I was out of the shop for the past week or so. When I have a bit of a hiatus like that I like to start back up with some physical work to loosen up again. Yesterday I chose a long-waiting extra-curricular project to warm up with. A few years back, I saw this chair made by Drew Langsner when I was teaching at Country Workshops.
It’s the first Windsor chair I have really wanted to make in many years, after having first seen them in John Brown’s book, Welsh Stick Chairs, then I saw some old ones on my first visit to England in 2000.
Back in the 1980s I made lots of American style windsors; but left that work behind for joinery. But I knew when I sat in Drew’s chair that I wanted to make one or two for the house. There’s plans for it in his book The Chairmaker’s Workshop, so I generally based the one I started on the seat plan in the book. I had an elm plank that was nearly perfect for the seat. I made a cardboard template for the seat’s shape, and marked the positions for spindles and legs. This ain’t joinery, so those that know me might be surprised to see pencil lines – but they really help in boring these compound angles.
I bored most of the spindle holes, but a couple I wasn’t sure of the angles (from Drew’s book it looks like the angles are for the high-back version of this chair). So I left a few to be bored once I have the arm bow made & test-fitted.
Next up was adze work. I clamped the seat in between bench dogs on my #2 bench, the German one with vices. Standing on a plank to raise myself higher, I worked mostly across the grain of the seat with my small curved adze.
This tools works well, I used it a lot this summer making hewn bowls. Jogge Sundqvist taught me to swing or pivot it from the wrist, while ‘throwing” it too. I followed this tool with a curved drawknife, called an inshave. I have one I bought many years ago, it’s OK but not a great tool. It’s just that by the time good inshaves were available, I was getting out of Windsor chairmaking.
I have a small hollowing spokeshave I use to clean up the inshave work.
And that’s as far as I got, about 2 hrs all together, to make the template, mark the seat board, bore some of the holes and begin shaping the seat. It’ll take some more hollowing to finish the seat off, then comes cutting the shape. So it took 2 or 3 years to get started, but now my new Windsor chair is finally underway. Hopefully I’ll get some time to keep it moving along.
See http://countryworkshops.org/books.htmlfor Drew’s book, & I think they have John Brown’s back in print too.