Chair Making

Posted by on Aug 1, 1916 in Advanced Furniture Courses, Courses | No Comments

Due to semi-retirement this course is no longer offered.

However, you may find the series of free to watch online instructional videos below helpful.

Most chair making courses involve making a turned chair. My course was unique in teaching a jointed chair and allowing you to work at your own pace.

Chair making is rightly known as the acme of the furniture maker’s craft. Not only must the chair look good from all directions it must also be strong and comfortable. On this course we looked at these issues when making a copy of the famous chair made by Vidar Malmsten in the seventies. Whilst making the chair we learnt many skills with wider applications; forming complex curves, cutting compound angled joints and using a detailed workshop drawing to control a project.

This was an unusual course as it combined teaching sessions with work in your own workshop.

 The chair you will make.

The chair you will make & take home.


On this, my most advanced course, you will make an elegant jointed chair based on a design by the Swedish maker Vidar Malmsten. The chair is in ash with a Danish cord seat and soap finish,.

The course is designed for those with woodworking experience who relish the challenge of making a chair with compound jointing and complex curves. There is a mix of machine and hand work. Most of the jointing will be done using the saw bench and router, but shaping will be mostly by hand.

The course structure is based on a series of weekend sessions the first and last sessions will be two days with two one day sessions in between. Between sessions you will do some additional work in your own workshop. So it is more like a series of practical seminars rather than a course. As usual there will be a fully illustrated handout that will guide you during the “homework”.

The course schedule is as follows:

Detail of Danish cord seat.

Detail of Danish cord seat.

  • Day one – You will start by making a full size workshop drawing and creating a cutting list and templates from the drawing. The drawing will be used as a reference through the whole, making process.
  •  Day two – Mortice and tenon joints will be cut using the saw bench and router.
  • Day three – You shape the legs. The curved back legs using a template on the router table and cleaning up with a spoke shave, the front legs by hand with plane and spoke shave.
  • Day four  – The compound curve of the lumbar and crest rails are initially cut out on the band saw then finally a shaped with spoke shave. You also laminate back splat.
  • Day five – You shape and fit the arms
  • Day six – You will weave Danish cord seat.

Techniques and skills covered by the course include:

Laminated back splats.

Laminated back splats.

  • Development of workshop drawing.

    Most students comment on how this is a key learning point of the course

  • Drawing up of cutting list.
  • Compound joint geometry.
  • Mortice and tenoning using router and bench saw.
  • Creation of templates using router and trammel.
  • Creation of jigs and formers.
  • Shape forming using table router and template.
  • Shaping using hand plane and spoke shave.
  • Laying out compound curves.
  • Applying a soap finish
  • Danish cord seat weaving.

By the end of the course you will have made a very elegant chair, have the drawings, jigs and templates to make further copies and also have acquired many new skills and insights into the woodworking process that have applications far beyond just chair making.

If you would like to discuss the course details and the level of ability required please do not hesitate to phone Chris on 01943 602836.

Sorry this course no longer runs but you may like to watch these free instructional videos on spoke shave technique created especially for this course.

online woodwork course video
Watch online video woodwork instruction. Click for full list of videos in this series.

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Thankyou, Chris.