Monday, May 25, 2015

Chairmaker's Notebook - A Must Have

While I have been very busy with my daughters 1920's Bungalow Rehab, I have made time to read Peter Galbert's newly released book Chairmaker's Notebook.  I'm not privy to a word that fully conveys my elation with this book.  For now I will say OUTSTANDING!  BEST EVER!  I know that was two words.

Over the years in my attempt to learn everything I could about how to make Windsor Chairs, I have accumulated eight books about these chairs.  Three were specifically "How To" books, that were a start but left me with more questions than answers.  The other five books are fantastic references on Windsor Chairs, that may be the topic of a different post.  The Chairmaker's Notebook is my ninth and by far the most complete book on the subject.

In addition to writing this wonderful book Pete drew every fantastic illustration.  So what makes this, in my honest opinion, "The Best How To Book On Making Windsor Chairs"?  It is the details. Pete explains in great detail why green wood is used to build these chairs.  How following the grain when making the parts is what gives these chairs their strength.  Also covered is the intricacies of bending wood and drying the wood.  

Pete goes into even greater detail about the tools used in making Windsor Chairs.  How they are to be used, sharpened, and also lets you know what modern day tools can be used in place of the more specific period chairmaking tools.  Pete emphasizes practicing before setting out to make a component for the chair.  Sage advice, take it from a guy who has needed the practice. 

Then there are the details so eloquently and simply put forth on the assembly of the chair, and something that no other book, I have ever seen explain, is the finishing process.  Wow, the time, money and frustration I could have saved.  Then there are the The Appendixes; they cover how the much used sightlines are developed, how to build a shavehorse, and how to grind drill bits that make the process easier.

This high quality book published by the good people at Lost Art Press, leaves no stone unturned when it comes to every detail a person needs to start down the path of being a maker of Windsor Chairs.  If I could have only one book, on how to build Windsor Chairs, this is the book.  

As a side note, this book gives the reader everything needed to build two wonderful chairs however, nothing can match the experience of taking a class with a chairmaker of Pete's caliber.  If you were to combine the knowledge gleaned from the pages of Chairmaker's Notebook with a chairmaking class, you would be light years ahead.  Three people I would suggest taking a class from would be; Of course Peter Galbert in Sterling, MA.; Curtis Buchanan in Jonesborough, TN.  I have found Curtis to be a fantastic teacher and an all around wonderful person.;  Also, Greg Pennington in Hendersonville, TN.  Pete and Greg are cut from the same mold as Curtis.  Greg helped me greatly with my turning skills.

So if you have ever said to yourself, "I wish I could build a chair like that" wait no longer.  Go get your copy of Chairmaker's Notebook and enjoy the ride.
~ Ray Schwanenberger

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