137 – River Bend Windsor Chair Kit

Subscribe (iTunes/RSS)

Several months ago, my friends at the Woodwerks Supply in Ohio sent me one of their new River Bend Windsor Chair Kits. To be honest, I was just excited to be able to make a chair for my mom. I knew she would love the style and comfort of a Windsor and I have never even thought about making one. I thought the project would be similar to buying a piece of “furniture” from IKEA. A little glue, a few dowels, and presto! You got yourself a nice new chair! Well, much to my pleasant surprise, there was quite a bit of woodworking to do. This video outlines the process of putting this kit together and I even go so far as to give you a few compelling reasons why a kit like this makes sense for new AND experienced woodworkers alike!

Category: Projects

Comments

  1. Well done, Marc!
    With the different types of wood used to build the chair, what will be the best strategy for the finish for everything to look consistent?

    Thanks!

    Chris

  2. Joe Corda January 7, 2011

    Nice Chair … 6hrs ..not bad .. I figure it would take me 6+hours just to turn a few of the legs

    Sadly the price is a bit more than i honestly could go for .. but other than that its a nice project

    Thanks for another good video Marc!
    Joe

  3. Arnold January 7, 2011

    Nice, so attainable now. Not only that, you can not assemble the kit, ans use it to replicate the parts to make your own chair by yourself. Its like a set of plans but so much better.

  4. John January 7, 2011

    Where is my Maloof rocker kit?

  5. Matt January 8, 2011

    I have some windsor chairs in my kitchen, the biggest problem I have with them is the stretchers, or rungs as my dad would say, pulling out. how can this be avoided or is it just something people have come to accept? My table & chairs are store bought so I know that is a big part of my problem. I just wondered if all windsor chairs did this over time

    •  

      Well if they continually pull out, it might be time to rebuild the chair. When I worked in a refinishing shop, we used to get chairs in all the time. If a leg or support bracket was loose, the way we took care of it was to cut off the tenon, attach a new one, and trim it down to a size that actually fits the mortise tightly. The guy I was working for would also use a bunch of epoxy to hold the joint together. That certainly worked, but it also ensured that the next break would be a catastrophic one, making it much harder to repair.

      • Tim Pierce February 18, 2011

        Dear wood whisperer,

        The bamboo skewers for shishkabobs work well for pinning a chair together. I spend 4-6 hours daily in a Windsor a friend help me build from scratch in 2008. The chair has not even begun to get loose. Anyone that can build a scratch Windsor will scoff at the comments in the video, as you are aware. Having said that, they have some redeeming qualities for woodworkers. Great website!

    • Dan Drabek January 13, 2011

      The original Windsors were incredibly durable, as is evidenced by how many have survived in useable condition over the decades. But their construction was well thought-out and carefully executed. Modern factory Windsors are a different animal, and are built to sell at a price point rather than being built to last for generations. Cheap woods and mass-produced construction is simply not in the same league as is found on the old chairs.
      Marc’s chair, with the wedged joints and traditional materials should hold up for a very long time.
      DD

  6. Ryan January 8, 2011

    @1:25 it looks like the seat is split near the front right wedged tenon….

  7. Mark Williams January 8, 2011

    that is kind of cool….

  8. Doug Whitson January 9, 2011

    I’m with Christopheralan, Are you going to do a segment on how to finish the chair and make the different woods end up the same color?

    •  

      Hey Doug. The piece is actually already painted, and I’ll have a quick article up soon about that. Generally speaking, American Windsors are always painted. So i guess that’s how they traditionally handled using multiple species fo wood. :)

  9. James Burns January 10, 2011

    Nice chair. Are there other chair kits you would recommend for a novice woodworker interested in the Mission style of furniture?

  10. Great video.

    On the store bought chairs coming apart, could you use wedges on the existing parts to tighten things up/

  11. Dave LeBlond January 17, 2011

    Hi,

    Excellent video!!

    Some friends and I have been making Windsor chairs for about 10 years and have yet to get bored. We all have dining room sets. You get into hand tools, wet woodworking, bending your own arms and bows, turning your own legs and stretchers, making rockers & settees & continuous arms, finishing with milk paint, analine dyes, stain or tung oil, distressing… it is a wonderful hobby and good introduction to woodworking.

    A class at Woodcraft will run you about twice the cost of the WoodWerks kit, but of course you do more work (e.g., carve the seat, make the tennons & spindles, etc. – takes about 20h). Mike Dunbar at the Windsor Institute or Drew Langsner in NC will give you more in depth training. Depending on quality and reputation a finished chair can sell for $500-1000+ (need to find a paying customer) or they make nice wedding gifts.

    Have fun!

    Dave

  12. Russ Martin January 18, 2011

    Thanks! Marc, for showing us new wood workers, that their is help
    Out their for us! What a great kit and project! I have always loved the
    Windsor Chair design, and the history behind it. Now I can’t wait to
    order my very own, and get started with the project!

