Vanessa came up from Florida last Saturday and left today. We had a wonderful time together. I miss her already. Before leaving for our Windsor chair class in West Virginia we had to stop in at WoolWinders and Eleganza Yarns. Eleganza was having a 40% off their entire stock of yarns Saturday night starting at 9pm. Heading to the store it started to pour and by the time we left the store it was raining so hard we could hardly see to drive. The thunder and lightening didn't help matters either. We did some major stash enhancement.
Now, on to the Windsor chair class. Vanessa and I attended the Waterford Fair last fall where we met Charles Boland and his wife Sherri of Storybook Joinery. Of all the Windsor chairmakers we liked Charles' chairs the best and talked him into doing a class and he agreed!
In our 6-day class Vanessa made the Bowback rocker and I made the Sackback. The chairs are handmade using the same techniques that chairwrights used in the 18th century. Windsor chairs were introduced to America from England during the 1720's. The American Windsor came into its own during the 1790's. Windsors were used everywhere (chairs, rockers, children's furniture, stools, settees, etc). We're here with Charles and as you can see we are grinning from ear to ear. We couldn't be happier with the way our chairs turned out. We loved every minute of the class and this included our stay in Romney, WV. Our lodging was at a B&B called Hampshire House where we had the place to ourselves all but 2 nights. Their high protein pancakes were delicious! We had ours without the fruit. Download the recipe here.
Charles allowed us to each make a different chair and he made one of each along with us. This made it a lot harder for him but very accommodating for us. Here are our chairs along with Charles' chairs. We started with straight grained red oak logs that were riven with wedges and a froe to create the stock for the spindles and bows. The spindles and bows were shaped on a shaving horse with a draw knife and spokeshave. The bows were then put into the steam box and bent over a form.The legs, stretchers, and stumps (arm posts) were turned on the lathe from hard maple.
The seat was shaped from a ~2-inch plank of clear pine. Here are the tools (scorp, travisher, compass plane, spoke shave, and drawknife) used in dressing (shaping) the seat after the seat was hollowed out with a gutter adze. Holes for the spindles were then carefully drilled into the seat using a brace with spoon bits at the appropriate angle.
We're getting there! The spindles are threaded through the arm-rail and are hammered into the holes previously drilled into the seat. Next the bow-back will be installed. I'll let Vanessa tell you about her favorite tool(s) and our other escapades. I'll let her explain these too.
And I can't finish the post without mentioning how beautiful the Boland property is or how warm and friendly they are. We loved their dogs Maggie and Molly too. They are good people. The last day of class Sherri made us a delicious lunch and that evening we enjoyed a crab feast in their gorgeous secret garden. (Sherri is taking the picture.)
We've already planned out our project for our next class in March. Mine will be the Nantucket Fanback rocker. I can't wait!
If you don't think you are up to making your own Windsor chair you might consider purchasing one from Charles. They are truly a piece of art.