a Satisfied Mind

Got the chair together, mostly without a hitch. I didn’t shoot any photos of the process, I had enough to keep track of as it was. I won’t go into the usual “here’s one mistake, this part could be better/curvier/wider”, etc – a friend last week wrote that his chair would be “amazing” – stuff & nonsense I said. I’m aiming for good enough. And I got it. As I said in an earlier post, this chair is pretty much the same as one I made 30 years ago. That one is still kicking, but had a run-in with some rowdiness that resulted in a hasty repair. Now I have a brand-new one – survived assembly so that’s a good sign.

Sophie test driving the chair

The seat is white pine, turnings maple & ash. Hickory arm & spindles and the crest is white oak. I have all the fussy cleanup and finishing touches left. Then the notion of paint or not. I hate the thought of painting it – not out of any fixation with the natural beauty of wood. Just from a dread of all the work painting a chair entails.

front view

It was in 2014 that my friend Michael showed me a settee of mine that he’d bought at a house-sale. And my reaction was that I didn’t think I could make it now. That was the impetus for me to delve back into making Windsor chairs. Not for my living – I’m too slow and clunky – but for the fun of making them and to recapture some of the skills I once had that got shelved.

After a few of Curtis Buchanan’s shaved Windsors – this comb back is the first one in 30 years really that I’ve made with turned bits, carved ears – the works. As I was working on this chair, I kept thinking back to that period in my career and the people who showed me what’s what – Curtis, Drew Langsner – Jennie Alexander. JA only ever made one Windsor chair, but was always thinking about them – particularly the undercarriage.

And our friend Daniel O’Hagan – in his notes is this, about comb backs –

“The melodious comb…crowning the whole work and supplying a place…a very convenient one…for hanging a coat, handbag, hat, or pajamas.”

An earlier post about my new chair is here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2022/11/20/woodworking-hobby/

12 thoughts on “a Satisfied Mind

  1. i hope to one day make things that live up to your definition of good enough! Fritz Kreisler once remarked that skills are like a gramophone record. once you have them, they are always there. though they may get covered in dust or cobwebs, it doesn’t take much to clean them as good as new.

    question: what is the diameter of the spindles above the armbow?

  2. Nice chair. Cats have a way of selecting the best chair un the house.
    Wonderful background in the photo !!

  3. Ha! I remember letters like that, festooned with meanings and personality. Decorations continued on the envelope, no two the same. . . getting mail was an event! Kids today will need some kind of medievalist to decipher the cursive. Don’t know what they’re missing!

  4. “The seat is white pine, turnings maple & ash.” At first I thought the turnings would be maple for the legs/stretchers, and ash for the spindles. But from the photo it looks like the two species were just used without a particular system? I was wondering if you could elaborate on why the mixture of maple and ash was used, if you remember. Maybe it was just what you had on hand, which is fine, of course.

    • Hi Wilbur – It’s your last scenario. Ash legs & center stretcher. Maple arm posts and side stretchers. All spindles are shaved hickory. I made the parts at various times and selected what was kicking around.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s