Class Calendar Update

Students work on rustic Windsor chair assembly.

2013 was our 36th year teaching courses with guest instructors – coming to Country Workshops from around the US, Sweden and Japan. We have now shifted to offering tutorials year around. This is a smaller format based on our successful fall and winter tutorials where classes are limited to four students. Class members will benefit with this smaller group size. And we can hold tutorials in the heated part of the workshop year around. (Tutorials may also include an intern or other guest student.) Drew Langsner is the instructor, with the exception of Coopering, which is with Carl Swensson.

At Country Workshops there are no hidden fees for registration or your materials. Tuition also includes lodging in a private room. Specialized tools are provided for all courses. (Students are requested to bring more common woodworking tools.) This is an excellent opportunity to see and try the tools available from our CW Store. Tuition also includes our well-known, garden fresh meals prepared by Louise Langsner. (You can get an idea from Louise's cooking blog at www.LouiseLangsner.wordpress.com)

Registration can be by phone (828 656 2280), e-mail, or post. The tuition deposit is $350, with the balance due 4 weeks before class. We accept personal checks, Visa/MasterCard and money orders.

Our autumn tutorials will be announced on our website by mid-summer. The 2014 schedule and our CW Store offerings will also be detailed in our next print catalog. Send us an e-mail with your name and postal address if you would like a free copy. It will also be possible to print out the catalog using a PDF link on our Web site.

Upcoming Classes
(Limited to 4 students)

Winter Tutorials
January 20 - 24. Ladderback Chairmaking – Full
February 3 - 7. Carving Bowls and Spoons – 1 opening
February 17 - 21. Rustic Windsor Chairmaking
March 3 - 7. Making the Langsner Hearth Chair - Full
March 24 - 28. Carving Bowls and Spoons – 1 opening
April 7 - 11. Ladderback Chairmaking – 1 opening

Spring Weekend Tutorials
May 3 - 4. Carving Spoons and Butter Knives – Full
May 17 - 18. Carving Half-Log Bowls

Summer Tutorials
June 16 - 27. Chairmaker's University – Ladderback Chairmaking Revealed
July 7 - 11. Rustic Windsor Chairmaking
July 21 - 25. Carving Bowls and Spoons - 2 openings
August 9 - 4. Coopering – The Swiss Alpine Tradition
August 18 - 22. Make a Corner Cabinet with Wooden Hardware
September 1 - 5. Ladderback Chairmaking

Fall Tutorials
Schedule to be announced on our web site by mid summer.

10-Day Special Tutorial
Chairmaker's University Ladderback Chairmaking Revealed
June 16-17

Start with a log. This is a premium grade red oak.

Finish with a beautiful, comfortable chair. We will use colorful Shaker tape for the seating material.

"Chairmaker's University" is our new 10-day version of the ladderback chairmaking class that we have offered since 1979. The pace slows down so there is now time to include important aspects of chairmaking that are not included in the 5-day tutorial. And hopefully there's no after class "homework" in the evenings. Some of the added activities include: A walk in the forest, where we identify and evaluate various potential trees for chairmaking. An excursion to our local saw mill, where we can look through a selection of potential logs for chairmaking. What do we look for? And why? Then we'll chain our red oak log onto the trailer, and haul it back to Country Workshops. There's also time to discuss tool selection, design concepts and practicalities. Sharpening will be covered, with emphasis on tuning spokeshaves and drawknives. Chairmaker's wood technology includes a discussion on moisture content and differential shrinkage, which is the key to greenwood joinery. Drew will also discuss the fascinating history of vernacular chairmaking, and how our chairs relate to what happened during the industrial revolution.

Chairmaker's U Part A begins with a Welcome Supper on Sunday June 15 and closes after lunch on Friday June 20. Part B begins after breakfast on Monday June 23. The course ends with graduation and a Farewell Lunch on Friday June 27.

During the weekend break from class participants are welcome to stay (for no charge) in our accommodations, but we will not be serving meals until Monday morning breakfast. An alternative could be checking into one of the many possibilities around Asheville, a mountain campground, or even the Appalachian Trail. Our area has numerous places to visit, scores of good restaurants, pubs and live music venues, plus mountain biking, white water rafting and much more.

The project work 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 10-day Chairmaker's University (also limited to 4 registered students) is $2,125. This 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.

