Colonial Williamsburg hosts woodworking conference

Emphasizing the types of shops and tools used in 18th-century woodworking, Colonial Williamsburg will be hosting its 20th annual Working Wood in the 18th Century Conference.

The four-day conference takes place Jan. 25-28 and speakers will address how pre-industrial furniture in America took on different forms and came from different traditions as woodworkers used different types of tools, shop structures and problem-solving approaches.

Roy Underhill, who teaches at The Woodwright’s School in Graham, N.C., will start the conference with a discussion on hand tool use from the 18th century to the present.

Peter Follansbee, a joiner, carver and author, will talk about 17th-century joined and carved furniture and ladder back chairs.

Conservator and author Donald Williams will speak about tools and fixtures — drawn from his work with Roubo’s treatise — and will also talk on period finishing materials and methods.

W. Patrick Edwards, a furniture maker and teacher, will demonstrate historic French marquetry techniques and equipment and explores an elaborately decorative 1790s English tool chest lid. Colonial Williamsburg master cabinetmaker Kaare Loftheim and journeymen Bill Pavlak and Brian Weldy will design and build chests to accompany the item and discuss variations in 18th-century case and drawer construction.

Other sessions include:

  • A joint presentation by tool historian Jane Rees and Eric Goldstein, Colonial Williamsburg’s senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics.
  • Demonstrations and discussions with Colonial Williamsburg master blacksmith and senior master of historic trades Ken Schwarz on making tools for the foundation’s trade shops.
  • A presentation on Colonial Williamsburg’s newly constructed carpenter’s yard and saw house with master carpenter Garland Wood.
  • A look at the foundation’s newly acquired collection of 18th century planes from the Massachusetts shops of the Nicholsons and Cesar Chelor with Colonial Williamsburg master joiner Ted Boscana and his shop staff.
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