The first project in my next book, “The Furniture of Necessity,” is a Windsor-style sawbench. While some might think it’s a complex exercise in geometry and joinery, it’s ridiculously easy once you understand a few principles that have nothing to do with trigonometry.
In my mind, this project is fundamental to understanding chairmaking and building early Western tables and other pieces of “staked” furniture, such as backstools and formes.
To explore this form a bit more, John and I threw a sawbench-making party in Indianapolis this weekend where eight of us built sawbenches using a variety of hand- and power-tool methods. We also consumed a ridiculous amount of food and alcohol.
(If you are interested in this form – not to mention food and booze – I am teaching a weekend class in building these sawbenches at Highland Woodworking next month. Details here.)
Some of the highlights of the weekend (for me):
Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks demonstrated a technique for adding a gorgeous charred finish to wood that will be the subject of an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking Magazine by blacksmith Seth Gould.
John, my partner at Lost Art Press, built a sawbench using four different and messed-up legs that had been sent to the burn pile by the rest of us. John assembled that sawbench, and then almost made me pee my pants by polishing the legs of the thing like it was on the cover of a woodworking magazine.
Narayan Nayar, the photographer for many Lost Art Press projects, demonstrated an offset turning technique that resulted in some beautiful elliptical legs.
Dr. Tim Henrickson made his first leg on a lathe that looked like it should be in an alien porn movie.
Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, had a video chat this weekend with her 4-year-old niece. So we all took off our shirts and walked around in the background during the chat.
Dr. Koa, aka Sean Thomas, brought along some cask-strength bourbon and rye that triggered all of the above events.
This is the third party we’ve thrown to explore early techniques, and it was a bunch of fun. Not to mention useful. If you ever feel uninspired or stuck with your woodworking, consider throwing a quick build-fest to tackle a fun project like this.
But don’t be like us and go shirtless in December. Engorged man nipples are not pretty.
— Christopher Schwarz