George T. (Terry) Chapman

Terry Chapman is a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor who lives south of Atlanta. He has done woodworking for many years and particularly enjoys bowl turning and making Windsor Chairs. He currently works as Site Development Manager for a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and has one son who pastors a Church in Connecticut. You can email him at

Nov 212015

Every year Highland asks me to do this Wish List thingy and it dawned on me, finally, that I have been looking at it backwards. Every year I make up a list of things I would like to have on my list and I hope people will give to me. I’ve got pretty much everything I need. So to be different this year, here is your Wish List. This list is of things that I already have in my shop, enjoy constantly, and believe you need to put on your Wish List this year.

OneWay Lathe. I have a OneWay 1640 Lathe I got from Highland several years ago and I use it constantly. It is a joy. The 1640 designation is the capacity of the lathe meaning it will handle a bowl 16 inches in diameter and a spindle of 40 inches. This marvelous lathe will do all but the most extraordinary projects, and is just below the industrial size 2436 model. My favorite feature is the completely variable speed control. You need one of these.

1640 OneWay Lathe

1640 OneWay Lathe

Leg Vise. Several months ago, I added a leg vise from Benchcrafted to my workbench. I didn’t know I needed it until I got it. Mine has a hand wheel and I mounted it just beside one of the legs on the bench I made myself some years ago. I use it constantly. If you don’t have a good heavy bench, now is your chance to make or buy one and add the leg vise to it. Highland sells a Split Top Roubo Bench Maker’s Package, or the plans for the Roubo Bench and you will never regret having a nice bench in your shop. Pass it down to your grandchildren or set it in your living room when you hang up your planes.

My Leg Vise

My Leg Vise

Lathe Tool Handle. If you get the lathe above or already have a good lathe, then by all means, get yourself one of these wonderful tool handles. They have a substantial weight to them and since they are coated with a heavy plastic, they don’t get so cold when left in the shop in the winter. The weight is enough to dampen out much of the vibration which many tools transmit to your hands so it feels much better over a long session. I also like the ability to buy a different tool steel for different shapes. I use a 3/4 inch bowl gouge in the tool handle I have and it works like a charm.

Tool Handle

Tool Handle

Bose Wave Machine. Technically outside the tool world, but this needs to go very high on your Wish List. This thing is a real joy and belongs in every shop. I first met one of these many years ago when a sewage pump manufacturer brought a demonstration trailer by the office to show our staff how a pumping system might be configured. I was standing inside the trailer and was convinced the pumps were running, but could not figure out how. It was a Bose radio playing a recording of the pumps running. I can turn this thing up high enough to hear it above any machine in the shop. I can play the radio, a CD, music from my phone, or podcasts from my iPad. I love this thing. You will too.

Bose Sound Machine

Bose Wave Machine

Low Speed Grinder. After much practice and gnashing of teeth I learned to sharpen my lathe tools on my grinder. It works well because it has soft grinding wheels and runs at 1750 RPM instead of the standard 3600 RPM. I put a OneWay grinding jig on it and I can sharpen the tool I use the most in about 20 seconds and then it is back to turning. Great machine!!

Rikon low speed grinder

Rikon low speed grinder

That is my Wish List for you this year. I hope you get everything on it.

Oct 262015

Well, I just “binge watched” fourteen episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop” and it was pretty spectacular. Roy Underhill has such an easy manner about him that he is almost able to make the show come alive, as if he is right in the room with you…. Oh wait, he was in the room. Bad jokes (dogwood, the tree you can tell by its bark!), frenetic energy, hand tools and mystery dovetails galore. The only thing he did not do was cut his hand.

What a lovely place --masters above, Roy at the front, tool cabinets, and the bench signed by all the great instructors.

What a lovely place –masters above, Roy at the front, tool cabinets, and the bench signed by all the great instructors. Note the coffin to the right front.

