Joshua Klein and company are working hard on the second issue of Mortise & Tenon magazine, and from all accounts it looks like it’s going to be another fine issue.
They’ll start taking pre-publication orders on Nov. 1 here, which is also where you can read about the articles that are planned for the issue.
Joshua had asked me to write an article for the issue, and had I proposed a piece on Kentucky-style furniture, a backwoods style that I’ve admired for many years and is on display at the Speed Museum in Louisville, Ky. (If you’d like a woodworker’s view of the museum, check out Mark Firley’s photo collection here and here.)
My summer went to crap, however, and so I wasn’t able to do the research and interviews that would make my article worth publishing. Luckily, Joshua was also interested in my Roman workbenches and let me write up an article on the interesting workholding on the low one that I built from Pompeii.
My understanding of the bench has increased greatly since Woodworking in America, and after working on it every day this fall. You might not think that it’s easy to work while sitting down, but you might give it another thought after you read the article. Roy Underhill helped me decode a couple of the important details for the article, and I hope to have a short book on the bench (and a 1505 workbench with a Roman undercarriage) ready for the printer by the end of the year.
This week I’m assembling two Welsh stick chairs that are based on examples from several sources, including John Brown and Don Weber. I’ve made this sort of chair about a dozen times, and every time I build it I stray a little further from the originals.
About five years ago I started using a different arrangements of back sticks and a different crest rail. Now I’m changing the seat and undercarriage. First I made a new seat template. It’s still a D-shaped seat, but I started fresh with trammels and a compass to make it slightly larger.
I increased the rake of the rear legs to make the chair more lively. And I also changed the front legs to make them look appropriate with the new rear legs (wire models like those shown in “The Anarchist’s Design Book” guided these changes).
But the biggest change is to the stretcher turnings. I’ve been using 1-3/8”-diameter turnings with a bulbous center, much like what I first learned from Don Weber about 13 years ago.
After looking at a lot of English Windsors and Welsh stick chairs, I decided to simplify my turnings and thin them down to 1-1/8” in diameter. After getting both undercarriages together this afternoon, I was pleased with the result.
Tomorrow I start steam-bending the arm bows and am considering one more design change for this generation of chairs.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Peter Galbert’s book “Chairmaker’s Notebook” is invaluable for making all sorts of stick chairs, including Windsors and Welsh stick.