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Geoff Tonkin. Craftsman, Musician, Teacher.

How you can make a Windsor Chair.

Using traditional hand tools learn how to make a beautiful chair from green wood logs.

This is a 10-day course in which students are taught 18thC English woodworking skills. It involves birthing your chair from a local green tree using traditional hand tools and techniques.

On this course we use either our local red stringy-bark Eucalyptus macrorhyncha or robinia pseudoacacia sometimes called false acacia. This is a tree of North American provenance and being deciduous, was favoured by early settlers to plant around sheds and yards to provide summer shade and winter sun. It is plentiful in the central west of NSW and regarded my many landholders as a weed.

Solid seats are shaped from either camphor laurel or elm, and we use ash for the steam bent bows.

Because the components of the chair are split or riven and not sawn, the chair can be light but strong.

The green wood tenons of the legs, stretchers and arm posts are dried and shrunk in warm sand before inserting into a mortise that is still green wood. The moisture in the mortise swells the tenon locking the join and replicating a centuries old woodworking technique.

Tools used during the course include a pole lathe, operated with your foot; a shave horse; drawknife; adze; spokeshave; maul; froe; and hand plane; to name a few.

Chair making students usually start with a double bow Windsor chair but be warned…. chairmaking can become addictive! One of the highlights of the course is the chairmakers’ dinner to which participants are invited to bring their partners.

To enquire call 0427 677 226 or USE OUR CONTACT FORM

Accommodation: stay-and-visit/

Price: $1500

Some of our chair courses are run in conjunction with Howard Archbold from Howard has been a pioneer of traditional Windsor chair making in Australia and running courses from his Moonan workshop since 1994.

A review from Jonathan & Holly “What a truly wonderful and rewarding course.  You were both fabulous hosts and teachers, always more than willing to assist but never overbearing, with no question too silly to ask. It made us feel very at ease as novices undertaking a new skill. We came away with new found respect for the chair and how it was crafted.”

The process in pictures:

Legs and stretchers riven/split from a log.

Components are shaped on a shave horse with a drawknife.

Legs and stretchers are turned on a pole lathe.

The seat is shaped.

Bows are steam bent.

Assembly of the chair.

The finished product.

Making a chair by John