If you or a woodworking friend are wondering what the heck a stick chair is, we’ve made a page that is a quick but complete introduction to the form. It also explains how all our stick chair products relate to the form. So you can better decide if you should go Old School (“Welsh Stick Chairs” by John Brown) or American (“The Stick Chair Book“) or historical (“The Welsh Stick Chair: A Visual Guide“). So yes, the page is a bit commercial. Selling books keeps the lights on here at the blog.
Check it out here.
— Christopher Schwarz
19 thoughts on “An Introduction to Stick Chairs”
The Beligerent Finisher looks interesting
I found this introduction to be informative, interesting and enticing. I noticed that the content of “The Arm” and “The Comb” sections is identical. Was that intended?
YIKES. Will check
Fixed. Thank you.
This is very good. Is the page going to be visible on the home page of the website (as a menu item I mean)? Just for ease of finding it when people ask me about stick chairs and I send them to your site. Are you also considering a printable pdf format?
Another excellent offering from you folks. Thanks. I was a tad confused when I got to the line at the end of the Tim Bowen section about it being difficult or impossible to make Welsh stick chairs in American wood. Seeing that we have elm, ash, and oak among others I was wondering if you have any clarification on your meaning there. Is it that we don’t have enough wide boards for single board seats readily available? Or not enough curved branches suitable for the form?
The UK species are different in the way they look and work. But what is more important is how the trees grow there compared to how they grow here. Our lumber tends to be arrow straight. Lumber from Wales is from trees that are far more gnarled.
So curved branches for arms are easier to come by there than here. Plus, there are lots of hedge species from the UK that are uncommon here.
Opinion follows: I think the “Welshness” or “Placeness” of an item is strongly tied to the person, the time and place. We can make reproductions of Shaker pieces. But they are not Shaker unless you are a Shaker and working in an active colony. I can make a reproduction of a Welsh chair, but that’s the best label for it. It really is an American chair. Made by an American. In America.
Hope this makes sense.
Thanks Chris. That definitely helps. I have an idea to call my chairs to their locality like Goshen stick chair or Michiana stick chair. Always in mind that they are descended from the Welsh or Irish hedge chair tradition. Moreover I want to take tap that spirit that led those artisans in their locales to make those beautiful chairs.
Thanks for putting this together. I have most of the resources listed and have a couple Staked high stools and four simple Irish-y armchairs under my belt. As a Canadian I believe the only source for LAP books is Lee Valley and they don’t handle the Belligerent Finisher. Is there any other way to get this book?
Lee Valley will stock it. They have their copies. It’s just not on their website yet. Usually if you call them you can place an order.
Commercial?! What are you, a business!?
What about saddling a seat using a gouge for the rough work? (maybe even a bit of the first grunt work with the jack plane?).
Lots of people have used the gouge to do this. I have a section in the Anarchist’s Design Book that discusses how a jack plane can give you some curve.
In all honesty, you can modify a metal spokeshave easily to do this.
Or take a lesson from the Irish and don’t saddle the seat. Round over the front and call it done.
thanks, which do you find more comfortable to sit? saddling looks better imo.
A little curve to the seat helps. But I can sit on a flat stool all day. And a Gibson. There are other factors at work.
So don’t dismiss a flat seat (or any seat) until you have given it a proper sit.
What books do you know of that discuss the hedge species that were/are used for curved chair arms.
I’ve cried a lot lately because because at least 5 large oaks were taken down in my neighborhood and I didn’t have the time or machinery to grab some fresh oak!
There is a lovely book on Welsh woods out there. Most of what I have learned is from the Bowens, who are careful
documenters. And Chris Williams, who is great at identifying species as he used to lay hedges in Wales as his job.
Don’t be bashful about being commercial, it’s totally ok and we need yourlights to stay on so we can read great books produced tastefully and responsibly.john
Thought of your stick chairs this weekend at the movies! The Banshees of Inisherin is set in 1923 Ireland and has several great shots of some great, ancient looking stick chairs. Oh, it’s also a fantastically dark and wonderful drama/comedy with one of my favorite actors of all time, Brendan Gleeson! If you see it, I’d love to know if they were period correct and ‘got it right’ on the chairs.
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