Rustic Windsor Chair Class
Rustic Windsor Chairmaking

Chairmaker's University: July 13 - 24 (10 class days)

November 2 - 6

with Drew Langsner

Nobody knows when the first Windsor-style chairs were made, but it’s certain that chairs utilizing legs and backrest spindles fitted to a solid plank seat have been crafted for centuries. In rural Wales, Ireland and the west counties of England, folk art Windsors were produced throughout the 1800’s that often have a sculptural presence and personal character that is very refreshing – especially when compared to more formal, professionally produced Windsors. Historically, these vernacular Windsors were generally made by part-time chairmakers who were also farmers, or perhaps boat builders or wagon makers.

The rustic Windsors made in this tutorial are related to the Welsh Stick Windsor project in The Chairmaker’s Workshop. The chair utilizes a large, comfortable seat and a 4-element sculpted arm-bow. The legs are octagonal in cross-section, with a wide foot that converges into cylindrical tapered tenons fitted to matching mortises in the solid plank seat.

Winter tutorial students make the classic low-back Windsor – also known as a captain’s chair or a smoking chair. The summer Chairmaker's University students have an option to make the more complex high-back version, which is sometimes called a comb-back Windsor.

For this course we utilize fresh oak rivings (carefully split-out stock) for the spindles and air-dried sawn stock for the composite arm-bow, legs and seat. The tenon ends of the legs, which are turned on a lathe, will be kiln dried at the time of assembly. Both courses include a thorough lecture-demonstration on dealing with the myriad compound angles that are at the heart of all types of Windsor chairs. The mystery of shifting from conventional but awkward rake and splay angles to much easier sightline and resultant angles will be explained in it’s many aspects – and then put to use in assembly of the chairs.

During the 10-day Chair U there will be time to teach sharpening, alternate tools and techniques, and a discussion of wood technology as it pertains to chairmaking – differential moisture content, equilibrium moisture content, alternative wood species, and more. Drew will also include a lecture on Windsor chairmaking history. His understanding is quite different from what most “experts” have conjured up.

The tuition for the 6-day winter tutorial is $1500. The tuition for our 10-day Chairmaker’s University is $2175. This includes course materials, use of our specialized equipment and tools, your private room, and meals. Chair U students are welcome to stay at our facility during the weekend break. We will not be serving meals from Friday supper through Sunday supper.

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