Octagonal Legs

A couple months ago I filmed an Octagonal Side Table DVD and a Milk Painting DVD with Popular Woodworking. They should be out sometime this summer. Here’s a photo of the table:


To film a DVD you need lots of parts at various stages, so I made a pile of bent octagonal legs one morning:

10:03AM Read more ›

Posted in Classes, How-To

Making Shellac

This video was made by the fellow I buy my shellac flakes from.  Who knew it took so much effort by insect and man to make a pound of shellac?  Or that different trees make different kinds of shellac?  Now I feel bad for spilling the stuff.


Posted in Craft Films, Finishing

Curtis Carving Spoons/Settee Class

Curtis Buchanan and I spent some time carving spoons last January.  I photographed his process, which he describes as “the way a chairmaker with bad elbows carves a spoon.”  Or something like that.

He carves the bowl first.  This is steam bent cherry. Read more ›

Posted in Classes, How-To

Thanks Curtis

I first met Curtis Buchanan 15 years ago this month. My father drove the five hours to Jonesborough, TN and dropped me, a 17-year-old homesick boy, off for a week.

Curtis had a student that week. I split logs and listened in on the class. I couldn’t imagine I would ever build a Windsor chair – they seemed so complicated.  Curtis was the most welcoming woodworker I had ever met. I don’t think I realized it then, but Curtis was living my dream.  “Maybe I can come back one day,”  I said as I was leaving.  “You’ll be back,”  he replied.

Curtis taught me what I know about chairmaking.  He also became a model for my life.  I wanted to emulate his laid-back nature, his sociability, the conscious way he paced his life, his generosity.  I think I even acquired some of his accent.  Curtis is still one of the most remarkable men I have ever met.

Read more ›

Posted in Chair Stories, Chairmaking Tools and Supplies, Craft Films

Kiln Construction

We have talked about kiln temperatures and kiln heaters, now onto kiln construction.

Curtis Buchanan’s kiln


The primary use of a chairmaking kiln is to super-dry tenons. It’s nice to be able to set bends in a kiln too. This requires the kiln to be large enough to fit the bend while it’s in the bending form. Some bent parts have tenons, like a loop back bow, so ideally these tenons would be super-dried. My kiln is 2x2x3′ and that’s plenty big enough for two or three chairs worth of bends and other parts. Most folks can get by with something smaller. Read more ›

Posted in How-To, Kiln

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