Category Archives: Peter Follansbee

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)

 

PLYMOUTH CRAFT EVENTS

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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hurdle-making

Hurdles-

Just 10 riven parts

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Come out of oak trees

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And a few pins besides

Worked by hand

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photo by Marie Pelletier

With wedges and froes

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Hatchets and drawknives

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photo by Marie Pelletier

While the wood is green and forgiving

And all joined together

Satisfyingly

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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

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Who wants you experience

The joy of making useful things

From the tree itself

It’s a lesson in wood grain

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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

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photo by Marie Pelletier

And friendly company

Hurdles to keep

Your interest in green-woodworking

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photo by Marie Pelletier

Grazed and well-ordered

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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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Picked up Pieces

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

Inspiration greets this man everyday in his workshop:

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Bansky was here.

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

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

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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-

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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Ted Williams aka The Splendid Splinter

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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?

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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–

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GreenWood chairs made by locals in Central America.

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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.

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

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

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This guy Justin writes a really nice blog

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

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

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Capable is the new sexy.

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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:

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plumbing sext

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

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Melancholic carpenters are drawn towards the coping saw.

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

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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–

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He is a born teacher as well as a ROCK GOD

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

-MLB

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Why wait?

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Well that about covers it.
-tarp salesman

 

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PARTY ANIMAL

Well that joiner down by the river finally realized his dream the other day…

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With the help of several friends and neighbors, he raised a frame for his workshop.

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Farmers. office workers, artists, writers, and millers from down the street and from Canada, Australia, Maine–even Newton!–were all there to help.

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Mr Follansbee and Mr Woodburn take full responsibility for this darlin’ frame, nestled seamlessly into the hillside and made of salvaged materials laid out and cut on fair winter days this year.

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While it would have been special to see FREE BRADY carved on the beam, Peter opted instead for a date–4 digits which always ring familiar here in Plymouth County.

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And no frame ever is raised without a hitch or two.

This is how a joiner owns a mistake when he’s helping to build his own workshop:

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After a yeoman’s lunch, cooked on a fire partly fueled by discarded carved panels…

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…the frame seemed almost to finish itself-

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And Mr Follansbee applied a traditional flourish for the newly raised timbers.

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Then, when the last trenail was pounded, a sight rarely seen ambled its way down the hill…

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Look at that party animal.

And though PF doesn’t partake, he rewarded the generosity of those who came to help out in friendship.

It didn’t take long before the newly raised frame saw some of its first use…

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And as the sun set west of the river-

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-we all knew this would be a place where many wonderful things are created.

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Here is a link to Peter’s account of the frame and the process:

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/tag/timber-framing/

Also, here’s a video by Harry Kavouksorian of the raising:

https://vimeo.com/159696991

Lots of great things happening over at Plymouth CRAFT.

Check out the latest classes:

http://www.plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events

 

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Swept up Shavings

14 hand-planed thoughts from the dustpan of my mind–

1. We never wear white after Labor Day-

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2. A sawmill operator moonlighting as a rapper is called Lil Wane.

3. Prophecy found behind a wall shingle up at Hatch Mill, circa 1975:

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4. True story:

You’re hustling to finish up some joinery, just going along cleaning out a mortise…

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In your haste you drive the damn chisel too deeply into gnarly grain…

STUCK !

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So you pull and twist and pull again–maybe you shoulda had decaf this morning…

Like Arthur & Excalibur that blade is finally released from its bonds!

…and the butt promptly hits you square in your forehead–

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Instinctively, you thrust the chisel away from your head-

and straight into your thigh.

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You didn’t hear this from me, but the guy’s initials were Ted Curtin Jr.

Injury added to insult.

At least you needn’t hone the chisel afterwards.

(Props to the uber-talented artist Megan Stanley for the illustrations!)

5. Your irony game is strong, WD:

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6. This is what happens whenever you drink cider in Somerset, UK:

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Friar Keegan at work at Muchelney Abbey

7. Is this meant to be distracting?

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8. This could be us but you planing:

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9. From this morning:

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10. Puritans–can’t live with ’em, can’t get ’em to believe in transubstantiation-

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11.

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12. At a pie-shop in Reading:

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13. Sampe Fest is happening this weekend at the Plimoth Grist Mill.

If you’re local, go see Kim and the crew to learn all about this essential dietary staple–You’ll never have so much fun with ground corn!

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New Bread Basket author Amy Halloran will be there–

14. This is your last chance to see Peter Follansbee shave–

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–riven stock, that is.

Plymouth CRAFT has a couple openings left in the  Riving and Hurdlemaking–a Primer on Green Woodworking workshop this weekend.

While BLUE OAK doesn’t condone impulsive actions made while holding a draw-knife, act impulsively right now to save a spot!

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We just arrived-time to split

There are a lot of good people out there looking for meaning in their work…

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And we met a bunch of them at Plymouth CRAFT ‘s most recent workshop on riving wood.

Peter Follansbee led the group and wrote about it in Joiner’s Notes.

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We set up at the venerable 1677 Harlow House. Many thanks to wonderful host Donna Curtin and the Plymouth Antiquarian Society.

Under fair skies and the come-hither of a thousand birds…

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…we talked about trees and processed green wood into usable stock.

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While we cleaved oak and pounded ash, Charlotte Russell led a Plymouth CRAFT class for those who were more inclined toward the textile arts:

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And Paula Marcoux, of Cooking with Fire fame, made a workshop-lunch for us that was, in itself, worth the price of admission.

No sooner had we filled our teeth with poppy seeds then Mr Follansbee gave us a lesson in converting ash into splints–one growth ring at a time.

