Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Chris Williams


Photo courtesy of Tim Bowen Antiques.

As many of you know, Chris Williams is writing a book about the 10 years he spent with Welsh chairmaker John Brown, who was Chris’s mentor and friend. The book, which is well underway, will detail John Brown’s woodworking life using Chris’s personal story, interviews with woodworkers all over the world and 20 of John Brown’s best columns for Good Woodworking magazine.

In addition to the narrative of this influential woodworker and writer, the book will detail how John Brown built his chairs using the techniques and patterns handed down to Chris.

This is not the same chair shown in John Brown’s book “Welsh Stick Chairs.” That chair was one of his early forms. After more than a decade of work, the design of John Brown’s chairs evolved into something else entirely. Something spectacular, really. Readers of Good Woodworking got a glimpse of these chairs in the 1990s, and these later chairs are what made me take up the tools and make chairs myself.

For a glimpse of this sort of work, I encourage you to visit Chris’s website and, more importantly, follow Chris on Instagram for a near daily look at his work.

To help re-introduce this style of chair to North America, we hope to bring Chris to our shop here in Covington, Ky., May 21-25, 2018, to lead a group of six woodworkers in building this chair. The class would be held in our storefront on Willard Street. Because of the intense nature of this class, we would encourage participants to have some chairmaking experience under their belts (or a lot of experience with handwork).

The Cost of the Class
The class would be $1,500 for the week plus a small fee for materials. This is a considerable expense for a week-long class, so an explanation is in order. For starters, this will be an intimate class – just six students, one instructor and an assistant (me). It will be a different experience than schools that have 12, 18 or even 30 students in a class. Second, we have to get Chris and his tools to Kentucky all the way from Wales. And, most importantly, we have to make it worth his while. This is not a Lost Art Press venture. Neither I nor Lost Art Press will make a dime off of this event. All the proceeds go to Chris to support his important work.

In addition to learning to make this gorgeous chair, participants also will learn a lot about John Brown. Chris is filled with great stories about the man that could be pried loose with a pint or a glass of wine.


The Setting
Covington is a nice little city in the shadow of downtown Cincinnati. And the shop is walking distance to lots of hotels, restaurants, breweries and two of the best bourbon bars in the United States. The storefront is a great place to work – lots of natural light and workbenches.

We’ll be able to provide participants a list of nearby hotels and AirBnBs that range from $65 a night and up. Our shop is a 10-minute drive the Cincinnati International Airport (CVG) and we’re just a few blocks from I-75.

But before we plow forward on bringing Chris here, we’d like to hear from you. If you are interested in participating in this event, please leave a comment below. This will help us judge the interest among woodworkers. Thanks in advance for your help.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site:

Personal note: No, I’m not opening a school; nor am I returning to teaching. What do I get out of this? I get to watch Chris work and listen to his stories about John Brown, which will make me a better editor for the book. Plus, this class will help expose woodworkers to a fantastic chair design.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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54 Responses to Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Chris Williams

  1. Tom Nadeau says:

    This could be an important work, so lets hope it turns out super well. We are rooting for you guys!

  2. This sounds pretty awesome. With proper planning I would totally take advantage of a class like this.

  3. This could be a very important work if executed well. We are all rooting for you!

  4. Dave Lamoureux says:

    In in!

  5. I can’t fully commit, but would be very, very interested in this.

  6. Ric Fry says:

    Thanks for all you do! I have learned a ton from your work ( and regret you no longer teach in person.
    I am interested in this class, very much.

  7. davidmaydole says:

    I would totaly take this class!

  8. Kyle Barton says:

    This sounds fantastic! I would be interested in attending.

  9. gusbus110 says:

    Would love to take this class from Chris, sounds like a great opportunity, but I just can’t do it in 2018 🙁

  10. BETH WHEELER says:

    I’d love to take this class. Depends on when it’s scheduled, though. Have a day job and have to work around that. Cost is reasonable. Very exciting opportunity!!

  11. Jason Davis says:

    I’d attend

  12. chris chitty says:

    Id would probably do it

  13. Norman Jennings says:

    Would love to attend

  14. peter krupowicz says:

    I’m in. Peter

  15. dpcrow says:

    Oh man would I love to do this.

  16. stuart pemberton says:

    I’ll register now.

  17. mwmjrodgers says:

    Sounds like a lot of interest. No surprise there. I too would attend given the opportunity.

  18. laterthanuthink says:

    Great opportunity Chris, but too difficult and expensive for me. I would be in over my head. I would love to spend a few days learning in Covingtom some time tho, if more classes become available.

  19. David and Anne Sears says:

    Dear Chris Schwarz,

    So sorry that you had to put off your visit to the UK. I hope that we can meet another time soon. I also wish your father well and hope that all is better for him and the family now.

    I have just read this post, and I felt moved to comment. What immediately stood out for me is the naming of John Brown as ‘Brown’. I know that it’s common to refer to someone by surname alone, but it just doesn’t sit right in this case. I have never once heard anyone call him that.

    ‘JB’, ‘Chairman Brown’,’ John Brown’, but for him, never just ‘Brown’.

