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.
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.
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 ›