When I started making chairs, I wanted someone to hand me a list of tools and say: “Here. Buy these, and you’ll be on your way.”
The longer I made chairs, the more I understood why a list like that isn’t a good idea. There are too many tools out there and too many variables in how people like to work.
For example: I’m not a big drawknife guy. Ask me to recommend a drawknife, and I’ll give you a bewildered look. Ask Peter Galbert or Curtis Buchanan about drawknives, however, and you will get a master’s thesis on the tool.
Another problem is that suppliers are constantly changing. If I told you to buy a Harris Tools travisher, you’d spend months trying to hunt one up and spend some stupid money. Toolmakers come and go. Plus, they go through management changes – both good and bad.
The easy way out of this problem is to say: “Sorry, I can’t help. Do your own homework on tools.” But as someone who bought a lot of crappy chairmaking tools back in the day, I can’t do that to another person.
The following list is, I hope, a helpful medium. It’s a list of the suppliers I use and trust – plus the tools and supplies that I buy from them. These are the tools and supplies that I think are important to my success. If a type of tool isn’t listed – say, a scratch awl – that’s because I don’t think it really matters what kind of scratch awl you buy.
And because the marketplace is constantly changing, I didn’t want to print this list in “The Stick Chair Book.” Instead, I’ll issue a new list if new suppliers emerge or go out of business. This one is current as of June 2021.
Pure Timber LLC http://www.puretimber.com/cold-bend-hardwood-1/
Liquid Hide Glue
Old Brown Glue https://www.oldbrownglue.com/
Bulk Apothecary https://www.bulkapothecary.com
Pure Soap Flakes https://puresoapflakes.com/
Limonene (Citrus Solvent)
Real Milk Paint Co. https://www.realmilkpaint.com
Tapered-tenon Cutters (12.8°)
Hollow Augers/Straight Tenon Cutters
Earlex Steam Generator
Veritas Dowel Maker
Felt Wheel for Grinder
Lee Valley Tools https://www.leevalley.com/
Lie-Nielsen Toolworks https://www.lie-nielsen.com/
Gyokucho Razorsaw https://hardwickandsons.com
Vesper Tools https://www.vespertools.com.au
Blue Spruce Toolworks https://bluesprucetoolworks.com/
Reamers and Tenon Cutters (6°)
Elia Bizzarri https://handtoolwoodworking.com/travishers/
Star-M Japanese F-Type Auger Bit
Workshop Heaven https://www.workshopheaven.com
WoodOwl OverDrive Bits
Taylor Toolworks https://taytools.com/
Bedan Sizing Tool
Highland Woodworking https://www.highlandwoodworking.com
Claire Minihan Woodworks https://cminihanwoodworks.blogspot.com/
Elia Bizzarri https://handtoolwoodworking.com/travishers/
Windsor Workshop https://thewindsorworkshop.co.uk/
Lucian Avery, blacksmith https://www.lucianaveryblacksmith.com/
Barr Specialty Tools https://barrtools.com/
Tamiya Non-scratch Pliers https://www.tamiyausa.com
Band Saw Blades
Woodslicer from Highland Woodworking https://www.highlandwoodworking.com
Mirka Abranet https://www.mirka.com/abranet/
— Christopher Schwarz
30 thoughts on “Sources for Stick Chair Makers”
Another small maker is Jim White in Maine. Travishers, planes made in small batches. I have no connection to him. He is on Instagram. crownplane.com not to be confused with the British firm.
Can I add Tim Manney’s reamers? https://www.timmanney.com/work/reamers
I can vouch for Tim’s version. It’s a fantastic tool.
That’s one I was going to add 🙂
Thanks for the list. I think a list of this sort really helps cut down on the purchase of unnecessary (and sometimes crappy) tools.
Buyers should be aware that wait times can be very long. One item from above I ordered from LV last December, and it’s still a ways out. Tools in the time of covid. It’s one more thing that I look forward to getting back to normal.
Thank you for these resources!
When I first glanced at that picture, I thought that the tools were connected together in the center. “Who made that thing and how do they use it???”
