Oct. - Nov. 2010 E-NEWSLETTER

From Drew:

This edition of the Country Workshops E-Newsletter will be brief, as I prepare to travel to Japan for our Fall Crafts Tour. Please note that we have made a schedule change for the week of April 4 - 8, when we will be offering our Rustic Windsor Chairmaking tutorial. In addition, we've lowered the tuition for Willow Basketry, offered as a Spring Weekend class, from $385 to $325.

Winter 2011 Tutorials with Drew Langsner

Registrations are now being accepted for Winter 2011 Tutorials. These courses are limited to 4 students. The tuition includes project materials, meals and a private room. Specialized tools are provided for all of these courses. Drew Langsner is the instructor. Registration can be by phone (828 656 2280) or e-mail. The tutorial deposit is $350, with the balance due 4 weeks before each course begins. Further details are at: countryworkshops.org

Coopering instructor Carl Swensson helps summer intern Tim Manney flex a wooden bowl hoop. Carl's class will be offered again next summer.

January 10-14: Ladderback Chairmaking
January 24-28: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking - Full
February 7-11: Carving Bowls and Spoons
February 21-25: Ladderback Chairmaking
March 7-11: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking - Full
March 21-25: Make a Hearth Chair - 2 openings
April 4-8: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking

Spring Weekend Tutorials

April 16-17: Bowl Carving (with Drew Langsner)
April 30-May 1: Make a Windsor Stool (Drew Langsner)
May 14-15: Willow Basketry (Louise Langsner)

Summer Workshops with Guest Instructors

June 6-11: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner)
June 20-24: Make a 17th Century Carve Box (Peter Follansbee)
July 11-16: Japanese Woodworking (Carl Swensson)
August 1-6: Post-and-Rung Rocking Chair (Tom Donahey)
August 15-19: Carving Bowls and Spoons (Drew Langsner)
August 29-September 3: Coopering (Carl Swensson)


By Drew Langsner

The chair is a collaborative effort by Jogge Sundqvist and Drew Langsner.

Last year when we were planning our 2010 summer class calendar word slipped out that Jögge Sundqvist would be returning to Country Workshops to teach another course in carving bowls and spoons. Before the catalog was printed the course was fully enrolled. As a result we asked Jögge if he would teach a second class. The answer was "Yes, good plan."

We also had the idea to separate the two classes with a week break ... a quality of living decision for those of us who seem to be getting older. What can happen when two woodworker friends of over twenty years have a free week in the workshop? One possibility is an art and craft collaboration. With a bit of free play time, as seasoning.

We decided to make a rustic Windsor chair together. On Day 1 we began by discussing concept, and also looking at our chair collection. In addition to my work, we have two John Brown chairs, a classic modern Eames Chair, a truly funky chair of Jögge's, a student-made Tom Donahey style post-and-rung rocker, and more. We settled on doing a low-back Windsor with a pieced (sculpted) arm bow. For materials we did a survey of our chair wood storage racks where we found a nice but abandoned already started poplar seat, oak legs originally intended for a hearth chair, and plentiful dry short spindles. For the arm bow we nabbed one of the blank kits used by students in our rustic Windsor tutorials. Just before lunch Jögge finished a little sketch of a possible design. It was something similar to our class low-backs, but with the Jögge Sundqvist slightly whacko look. I thought it was a good, inspired starting point, so we were ready to get busy.

One early decision was to leave nothing really smooth, or sanded. We also decided to utilize the same construction geometry currently used in our Rustic Windsor tutorials. Jögge got started by putting a "hammer finish" on the chair seat. (All of the upper surface are slightly gouged, except for the flat spindle deck.) I re-shaped the legs on a lathe, and then Jögge gave them a hand carved finish. These were put into the kiln, along with the spindle stock.

Next day we got busy gluing up the arm-bow kit. If you haven't done this, here's a quick description. I've drawn up plans that utilize left and right curved arm pieces with grossly oversized handhold areas. Between these is a piece called a "filler." (This is actually an old English Windsor construction.) These parts are simply butted together – all end grain. Holding it all together is a "doubler," another piece on top that spans the inner arm areas and the filler. After very careful fitting at the butt joints it's simply glued together. When the glue sets, the arm bow is sculpted to whatever design you want. Part of the idea is that it doesn't end up looking like a stack of flat blocks.

This was followed by my pretty much standard lecture presentation on dealing with the many compound angles on a Windsor chair. It's the Sight Line and Resultant Angle Show. Jögge has been making a lot of chairs that use these crazy angles, but he had never dealt with the problem in this manner. Afterward, we put theory into practice by boring, reaming and fitting the tapered round mortise and tenon leg joints. We decided to forgo using leg stretchers. They really aren't necessary, and our time was limited.

Before moving onward with more assembly, we had to shape the arm bow and the spindles. As with the legs, the spindles were first turned, and then over-carved. The arm post hand supports got this rather fancy ring and ball design. We also decided on a flat cherry centerpiece splat, something typical of English Windsors. But instead of a cutout wheel design, we went for a 5-pointed star. We also went ahead with the cherry crown detail, getting everything dry-fitted before gluing up the arm and spindle assembly. The square cherry posts topped with carved ring and ball were also turned before getting a carved finish. (The tenons into the backrest doubler are turned, not rectangular.)

Finally, the backrest assembly was put together. We used Country Workshops boring Joy Jigs for drilling the mortises in the arm bows. These really help in getting good alignment with the lower mortises in the seat. We used liquid hide glue for the leg and backrest assemblies; yellow glue for the pieced arm bow. The finish is my current favorite; cold pressed flax seed oil thinned with a little citrus peel based solvent.

Why is it called the Red Queen's Throne? We're not really sure, except that it's a tough little chair, rather classy, with a terse sense of humor. It's available for $1650.


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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