Roy came to Highland for the weekend and taught a daylong class on Sunday to about 30 fans and hand woodworking enthusiasts. It was a joy. I have been watching his show for almost as many years as he has been making it (though usually not fourteen at a time) and I still enjoy it. If you see Roy in person, as on the show, you begin to realize there is a large intellect in there despite the dumb jokes. For instance, every now and then he lapses into French and seems very comfortable doing so. Occasionally you catch an obscure historical reference indicating a widely read, well-educated man.

Class members started out taking notes like they were in college, but it soon became apparent this is not your Mama’s college class. We jumped from why the screw handle on a bevel gauge was made all wrong (bad English tools as revenge for loss of the colonies), to the dovetailed log cabin at Shakespeare’s birthplace as prelude to American log cabins.

Of course, our subject for the day was the dovetail joint with numerous variations. We covered them all and Roy made most of them during the class. I don’t think he messed one up all day, at least where any of us could tell. The standard dovetail he made looked to me to be a little bit tight and I thought he would never get it put together. He did get it to close up tight and it was lovely. We all got a laugh when he pulled that Lie-Nielsen Dovetail Saw with the three foot blade out of a coffin (thats right, a coffin) he made on Saturday at the store demonstration. He really did cut a pin with one stroke of that thing.

I suspected many of my classmates had never heard a perfectly tuned and sharpened hand plane make that distinctive “snick” sound. It was many years into my woodworking career before I recognized the sound because I was not capable of sharpening and tuning my planes well enough to make that sound. It is always lovely to hear and of course, Roy is a master of that particular skill.

I want to show you just one dovetail and this is a test. See if you can figure out how this one comes apart:

A Dovetail you cannot put together or take apart.

A Dovetail you cannot put together or take apart.

It was a great day. If you get a chance to go to a class with Roy, by all means do so. Even better, he runs a school in North Carolina and you can find the class schedule here.

Check out the Highland class schedule here and come on down. By the way, you will look a long time for a dovetailed log cabin at Stratford on Avon.  Log cabins did not exist in England.

And send a comment note if you want to see how that dovetail in the picture comes apart.

Oct 052015

Roy Underhill is coming to Highland. Really.

Many years ago before DVR and tape players for TV, my wife used to get so mad because we had to schedule our Saturday afternoons around The Woodwright’s Shop. It used to come on in Atlanta about 2:30 on Saturday and even if we had gone to lunch somewhere, we still had to hurry and get home so I could watch it.

Last week when I told my thirty year old son I was going to a class with Roy Underhill, he said immediately without any prompt from me, “Oh, I wonder if his half brother is still around.” His remembrance was a proud moment for me, because that stupid joke must go back 25 years. Roy was demonstrating the use of a drawknife with a shaving horse, and as he pulled the knife towards his belly, he explained that you need to be careful to not pull it too far. That’s what happened to his half brother.

My other favorite thing is how he always cut himself on the show, Many times he would get in a hurry and slice his finger and then spend the rest of the show wiping blood off his work. I suppose to keep down expense, they tape the show straight through with no cuts or edits so they would never stop for him to put on a bandage. One time he even had his wife, Jane, on the show as a guest, and she cut her hand. Such devotion you hardly ever see these days.

You can see his 20 year retrospective on the show here. I recommend it to you.



On top of that, Roy’s daughter, Eleanor, is the banjo player (claw hammer style) in the Bluegrass Band called Underhill Rose. See what you think. I like them a lot.

All this to say Roy Underhill is coming to Highland on Sunday October 18th for a full-day class. The class size is limited to 25 and the cost is $95 for a full day. Be sure and sign up quickly, because you know this thing will sell out. I’m going to be there and I can barely wait. I am going to write down all the stupid jokes and pass them along to my son. It is time he got a new one.

Sep 212015

There is something awfully liberating about learning to do a tiny little bit of leather work.

I have wanted a leather sheath for my drawknife for years but I was never quite willing to pay the price. Whenever I go to a class I pack my drawknife in my bug-out bag and endanger the hard won sharp edge. Not to mention endangering me with the sharp edge.