If you cannot come for 10 days. We have scheduled our standard 5-day ladderback tutorial for September 1-5. The tuition is $1225. This includes your private room, all meals and materials.

Marlin Mathiesen carves a spoon.

Remembering Marlin Mathiesen
by Drew Langsner

I don't remember what year Marlin Mathiesen first called Country Workshops from his home in nearby Greeneville, Tennessee. Marlin was looking for someone to show him how to make wooden planters for his extensive Japanese bonsai collection. I suggested that he contact our friend Carl Swensson who has expertise in Japanese woodworking. He did. And then he made a series of weekend trips to Carl's place in Baltimore.

Soon enough, Marlin was also taking courses at Country Workshops. He started with spoon and bowl carving, and then went on to take ladderback and Windsor chairmaking. Marlin became a very good woodworker who made a house full of beautiful objects, from spoons and bowls to fine pieces of furniture. He also joined our CW board, and was a regular contributor to our un-announced fund raising.

We lost Marlin last December, after a long and difficult struggle with prostate cancer. Throughout his 75 years, Marlin was always a leader – the special leader who never wants to draw attention to himself. He will be missed by his family, church and our woodworking community.

"The Spoon, The Bowl, and the Knife" will be available in early February.

Book and Video News from Sweden

Carving spoons and bowls continues to be an area where more woodworkers find their special niche. Maybe this is "comfort woodworking."

Swedish spoon and bowl carver Wille Sundqvist taught Country Workshops' first courses in 1978. Years later (2012) Drew had an idea that a video needed to be made about Wille – while he is actively working in his shop almost every day. Wille's son Jögge took the ball and ran with the project. Video recording was done last summer when Wille was 87. Fall and early winter were devoted to editing and other postproduction details.

"The Spoon, The Bowl, and the Knife" will be available in early February and can be pre-ordered now. There are segments on growing up in the old Swedish rural culture, and a little on Wille's love for turning bowls. But the program is mainly instructional. Here's a chance to see how Wille carves a spoon, based on skills with a carving axe, knife and a gouge. Wille shows his spoon carving grasps, sharpening, and engraved surface decoration. This is also a chance to get a glimpse of what northern rural Sweden looks like – it's quite special. With English subtitles.

WSQ-01 The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife
(S&H add $7.50)

Swedish Carving Techniques by Wille Sundqvist.

The English version of Wille Sundqvist's book "Swedish Carving Techniques" was published by Fine Woodworking in 1990. Perhaps 10 years later it was discontinued. Used copies became expensive, if you could find one.

We are pleased to announce that this classic book is available once again. Nothing has been changed, except for the inevitable price increase. Now available from the CW Store. You can purchase a copy by phone (828 656 2280) or e-mail.

TP-02 Swedish Carving Techniques by Wille Sundqvist
(S&H add $7.50)

Good Deal!
Order the Wille Sundqvist book and video and the combined S&H is $8.50


139. - Terry Widner; Boynton Beach, Florida

Butter knives, which are also called spreaders, are carved wooden utensils that can add a special hand-made touch to any table setting. Making a spreader shouldn’t be difficult, but designing one that functions well and has a personal, artistic signature is a challenge. They can also be an excellent gift, or a comfortably priced hand-carved item to sell.

Since the last newsletter we received No. 139 in our collection, made by Terry Widner, from Boynton Beach, Florida. Terry carved this one from Surinam Cherry (Eugenia Uniflora) and used food grade mineral oil and beeswax for the finish. In a note that came with the spreader Terry (aka "Spoontaneous") writes that "I do use rotary tools (cheat) but admire those who don't 'have to'." Terry also says that the female silhouette handle was not accidental.

We invite wood carvers to contribute their version of a spreader to our design/study collection. There is no budget for this project, and it’s not a contest. We encourage wood carvers to develop their personal design, which should be useful and practical. Newly acquired butter knives are featured in this newsletter, and there is a complete web-site archive at Country Workshops’ Spreader World Gallery. This includes “as seen from above photos” that are not in the newsletter. The collection is available for viewing and handling when you are at CW.


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Drew’s bowl and server carvings web site: www.DrewLangsner.com
Louise’s garden kitchen blog: www.LouiseLangsner.wordpress.com

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