Oct 232010
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Peter Galbert is in town and teaching a class on making a Child’s Windsor Chair and I am there.  Today was the first day and we covered a lot of stuff.  In fact, we covered a whole lot of stuff.  (Do you believe he drove all the way down to Atlanta from New York in an old pick-up truck?  Had to bring his stuff, you know.)  We are going to start with a chunk of a tree and make a chair out of it.  In this day of power tools and mass production it is still hard to grasp that you can take a tree from the yard and make a Windsor chair out of it.  Shoot, I’ve done it before and I can still hardly believe it.

This piece of log is our “Before”.

Eleven of us gathered this morning in the seminar room at the High for a high intensity demonstration of what it takes to make a Windsor chair.  We started out hearing about splitting a log into the pieces needed to make the legs and spindles for a chair.  Pete then pulled out the froe and mallet and demonstrated for us how to split out the blanks from a log he brought with him. There’s more to it than you think. He then used a drawknife with the shaving horse to make the rough shapes for the spindles and the back bow. Since the bow must be bent, he and his assistant put it in to cook in the steam cooker set up with a wallpaper-steaming unit for power.

Splitting out the Blanks

Steam Cooker

After the blank cooked for about 45 minutes, it was a simple matter to pull it around the form shaped for the back and it was done.  The actual bend took about 45 seconds but will take a day or more to dry.

Completed Bow

After that, we moved to sharpening.  There are oddly shaped hand tools needed to make a Windsor chair quickly and efficiently and sharpening them well is a real skill.  Starting with the draw-knife, we moved to the scorp, the travisher, and spoke shave  as well the other chisels we will need.  There was plenty to learn in the sharpening session, I can tell you.

We then moved on to turning and the world is not a fair place.  I have been turning for a good while, but my skills are minimal when it comes to spindles and skews.  I need a class in skews.  A fellow could get discouraged pretty easy watching someone this good make a spindle turning.  Pete is good.

Six days to go.  This is going to be interesting.

This is the “After”:

Click here to read about Day 2 of Peter Galbert’s Windsor Chair class.

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