You'll build your Windsor entirely with hand tools as you learn the skills and joinery techniques by which well-constructed chairs are made. Split a log, shape the backs and spindles with drawknives and spokeshaves, carve the volutes, steam bend the back with a bending strap, hollow the seat using inshaves and travishers, and assemble the chair using hand drills. Due to the lack of time and lathes, turnings will be provided. Open to all levels of students who enjoy plenty of long hours and hard work.
Elia Bizzarri is returning to Warren Wilson College this summer to teach the venerable Comb Back Windsor chair along with the legendary chairmaker, Dave Sawyer. Dave has a well-earned reputation for painstaking attention to detail, an encyclopedic knowledge of the craft and its history, and unbounded generosity in teaching others to make these beautiful chairs. This class will offer the unique opportunity to learn from two masters of the craft of Chair Making.
It takes Elia Bizzarri 30 hours of work spread across a month for drying time to split a 1,500-pound white oak log, shave the boards, fashion the spindles, bend the legs, groove the pine seat and assemble a traditional rocking chair. He uses a 2,000-year-old process. Even his tools are handmade. Save for a band saw and a lathe, nothing uses a battery in Bizzarri's woodshop, which sits in the front yard of his Pittsboro family home. He air-dries some pieces and kiln-dries others, creating strong joints as they shrink and expand. No two parts are interchangeable. "This way of working is ancient. It goes way back because it's so efficient," he says as he uses a flat-wedged froe to split the oak. "It requires a lot of physical effort. I'm not walking to a machine and letting it do everything. It gives you an immense amount of control." The process also allows the 35-year-old Bizzarri to pay attention to individual logs, carving around growth rings to build a stronger, but lighter chair.
More Information on Elia Bizzarri can be found on his website.
David Sawyer studied mechanical engineering at MIT, and after a few years working in that field, realized he wanted to do something more personal, using his heart and hands as well as his head. Fascinated by some friends doing green woodworking, he proceeded to make thousands of pitchforks, and hundreds of ladderback chairs, among other greenwood items. In 1982 he made his first Windsor chair, and has never looked back. With Windsors there’s always something new to learn; better techniques, design refinements, different styles, and requests from customers. Every chair requires the utmost attention to detail, there’s no way to cut corners and still achieve the quality he and his customers demand. David’s work can be found in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and homes across the country. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Fine Woodworking, Home Furniture, and Northern Woodlands.
More information on Dave Sawyer can be found on his website.
Registration Deposit: $200
(includes $100 non-refundable registration and processing fee)