Beginners Guide To Pole Lathe – Peter Wood

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with all round nice guy and the uber talented Peter Wood, founder of the renowned ‘Greenwood Days’ which is one of Britain’s top centres for green woodworking located on the border between Leicestershire and Derbyshire (UK)

Peters Website –

Peters Facebook –

Peters Instagram –

Peter has been involved in the green woodworking space for almost half a century and is considered one of the best pole lathe turners around

So when he asked if I was up for filming a detailed series of tutorials covering pole lathe for beginners, I couldn’t say yes fast enough We ended up filming a comprehensive five part series on pole lathe for beginners


The Difference Between a Mechanic and a Good Workman

Everyone who is familiar with any line of manufacture has heard both of these terms applied to artisans in wood a great many times. Frequently the words mean the same thing. Nevertheless, there may be a marked difference between the classes.

The mechanic is a man whose brains are everlastingly creating something. He is dissatisfied. Constantly he is coming up with a rig or device to enable him to do a given piece of work in quicker time.

Someone has said that the mechanic is constitutionally lazy so far as his hands are concerned, that his chronic discontent is always trying to devise ways and means of making the machines do his work for him.

Now the mechanic may or may not be skilled in the use of hand tools and even may be lacking in accurate work at the machines. In many instances a good mechanic is not capable of doing the very finest of hand work though in most cases he is a good workman as well as a mechanic.

On the contrary, the good workman is one skilled in the use of tools. He takes pride in perfect joints and in accurately finished work. A good workman may or may not be a fast workman, but he is precise and painstaking. His mind is generally not hampered by trying to devise a lot of new ways of doing a thing. He is satisfied with making it the best he knows how and by the good old way.

Your good workman, however, speedily recognizes the advantages of quicker and better methods. He also gives a warm welcome to the advantage of special tools or devices as quickly as anybody. We have known of a case where one mechanic in his noon hour dissertations at the shop would eventually set several good workmen at the construction of devices to assist them in their work and then these workmen would receive the credit for having originated the schemes, while the credit was in the first place really due the man who was so busy thinking of other devices that he had no time to develop the many things which he had already suggested.

A mechanic is properly catalogued under the term “inventor,” though the talent may be only so far developed that the possessor gets no farther than clever adaptations of the work in hand. A mechanic does not always make a good foreman. He always wants to change things, while the foreman is put in that place to see that the men under him turn out a product which the manufacturer can sell.

There is probably no class of men who lose themselves more completely in their tasks than true mechanics. When a man of this type concentrates his thought on a problem or series of problems outside matters have to wait; surrounding conditions, personal aggrandisement, all must await his pleasure; in short, he lives in his studies.

Success may come his way, failure may be his lot, but the delicious dream of improvement lures him on. Many are the rosy prospects that have brightened the mechanic’s path, difficulties have lent zest to his pursuit of the game, the tragedy of poverty has stalked through his romance, out of a multitude of inventions, his own may have never emerged from the patentable process into prosperous manufacture, yet he is kindred to these richly rewarded few who have scored with greatest success in the industrial work of the world. Good workman and prolific mechanic deserve all the reward that can come their way. They are the salt of the earth, the stirring prose and poetry of our times.

Upgrading the Magazine

Your heads must be spinning with all the changes, I know mine is, but that’s all part of growth.

Plans were not free with the magazine, but I have decided that they should be. So, they are now part of every new purchase. With every purchase you’ll get the plans free. With all the other magazines they include their plan as drawings on their page. If you wanted a proper fully detailed drawings you need to purchase it from them. Mine is free with purchase of the magazine. I think this is fair.

I have emailed the plans to everybody who made a purchase of the latest Issue and the previous Issue IV. Those who put fake emails have dipped out. I will never email you unless I really, really have to.

To move on. Some were surprised to see a price tag on the latest Issue. I have made the announcement in the previous issue in the “To Our Reader” Here is a copy of what I wrote:

The cost of producing “The Lost Scrolls of Handwork” has reached a point that is beyond one man’s income. Of the seven issues released to date, six have been free of charge. I thought it would be possible to continue providing a free magazine but as it stands, I can no longer burden my family with the cost. I hope you can understand my predicament. Beginning with Issue 8, I will start charging US$5.00 for the magazine, and it will be available through Etsy. The magazine has grown and improved since it was first released in June 2017 and it can continue to grow with your support. Please consider purchasing future issues to help ensure the magazine – and our craft – continue.

I wanted this magazine to be a community based magazine that would be freely available to everyone interested in the craft. Seeing that no one other than Matt McGrane would devote an iota of their time towards the magazine, it forced me to solely shoulder the responsibility of not only writing all the articles, but shoulder all the associated i.e. material costs in doing so. I wore these costs as long as I could, but can no longer do so. Timber comes from trees, but unfortunately money doesn’t. I want this magazine to be a self-supporting magazine, this is the only way to ensure its growth and survival.  I have no money I can pour into this magazine. I must do what I can with the little I have and so far I think with Matt’s help I’ve done a lot. My gratitude always goes out to Matt, without his editing skills there would be many people scratching their heads what am I trying to say.

