The Return of the Welshman


Last week, Welsh chairmaker Chris Williams returned to the United States to teach a couple classes and work on some supplemental photography for his forthcoming book “The Life & Work of John Brown.” (Due out next year, knock wood.)

Working with Chris is always a blast of chairmaking, stock prep, talking, planning, arguing, asking questions and generally giving each other the business about how the other makes chairs. Plus beer.

In fact, it’s so time-consuming that I’ve barely had time to do anything else (except prepare a couple hundred handles for lump hammers).

When Chris arrives, he always brings a big dose of Welsh culture to the shop – this year he brought along a Welsh flag to help set the mood for the class. He’s even tried to teach us a few more Welsh words, though the only one I can remember sounds like the words “bad TV” to my American ears.

And we are hoping to give him an equal dose of American craft culture. Last year we took him deep into Eastern Kentucky to explore the roots of chairmaker Chester Cornett. This year we plan to take him up to a huge Amish community in Ohio to revel in their sawmills, excellent fried chicken and cheesemaking. Oh, and maybe some old tools.

But before we can have any fun, we have to complete six chairs with some eager and talented students.

— Christopher Schwarz


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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12 Responses to The Return of the Welshman

  1. Richard Garrow says:

    I am sure Chris accent would be like the first time I spoke to my father-in-law in Australia, I had to hand the phone to my wife to translate for me. I learned to understand and really miss it now.


  2. Aaron says:

    Middlefield, OH by chance? Their Amish cheese factory was always a favorite pit stop on boyhood trips to my grandparents’ farm..


  3. Fried chicken? If you can make it to Hartville Kitchen, you can introduce him to some amazing broasted chicken and some of the most amazing pies in the Midwest!

    Seriously. Broasted chicken. Banana creme pie. Or pumpkin pie… either one.


  4. johncashman73 says:

    I cringe every time I see a picture of John Brown adzing a chair seat upright in a vise — without a wooden block over the steel jaws.


  5. Ricky Pattillo says:

    In that picture it looks like the handle on Chris’ adze doesn’t pass all the way through the head. What kind of sorcery is this?


    • Ken says:

      An elbow adze? They are a lot simpler to make than one with an eye.


      • Ken says:

        If you look in the first picture you can see how the adze is hafted. I’ve never seen one like that. More photos, please.


        • Matty Sears says:

          The handle is fitted into a tapered flange. the one pictured is a copy of the
          adze my father, John Brown used for seat hollowing, I made his 30 yrs ago.
          I’m not so sure about them being simpler to make,
          though they are a lighter forging.


        • Joseph Johnpoll says:

          Check out @mattysearsworks on Instagram for lots of pics.


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