The most gratifying class I teach has got to be the one on Roorkee chairs.
To be certain, there is the normal amount of “explaining how to make things out of wood” in the class. But in addition to that, we get to explore:
• Cutting and riveting leather.
• Stripping and installing steel hardware.
• Mixing shellac without a digital scale or math degree.
• HVLP spraying.
• Applying wax finishes.
• Make a three-legged stool.
• Dirty Irish songs.
Thanks to the simplicity – and genius – of these chairs, the pace of this class allows for crazy stuff. Sing a shanty. Demonstrate how to hand-stitch leather. Argue about wood species. Drink 3 liters of beer and talk about the state of woodworking.
Today we wrapped up a four-day class on building Roorkee chairs, and the students were able to complete building all of their chairs, including finishing them with shellac and wax. They completed all of the leatherwork. And they all built three-legged stools that were not on the lesson plan. (Thank you William Ng for allowing us to do all this crazy stuff and supplying us with tools, parts and awesome doughnuts.)
But the best moment (for me) came when one of the students sat in the chair he had just completed minutes ago and said the following words:
“This,” he said, “is going to get me some strange with the wife.”
Yup, I know that’s a little rude, but until someone says it about the class you just ran, shut up.
— Christopher Schwarz