We finished the chair making course a few weeks ago with a days seat weaving. Mike and Paul had applied a soap finish to the chairs at home so they were all ready to go. Mike had found a good recipe for the soap finish from an article on the internet by Bob Flexner. I think it’s probably an improvement on the recipe I use, thanks Mike. That’s one of the things I like about this course, because it’s quite advanced there is a two way flow of knowledge and skills. Anyway, the weaving took a little longer than planned so Mike and Paul had to do the final bits of weft at home.
I like the Danish cord weaving technique using “L” nails. It means you don’t have to pull all the cord through with each pass, just a loop the width of the chair. The woven pattern is attractive, I particularly like the way the wider warp at the sides follows the slight curve in the side of the seat rail. We finished the weave with a couple of coats of bleached shellac (makes it easier to wipe the gravy off!).
All in all I think the course was successful. The structure of practical seminars at my workshop interspersed with home work works well with experiences woodworkers who could work autonomously. It also allowed them to work at there own speed, an important factor on a complex project based course. The concept of the practical seminar meant that there was a genuine “skills exchange” not just about chair making but a whole range of woodworking techniques. Every course will have the odd problems. There was a little confusion at the start because my prototype did not quite conform to the drawing! This led to some indecision about what to use as a reference when Mike and Paul were creating their own workshop drawings. I would also consider cutting the tenons by hand next time rather than on the table saw as the use of angled packers was difficult to grasp. But generally it was glitch free!
Mike and Paul are both well pleased with their chairs and say they hope to make more. Here’s some pictures and feedback from them.
“The mix of tutored sessions and homework was very good. I think the flexibility was good to, we changed the arrangements based on our progress….It was a very worthwhile experience and I learnt a lot which was my objective” Paul Luton
Mike’s finished chair.
“Having attended a previous course, I was also looking for the bonus of working in a professional woodwork shop with fellow enthusiasts where we were able to share our experiences and knowledge
Where do we get timber from? where is the best place for bandsaw blades and router bits? what is the best spokeshave and how can you improve a Stanley 151? how do you sharpen a spokeshave blade and a scraper?….
Mike’s back back view.
…….There was some good stuff on selecting timber and grain selection to get the best effects.
In six days you pick up a mountain of help that you wouldn’t get working alone at home. At times a hobby like ours can be a solitary existence!” Mike Fewster
Arm to back joint, quite tricky compound angle, nicely done by Mike.
What were you expecting to achieve from attending the course?
“New skills, particularly to do with chair making”. Paul Luton
“I hoped to learn a new skill set. This would be my first chair and the angled joints, laminating to a former, member shaping, Soap finish and Danish cording were all new”. Mike Fewster
Were your expectations met and if not what were the deficiencies?
“Yes. There were times when too long was spent working out how to do some things”. Paul Luton
“Absolutely”. Mike Fewster
Applying final touches at home.
“A great experience. People have said to me that £600 is a lot for a chair but that misses the point. The course has pushed at my boundaries. I’ve come away with lots of new skills and a new confidence to tackle even more ambitious projects.
The beautiful ash chair is just a bonus.” Mike Fewster
“You couldn’t get a hand made bespoke chair for less than £600 Mike!” Chris
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