I’m a furniture maker, writer and publisher who works from a storefront in Covington, Ky. I am one of the founders and the editor of Lost Art Press, which publishes books on hand tool woodworking. And I am one of the founders of Crucible Tool. In 2019, I closed my commission book, and I now build pieces on spec only and sell them via my blog at Lost Art Press.
Comb Back Chair with Chris Schwarz
Build a comfortable stick armchair in the Welsh tradition using many tools and materials that are familiar to the typical woodworker.
If chairmaking intimidates you, you aren’t alone. The tools, materials and processes seem to require a pledge of allegiance to an entirely different craft that uses green wood, shavehorses and steamboxes. It doesn’t have to be that way.
With a bit of cleverness and (mostly) standard woodworking tools, you can build an extremely comfortable stick armchair using woods from your local lumberyard (or even your scrap bin) and tools already in your shop.
For the last two decades, I have dedicated myself to learning all modes of chairmaking, from building them with green wood and traditional tools to making chairs with routers, high-tech compression wood and complex jigs. The chair for this class uses a mix of tools that you probably already own (plus a few new ones), wood that you have in your scrap bin and skills you have already honed.
If you can reliably sharpen your hand tools, saw to a line and hold a cordless drill, then you can build this chair.
The form is inspired by historical examples of 18th- and 19th-century stick chairs from Wales that have been refined by John Brown and Christopher Williams – two of my favourite chairmakers. I designed my version starting with an 18th-century chair shown in a book by Richard Bebb. And I stripped it back to what you see here – a comfortable chair with clean lines.
Key Learning Points
Fully understand compound angles without the benefit of trigonometry (or numbers).
Drill holes at any angle and nail it every time.
Shape compound and complex curves with a band saw and rasp.
Use tapered mortise-and-tenon joints – and wedges – to create joints that get tighter through time.
Quickly carve a comfortable seat.
Chris is donating his instructor fee towards Scholarships, and the School will be matching it. Information about the Scholarship will be available in late November.
This class is open to all skill levels and requires no previous experience. This a class where there’s a lot of physical labour