September 1 - 5 (1 opening)
November 17 - 22
The post-and-rung ladderback is our best introduction to the skills needed for any type of traditional chairmaking. The elegant ladderback has been described by woodworking author and editor John Kelsey as a “masterpiece of economy and simplicity, of comfort, strength and beauty.” When this style has two back slats it is sometimes called a “mule ear” chair.
The summer tutorial follows our classic 5-day format, going back to 1979. This is a very busy and challenging week, with some necessary “homework” after supper on most nights.
The project work for the course begins with riving billets from a freshly felled, straight grain red oak log. Cylindrical wet/dry mortise and tenon joinery is explained in theory and then put to practical application. Class participants learn to shape their chair parts using a drawknife and spokeshave while seated at a shaving horse (or our “shaving mule”) and then steaming and bending the back posts, using bending forms. Tenons are formed at the ends of ‘bone dry’ rungs. Mortises (round for the rungs, and rectangular for the slats) are bored or chiseled in the air-dried posts.
After the chair frame is assembled, fresh greenwood backrest slats are rived and shaved, heated in boiling water, and then fit into slat mortises in the rear posts. Weaving a seat with colorful Shaker tape completes the chair.
Tuition for the 5-day summer tutorial is $1225. Tuition for the 6-day fall tutorial $1450. For both courses, tuition includes the use of specialized chairmaking tools, all necessary materials (for the chair frame and Shaker tape seating), your private room accommodations and meals. And you will take home a handsome and comfortable heirloom chair.
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828-656-2280 (Daily, 9-6 Eastern time)