February 2010 NEWSLETTER


Due to the continually lagging economy and other variables, we have decided to make some changes with our summer schedule. The innovative 10-day Ladderback Chair School has been cancelled. We still think it’s a great idea, but we’re not getting the required registrations. With our more open calendar we are now scheduling a Rustic Windsor course for June 7-12 (or 11.) Note: This is a new idea. If we have 5 or more registrations, the course will run 6 days. For under 5 registrations, we will run the same course in 5 days, which we do for winter tutorials. Instead of the 10-day Chair School  we are now offering our standard summer ladderback chairmaking course, June 21-26 (or June 25; same arrangement as for the rustic Windsor workshop). Ladderback chairmaking has been our most popular workshop, going back to 1979.

Winter Tutorials

Our Winter 2010 tutorials are now almost over. These woodworking courses are limited to 4 students. Drew Langsner is the instructor. Tutorial tuition includes materials, a private room, our famous meals prepared by Louise Langsner, and use of specialized tools. Enrollment can be by phone (828 656 2280) or e-mail. The deposit is $350 with the balance due 4 weeks before each session begins. Other details, including our cancellation policy, are on the Country Workshops web site.

March 8-12: Hearth Chair - Drew’s all wood loafing chair. - 1 opening
March 22-26: Carving Bowls and Spoons - The Scandinavian tradition.
- Full

Spring Weekend Workshops

As always, materials, lodging and delicious meals are included as part of the tuition. Specialty tools are also provided. Like our tutorials, these weekend courses are limited to 4 class participants. The deposit is $150. 

April 17-18: Windsor Stool – Drew's design with a Carved Seat and T-stretchers
May 15-16: Willow Basketry – Louise Langsner is the instructor

June 5-6: Bowl Carving – The Scandinavian Tradition with updates

Summer Workshops with Guest Instructors

June 7-12 (11): Ladderback Chairmaking  (Drew Langsner)
June 26-26 (25): Rustic Windsor Chairmaking – The Deluxe Edition (with Drew Langsner)
July 12-17: Post-and-Rung Rocking Chair (Tom Donahey)
July 26-31: Coopering – with Wooden Hooping (Carl Swensson)
August 9-14: Japanese Woodworking – Make an Andon Lamp (Osamu Shoji)
August 23-28: Swedish Sloyd Craft (Jögge Sundqvist)
- Full
September 6-11: Swedish Sloyd Craft (Jögge Sundqvist) - Open

Fall Tutorials with Drew Langsner

September 27-October 1: Carving Bowls and Spoons - The Scandinavian tradition.
December 6-10: Carving Bowls and Spoons - The Scandinavian tradition.

Blade maker Sumihara Manabe demonstrates his craft.

2010 Japanese Craft Tour
Focus on Gifu Prefecture and the Hida Alps
October 19-29

The 2010 tour will be our 4th visit to Japan. Located  between Tokyo and Osaka, Gifu Prefecture is an off-the-main tracks area that is a treasure trove for traditional crafts. Our tour dates in October come at a time when the weather will be moderating and travel is pleasant in this part of Japan.

We are arranging visits with master artisans who work with wood and other natural  materials. These include boatbuilding, wood carving, festival float carpentry, bamboo basketry, ceramics, mulberry bark (washi) paper making,  samurai sword blade making and visits to 2 very interesting woodworking schools.  We have arranged for demonstrations at many of our visits, and it will be possible to buy outstanding craft work directly from our hosts. There will also be a special day to view a local performance of traditional puppetry. We will stay in both traditional inns (ryokans) and western hotels.

The guide and translator duties for our tour will be shared by Masashi Kutsuwa and Osamu Shoji. Kutsuwa-san is a woodworking teacher at Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture located in Mino. Shoji-san is a founder and head instructor at Shinrin-Takumi Jyuku woodworking school in Takayama. Shoji-san will also be teaching our Japanese woodworking course in August. Drew Langsner will be the tour host. 

The tour fee is $3,650. This includes all land travel during the tour, accommodations, all meals, admissions, honorariums for our various hosts and the services of our professional staff.