When I was at the leather store a couple of weeks ago,  I bought a small piece of lightweight leather, 3 to 4 oz weight, I think.

Leather Sheath

Leather Sheath

I cut a pattern out of poster board and fitted it around the blade until I liked it. I laid the pattern down on the leather and cut around it with my carving knife and then wrapped the cut out around the blade. After snipping two holes for rivets right at the corners of the blade and setting the rivets it looked good.  I tried it on the blade and the corners of the sheath were in the way, so I snipped them off. I set two snaps in the flap and pulled the leather tight around the blade so I could mark the other side of the snaps on the body. After completing the snaps, the sheath fit well except for being a little puffy on the bottom edge. I took it off and crimped the bottom with a wood scrap and it held a nice crease making it look a lot better.

I put on a coat of British Tan for looks and a coat of Neatsfoot Oil for feeding the leather and called it good. Been wanting a nice cover for a long time. I ‘m so proud!

Finished Product

Finished Product

Sep 142015

I bought half a cow (hide) last week.

Many years ago we went to visit my Mother and she was proud to tell us she had bought half a cow. Of course, that was too much for my brother and me. We immediately started to quiz her on which half of the cow she bought. She could have bought the front half, the rear half, the top half, the bottom half, the left half, the right half;  I could go on and on. (I guess you had to be there.) What she had done of course, was to go in halves with someone in town and have a cow butchered and wrapped for the freezer.

What brings up this nerd review is the Roorkee Chair from Chris Schwarz’ s “Campaign Furniture” which I have begun to build as part of my back-to-the-shop fall season. I needed a couple of fairly large pieces of leather to make the back and the seat of the chair, so I went to my local Tandy Leather Company to buy what I needed.

I’m still learning this leather business, so the very helpful people at the store jumped all over it when I took the book with me and opened it on the counter. It seems that leather comes in different thicknesses and is labeled by weight, as in “3 to 4 oz” or “7 to 8 oz”. One ounce equals 1/64” of thickness so 7 oz equals 7/64” of thickness. The thickness of the hide varies, so the weights are given in a range. Being a natural product, leather will stretch with use, so particularly for a chair seat, 7 to 8 oz is required.

Based on recommendations in the book, I needed a side of leather which should give me enough for two chairs. I like the “veg-tan” finish which is a lovely light natural color. The store offers all kinds of dye to make it any color you like, but I thought it only right to make mine British Tan.

The clerk showed me a side of leather which was beautiful and on sale, so I bought a half a cow. It was a big cow. It was a real big cow (actually, a steer, I suppose) so I rolled it out and tacked it up on the side of the shop to get a feel for it. It must weigh 20 to 30 pounds. You can actually see the rear leg on the left, the front leg and the neck. Hard to see in the picture, but the ownership brand is visible on the top left at the hip. I was a little creeped out by the whole thing truth be told. I mean this was a living creature not that long ago and obviously a magnificent one. I have the tiniest bit of appreciation for the pre-history tradition of apologizing for taking the animal.

Half of a cow.

Half of a cow.

Woodworkers ask how do you cut the stuff? A utility razor knife works very well  – it is just skin. Chris recommends making a hardboard pattern and using it for a guide. The biggest thing is to keep the cuts vertical. Once it is put together, you can still trim the edges to square them up.

I have two of the four wooden legs turned to final shape. Next I plan to make the patterns out of some thin plywood to cut out the leather portions and then keep working on the Roorkee. Who knows, they might need me soon on a campaign in India.

Patterns above, leg on the lathe.

Patterns above, leg on the lathe.

Sep 042015

Time to start back in the shop for the fall and winter season and make something nice. Summer has been pretty busy, school is back in and all the vacations and trips are done, so time to get back to it.

I decided a few months ago to make the three legged folding stool in Chis Schwarz’s “Campaign Furniture”. I like the campaign style and the idea of making stuff that fits on the back of an elephant or a camel on the way to the campaign in India. On the other hand, most mornings when I roll out of bed I am glad my campaigning days are over. I like teak wood chests with the brass corners and recessed handles and chairs that fold down into a packable bundle. The three legged stool in “Campaign Furniture” seemed a perfect introduction.

