17th Century Carved Panel
with Peter Follansbee

Carving Series Level: Level I/II


In this two-day course, students will learn the steps and processes used to recreate carving patterns from seventeenth century furniture of England and New England. Starting with a single gouge and mallet, we will focus on technique and posture. Also considered are proportions, spacing and the relationship between background and foreground in establishing the pattern/design

Class Description

Each successive practice pattern builds upon the previous example, adding more tools and concepts. We will incorporate hand-pressure, mallet work, and the use of the V-tool in outlining designs. A compass, awl and marking gauge are used to layout the geometric basis for each pattern, but freehand work is included in each a well. 

A range of designs will be covered, all drawn from surviving examples studied in museum and private collections.
A segment of the course will be devoted to a pattern Follansbee calls an “S-scroll” and multiple versions of it will be explored. Students will learn ways to combine and contrast these patterns, adapting them for use as furniture accents. Some designs are applicable as narrow framing parts, others as wider panel designs in joined furniture. 
V-tool work, gouge work and shaping and modeling surfaces all will be addressed. Background punches will create a textured surface, offsetting the smooth texture of the original planed panels.
Various shop-made punches highlight the carved designs. Painted backgrounds will be exhibited and discussed, but will fall outside the scope of this weekend workshop. 
The final project in the class will be a panel design utilizing many of the techniques shown in the initial exercises



  • marking gauge
  • square
  • awl
  • compass/dividers (not with a pencil, steel ones that scribe a line) 
  • a miter square is handy sometimes, but not necessary
Generally I use a mixture of old and new carving gouges. English, American, German, Swiss...so a Tower of Babel when it comes to types, sizes and nomenclature.
Sweeps and Gouges
For many of my patterns, just a few tools are all that you need. A V-tool is standard. I like ones with a narrow profile. Then add a few gouges in a variety of “sweeps” or curvatures.
If in doubt, I lean more towards shallower curves rather than steeper ones. A couple of more pronounced curves are useful, but not too many. I use a very shallow-curved, narrow gouge for removing the background.  
When people ask me what sizes to get, I shrug and take a scrap of oak and whack an impression of my favorite tools into it. Like this: 
More developed designs use a greater number of tools, naturally.
This next version of the tools’ impressions adds a couple of sizes. Bring what you have and we can work with that. 
A mallet (I favor turned ones rather than square) and a hammer (for striking punches) should round out the tool kit for carving. 

More about this class

  • Class Notes
  • Blog Entries



Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $300
Materials Charge: $35

2013 Classes:

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.

Note: Sadly we did not get enough registrations to run this course. We intend to invite Peter back in 2014. Please let us know if you are interested.

April 27-28, 2013  17th Century Carved Panels Register



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