    Don’t worry, I am not in the habit of complaining for the sake of it, but this stood out, and I know that he would have hated it – and been loud in his disapproval.

    Best wishes,

    Anne Sears

  20. If you need to fill a spot, count on me. If you already have all spots filled, I would love to just be a fly on the wall. I am not kidding.

  21. tangle70 says:

    “I get to watch Chris work and listen to his stories about Brown”
    I would use that as an excuse to go to Wales. Been there and would love to go back and see more. They where a very friendly people and the rarebits are very tasty.

  22. I’m in! Already moved funds to a specified savings account. t.e. curtis

  23. Mike Gemmell says:

    I’d like to sign up. What a great opportunity.

  24. wadeholloway says:

    I would be very interested. A lot will depend on when it is if I can go or not, but I would love to go to this.

  25. sjschmidtky says:

    I’ll add my name to the list too.

  26. Dennis Cloutier says:

    I’m a tentative. I’m very interested but it’s a long haul for me. Maybe while he’s in the area he should swing by Port Townsend and do a class there 😉

  27. meanmna says:

    Sounds like you have interest aplenty. That said, toss my name in the hat.

  28. Aquila says:

    Take lots of video. Wish it was something I could do, but I can no longer stand long enough to manage something like the class. I would love to be able to see some of the goings on and watch the teaching.

  29. Jonathan Schneider says:

    you move space and time with this. im not in. im poor and in germany.

  30. Doug Kull says:

    My father and I would like to participate in this class. Over the last few years we have taken chair classes with Curtis Buchanan, Ellia Bizzarri, Mike Dunbar, and Drew Langsner. We would enjoy adding Mr. Williams and the Welsh Stick chair to the list.

  31. José Santiago says:

    I would love to participate.

  32. Chris I would definitely be interested in taking this class.

  33. Evan berodt says:

    I’ll take that class

  34. ouidavincent says:

    That is totally reasonable and a class I would love to take.

  35. willowatt says:

    I’d be very interested in attending. That being said, I do not have a lot of chair building experience. I’ll just have a lot of practicing to do before the class.

  36. hafnego says:

    Count me in as being enormously interested in this. I was recently introduced to the chairmanking world after a weekend course with Peter Galbert and would love to expand on that experience.

    Gordon Hafner >

  37. James Stockman says:

    I’ll send a deposit or payment in full right now just tell me how.

  38. colsdave says:

    I’m not worthy.
    How much will SRO space outside your shop front be? Will that include a daily window cleaning to remove ‘nose-press art’?

  39. gbetit says:

    Please sign me up. I have been a John Brown fan for years. I have his book and copies of most of his magazine articles. I have taken Windsor chair classes with Dave Sawyer, Curtis Buchanan, Peter Galbert and Mike Dunbar.

  40. Looks like you’re going to need a bigger boat.

  41. Alex A. says:

    How much chair building experience is enough? I’m in the middle of building the staked chairs from the ADB so if that is enough I would gladly take the class (pending approval from SWMBO).

  42. tsstahl says:

    Looks like the class is filled twice over. It would be really nice if I could finally stop saying “I suck at chairs”. The price is about twice what I’m used to paying, but the instructor is coming about three times farther. I would jump on the wait list, or put a deposit down if lucky enough to be #1-6.

  43. Clifford logan says:

    Sign me up.
    My name is Clifford Logan
    1223 Camden Ct
    Goshen Indiana


  44. Looks like I’m late to this party. I probably couldn’t swing spring anyway. I difinately would be interested another time!

  45. guadfly says:

    I would love to be a part of this.

  46. rkooch says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Yes I would absolutely be interested in taking this class. We met in July at the Lie Nielsen event. My wife & I were at your table for dinner and provided the Mead.

    This sounds like an incredible opportunity.

    Look forward to hearing if this works out. Cheers to you

    Robert Koch

  47. rkooch says:

    My personal information:
    Robert Koch
    P.O. Box 1956
    Diamond Springs, CA 95619
    530 622 3013

  48. Simon Honing says:

    A great initiative, Chris. Like many here I’ve been a JB fan for decades and it’s fabulous to see this level of interest. If I lived in the U.S. I’d drop everything to attend this. Time for you to come back to Melbourne and bring this roadshow with you!

  49. Fantastic! Nice one Chris.

  50. hgordon4 says:

    I’d love to do this and would gladly pay the price. However, it seems to me that the 6 folks who get to do it ought to be in a position to appreciate it the most and get the most out of it. I have extensive hand tool experience but no chair experience. So instead of trying to take one of the 6 spots, I’m going to try and get into one of Elia Bizzarri’s classes – either directly or through Roy’s school – during 2018.
    Chris, thanks for making such a great event happen.

  51. Brooks Busey says:

    Waiting List Please!

  52. Andrew Sistrand says:

    I’m definitely interested. I’ve taken a ladder back chair chair course with Drew Langsner, windsor chair making with Pete Galbert, and I’m currently making 2 wainscot chairs a la Peter Follansbee.

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