Look for that at Lee Valley next April 1.
What made you switch from the Lenox carbide bandsaw blades you used to recommend to the WoodSlicer?
Over the long term, I think the WoodSlicers are more economical. The carbide Lenox blades break too often.
Where would you use a 6 degree taper verse the 12.8 degree taper, and vice versa?
Here is the over-simple version:
No stretchers? Better use the 12.8° so you have more meat in the tenon.
Have stretchers? Doesn’t matter which you use.
Don’t own a drill? Use 6° because it removes less material
REALLY thick seat: Use 6° so you don’t have to ream away so much.
Thin seat? Probably doesn’t matter because you should consider stretchers.
That’s my take. Others will disagree.
In my limited experience, the 6 degree tapered reamers that I know of are mostly wooden tools turned by hand, and the 12.8 degree tools are all steel, and better used in a power drill. Really thick hardwood seats are difficult with a 6 degree hand reamer. You can do it, it’s just much harder than a nice white pine seat. But in pine, the hand reamer is a joy to use.
I have no problem reaming oak seats with a 6 degree hand reamer.
I have tried to ream hardwood seats by hand with 12.8 and it sucks.
No lambs wool seat pads from Ikea?
I prefer now to use ones from independent tanneries. Though the IKEA ones are an economical way to see if you like the idea.
I think Dozuki was Godzillas son.
I bought the Wood Owl bits. They drill excellent holes, but the lead screw seems abnormally long. I was afraid that on a 1 1/4″ post and drilling 3/4-1″ mortises, it would peek out the other side. I tried grinding one to a standard triangle shape and ruined it. Any tips on doing that or something with a shorter lead?
The only thing that is going to have shorter lead in 1.25″ diameter is a Forstner (at least as far as I know).
Sorry, 5/8″ bit into an 1.25″ post. I’m building Jennie chairs. I’m using spades right now, but they don’t cut very clean holes.
Jason, I do not have near the experience as others when it comes to chair building. I might try using the long augers to start the hole. They have the advantage of greater angle accuracy I would think. Then finish it to depth with a forstner or spade bit? Although after typing this, it does kinda sound like just adding an unnecessary step.
Forstners will do the trick for that. Though they clog easily.
I have great results with spade bits. I put the drill on fast speed. Run the drill up to its fastest speed before plunging in (most people plunge when the bit is spinning up and the entry hole is ragged). The interior of the hole doesn’t have to be pretty…..
I guess I’m going to need to work out to get my speed up with the brace!
Seriously though, thanks for the tips.
I took your advice and used an electric drill at high speed and it worked great! I felt dirty anyway, so I used my Festool Domino to cut the slat mortises. I used the tenon cutter in my brace to try and balance the scales some…
Dividers: Crucible Tool 😜
I bought my travisher this year from https://www.instagram.com/allanwilliamswoodworker/ . Its a fantastic tool .
Hello Mr Schwartz, i would be very very happy to have your quick opinion about that tool https://www.dictum.com/en/power-tools-simple-drilling-and-jointing-systems-bf/drill-stand-with-chuck-tilting-716178, and i wanted to share it with everybody to discuss the “for and against” it seems to be (to me) the perfect answer for drilling the feet but i might not see the disadvantage of that tool by my lack of knowledge.
I also wanted to share about the veritas Pullshave i bought and now sent back to the shop: it is not a good tool for seat carving (to me). The cheapest way i’ve found (in Europe) is to buy a blade from Ben Orford via James Mursell web site. The blade is excellent and it does not take long to make the travisher itself, the important thing is to find some threaded stainless steel insert like this https://www.vis-express.fr/fr/insert-filetee-bois-inox-a1/42321-963125-insert-fendue-filete-bois-m10-16×18-inox-a1 to do the blade blocking system.
Thank you and nice day to all of you.
I haven’t used that jig for chairmaking, so I don’t have any information that will help. In general with chairmaking, I avoid using a lot of jigs. I think that small inaccuracies make a better chair.
But perhaps other people on the blog will have a different opinion.
I’m not into chairs, too old to start now, but what a great list of small specialist tool makers.
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