Class Schedule Update
Fall and winter classes, which we call “tutorials,” 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.

Fall Tutorials (limited to 4 students)
October 19-23: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking  (Drew Langsner)  - Full
November 2-6: Windsor Chairmaking (Drew Langsner) - Full
November 16-20: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner) - 1 Opening

Winter 2010 Tutorials
January 11-15: Ladderback Chairmaking - Make a “mule ear” side chair.
January 25-30*: American Windsor Chairmaking - Make a bow-back side chair.
February 8-12: Carving Bowls and Spoons - The Scandinavian tradition.
February 22-26: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking - Low-back or high –back.
March 8-12: Hearth Chair - This is Drew’s design for an all wood loafer.
March 22-27*: American Windsor Chairmaking - Make a bow-back side chair.

*Note: Our Winter 2010 American Windsor Tutorials have been extended to 6 full days. We have learned that you need the extra class day for this particularly challenging project.

Ladle carved by Drew Langsner.

The Ambitious Approach

by Drew Langsner

Part 2, Grasping the Metal, is on knife work (exterior shaping and hollowing the spoon bowl) and is in the current issue of “Living Woods” magazine. The final installment, Part 3, will appear in the September/October issue. This will also be in a future newsletter.

Click here for Grasping the Metal.

If you’re interested in subscribing to “Living Woods” you can take this link: nick.gibbs@freshwoodpublishing.com

A Rustic Windsor Tradition from Down Under

Nigel Atkinson recently sent us a clipping from
“Australian Wood Review” about a rustic Windsor style that we were previously unaware of. “Jimmy Possum” chairs are characterized by having front and rear legs that pass through the seat to support the arm rests. And like many Irish Windsors, the arm rests also capture the shoulder spindles of the back rest. The chair in the photo is from an Australian auction web site. Other versions are more primitive, utilizing crookedy sticks and whatever materials seemed to be available.

This is an excerpt from author Jamie Bell’s article Possum Tales.

“Stick furniture ranges in sophistication from a three-legged milking stool to turned and carved Windsor chairs, but for simplicity of design and construction the Australian Jimmy Possum chair is hard to beat. Yet despite this simplicity, or perhaps because of it, the Jimmy Possum chair has widespread appeal. Since it was first made during the 1890s it has become an Australian icon of bush furniture.

Click here for more of this tale.

Jimmy Possum chair.
Two-brick forge uses MAPP gas heat source.


This summer’s fully enrolled Toolmaking for Woodworkers workshop was taught by Swedish toolmaker Hans Karlsson and our neighbor John Kraus. During the first few days class members worked with cold, pre-annealed 01 tool steel flat stock to make mortise chisels, knife blades and other small tools. Hardening and tempering was done in class made forges that consist of two light-weight insulating bricks. The heat source is a Bernzomatic type torch and a canister of MAPP gas which burns considerably hotter than propane. These simple forges get hot enough for hardening (near 2,000 degrees) and some rather significant forge work.
Interior view of the forge.
Tempering was done visually by color, and as a “soak” with a household electric toaster oven. Students also made their own gouges, pot and coat hooks, and other tools. We used W1 round stock for the forged projects.

The brick forge interior is easily hollowed using an old spoon as a scraping tool. We are still experimenting with the layout, but the chamber should be rounded for a uniform heat pattern. The burning gas inlet on the side is angled towards the back. We also played with putting the torch tip directly in front of the entry hole. The work being heated is supported by short lengths of wire placed between the bricks. (Scrape a recess for the wire so that the bricks fit close together.) Stainless steel wire will withstand repeated use, but mild steel wire can also be used. Some class members used their bench vise to secure the MAPP gas canister. Insulating bricks are available from ceramics supply outlets and sell for about $5 each.

One safety issue. The 2-brick forge can get hot enough to scorch (and eventually ignite) a wooden table. Placing it on an inverted steel drum or other fireproof work support is therefore recommended.

Hans says that he will make his own 2-brick forge back in Sweden and that he would like to emphasize their use next time we hold this course.


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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