We are pleased to announce that after years of work, revisions, agita and waiting, that you can now watch the great video “Make a Chair From a Tree” streaming on virtually any device.
The video, shot by Anatol Polillo, has been digitized and is available through our store for $25. When you order the video, you will be able to stream it to almost any internet-connected device. You also will be able to download it to watch it on your phone, tablet or desktop machine without an internet connection.
We offer this two-hour video without any Digital Rights Management (DRM), which means you will be able to play the file on any device without any passwords, keys or other inconvenience.
This video was based on the second edition of Jennie Alexander’s “Make a Chair From a Tree” book and includes many of the improvements she developed after teaching this post-and-rung chair for years.
The chair itself – what we call the “Jennie Chair” – is the most comfortable wooden chair I’ve ever sat in. And I say that as a chairmaker. The chair is made from an economy of both tools and materials. It really is an astounding piece of work.
In addition to the video, we have produced a packet of updated drawings that illustrate the important bits of the chair and the jigs that Jennie discusses in the video. You’ll receive a link to download the pdf at checkout. Or you can download these drawing here. These drawings are the latest and most accurate – we were working with Jennie on these up until her death in 2018. If you own a copy of the DVD, please feel free to download these updated drawings.
On a personal note, thanks to all of the people in Jennie’s life who allowed us to move forward with this important project, from Jennie’s heirs to her woodworking colleagues to her family, friends and caregivers. We think Jennie’s legacy and her influence on woodworkers will not end with her death. And that’s why we will offer this video and a third edition of the book “Make a Chair From a Tree” in the coming months. With any luck, there will be future generations of woodworkers who will be inspired by her simple (but elegant) designs and methods.
I am not a cratengineer. So I am certain that the way you build crates is better than mine.
My method is the result of a few things:
Observing how hundreds of shipments of books, machines and furniture have been damaged during my last three decades in publishing and furniture making (I have not experienced any damage with my crates, by the way).
Asking my trucking company what I should do to ensure my shipments aren’t damaged.
Using as little material as possible to add as little weight and cubic footage as possible.
Setting a goal of building a crate in less than one hour.
Spending $40 to $50 on materials on average.
My crates are made primarily from 5mm-thick sheets of underlayment, which I can buy for $13 to $16 a sheet. All the interior bracing is made from 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” pine strips that I rip down from 2x4s. And the skids are 4x4s, which I usually salvage from dumpsters in our neighborhood. The crates are assembled with No. 8 x 1-1/4” self-tapping construction screws. No pilot holes are necessary with these screws. The interior cardboard and bubble wrap are usually salvaged from dunnage that we receive here.
I’m going to do this in a lazy photo-essay style. Here we go.
Measure the piece with care. I don’t skimp on time with this step. Take careful measurements of the depth, width and height of the piece. Then add 2-1/2” to all those measurements to create the size of the “shell” of your crate.
Create a cutting list. Again, you’ll get to the automatic, bang-that-crap out in a moment. Take care. I make a cutting list and even a quick plywood optimization sheet so I don’t get turned around when cutting down the plywood. After this, I cut the parts to size. Then I take the 2x4s (I used two in this case) and rip them into 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” bracing strips.
Cut the bracing strips to length and screw them to the top and the bottom of your crate. Don’t measure. Put a strip up against the plywood, mark it and cut it. I use a bench hook and carcase saw. A chop saw is not faster here.
Cut the skids to length and screw the bottom to the skids. Use lots of screws. Don’t skip the skids. A flat-bottomed crate is much more likely to get fatally forked by a forklift. Skids don’t add much expense, but they add a lot of insurance.
Once I get the base made, I do a quick check to ensure my measurements are correct. I do these “reality checks” with every project – sometimes several times a day – in order to avoid errors. It helps.
Install one of the side pieces. Here you can see how I use the top piece to prop up a side piece as I screw it in place.
Then I start adding more interior bracing strips. Here you can see how I use spring clamps to holds the bracing strips in place while they are screwed down.
Keep working around the base, adding side pieces until you have this sort of enclosure. The top and front should be open so you can add the bracing that immobilizes the object.
Wrap the project in cardboard and bubble wrap where you plan to brace the project to the crate. I usually use three braces: One to restrain it from moving up, and two to restrain it from moving front to back. I haven’t found it necessary (so far) to worry about things moving left and right. The three braces keep things locked down.
The interior bracing is 1” x 1” pine. Place it against the cardboard and bubble wrap and press the brace in place. Trace its position on the wall of the crate. Shift the position of the brace and drill some pilot holes through the traced silhouette. Now put the brace in place and screw it down. Don’t get aggressive – you are screwing into end grain so it’s easy to split the brace.
This is what it looks like before I screw the the top and front in place. Don’t forget to include contact information on the inside of the crate in case the label gets ripped off your crate.
If I have any of my one-hour time limit left, I spray paint the Lost Art Press logo on the crate. Just for fun.