I just watched this new DVD and thoroughly enjoyed it. Peter makes joined furniture from green wood mostly oak in the 17th century style at Plimoth Plantation Museum in the US. He has seriously studied the craft learning much from original pieces and recreating exactly the techniques, toolmarks and spirit of the work. This chair is currently available on his website.
The new DVD is produced by Lie-Nielsen toolworks and available here
Having been a keen follower of Peter’s excellent blog for a couple of years it was a pleasure to see and hear him chatting about his work. The recording style and editing is how shall we say….well it’s a bit like cookery programs in the 1980’s Peter stood behind his bench talking to camera, a bit like early Delia Smith but then I guess that is probably the sort of presentation that many amateur woodworkers like. That is my one and only criticism and once he picks up his tools I was enthralled. He runs through a range of simple projects gradually building skills and showing first how he does each layout then cut, the body stance and method of holding and directing the tool for greatest efficiency. The he gets to work, it’s not a “that’s how you do it and here’s one I carved earlier” you see him run through the whole repetitive carving, done at speed so you get a feel for the flow of the work which is important.
I think there are two important parts to distance craft learning, inspiration and instruction. This DVD is good on the instruction and many will already have been inspired by Peter’s blog so that is OK. I would have liked to see more finished pieces in the DVD and maybe some close up images or original carvings and a bit of Peter talking about how he loves the old work and what inspires him. I would have liked a DVD that captured more but in truth it does what it says on the tin, it is about 17th century carving not about furniture making.
If you fancy having a go at this sort of carving or have enjoyed Peter’s writings and fancy seeing how the work flows then the techniques are very well illustrated here. I have no doubt most folk given this DVD and a set of chisels could make some nice carvings.
For another view read Kari Hultman’s review on her great Village Carpenter blog here and I think my favourite bit of the lot is Peter making a box on Roy Underhill’s woodright’s shop episode 2710 here.