Not Again


When I built my first stick chair in 2003, I was so happy with the result that I wanted to build that exact same form 100 times or more.

Today – maybe 100 chairs later – I roughed out a seat and contemplated how I could make this chair unlike every other chair I’d made before. So I changed the rake and splay of the legs. A lot. The undercarriage will be new. Ditto the arrangement of the sticks. The armbow will be the same (that’s because I built the arm several weeks ago when I made a run of arms). And I haven’t decided what to do with the crest rail.

Chairmaking has instilled a restlessness in me that I don’t feel when I build casework. When I build a campaign secretary, it always comes out similar to my other campaign secretaries. Sure, there are variations, but it’s not like I feel a burning desire to make a secretary with doodle-nut angles or details I’ve never seen before.

But it’s all I think about when I look at a pile of chair parts. How can I assemble these in a different way that will scratch an itch I have about negative space, an hourglass shape or some hard line/soft line fantasy?

When John Brown built his second Welsh stick chair, he tried to make it come out like his first chair. But it didn’t. Eventually he embraced this aspect of of the chair. No two should be alike. Maybe they come out different because we are human and it’s a hand-tool process. Or maybe there’s something else going on that I can’t put my finger on.

Chris Williams knows what I’m talking about. He preaches it all the time.

It doesn’t look it from the photo, but this chair is going to be a bit weird.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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14 Responses to Not Again

  1. Dave Worsencroft says:

    Had a great time building a stick chair with you. This is a chair I can do again at home. Easier than my Windsor chair of 10 years ago.


  2. Richard Mahler says:

    Don’t leave us hanging – we want to know how weird. But I know you are going to show us.


  3. woodworkerme says:

    Okay that does it, I will be building a stick chair this coming October I need something more than the custom work and all the furniture repair. Wish me luck..


  4. I really wish you would stop writing about chairs. I have enough interests, and these styles of chairs can be difficult to stack. I may be forced to take my free blog reading business elsewhere. 😉
    On an unrelated note. I wonder if I could make a serviceable low stool in one day… dam you!


  5. Rudy Everts says:

    We all have our preferred styles and shapes but this is not us, it is only the input we have received by looking at images as well as real-life examples.

    I think you can say you are on a quest but you don’t know what the target is. Output is the key in finding what you are looking for, and in chairmaking a sketch can go a long way but not capture exactly what your inner eye wants you to make. The only way is making chairs.

    But in my opinion one should also not try to make each chair different, just let it all go. Only when you are relaxed the good ideas come.

    Very much looking forward to seeing your new undercarriage!


    • ctdahle says:

      “On a quest but … don’t know what the target is.” Don’t know where I read something similar before, but probably on this blog. I’m thinking of Piet Hein who said something like, “Art is the solving of problems that cannot be defined until they are solved.”


  6. Jon Hershey says:

    From the photo, it looks like you would have to be awfully short to sit in that chair!


  7. Justin L says:

    I am interested in how you cut that groove and why? Inquiring minds want to know.


  8. Alex Webster says:

    I’ve only made five but each one is different to the other. Embrace the difference.
    Thank you for the inspiration. @bills_yard.


  9. brian persico says:

    Well said sir. Chairs get under your skin, they are self motivating


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