18th Century Loop Back Chairmaking Class

by | Aug 19, 2023 | 0 comments

Boy, I’ve been busy!  I taught a wonderful class with Eric Cannizzaro at Penland, NC in July, building Jennie Alexander ladderback chairs.  Then my wife Morgan and I toured around for ten days, visiting family, friends and Lost Art Press in Cincinnati.  Now I’m at home making reamers for Handworks where Seth is setting up a booth to show our tools (come visit him!).  I’m also building wheelbarrow prototypes for my class with Peter Ross in October and finishing three or four chairs I have on order.  And figuring out how Samuel Wing’s early 19th century chair seats were designed with a ruler, compass and a few ratios derived from classical architecture (I think).

Samuel Wing has been my pandemic project:  In January 2020 Seth and I gave a talk at Colonial Williamsburg about early 19th century chairmaking, then in December I signed a contract with Lost Art Press to write a book about early 19th century chairmaking. I have spent the last three years learning how to build chairs like Samuel Wing did on Cape Cod in 1802. Now finally, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned:

Immerse yourself in the tools, techniques and mindset of 18th Century chairmakers. Working from period designs (including one by Cape Cod’s Samuel Wing) we’ll build a loop back entirely with handtools. In the process we’ll become immersed in a pre-industrial mindset emphasizing strength and speed over precision.  We’ll use a method of assembling chairs unknown in living memory, a method so shockingly simple that is requires almost no measuring. (Note: if you love building chairs that are measured in thousandths, you may want to look at my modern chairmaking classes where modern precision remains supreme.)

Unlike most of my chairmaking classes, we’ll do some turning: the center stretchers will be split from an oak log and turned it on a foot-powered pole lathe. Bows will be split from a log, profiled with planes and steam bent. Seats will be carved from a single piece of white pine.  Tenons will be turned on the pole lathe and mortises bored with spoon bits (or a bit brace). Due to time and drying limitations, most of the turned parts (legs, side stretchers, spindles) will be provided.

January 22nd to 27th, 2024 – $1800 

Register on my website. 



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