Backing up for a head-start – Windsor chairmaking

shaved Windsor Oct 2020

I assembled my 2nd shaved windsor chair of this century last week. I first wrote about it here – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2020/10/09/shaved-windsor-chair-take-2/  (all that nonsense I blathered about grain direction, ray plane, post & rung compromise is out the window. Drew Langsner set me straight after that post.)

This chair survived assembly, barely. I remember reading  a Dave Sawyer quote “If a chair survives assembly, it should last __ years.” Something to that effect anyway. 

But it was not without its excitement, all driven by my haste and being decades out of practice. One post was “windswept” – it leans out further than its mate – which is a reaming mistake. Galbert’s book has a good discussion of all the ways the posts on a chair like this can be wrong and how to avoid them. (chapter 17: Reaming in Chairmaker’s Notebook https://lostartpress.com/products/chairmakers-notebook )

The other mistake I made was using yellow glue. Never again, it’s hide glue for me from here on in with chairs. The joints seized and it took a lot of effort to get things together. I should have marked a line on the spindle tenons where they join the seat. One or two of them might not be all the way home. 

But it’s all wedged and is now a shop-chair I don’t need. But I’m determined to make a few chairs like this in succession – the first one I assembled in January, and this one here in late October. Better to not have 10 months between attempts. 

So to back up for a head start – I’ve gone back to school. Signed up for the online class with Elia Bizzarri and Curtis Buchanan http://handtoolwoodworking.com/online-classes/

ready for next class

The live class is 2 hours on Saturday afternoons, then it gets posted where you can re-watch it later if you happen to be a poor note-taker like me. And there’s a suggested price, but they want anyone to be able to take this class regardless of money, so you can pay what you will as well. Hard to beat a deal like that. And already it’s paying off – Curtis pointed out that he’s been building these chairs for a few years now, and since he made the videos about it, he’s changed a few minor things here & there…so this is the “updated” video series on making this chair. 

6 thoughts on “Backing up for a head-start – Windsor chairmaking

  1. Can you share that straighening out from D. Langsner? I am still trying to parse how to orient the growth rings in all those mortises and tenons… Thanks for your posts!

    • Ruth
      The gist of Drew’s idea was about the orientation of the legs in the seat. The growth rings of the legs are perpendicular to the fibers (grain) in the seat. This is the standard that I learned more than 25 years ago, and I was just trying to get around looking at the growth ring plane on the front of the legs. I will ditch my new idea on my next chair, and just do what I learned all those years ago. I’m sure Curtis covers this in detail in his extensive video series on youtube, and Galbert covers it in his book, as does Drew in the Chairmaker’s Workshop.

  2. I applaud your courage to share your mistakes and to ask for help. I find that to be personally inspiring. Life is so much more enjoyable when you just get on with it.

    Thanks Peter

  3. Do you have an opinion on using slow set epoxy to assemble a post and rung chair?

    I’m in the process of making my first one and would like to be able to dry fit it before committing to final assembly.

    • Kenneth
      I’ve never used epoxy, so I’m not the person to ask. My post & rung chairs don’t get a test-assembly, there’s only one shot at getting those tenons in their mortises.

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