Early 19th C. Settee

My girlfriend Morgan and I went to an estate sale last weekend that had several early 19th C. Windsors, including this settee.  I love looking at old chairs – there’s so much to learn. 

It’s pretty big, 60 or 70″ wide.  The seat is too deep for comfort in my opinion, though the lady at the sales counter seemed a little offended that I was so opinionated.  The seat is a single piece of pine about 21″ deep and my tall legs just barely allowed my back to touch the chair’s back.  Morgan had to slouch to lean against the back.  Is the back just for looks?  Or maybe this is the 19th C. equivalent of a modern couch; looks comfy, feels awful. Read more ›

Posted in Antique Chairs

New Tables (some on sale)

My photographer recently sent me a bunch of photos,  including picture of some new tables I’ve been working on.  I’ve never put any of my work up for sale on this blog, but I have a number of tables floating around the house, so here goes:

A walnut-topped table with bent octagonal legs.  This is the table I painted in the Popular Woodworking article last month.  On sale this month for $500.


This one I designed out in CO when I was teaching at Anderson Ranch last fall.  Butternut top with hickory legs painted black-over-red. It sold almost immediately, so I guess I need to make another.

Close-up of the top.

Read more ›

Posted in Chairs For Sale

Chair stories: Bending Day (plus a Class Opening)

Velda's Arm Chair

Last month Leo bought a Velda’s Arm chair, a chair I made at Anderson Ranch with the class I was teaching there.  Here’s a story about his chair:

Imagine spending a hard day’s work shaping a single piece of walnut, then putting it in a piping hot steam chamber. You spend an hour waiting for it to heat, wondering if it will bend or break. For students, steam bending is a stressful process in the best of circumstances.

Pulling your crest rail out of the steam chamber, hands encumbered by big heat-shielding gloves, you rush to where fellow students hold an unwieldy piece of sheet metal fitted with wooden handles: a bending strap. Read more ›

Posted in Chair Stories, Classes

American Seat Woods

Nearly any wood will work for a Windsor chair seat. It depends on how much work you are willing to do and how heavy a chair you want to move every time you finish dinner. I refuse to use anything but the highest quality and most easily worked materials available. In my experience, this is even more important for the beginner; far better to start with the very best, for then you’ll know whether to blame the wood or another factor.

Easily carved woods like white pine are many times easier to carve than walnut. Walnut is many times easier to carve than elm. Woods with even density throughout (nearly all the woods in this list) are much easier to carve than woods that grow with hard and soft annual layers (yellow pine, ash, etc.). Power tools such as grinders and routers probably negate these differences, but I don’t care to find out. The quiet of my workshop is sacred.

Eastern White Pine
Eastern white pine is what almost all of my traditional chairs are made of. It’s a great carving wood and it’s readily available, though it does have problems with pitch and wind-shake.

Pros: –very easy to carve
–very stable
Read more ›

Posted in Chairmaking Tools and Supplies, How-To

Turning Chess Pieces

Seth and his puppy Kodi

With the holidays, a new girlfriend and huge quantities of tool orders, I have been delinquent in my blog posts lately. This year saw a huge growth in my business, with Seth Elliott starting to help me make tools, refurbish drawknives and sell rivings. I wasn’t looking to hire anyone, but Seth does such good work and is so easy to be around that he just fit right in. He has also started helping procure delicious lunches for my classes, which has made the classes a much more congenial experience. Thanks Seth!

Turning Chess Pieces

This short video is from 1963 in Zsambek, Hungary in a small production shop making chess pieces. They are turning on a power lathe using what looks like a screw chuck. Read more ›

Posted in Chairmaking Tools and Supplies, Craft Films

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