Make a Windsor Chair!

Have you ever thought about the ultimate woodworking challenge? Make your own Windsor chair with Tony Peirce in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec. Tony is a Chairmaker Instructor listed by Windsor Chair Resources and Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. The one-on-one course includes all materials and the use of all hand tools that are required to build a Windsor chair. At the end of the week, the aspiring chairmaker leaves with their own, hand made chair!

Day 1

Preparation of the seat blank and components of the back

Riving Spindle Blanks

Components of the chair back are made from red oak that is split or rived using a froe so that the grain of the wood goes from one end to the other.

Shaving the Bow

All the back components, the spindles, the bow and the arm are shaped by shaving the wood using a hand plane, drawknife and spokeshave. Gauges are used to help obtain the correct size.

Bending the Arm

The arm and bow are steamed and then bent on a form. Once cooled, they are dried overnight. The seat blank is then prepared from 2" thick white pine.

Day 2

Preparation of the Seat

Tools to Sculpt Seat

Tools to sculpt the seat "saddle" include the gutter adz, the scorp, the compass plane and travisher. The course teaches how to sharpen and use these tools.

Shaping the Seat Edge

The edges of the seat are shaped using a drawknife and spokeshave so that the seat is rounded under. In this photograph, Richard is learning to smooth the seat edge with a spokeshave.

Sculpting the Seat

The saddle of the seat is sculpted out using a scorp, compass plane and travisher. Here I demonstrate the use of the scorp.

Day 3

"Legging Up" the Chair

Drilling Leg Mortise

The seat is prepared to accept legs using a brace, spoon bits and a tapered reamer. Mortises are drilled in the legs to accept the stretchers using spoon bits. The student learns how to adjust the positioning of the legs as well as how to adjust the length and angles of the legs and stretchers.

"Legging Up"

The stretchers of the legs are made a little long so they are always under pressure. The undercarraige is glued and assembled. The chair legs go through the seat and are trimmed and wedged in place. A chair made this way will never come apart.

Drilling Spindle Mortises

Holes for the arm stump and spindle mortises are drilled in the seat at the appropriate angle. The angle can be varied to fit the owner comfortably, much like we adjust the angle of a car's seat back!

Day 4 &5

Mounting the Arm and Bow of the Chair

Preparation of Parts

The spindles, arm and bow are prepared for assembly, including final scraping, and drilling of holes in the arm and bow using a brace and spoon bits.

Mounting the Arm

The arm is mounted on the arm stumps and the angle is adjusted using a tapered reamer. Spindles are fit into the arm and adjusted one by one to support the arm.

Drilling Bow Spindle Holes 

The bow is fit to the arm and spindle holes drilled using a brace and spoon bit aligning the holes by eye using the seat and bow holes as guides. The spindles pass trough the bow and are trimmed and wedged in place.

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