Chairmaking is often regarded by many woodworkers as a difficult mystery. But by the end of this week, everyone in the class will be on the way to completing a country Chippendale side chair, and many of the mysteries of chairmaking will have been revealed. Anyone with the skills of at least a capable beginner should be able to master all the necessary techniques. This chair follows all the best high-style Chippendale lines and proportions, but is very simplified in its details. It has the certain naïve charm that characterizes provincial furniture without sacrificing the eternal proportional rules that the mid 18th century makers used so well. The entire chair could be made very easily by a student with nothing but hand tools, and we will emphasize their use in this class, while still demonstrating any appropriate machine tool methods that apply. Several clever tricks to help create the off-square and contoured joints, that seem to make chair-building so intimidating, will be revealed. Students will come away much more comfortable with their back saws and spoke-shaves than before
The emphasis will be on learning to sharpen and use a number of traditional hand tools, especially the spoke shave. Students will discover that hand tools can often be just as fast as power tools in small-run applications, and a real visceral pleasure to use besides. Power tool alternatives will be taught wherever they don’t compromise the design.
Procedures will include mortise and tenon, both square and round, multi-radius spoke shave shaping, non-measuring layout techniques, scratch-stock beading, and flushing curved and angled joints. We’ll begin the class by making sure everyone’s tools are really sharp and well set-up. It would be best for each student to bring his own core set of hand tools, so that he or she will learn how to sharpen and then get accustomed to the feel of that exact tool .
Student skill level: Intermediate and above
A working familiarity with basic hand and power tools is required.
It is possible that some may not complete the project in class. If so, you will have all of the parts completed and final assembly can be done at home.
Alf will teach advanced skills as the class goes on. It is common for some students to make the parts which they can assemble at home. That should be the expectation for students who have less experience.
This is a unique opportunity to learn form one of the world's best. Alf has won every award there is. See Alf's page on the Maine Coast Workshop website for more details.