The magazine will be US$5.00 with the plans included in every Issue that comes out from now on.

I may not produce an Issue in a timely fashion only due that I work 14 hours a day, but I produce and have produced eight issues in a two-year period. I think given the circumstances that’s an achievement to be proud of.

Issue 8 October 2019 OUT NOW!


It’s been a long haul that I never thought it was going to get completed.  Complete it is though with many great articles including the “Wooden Book Stand” project. Book stand holders have been around for hundreds of years. The one I designed is to be used in a seated position. The book holder is a swivel type that’s locked in position by turning the wooden screw and nut. There are many challenging aspects of this project, but none that is too difficult to complete. The stand is made out of pine, I show you how I create a blotch free finish using spirit stains that in normal circumstances isn’t possible.

The plans are available for purchase in my Etsy Store

Issue 8 is available in my Etsy Store.



Some Wonderful Educational Videos from Yale University

Making a Wainscot Chair

This video shows Kingston, Massachusetts, joiner Peter Follansbee, undertaking several steps in the process of recreating a wainscot chair, like the example from Swansea, Massachusetts (later Warren, Rhode Island), ca. 1680, on view in the exhibition “Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830”. The video captures the rough shaping of the legs with a hatchet, the smoothing of those surfaces with planes, and the creation of the geometric floral ornament on the back panel and crest with chisels, a mallet, and steel stamps.

Tall Case Clock with Automated Dial

This groundbreaking exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks. Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies, and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export. The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century. Reflecting on one of New England’s most important artistic traditions, Art and Industry in Early America encourages a newfound appreciation for this dynamic school of American furniture making.

Making a Banister-Back Chair

In this video, made for the exhibition “Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830,“ Sedgwick, Maine, furniture maker Joshua Klein reproduces a banister-back chair in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. The maple and ash chair was made in Rhode Island, probably sometime between 1720 and 1800. From splitting the wood from a log, to turning the chair parts on a treadle lathe, to the final assembly, the video provides detailed views of each step in the process.

Making a Claw-and-Ball Foot, Shell, and Dovetails

This video shows Rhode Island furniture maker Jeffrey Greene demonstrating the techniques eighteenth-century Rhode Island cabinetmakers used to create signature aspects of their work, including carving a claw-and-ball foot with undercut talons, designing and carving an applied shell, and cutting the fine dovetail joints for which Rhode Island makers were renowned. The demonstration pieces Greene made for the video are available to be handled in the exhibition “Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830.”

Yale University Art Gallery: Furniture Study

The Furniture Study houses more than 1,100 works from the Gallery’s collection of American Decorative Arts. This installation of chests, tables, chairs, desks, clocks, cupboards, looking glasses, and woodturnings charts important stylistic developments in American craftsmanship and design. Since the opening of the Furniture Study in the 1960s, efforts have been made to acquire a representative selection of works that offer the opportunity for in-depth study of both stylistic development and regional differences. The Furniture Study also houses a selection of historical tools associated with woodworking and cabinetmaking. The collection is particularly strong in colonial and Federal furniture, mostly from the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection.

Musical Tall Clock

Benjamin Willard (American, 1743–1803) Musical Tall Clock Grafton, Massachusetts, ca. 1789 American cherry and white pine 91 7/8 x 21 x 12 1/2 in. (233.4 x 53.3 x 31.8 cm) Mabel Brady Garvan Collection 1930.2284 Tall clocks were among the most extravagant possessions owned by the elite in colonial America. Multiple craftsmen were involved in their manufacture: a clockmaker assembled intricate works, often using imported gears and parts, and a cabinetmaker fitted the works into custom-built cases. Some clocks were more than timepieces—they were also musical instruments. Musical clocks were complex and costly to produce, and only about 150 American examples are known to survive. This clock in the Gallery’s collection was made shortly after the American Revolution by Benjamin Willard while he was working in Grafton, Massachusetts. When the clock strikes the hour, it triggers a mechanism hidden behind the clock face: a cylinder studded with pins rotates and causes hammers to hit a series of bells and produce a recognizable song. Remarkably, we are able to hear the music much the way it sounded to an eighteenth-century listener because the tone is determined by the pitch of the bells and the rhythm is set by the mechanism that drives the cylinder. Willard’s unusually sophisticated clock plays seven songs—a different tune for each day of the week. In this short video, the clock plays a popular fife march called “Marquis of Granby,” which was first published in London in 1760. Words were added a few years later, with the opening line, “To arms, to arms, to arms, my jolly grenadier.” These lyrics may have resonated with the original owner of the clock, who had just witnessed the young nation’s call to arms.

Musical Clock Exhibit Willard Museum

Gary takes us on a tour of the American musical clock exhibit he put together at the Willard House and Clock Museum. This unprecedented grouping of clocks includes almost 40 rare musical clocks that play historical tunes, just as our ancestors heard them.