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Project Information

I took a chair-making class in July 2022 with Kenneth and Angela Kortemeir at their Maine Coast Craft School, off-grid in the Maine woods. Kenneth makes beautiful stuff and knows how to gently help you do the same. We followed the method in the "Make a Chair from a Tree" book pretty closely. Each student completed a chair in seven days, using hand tools only, starting from a green oak log and ending with weaving the seat.

We started splitting a large fresh oak log with "starter" wedges. You could see the moisture squirt out as the wedges went in. We used froes to further split the wood to try to get close to the size of the posts and rungs.

Then the main work began with drawknives and shave horses. It took a while to turn out usable parts. We squared the posts, then made octagons, being careful to follow the fibers in the wood. This took days of intense work.

We steam-bent the back posts to get a comfortable back angle. We chopped the back slat mortises with chisels. We bored the rung mortises with a brace and bit using levels and other tools. I tried to make a perfect tenon with a spokeshave, but quickly switched to Kenneth's hand-powered tenon cutter, which gave perfect results.

On the last day, in the morning, we split the back slats, shaved them to 3/16ths, steam-bent them, and installed them with walnut pins. In the afternoon we wove the chair seat from Shaker tape. This was the best class I have ever taken. Finish is pure tung oil with a little citrus solvent. Thanks for looking.

Gallery

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Fine looking chair. No doubt a sense of pride every time it's used too
 

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Very old school, looks like your efforts paid off!

Gives a look into the creativity that can be achieved with otherwise simple tools and methods.
 

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It looks great! Those are nice chairs - half the weight and twice the strength of most chairs, they look good, and are comfortable.

Did you use the original book, or the new release from lost art press?
 

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@Alanws Before, I read the third edition from Lost Art Press. During the class, we had no time to be reading.

Thanks for the kind words, all.
 

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Down memory lane, I grew up using chairs like this. I can remember my Dad taking the inner bark of a tree and weaving a new bottom (seat) on the chair frame. Chairs like the one you built they are very sturdy very durable, Good Job.
 

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Chairs made from trees are the best kind! Nice work on yours - especially in the time you had to build it.
 

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Nice chair, and I'm sure a great experience. Classes such as this can get you up to speed on things you had never done, and extend your bag of tricks as quickly as anything else. The knowing how to weave the seat alone is something that could/probably will be used again. My Wife can do a Shaker weave, and she has done a few a year since knowing how. Mostly to help others not knowing how.

I've got a Shaker chair original from a colony that was just down the road from me, and the lines are the same, just where yours is chamfered, mine is rounded, and mine has 3 seat back slats to your 2. My back doesn't flare out as much. But note the lines are so very similar, and the construction is the same, just different sized materials. You have to know if the thin woods used by the Shakers held up to the test of time, the design is sound. No doubt the Shakers made their chairs based off a design from before them, so it's got some history.

 

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Very nicely done. Great looking chair. Thanks for posting it.
 

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Thanks to all.
TheRealStevenN, that is a beautiful chair, thank you for sharing. According to Kenneth, Alexander based his chair on examples pre-dating the Shakers. I think the Shakers turned their parts on a lathe.
 

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Nicely done. It sounds like a great class.
 

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I'm thinking I have seen a chair or 2 like the one you made, and their beginnings are from the UK, as were most of the Shakers. Like I said somewhere further back, is the history of this type chair. Yes the Shakers were from a time when a lot of furniture was still made by hand tools, theirs were as machine made as the times allowed. IOW the original blended woodworkers. :)

Enjoy that chair, it's a winner.
 

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That is a real great accomplishment for a woodworker! you've made a beautiful chair that should last a lifetime!!

Cheers, Jim
 

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@oldrivers, Kenneth had a chair in his lunch room with a hickory bark seat. It looked great.
 

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beautiful chair,and i love the job you did on the weaving.nice work !
 

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Very nice work. Well done.
 

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Beautiful work.
 
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