Unlike factory-made chairs, that call their products “handmade,” my process starts with freshly cut logs, age-old hand tools, and hard work. The parts are not mass-produced from a machine, but carefully crafted, one piece at a time…
The first part of the process begins with selecting the perfect log – a specimen that is straight, without scars or bumps. From here, the log is split into eights, with mallets and wedges.
Once the log is in eighths, individual pieces are measured, cut to length, and shaped with a shave horse and drawknife. These parts will become the spindles, bows, and legs of the chair.
Some parts go on to be steam bent – to become hoops or bows – while others are dried, over the period of several days in a kiln before final shaping.
A clear piece of Eastern White Pine is selected to be carved into the seat, using a variety of traditional bladed hand tools. These tools include a spokeshave, drawknife, scorp and travisher.
Two styles of legs are available for my chairs – the Double Bobbin (bamboo style) and the more traditional Baluster style. Each leg is turned by hand on my 1944 Delta Milwaukee lathe. Clear Hard Maple is the material of choice for this process, chosen for its strength and also for its ability to produce clean, sharp details. Below is a short video of a Baluster leg being turned by hand on an antique Delta Milwaukee lathe from 1944 and a series of hand tools.
I use the age-old process of moisture expansion joints, this requires that the materials are kiln-dried before being shaped to their final size so that after assembly the tenons will expand into the mortises – locking them in place permanently. Because of this technique, this style of the chair can be made without the use of fasteners (such as screws) or glue – although I choose to use glue, for added insurance.
Each chair is finished with several coats of Milk Paint, buffed to a low rich sheen, and then sealed with several layers of oil.