These chairs are the legacy of Jennie (John) Alexander (1930-2018). I first learned to make them in 1978 from JA’s seminal book Make a Chair from a Tree, then met Alexander and Drew Langsner in 1980. My life changed forever then.
I made chairs like this, and Windsor chairs, for just over 10 years, before veering off to study oak joined furniture. About 2017 I began making the JA chair again, and now offer them for sale, as well as occasionally teaching classes in making them. I keep several underway most of the time. Scattered about the shop are posts in the bending forms, those already bent, rungs drying over the stove, etc.
The chair is made from wood split out of the log, following the long fibers of the tree. This allows the parts to be thin and light, but retaining great strength in the material. Bent rear posts and slats hit the sitter’s back just right.
All the parts for the ladderback chairs are shaved at a shaving horse, using a drawknife to shape the stock.
I make them of either oak (usually red, some white oak rungs or slats) and ash. It all depends on what’s on hand. Seating materials will vary between hickory bark (as long as I can get it), and natural rush seats. Optional seating is woven tape seats like Shaker tape. There’s a hemp version of a tape seat that JA really liked, I have yet to use it.
Here’s an example with a 5/8″ wide Shaker Tape seat. Adds a splash of color to things.
I sell the chairs for$1,200 each. Email me at email@example.com if you’d like to order a chair and we can discuss details & timing.