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It’s an almost magical process and a lot of fun to make a trial of.

It’s pretty much therapeutic. All of this “work” is, actually.

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All around, it was a great day for splitting for those who arrived.

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See you next time?

plymouthcraft.org

Here’s the video:

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Years of academy training wasted…

and other picked up pieces…

Woodworking

…and other craft is ultimately an exercise in patience.

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Working on some old window sash recently with my wife-who has INFINITELY more patience than I do–it occured to me just how much I had to recalibrate after a summer of swinging axes, running saws, and pounding chisels. I learn a lot watching Kim work. It’s not so much a gearing down–the work is just as intense. It’s more like taking a breath, observing smaller detail and using a smaller grouping of muscles. I tend not to yell as much when I’m repairing windows. So much can be accomplished with patience. I wish I had more of it.

Half-ball

…is a ball and stick game played with a tennis ball cut in half and a broomstick. Follansbee used to play this urban game on the mean streets of Weymouth, MA.

In ye olden tymes, we’d dust off the dregs of a long day, find a wall to pitch against, and play this game with an old shop broom.

This traditional street game needs to be taught to our youth, even those from the verdant cul-de-sacs.

Here’s the windup and the proof that even joiners can throw a pretty good curve:

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Speaking

…of Follansbee…

Got an old, Elizabethan reproduction spring-pole lathe turned green oak bowling pin made by a renowned joiner/lecturer/author lying around but no time to bowl?

Try this at home!

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Speaking

…of beards–

After a while you start shaving just so people stop dropping change in your coffee cup.

-Pret

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Pret

…should market his innovative, recycled edge-tool covers.

Here’s an orange juice container covering the end of a little adze-

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And here’s a tasty IPA package securing a saw blade:

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RE2PECT

You’re a bum!

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Wedge Bramhall

…was a great Plymouthian who left us this spring.

While his name suggests otherwise, he was anything but a divider.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by Bramhalls Country Store before they close for the season this Sunday, October 12.

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Fall

…kept us busy canning tomatoes on the home front.

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The grapes have been particularly sweet this year and there are lots and lots of acorns on the way.

The squirrels are going nuts.

And at a local living history attraction, autumn leaves are falling on old friends.

If you’re happen upon this image of Pret à Pilgrim, take a selfie and send it to BLUE OAK.

We’ll award something appropriate to the most creative submission!

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Old friend Alex caught up with 2-D Pret.

On-sitely humor:

That’s like a Finnish carpenter putting a Dutchman in a French door.

-Joe Chetwyn

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My kid

…demonstrated his understanding of irony the other day:

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Hewing in The Yard–a motion picture

It’s 2:23 long. It’s a video of guys chopping with axes.

Maybe you need a new hobby…I don’t know.

But at the end there’s a sweet “football” maneuver by Nigel,  who just may be the greatest  dog in the world.

Plus, there is reggae.

 

On another note…

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…there’s nice write-up about Peter Follansbee and his new work situation by Chris Schwarz of Lost Art Press:

http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/07/14/peter-follansbee-has-left-the-building/

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Ospreys like John Lee Hooker

 and other picked up pieces…

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Ospreys know what they like–fish and John Lee Hooker. Every time that blues genius queues up on our little speaker at the Jones River boathouse site, those river hawks come ’round chattering. I don’t have the (makes finger quotes) science to back that up, but you know, it’s John Lee Hooker.

Another reason to love wood–

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Michael’s door (above–destined for the Mirbeau site) is made out of cedar. It was sawn from–get this–recycled telephone poles! This western red cedar withstood 80 years of nor’easters and osprey nests until it was “felled” and sawn into boards and planks by our friends at Gurneys Sawmill. We first used it on our free-range, organic treehouse (I swear we’ll get back to that topic) and we’ll keep finding ways to recycle these old yankee poles.

Speaking of wood, mark the difference between a locust trenail and a white oak trenail. Both will do the job:

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We made these pins for the joint of a Peter Follansbee original:

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These decorative flourishes weren’t part of the initial build of our recent timber framed bridge. But the braces running up from post to beam were deemed a little too low and a potential head-banger. No problem. We raised the braces up the posts about half a foot. This left a gaping, unfilled mortise in the post. What to do?

When life gives you ADA requirements, make lemonade!

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Beautiful as they are, I had a panic attack driving the pins, with all that short grain. I’ll share that panic attack with you, dear reader, with this annoying GIF.

Needless to say, the draw-bore was very slight:

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Great work as always, Mister Follansbee. One of Peter’s birds told me that there’s going to be a Follansbee spoon-carving video out later this summer. Keep posted to his blog for the latest.

Meanwhile, Father’s Day is coming up…jus’ sayin:

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/book-dvds

We’ve got a couple of projects continuing this summer/fall:

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The Hatch Mill, in Marsh-Vegas, Mass, is an old water-powered sawmill which needs some TLC from MLB Restorations. With help from some plucky studentia of the North Bennet Street School–we’ve stabilized the lower frame and we will continue to bring it toward the community’s goal of making it a working mill once again. Stay tuned.

The Norwell water tower (below) is one of only a few remaining in our part of the world.

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The restoration of this unique building is at once challenging and exciting. Like my dog is at once a loyal companion and a vacuum cleaner. More to follow.

Finally, some of us are headed to England for a few weeks. We’re consulting on the rebuild of some stairs for a little tower in London.

Any-the-hoo, BLUE OAK will keep you up to date on our internationally friendly forays.

Somebody tell The Queen we’re coming–

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Happy Birthday, Justin and Andrew–

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