I’m in Roorkhee chair production mode this weekend. I have two chairs that need to go to a (very patient) customer in December. And I have enough material to eek out a couple more chairs – if I don’t make any mistakes.
(Hey, I might get to keep one of these chairs for myself. Or I can sell it and help pay my daughter’s tuition.)
With this run of chairs, I’m implementing a change to the stretchers that has been in the works for several years. I experimented with it when “Campaign Furniture” first came out, but never put it into production.
The goal is to shore up a weakness in these chairs – the stretchers can split when subject to too many beef brisket sandwiches. Before the book came out, I increased the diameter of the stretchers compared to historical examples and relied on riven or dead-straight material. That helped.
To strengthen them more, I contemplated switching to hickory for this component, which is likely the strongest chairmaking wood. But its color would clash with the mahogany components.
So instead I’ve beefed up the stretchers to 1-7/16” in diameter and have left the center sections octagonal instead of turned round. This does several things:
The stretchers don’t roll around on the floor when assembling and disassembling the Roorkhee.
They are indeed stronger – there’s more material.
You cannot feel the facets when they are wrapped in the 14 oz. latigo leather.
I now make the stretchers before making the legs. The turnings on the stretchers are easy, and that gets me warmed up for the legs, which have sections that transition from round to square. One false move on the leg turnings and you have made pricey firewood.
I’ve just completed an American Welsh Stick Chair in ash that is available for sale for $900 plus shipping (free delivery within 100 miles of Cincinnati). Sorry the chair has sold.
The chair is a variation on my typical chair. This one has an entirely new rake and splay to the legs – pushing up against the limits of the form. To compensate, the seat is thicker than usual (it started at 2-1/4” thick to take full advantage of the tapered tenons, which are 2-1/4” long). All of the joinery in this chair has been compressed for an incredibly tight fit (read more about that here). All the joints are put together with hide glue, which means this chair can be easily repaired long into the future should anything go wrong.
Also, I omitted two of the short sticks to add some negative space adjacent to the back sticks.
The seat is 17” from the floor (that’s 1” lower than modern chairs and far more comfortable in my opinion). The crest is 22” up from the seat deck. And the seat has been tilted back so this chair is ideal for relaxing, as opposed to keyboarding and dining (though you can use it for all those things). The chair is built for a maximum weight of 225 lbs.
The wood is special. It’s local ash that is heavily streaked with minerals. Brendan said it looks like desert camouflage. (So, be careful if you take this chair to the desert – you might lose track of it.)
The finish is a shop-made basecoat of linseed oil and natural-resin varnish. Then it is topped with organic beeswax.
We ship these chairs via LTL anywhere in the country. Usually the shipping charge is $200 or less, depending on where you live.
If you would like to buy this chair, send me a message through my website. I’m happy to answer any questions, but the first person to say “I’ll take it,” gets it.
The expanded version of “The Anarchist’s Design Book” is complete. And, as promised, here are instructions for how to download the new pdf if you own the first edition (no matter where you purchased your copy).
First, I ask for your patience with this process. We might encounter a technical glitch with this process as we’ve never done this before. We’ve tested it quite a lot, but… Also, if we do have a problem, ranting in the comments isn’t going to help us.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make the subject line your name (firstname and lastname). Now open your current copy of “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and turn to page 386. In the body of the message, please write the first word of the book’s text from that page. (No, it is not “386” and it is not “appendices” – it’s the first word of text.) If there’s not an text on that page, you have a later printing. Check page 388 and use that word.
Send the message. Our filters and templates will check the message and send you a reply with a link to download the pdf of the expanded edition.
Important: This will work only once per email address. If you send another message, our robot won’t respond.
If you have trouble, don’t ask for help from the robot at email@example.com. It’s not trained to assist you. Instead, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please know it might take 24 to 48 hours to get a response.
We have two projects to share with you today: a new poster and a giveaway related to the new expanded edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”
The Edwin Skull Chair Poster
Next week we will begin selling a limited-edition poster that is a reproduction of a 19th-century broadsheet showing the chairs made by the Edwin Skull chair manufactory in High Wycombe.