To place a reservation, or if you have questions, contact Drew Langsner by phone (828 656 2280). For further information and photos of our 2008 Japan tour, click here


After Hans Karlsson taught Toolmaking for Woodworkers last summer he stayed at Country Workshops 2 extra weeks and participated as a class member in our ladderback chairmaking workshop. This was an opportunity for Hans to actually use the fine drawknives that he makes for us, and to check out other tool making possibilities. One post-and-rung chairmaking tool that is needed but challenging to find is a properly designed and made 5 mm (3/16-inch) wide mortise chisel. These are used for chopping mortises in the rear posts for the back slats. After returning to Sweden Hans worked out a design and made a prototype which was sent to us for testing. It was not surprising to learn that the tool is excellent. It is stout, and comes with a heavy brass ferule at the striking end to protect the handle. Length has been kept rather short; as a chisel gets longer it becomes less stable and more difficult to control. The blade tapers on both sides just slightly towards the back. This prevents jamming in the mortise, and provides an opportunity to do a bit of corrected steering during the mortising process. The prototype passed all testing requirements. These are now available.

H-145  5 mm (3/16”) chairmaker’s mortise chisel                            $70.00

We have also added another straight paring gouge to our Hans Karlsson selection. The new H-100 is narrower and has a somewhat shallower sweep than our H-101 gouge. This is a carver’s detail tool.  It’s very useful when you need to take light cuts with a paring action. (These are often places where a small detail knife doesn’t work well.) Drew ordered one for his own bowl carving projects and found it to be so useful that it earned a place in our carefully developed selection of gouges.

H-100 15 mm straight paring gouge, #35 Karlsson sweep              $75.00


If you have followed our CW Store selection for very long you may recall that Country Workshops was selling Gransfors Bruks axes in the US for several years before these tools became commonly available through a Gransfors distributorship. Over time, there came to be so many Gransfors dealers, and so much price cutting, that we decided to discontinue this line of excellent tools. Also, Gransfors had changed the design of their then smallest axe (our Spoon Carvers Axe) in ways that looked good, but that actually detracted from it’s usefulness for woodworking.

Recently, Gransfors in the US has changed its dealer network and pricing arrangements. Now, there are many less dealerships and the axes are sold by all dealers at Gransfors’ recommended retail prices. Once again we are stocking the GB-01 Sloyd Axe (Gransfors calls it the Large Carving Axe) which was originally designed by our friend Wille Sundqvist.  This is Drew Langsner’s favorite axe for hewing the exterior of a wooden bowl. We have also brought back the GB-04 Woods Axe (Gransfors’ name for this one is the Small Forest Axe). This is a really useful axe that can be used single-handed or with both hands. We use one for removing cross fibers while splitting large logs, light woods work, and even some hewing.

In the interim Drew also consulted with Gabriel Branby, the owner of Gransfors Bruks, about the possibility of offering some smaller woodworker’s axes. In the coming weeks we will be testing 3 new models. If they are as good as they look in the e-mail pictures that Gabriel sent, we will add them to our selection. Hopefully we will report on these new axes in the March e-Newsletter. We can also special order any of the other Gransfors axes, such as their right and left-handed 1900’s style broad axes. All Gransfors axes come with a leather guard. 

GB-01 Sloyd Axe (Large Carving Axe)                                           $164.00
GB-04 Woods Axe (Small Forest Axe)                                           $109.00


Our friend Steve Smith teaches woodworking and physical education at a private school for guest worker’s children in Saudi Arabia. Recently Steve e-mailed us with the following “writing about handmade spoons and butter paddles; 6th & 7th grade.”  Photos of the carvings are a bit too small to reproduce, but here’s a sampling of the writing:


I enter the room
And see the wood blocks
Waiting to be carved.
            Haiku by Riya Benoy

plain, brown
chiseling, sanding, chiseling
It is almost done.
sanding, oiling, admiring
smooth, finished
            Diamante by Phillip Parent

Creativity comes in every way –
A block of wood might
Really be important,
Varying in shape and size –
Never ending forms, each spoon
Getting better each day.
Acrostic by Taylor Bell

A rough block of wood,
Beautiful with walnut oil,
First light, then dark.
            Free Verse by Kaily Saltaformaggio


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Phone: 828 656 2280 (9 AM to 6 PM, Eastern time, any day)
Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753