What Are Windsor Chairs?
Windsor chairs are a type of chair that originated in England. It is built with a solid wooden seat that the chair-back and legs are round-tenoned, or pushed into drilled holes. The seats of Windsor chairs are often carved into a shallow dish or saddle shape for comfort. Traditionally, the legs and uprights were usually turned on a pole lathe. The back and sometimes the arm pieces (if arms are present) are formed from steam-bent pieces of wood.
Where Do Windsor Chairs Come From?
It is not clear when the first Windsor Chairs were made. It is known that, as early as the 16th century, wheelwrights started coping out chair spindles in the same way they made wheel spokes. The design was probably a development of West Country, Welsh and Irish ‘stick back chairs, but the evidence on origin is not certain. It is thought that the first Windsor chair made its appearance in the county of Buckinghamshire, where the main centre of production eventually moved to High Wycombe. The first Windsors were of the comb-back variety. By the 18th century, steam-bending was being used to produce the characteristic “bow” of the Windsor chair. The first chairs made this way were shipped to London from the market town of Windsor, Berkshire in 1724. There is speculation that the chair derives its name from the town of Windsor, which became the centre for the trade between the producers and the London dealers. Thus the name “Windsor Chair” is more about the style of the chair than where it was made, with many diverse forms of Windsor chair being made worldwide.
Traditionally there were three types of craftsmen involved in the construction of a Windsor chair, there was the chair bodger, an itinerant craftsman who worked in the woods and made just the legs and stretchers, on a pole lathe. Then there was the benchman who worked in a small town or village workshop and would produce the seats, back splats and other sawn parts. The final craftsman involved was the framer. The framer would take the components produced by the bodger and the benchman and would assemble and finish the chair.
English settlers introduced the Windsor chair to North America, with the earliest known chairs being imported by Patrick Gordon who became lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania in 1726. There is speculation that the first American Windsor chair, based on the traditional British design, was made in Philadelphia in 1730.
Source – Wikipedia
How Are Windsor Chairs Made?
Traditional Windsor chair making begins in the forest. Chairmakers will scout for trees that have grown straight and true.
Once found, the log is cut down (felled), and is broken down into more usable sections known as billets. This process of making billets is known as riving. Riving wood uses tools like wedges, and froes, and bodgers. The billets are the first unformed pieces of the chair.
Then, using a variety of hand tools such as travishers, draw knives, and spokeshaves the billets are turned, shaved, shaped and cut into the final parts of the chair.
Part of the appeal of the Windsor chair is that they are comfortable and highly durable. This is the wood is still wet or green during when much of the chair is being made. When wood is green and subsequently air-dried, it is capable of significantly bending. This is where a good part of the comfort of a Windsor chair comes from. The spindles, where your back rests, flex and bend under pressure, allowing it to conform to you and then spring back once you stand.
What Are The Parts of a Windsor Chair?
What Tools Are Used to Make Windsor Chairs?
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF WINDSOR CHAIRS?
Over the generations and geography, you find that there are several styles of Windsor Chairs. More often than, not you’ll find them named after the style of their backs, but sometimes they can just be generically referred to as “stick” chairs.