The color image features 141 of the chairs offered by the firm, including the “Skull’s Patent Plectaneum Chair,” a famous folding chair. The Skull firm traces its roots back to Charles Skull (1780–1851), who was a chair japanner in High Wycombe. Two of his sons, Edwin and Walter, started making chairs and became known for making high-quality goods. About 1865, the firm issued this broadsheet to show the wide range of chairs the company made and the awards it had received.
The firm survived into the 1930s but was acquired by rival Furniture Industries Ltd. in 1932. Furniture Industries is now called ercol and operates in the High Wycombe area. As a nod to its heritage, the chairmaking department at ercol is still referred to as “Skulls.”
The Skulls broadsheet has been published in a couple books by Ivan G. Sparkes, including “The English Country Chair” (Spurbooks), but the images were so small that it was difficult to study it in detail.
Where, I wondered, was the original? And could we obtain a copy of it?
Enter our researcher, Suzanne Ellison, who tracked down the original at the Wycombe Museum. After some negotiations, the museum agreed to produce a high-resolution image of the broadsheet that we could use for a limited-edition poster of 500 units.
In exchange for this, we helped pay for the new digital image and will donate a portion of the proceeds of poster sales directly to the Wycombe Museum.
Our Edwin Skulls poster is printed here in Cincinnati on heavy, #120 uncoated stock. The poster measures 13” x 19” and ships in a stiff cardboard tube. The price is $18, which includes domestic shipping. Look for it in our store next week. It also will be available through Classic Hand Tools in the U.K.
Giveaway: Original Letterpress Prints from ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’
Today I sent the expanded edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book” to the printer. The new edition is 200 pages longer than the original and features six new projects and additional chapters on chair design and other anarchist-y stuff.
We’ll offer the book up for pre-publication orders next week, and we will have instructions on how to download the new chapters if you purchased the first edition.
To create the expanded edition, Briony Morrow-Cribbs created six new plates for the book, which we have printed via letterpress on heavy #118 Flurry Cotton paper, which is made with wind and hydro power.
We considered selling these prints, but we thought about it for a few minutes and said: Nah, let’s just give them away.
If you would like to win a free set of the six letterpress prints of the new projects for “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” here’s how to throw your hat in the ring to get them.
Take a photo of one of the projects you have built from “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and send it to email@example.com. Please read this next sentence carefully: You also need to send us your real name, your physical mailing address and a phone number. If your entry doesn’t have these things (including a photo), we’re going to discard it. We need this information to send you the prints if you are selected. You entry must be received by midnight Eastern time on Dec. 20, 2019.
We aren’t using your information for marketing or spam. It will be deleted when the contest is over.
I think we have eight sets of these prints to give away. The winners will be chosen at random. Everyone is eligible, even overseas. Here are the six prints in a set:
I know that people will gripe about having to send a photo. And they will gripe that they can’t simply buy them. Sorry. The point of the book was to encourage people to build stuff – not buy it. Entries will be accepted by email only. Complaints about the process will be discarded.
This independent bookstore is run by Gregory Kornbluh, and we are thrilled to work with him to make our books available to locals.
When we decided to cut back on the number of days the storefront will be open in 2020 (only June 13 and Dec. 14, 2020), we started looking for a local bookstore to carry our titles. Many times people come through town and ask us: Where can I buy your books?
The funny thing is that Greg found us. He had attended one of our open days at the Covington storefront and then approached me at a Built to Spill concert earlier this year. As he had good taste in music, we were eager to see if that carried over to books (it did).
People ask why we sell only through independent stores – and not Amazon. It’s simple: Amazon is not friendly to small publishers. It slashes prices to the bone so it has the lowest price on the planet (sometimes to where it loses money on the sale) and then it sucks up all the sales. And then you basically work for Amazon.
You actually can buy our books on Amazon through resellers who jack the prices up to crazy heights, looking for a sucker. “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is currently listed there for $111. “Virtuoso” is there for just $599.50. We cannot stop this; it’s the caveat emptor part of a free market economy.