modern (for me) woodworking

Everything is relative of course, but for me, I traveled a lot this past year. Had great times in various locations, but one of the best parts is that several trips took me near enough to the Conewago Creek that I/we got to visit with our great friends Heather & Pat. These days Heather is living a dream, working as a full-time artist.  (see web & blog – But back when the world was younger, in Cambridge, she learned chairmaking by watching me make a few. She went on to make way more ladderback chairs than I ever did; here’s the kids monkeying around in some of her oldies.

last spring in Conewago

I have often made Alexander-style ladderback chairs for kids in my life, but much like the proverbial shoemaker’s kids, mine have no home-made chairs. I started to fix that not too long ago, and worked on one of them today. This is modern-woodworking for me; a power-bore bit, held in a Stanley universal brace – I even used a pencil today on wood.

horizontal boring for chair frame

It’s been over 8 years I think since I have made one of these chairs.  Jennie still sells the DVD for those who want to take on these chairs. You could also take a class at Country Workshops, which is where I met Alexander & Drew Langsner back in 1980.  I simplify the methods I learned from them;  just because I am only making two of these, and barely have room & time for those. Before we really got entirely involved in joiners’ work, I was working pretty closely with Alexander; but my ladderbacks were always just serviceable, they didn’t really click like many other chairmakers that went through Alexander & Langsner. Thankfully joinery came along with my name on it…

 A few quickly-taken shots of the shaving horse. I recently saw some folks saying they need a work surface higher than the “bodger’s horse” – but the one developed by Alexander has a hinged work surface…problem solved.

at the shaving horse
hinged work surface on shaving horse

I’ve been sick this week, so I only lasted a half-day today…so I got one chair partially assembled. Then I inserted a scrap of matboard to test for the slat curvature. It’ll work, but I’m no threat to the modern-chairmakers…

for those inclined, see and

For Drew’s place, see particularly

part-way there

8 thoughts on “modern (for me) woodworking

  1. Great post, Peter. It was watching J. Alexander’s video several years back that made me fall in love with this whole greenwoodworking field. It really opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I too, would recommend it highly. I still sit in that first chair every day, and its a perfect chair to sit in for spoon carving. I’ll be using the Alexander-designed shaving horse and tapered reamer tonight.

  2. Peter: Your post and rung chairmaking doesn’t look so “modren” to me. A wooden piercer becomes a metal brace.
    The spoon bit becomes a universal bit extended by metal rod and guided by a line level. Your spoke shave appears to have a metal body rather than a wooden stock.

    It is likely that traditionally vertical rather than horizontal boring was most common. The shaving horse you use is not that different from some of the English types. Unfortunately we don’t have early texts such as Holme and Moxon to assist us with chairmaking.

    Hey, I applaud your using as true to period joinery tools as you can. But please don’t be perturbed when making post and rung chairs. The basic techniques have been around for centuries.

    Are you making these for the kids? One of my most peaceful joys was making the kids chairs for the Season. Some of them I made too tall so they could sit at table. As they grew I shortened the legs so the chairs were standard height. My kids have some that go back 40 years and are still in use.

  3. wondered why my blog stats spiked so high…thanks
    sorry you’re ailing tho.
    You are at the center of most of my best memories and adventures. And seeing those kids in my chairs…melts me like buttah.

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