Monday, July 19, 2010

The Windsor Institute Road Trip

I left Jackson, TN Thursday 7/8 and headed off to Hampton, NH and the Windsor Institute to take the 7/12 Sack Back chair class offered my Mike Dunbar and his team of instructors, Fred and Don. It is an intense, physical class, as there is minimum use of power tools (a drill, circular saw, and instructor operated bandsaw) in the preparation and assembly of this chair. I believe you can find a direct correlation in Tylenol sales in the NE and the dates of the chair classes. I was in with a group of great people from as close as Maine, from Canada, PA, NY, OH, OK, and as far away as Seoul, South Korea. We had a young man who just turned 11 years old in our class and he did an outstanding job. His father and instructors guided him along, but he didn't need any more help than the rest of us. I have a ton of photos I took to help me for the next time, but I will summarize the assembly here to give you and idea of what "start to finish" looks like. I can say this, if you every wanted to build one of these classic chairs, learn about the chair itself and the "whys" of the design elements, you will not find anything better than attending the Institute or anyone more knowledgeable than Mike Dunbar. Mike and his crew demystify as they teach so you not only understand what you are doing, but why you are doing it.
The Windsor Institute
Mike will send you a list of tools he recommends you need once your registration is completed. Show up on Monday with your tools, and you will get your bench location and that's is were you work for the remainder of the week.

Getting organized and ready to get going.

Seat blank, spindles, and stretchers
Believe it or not, what you see here will be a completed Sack Back chair by the end of the week. Yeah, I know, I didn't believe it either :)

Smoothing the seat blank. This seat is Eastern white pine. The blanks are glued up and ready to go, but you need to pay attention to the grain as it is very possible it will run in opposite directions. Got to love those shavings!!

Seat blank cut and ready to shape the inside. The cut in the middle is made by a circular saw set for a target depth of the seat in the middle.

"swing for a single-not a bunt" was the saying you heard over and over through out the room as we took the gutter adz to start shaping the seat. I guess a "home run" would eliminate one toe!! Chop, chop, chop.
Compass plane starts the smoothing process, after the scorp, this work will last a good part of the morning.
Ready for layout lines and drilling at this point

Getting busy on the 7 back spindles, rough shaping "green" red oak so it can dry for the final shaping on Thursday.
This steam unit is one of two that prepares the arm and bow for bending. Each student pairs up with a partner to bend these parts, 

Arm and Bow in the furnace room where the conditions are set to dry these parts quickly enough that we can use them on Thursday and Friday.
Seat drilled and ready for leg and stretcher assembly

Legs and stretchers installed - nice stool you have there!

Arm stumps and short spindles dry fit, now this is starting to look like a chair.
" got 10 minutes to get this done, we need you outside"

Remember what we started this process with? All that remains is to fit the bow over the spindles. Holes are drilled, spindles are cut to length and wedged.

The happy graduating class of the 7/12/10 Sack Back class.

Everyone got there chairs completed and ready to head for home or where ever else they had scheduled for their trip. This was without a doubt one of the most memorable weeks I have ever spent in woodworking and I am looking forward to going back in the Spring to take the Writing Arm chair class.

I loaded up the chair and headed off to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. When I get back to my shop in TN, I will finish cleaning the chair up and get ready to apply the Milk Paint finish. On the last leg of the "Windsor Chair Road trip" spending a week in Cincinnati, so it will be a week or so before I get to doing that.  I will post some pictures of the finished chair