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

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.

World’s largest wooden clock


I’ve always hated using battery powered movements in my clocks and have long waited for the day I started making my own mechanical movements. Retirement came sooner than did a Sherwood mini metal working lathe and mill.

The first movements made and used were made out of wood, much like you see in the above photo.  Making a wooden geared clock has been on my to do bucket list for a very long time. They aren’t as accurate as a German made Hermle mechanical movement, but if precisely made they can be off by minute. Which isn’t bad at all. I know I could live with that. Could you?

A grandfather or mother clock are on that bucket to do list. But I have others that need ticking off first.


Btw Kevin Bird a fellow Aussie in Western Australia made this world’s largest wooden clock. It took him 4 years in the making of this wonderful piece of work. He’s donated the clock to his local town in the hope it will attract tourism.

Good on ya mate.

Hide Glue – Its Consistency

I’ve done a small video on how thick the glue be when running off the brush. I’m not using a brush but a small stick which is the same width as my brush so it will give the same result.  I think there’s no better words than a visual demonstration on what it should look like. Hope you find it useful.

Sharpening Old W. Marples & Sons Chisel

Short movie showing process of sharpening an old Marples & Sons beveled paring chisel. The steel in those (old Sheffield) chisels are unique quality. Name “Cast Steel” on old Sheffield chisels refers to steel made by the crucible cast steel method, invented in Sheffield around 1740 by Benjamin Huntsman (1707-1776), a clock maker from Doncaster.

Huntsman’s experiments in crucible steel making began in 1740 and over the next two years he developed the simple method of purifying Blister steel by letting it in clay crucible pots. Blister steel had many imperfections and Huntsman wanted to create a better quality steel for his clock parts.

Benjamin Huntsman was a clockmaker in search of a better steel for clock springs. In Handsworth near Sheffield, he began producing steel in 1740 after years of experimenting in secret. Huntsman’s system used a coke-fired furnace capable of reaching 1,600 °C, into which up to twelve clay crucibles, each capable of holding about 15 kg of iron, were placed. When the crucibles or “pots” were white-hot, they were charged with lumps of blister steel, an alloy of iron and carbon produced by the cementation process, and a flux to help remove impurities. The pots were removed after about 3 hours in the furnace, impurities in the form of slag skimmed off, and the molten steel poured into moulds to end up as cast ingots. Complete melting of the steel produced a highly uniform crystal structure upon cooling, which gave the metal increased tensile strength and hardness compared to other steels being made at the time.

Huntsman’s process was the first to produce a fully homogeneous steel. Unlike previous methods of steel production, the Huntsman process was the first to fully melt the steel, allowing the full diffusion of carbon throughout the liquid. With the use of fluxes it also allowed the removal of most impurities, producing the first steel of modern quality. Due to carbon’s high melting point (nearly triple that of steel) and its tendency to oxidize (burn) at high temperatures, it cannot usually be added directly to molten steel. However, by adding wrought iron or pig iron, allowing it to dissolve into the liquid, the carbon content could be carefully regulated (in a way similar to Asian crucible-steels but without the stark inhomogeneities indicative of those steels). Another benefit was that it allowed other elements to be alloyed with the steel. Huntsman was one of the first to begin experimenting with the addition of alloying agents like manganese to help remove impurities such as oxygen from the steel. His process was later used by many others, such as Robert Hadfield and Robert Forester Mushet, to produce the first alloy steels like mangalloy, high-speed steel, and stainless steel.

The Birth Of A Tool. Part I. Axe Making (by Northmen)

This is a short documentary movie that shows the whole process of how Northmen tools are being hand crafted. “It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.” Mahathma Ghandi Music by Foreign Fields – “Names and Races”. Special thanks to the band Foreign Fields from Nashvile (especially for Clayton Fike) for allowing to use their music as a soundtrack for our movie.