Have you ever thought about the ultimate woodworking challenge? Make your own Windsor chair with Tony Peirce in his workshop 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!
You will learn how 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.
You will learn to rive components of the chair back from green red oak that is split 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.
You will learn to make 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 you have shaped the arm and bow, you will learn how to stem them, which makes the wood behave like soft plastic. As soon as they are ready, you will learn how to bend them are bent on forms and then cool and dry them overnight.
You will cut the seat blank is cut to its proper shape and then learn how to carve it to form the seat "saddle" using the gutter adze, the scorp, the compass plane and travisher, which are shown above from left to right. During the course, you will also learn how to sharpen and use these tools.
You will learn how to shape the edges of the seat using a drawknife and spokeshave so that the seat is rounded under. In this photograph, Richard, one of my first students, is learning to smooth the seat edge with a spokeshave.
The saddle of the seat is carved out nearly 1” deep. You will learn how to use a gutter adze, a scorp, compass plane and travisher to accomplish this. The saddle makes the Windsor chair, one of the most comfortable chairs there are. In this picture I am demonstrating the use of the scorp.
You will learn how to prepare the seat to accept legs using a brace, spoon bits and a tapered reamer. The course teaches how to drill mortises in the legs at the proper angles 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.
A key to the strength of the Windsor chair is that the stretchers of the legs are made a little long so that when assembled, they are always under pressure. You will learn how to do this and how to assemble the chair undercarriage. You will also learn how to wedge the legs where they pass through the seat without splitting the seat in such a way that the chair will never come apart.
You will hearn how to drill mortises for the arm stumps and spindles in the seat at the appropriate angles. I will also teach how to vary the angle of the back to fit the owner comfortably, much like we adjust the angle of a car's seat back!
The spindles, arm and bow must be are prepared for assembly by scraping and sanding them. You will learn how to drill mortises in in the arm and bow at the appropriate angles using a brace and spoon bits.
You will learn to mount the arm on the arm stumps and adjust the angle using a tapered reamer. You will learh how to adjust each spindle to fit the arm so that each one supports the arm.
On the last day, you will learn how to fit the bow to the arm and how to drill spindle mortises in the bow using a brace and spoon bit.
The final steps you will learn is how to wedge up the bow, trim the wedges and prepare the chair for finishing.