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Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 7/10/01

A Video Review by Robert Bradley

Title: Make a Chair From a Tree

John Alexander

Published by: Greenwoodworking
1406 Eight Street
Baltimore MD, 21230

This is a low-key, technique-rich video describing the proper sequence and use of hand tools to make a post and rung chair from green wood. The author and artisan, John Alexander, obviously wants to share his experience and unique tools and jigs with those of us who would like to make such chairs. No power tools are used!

The video starts in the woods picking out a proper white oak tree. The felling of the tree is a quick presentation but then the splitting of the chair parts is a slow, methodical and fully narrated and demonstrated process. The riving of the splits and the drawknifing of the posts and rungs is done in a traditional manner with traditional tools. He also uses a homemade kiln to dry the chair rungs and a steaming box to bend the back posts. His marking of the post ends on the ray lines of the wood is a unique contribution to green woodworkers. This method of orienting the chair parts makes a lot of sense and takes advantage of the properties of the wood.

Mortising the posts is accomplished by wood chisel or by hand drill with homemade jigs to guide the tools. Using Shaker tape, a seat is woven into the fully assembled chair to provide a chair 'good for several generations'.

This is an outstanding video with an enjoyable presentation by John Alexander. While he is the narrator and demonstator, he also manages to make the chair the subject of attention. Having watched the video three times already, I look forward to the next rainy afternoon when I can sit down again and watch a skilled craftsman transform an oak log into a beautiful chair.

Robert Bradley

Editor's Note: You can get more details about this video from the author's website.

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