Peter has been making furniture with hand tools since 1978. His first studies concentrated on traditional chairmaking; he was a regular student at Drew Langsner’s school for woodworking, Country Workshops, in Marshall, N.C. There he learned the fundamentals of ladderback and WIndsor chairmaking, timber framing, cooperage, basketry, spoon and bowl carving, and more. Starting in the late 1980s, Follansbee and his chairmaking teacher John Alexander embarked on a lengthy study of the art of 17th-century style joinery. Working with curators in various museum collections, Alexander and Follansbee rediscovered the craft of the joiner by studying the artifacts, documents, and tool collections combined with experimentation in their workshops. This work eventually culminated in the publication of Make a Joint Stool from a Tree (Lost Art Press, 2012).
From 1994 until 2014, Follansbee held the position of joiner at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There he made reproduction furniture and other woodwork for use on the museum’s sites. As part of the museum’s Crafts Center, Follansbee’s shop was an exhibit space open to the public. Thus while working, he would continually interact with the museum’s visitors, showing them the tools, methods, and forms applicable to the period.
He has published widely, most frequently in the journal American Furniture, and Popular Woodworking Magazine, where he writes a regular column called Arts and Mysteries. Follansbee is featured in many DVDs, produced by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks of Warren, ME., and is a frequent guest on Roy Underhill’s PBS show The Woodwright’s Shop. He teaches regularly at woodworking schools across the country. Since 2008, has kept the blog Joiner's Notes, found at pfollansbee.wordpress.com.