Jennie Alexander requested that I show a photo of her bench hook (aka planing stop) that is made with a bit of saw steel. If you look close you can see the mortise she cut in front of the wooden pillar to prevent someone getting bit by the “toothy critter.”
Earlier this year I visited Jennie in Baltimore to interview her for an upcoming feature article I am writing about her life’s work – green woodworking and chairmaking. We also discussed some upcoming projects between her and Lost Art Press. More on that as it develops.
It is difficult to overstate Jennie’s influence on the craft. “Make a Chair from a Tree” – the first woodworking book published by The Taunton Press – changed the trajectory of many people’s lives, leading them into a lifetime of building things with their hands.
The chair that is the subject of that book is something both ancient and thoroughly modern. It is mixed with equal parts traditional joinery and Jennie’s personal approach to the craft and design. And while I have built many chairs during the last 20 years and sat in hundreds more made by fellow woodworkers, Jennie’s chair is the most perfect and delightful one I have ever encountered.
It is lightweight, strong, incredible comfortable and beautiful to behold.
When you sit in her chair, only one thing flashes in your mind: I must make one of these.
— Christopher Schwarz