what’s happening to my mono-culture? part 1

bretstuhl 3

I guess I am throwing in the towel – and admitting that I use walnut. I used to often joke that I was a mono-culture – all oak. I’ve made enough full-fledged pieces in walnut by now, and several incidental small bits so I guess it’s part of my bag. This chair is based on one Drew Langsner wrote about in Fine Woodworking back in Jul/Aug 1981. I used black walnut with hickory heartwood legs. Oak cleats housed in sliding dovetails underneath the seat; these receive wedged round tenons at the tops of the legs. All the chair needs now is two small wedges to secure the through tenons from the backboard where it fits through the seat & cleats. The carvings I based on Dutch work from the 17th century; stuck with what I know, I guess. so the chair is a hybrid for sure. 

I had made one of these chairs years ago, and had always wanted to try another. So this was the year to go ahead and make a non-English chair. I’ll shoot it for real in a day or so…

there’s more mono-culture-breaking to come…one wood in particular you won’t believe is on my bench. I’ve never seen anything like it. Next week. 

bretstuhl 2

bretstuhl side view


There’s a few spoons left, some bowls and one panel. I hope to have more in a couple weeks. 



17 thoughts on “what’s happening to my mono-culture? part 1

  1. Surreal as per Breton: “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”

  2. Interesting chair. Not sure I understand why the cleats are needed under the seat. What happens if you simply tenon the legs directly into the seat? I’m guessing the cleats support a thinner seat to keep it from cracking under weight? Colors are great.

    • The seat is 7/8″ thick or less. the cleats on mine are about 1 3/8″ thick. On many old ones the legs protrude through both the cleat & the seat board. But yes, the seat by itself is too thin.

  3. If you live anywhere near the southern Great Lakes, in that primeval swamp where walnut grows best, it doesn’t take long to realize what a real prize it is. Strong, straight, clear and beautiful colored with figured parts being extraordinarily valuable. Crisp to carve and excellent for holding details. Once you get past the sneezing, coughing and runny eyes, it can easily become any furniture makers favorite material. New England has White Oak and White Pine. We have Walnut and Cherry. Not sure who got the better part of the bargain.

  4. In regard to the legs being tenoned into the sliding dovetail cleats: this feature, along with wedged tusk tenons on the seat back makes it possible to break down the chair for easy shipping; an early version of “rta — ready to assemble” furniture so common today.

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