pussy

Sweet are the uses of adversity…

(Act II, Scene I)


Rain made an unexpected cameo in the second Act.


You and you are sure together,

As the winter to foul weather. 

(Act V Scene IV)

A week’s work done and the stage, of many parts, to be continued…


Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.

(Act V Scene II)



First performances are just underway and continue through August 21st.

Click below for information on the Worcester Shakespeare Company’s 2016 Season:


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The tuba plays E then F, ominously

It’s the height of summer in these parts-


Your kitty is high on cat-nip RIGHT NOW.

Great whites continue to snack on grey seals in local waters, fireworks have been going off non-stop for 47 months, the sweet, sweet smell of lighter fluid permeates your neighbor’s backyard (that sure seems like a LOT of lighter fluid, Wayne) and the gypsy moth caterpillars have been doing their part to defoliate every tree in North America.

Dive right in folks-it’s fleeting.

So it’s only natural we should be working a project on Summer Street in the heart of America’s Hometown.

The house in question is situate between the iconic Town Brooke on one side-


Ye brooke where pilgrims once drank, bathed, and body-surfed.

and ye John Carver Inn on ye other:

And his wifi, being a weak signal, died within five or six weeks minutes check-in-

I may have died the first winter but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a clean room and cable- J.C.

It’s a busy little strip with a downtown vibe. The traffic is, shall we say, a presence. Lots of big trucks. I’m quite certain I’ve seen a few carrying pods. There’s a parade of tuned cars with subsonic bass only Australians can hear. And happy folks wearing colorful shirts and fanny packs on their way to or fro the happenin’ and must-see Plimoth Grist Mill.

The logistics of a project in this setting present us a bit of a challenge.


It’s a wee fishbowly, as it were. We’ve taken to wearing matching socks to work.

Kevin’s been holding down the fort while I’ve been away. His spirit is indefatigable. He lives in a House of Seven Indefatigables.

He’s been replacing sill sections, laying out and cutting new post bottoms, and doing the CSI necessary to come up with a plan of action. All this while a very nice family continues to make this their home.

But as great as Kevin’s work is, this is not a one-man job. Progress has been understandably slow.

Even the most hesitant of projects often have a turning point, though, a moment when the something clicks and fires the imagination and everything begins to gather momentum. When more things go right than go wrong. When you find something so cool you need to say HEY LOOK AT THIS to the startled tourist from Albany strolling by.

So today we opened up the east end of the house. The post, decayed, needed out. It will come out in sections.


As we cut the bottom of the old post free from its horizontal girt-


The exposed tenon proved to be in reasonable shape and fair quality for re-use in the new post’s mortise.

Every time we uncover history like this, when we open up something that’s been housed away for years, it gets me. I have no idea who the carpenter was. Even if I knew his name, chances are it would tell me less than the remainder of his work.

And despite the centuries, that connection is strong.


Granted it’s got a few miles on it, but you’ve gotta look past the surface. Beauty.

Check out the hewn away taper on the inside face (left as shown) of the girt down to the tenon. Efficiency trumps (did I just use that word?) beauty.


This sort of standing-house archaeology is appealing not only to the analytical brain, but also to the part which likes a good story.

We take measurements as we go, salvaging the pieces of the old to make a template for the new. Little pieces and bits are reconstructed.

And all carpenter’s marks, from whatever century, tell a story. “Finish that girt ‘ere dinner, goodman, or I shall box thee thine ears.”

It’s both familiar and comforting. It’s as if the old pieces reinforce your own technique, your own frustrations with gnarly grain, your own workmanlike approach to getting a job done well and in a timely manner.

Here’s to rolling on this project, like the brook rolls down in the hollow, like the traffic rolls through a downtown summer.


Also, these guys for no reason other than they are really good and we need some of that today:



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