Three Legged Stool

Three Legged Stool

I have wanted to try some leather work for a while. I like the look and smell of leather and I sensed it could not be too difficult. I checked with a couple of friends and they recommended a local branch of a national chain of leather suppliers. I took off one Saturday afternoon and found the store and bought enough leather to make two stools. The people at the store were very helpful and between the clerks and the book, I got what I needed. I cut some leg stock, ordered the three way nut for the center joint and in a few days had a beautiful little stool. I am real proud of it and actually found one like it in a hunting catalog the other day for $250.

All this to say that my work for the fall will come from “Campaign Furniture”.  The Roorkee Chair is particularly fascinating to me. I love the legs and the leather and the straps and the buckles and the shape. I sat down today and ordered all the buckles and the brass screws and the knobs it takes to build two chairs. Next week I will head back over to the leather company and get a shoulder or a half hide so I will have all the leather I need for a couple of chairs or at least one chair and some screw-ups.  Here’s a picture from Chris’s Blog about making the chair.  Buy his book, check his blog at, and bow down to someone who is bringing back a beautiful chair.

roorkee_ele_img_7673After the Roorkee, there is a folding table, a strong trunk, a traveling secretary, and a folding bookcase. After that, it will be time to call the travel agent and book the camel caravan to Sudan and Egypt.

What are you making this fall and winter?

Jul 212015

We asked our bloggers which books they are looking forward to reading this summer, and they provided us with some great answers. See below for Terry Chapman’s summer reading list:

Like many of you, I have a stack of books sitting on the night stand waiting for me this summer. Though I have a Kindle and read many e-books, I still love the feel of a hard-bound book.

I should explain I have a unique view of this kind of thing. I like books and I particularly like woodworking books, so to encourage companies to publish more of what I like, I buy their products. I may not absolutely like every book a company publishes, but the only way to make sure they do get to the ones I like, is to buy stuff from them. Mike Dunbar up at the Windsor Institute explained this to me in detail when I went to a class at his school. He recommends a spoke shave made just over the mountain by Dave Wachnicki at Dave’s Shaves. Dave runs a small operation and as Mike explained, if nobody buys his products, then he will go get a job in a factory and stop making them and we will all be the poorer for it. Consequently, I have most of the books published by Lost Art Press.

On my reading list this summer:

Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook I took a class from Peter a few years ago at Highland and made a child’s Windsor chair. (It’s on display at the Store, by the way. Look up front by the windows.) Peter is a wonderful teacher and passionate about his work. I like Windsor chairs and have made several. This book makes it look easy, which is an indication of Peter’s prowess as a writer, teacher and chairmaker. It only looks easy because he is so good at it.

Peter Korn’s “Why We Make Things and Why It Matters A verbalization of all those things you know instinctively about things you like and like to make, but cannot say out loud. Peter writes them down for you.

 Roy Underhill’s “Calvin Cobb, Radio Woodworker Roy’s first novel and it has measured drawings in it. Really. Everybody enjoys Roy and his woodworking and you would know he wrote this even if his name were not on the cover.


Geo. R. Walker & Jim Tolpin “By Hand and Eye” This is another one you know instinctively, but these guys wrote it down. They are able to quantify those things that many of us can see when we are looking at a nice piece of furniture or a building. I love being able to do things the old ways with the most basic of tools.


Will Holladay’s “A Roof Cutter’s Secrets” Nerd city and not available from Highland.  In another lifetime, I would be a roof framer, but since it is too late in this life, this is my vicarious profession. I love the math and the practical aspect of the work and the fitting together of the puzzle. I have the greatest admiration for the old cutman with a fourth grade education sending perfectly cut rafters up top without ever climbing onto the roof. With a little apprenticeship, I could do that thirty years ago.

That’s my reading list. What’s yours?