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 chair maker Instructor listed by Windsor Chair Resources and Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. The one-on-one course includes all materials, the use of all hand tools required to build a Windsor chair as well as a detailed instruction manual on how to make a Windsor chair. At the end of the week, the aspiring chair maker leaves with their own, hand made chair!
The first step is to prepare the seat blank, which is made from two 2" X 10" boards, which are planed, jointed and glued and clamped together. The glue holding the two halves of the seat blank together must cure for 24 hours.
Components of the chair back are made from green red oak that is split or rived using a froe. This ensures that the grain of the wood goes from one end to the other, which makes them both strong and flexible.
All the back components, the spindles, the bow and the arm are shaped by shaving the wood from green blanks using a hand plane, drawknife and spokeshave. Homemade gauges are used to help guide shaping the parts to the correct size.
After the arm and bow are made, they are heated with steam, which makes the wood behave like soft plastic. As soon as they are ready, they are bent on forms and cooled and dried overnight. The seat blank is then prepared from 2" thick white pine.
The seat blank is cut to shape and then carved to form the seat "saddle" using the gutter adze, the scorp, the compass plane and travisher, which are shown from left to right. The course teaches how to sharpen and use these tools.
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.
The saddle of the seat is carved out nearly 1” deep using a scorp, compass plane and travisher. This makes the Windsor chair, one of the most comfortable chairs there are. Here I demonstrate the use of the scorp.
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.
The stretchers of the legs are made a little long so they are always under pressure. The undercarriage 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Glue is applied to the spindle holes in the seat and bow, the spindles are fit through the bow and the bow and spindles are attached to the chair. The final step is to apply glue to wedges, hammer them home, trim them and prepare the chair for finishing.