Country Chair Making
Country chair making takes time and practice. The best results are achieved with the simplest tools.
One-on-one tuition by Nigel in traditional chair-making. Learn how to make the pieces using traditional tools – Windsor chairs, Irish hedge chairs and Irish súgán.
Elm is the traditional material for making saddled seat boards because it is easily worked and Elm grew into very large trees .
We have a limited supply of Elm seaboards (Elm trees disappeared from the landscape in the 1970s) The front board pictured below is 58″ x 33″
We also demonstrate how to replace broken spindles in sugan chairs and replace the seat cords.
Two or three days, weekends or mid-week; one or two people only.
Cost €180 per day and €120 per day for a second person (preferably weekend but up to three days) .
Contact us for method of payment details.
Dates by arrangement.
This is a copy Nigel made of an early 18th century Windsor chair
Made from Irish woods supplied by Irish Timber Products at Athboy, Co. Meath. The seat is Elm, the legs are Oak, the back splat is Chestnut and the arm rest is Ash.
Beside it is a restored nineteenth century Windsor made in a style typical of Lancashire. (the back bow is socketed into the arm bow)
Two enthusiastic novice chair makers, two days, a bit of help and guidance. It takes more than two days to make a one-off chair like these but if its sound enough to be sat on, it can be finished at home.
Traditional Irish chairs were made all over the country but chiefly in the West where there is a shortage of large trees suitable for making solid seat boards
Sugan refers to the cord that forms the seat. Irish chairs are woven differently to other areas of the British Isles. The frames are usually made from Ash which lends itself to cleaving and its springiness makes it suitable for spindles.
The spindles are through mortised and wedged which gives the frame great strength.
Relatively easy for a novice to accomplish in two days (with a bit of help)
COUNTRY CHAIRS WITH SOLID SEAT-BOARDS
Whether chairs are made with solid seat-boards or a frame depends to some extent on the availability of wide boards: Where large hardwood trees are not available, the chair-maker adapts the design and incorporates an alternative to form the seat; cord, rush, straw etc
A solid seat board provides a stable foundation for the chair.
By the end of the first day, the seat-board should be “legged up” and on the second day, the back and arms are made up and fitted to the seat-board
This has become the most popular style for beginners doing the chair making course
A couple more examples of this type of elbow chair that has the back of the arm fixed on the back stile
The one on the left has turned legs with a crinoline stretcher. The seat board, Elm, legs Beech, stretchers Ash, Back rasil Lime and arms Yew.
A bow type chair has a solid arm bow made from two pieces that are united by a block
There are eighteen turned elements in this example so in a beginner’s course, acquiring the wood turning skills is a bonus
Mendlesham Chairs A country chair-making family
Although evidence of their roles is scanty, Daniel Day, (father) and Richard Day (his son) are reputed to have developed the style that combines grace and function.
The solid board seat is saddled and the legs are tied with two front to back stretchers, with a third stretcher between.
The back legs are more raked so that the bottoms of the back legs is roughly under the outside top corners of the back rest.
There’s quite a lot of measuring and fitting required to get the splayed,and curved back assembled neatly
The chair on the right was made by a complete novice over two weekend, and in general, chairs of this Mendlesham type are a little beyond a two day beginner’s course but the result is an extremely comfortable chair
The point of good design is to create a useful object that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Good furniture is the meeting of the craftsman’s hand and the artists eye.
The Netflix Valhalla Chairs
Nigel made chairs for the Netflix series Valhalla
Here’s a hedge chair that Laura made
Making the spindles for this traditional Irish hedge chair, they are held fast in the shave horse and shaped with a draw-knife.
The spindles are then fitted into the solid elm seat that Laura cut out with an adze.
No measuring tape needed.
No artificial colours added but it does make sense to treat for woodworm.Finished with a rub of linseed oil followed by beeswax
The finished chair.
“You often see reproductions in antique auctions. OK this is a copy but working from my sketch, I shaped all the parts and made the chair myself – I’m very proud of it.”