    Thanks again Marc!
    Russ Martin

  13. Wow. I bought a kit exactly like this way back in 1990 right before my son was born. Well, the hoop in the back was made of alder. It was my first project of any kind and I committed the sin of painting it. It has since been painted again and again.

    The price: about $50. At a place called “HyperMart” which became the Sam’s Club chain! Seems amazing now.

    I still think it’s the most comfortable chair in the house by far.

  14. Well let me start by saying I know full well my comments are about to ruffel a lot of feathers.

    As a windsor chairmaker the comments you made at the first “I thought the project would be similar to buying a piece of ?furniture? from IKEA”, were corret.The only difference is in IKEA there are screws and in the kit is glue and wedges. There is no real wooodworking involved only read and follow the instructions, much like how factory made made chairs are done today on an assembly line.

    I disagree this kit will help a novice or someone with experience build a windsor chair. There is a lot more to building a windsor chair. Picking out the right log, riving out the green parts,and shaping them, then steam bending , carving and scuplting the seat and then the drilling of the holes which are all set at compond angles. Then the assembly.

    If you want to really build a windsor chair, no matter your experince level, there are instructors out there that can walk you through the process and you can truely build a windsor chair. Yes it will be more expensive than this kit but you will walk away knowing you made the chair and it was not made in some factory by machines and you assembled it.

    •  

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion Charles. But to say this kit doesn’t teach you anything about the process of making a Windsor chair is just plain incorrect. This kit essentially covers the entire assembly process. As I am sure you know, if you mess something up during this stage, you could easily wind up with a broken part. I would really hate to get to the end of the woodworking process only to destroy something during assembly. So I found it quite beneficial to have a bit of a “preview” as to what I can expect from that part of the process should I ever decide to build a Windsor chair or take a class.

      Of course, no one is saying this kit is a substitute for learning how to make the chair from scratch. But if someone assembles this chair and feels some modicum of pride for their little contribution to the chair’s history, I’m not going to be the one to take that away from them. It could be just the inspiration they need to become the next great Windsor chair maker! And for folks who don’t have the time, money, or inclination to take a class, I still believe this is a good option.

      • Ross Ekberg May 14, 2011

        I agree with both of you. I think building a chair such as this from a kit would detract from its value if your goal is “Create” a chair. But if you intent is to simply learn the basic concept of how a Windsor chair is made, or if you have never built a chair before (like me), to start off with a complicated design such as a Windsor, going with a kit is a great idea, in my opinion. There are plenty of much simpler designs available out on the web. Diving head first into such a complex project with minimal skills (again, like me) would be very time consuming and expensive. Purchasing a kit would make the learning process easier if your goal was to learn about chair construction, for example, and you would have something to show for it much quicker.

        All that being said, I myself would probably take the hard route and attempt to learn how to build one from scratch, accepting my failures (read ‘lessons’) along the way. Of course, I probably wouldn’t start with a chair such as this one if that was my plan… well, maybe.

  15. I build REAL windsor chairs for a living and this is a factory made one without a doubt. To build a correct Windsor you must start by splitting parts from a log. You can never expect something like this to be here in 200 years, Without the split out, straight grain, of the proper woods, this will be a walmart type of chair and never have a true sense of the Windsor history. The spindles are to thick, the steam bent parts are as well. I do agree that they are cheap, however for a couple hundred dollars more I teach chair classes that are done the right way and you really build a Chair. You don’t learn enough from a kit. You miss the point and the history these amazing chairs have. To be able to completely make all the parts needed for a chair is an experience you will never get from a kit and saving a couple hundred dollars now just means your wasting money, because, you can take that knowledge to actually begin a business of your own doing it right.

    • Andrew Raastad February 18, 2011

      Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?

    • John February 18, 2011

      You make some good points Matt. The reality is that not everyone has the funds to take a class and get the materials to experiment with building a nice looking chair. I don’t think this was intended to be the be all end all or a replacement for the real deal. Just a way for us newbies with limited resources and time to take a swing at it. If anything, making a project like this accessible (even though it’s like windsor training wheels) will probably get people to look into the history more and appreciate the well crafted chairs that folk like yourself and others build from the ground up.

    • David Young February 18, 2011

      Hi Matt.

      While I agree in principle with your comments, I think they miss the point of the video. As Marc stated above in another comment, the video is more about the assembly process than building a chair from scratch. To suggest the assembly process doesn’t have value or that someone is wasting their money by purchasing a factory made is a highly subjective argument. For starters, this kit could instruct owners on methods of repairing existing, heirloom windsor chairs. I’d also say that if the chair is well taken care of, unless the species of wood used in the kit is highly substandard, there’s really no reason the chair couldn’t last 200 years. Will some joints have to be repaired? Possibly. Does that mean the chair wouldn’t survivie? No, not necessarily.

      What’s more, there’s a very large audience interested in woodworking that does not posses, nor have access to, all of the proper tools to make a windsor from scratch. In addition, they may also not have the ability to select a specific log. While I agree it would be MOST valuable and ideal to take a class and learn how to construct your own, that simply just is not a practical option for many, many amateur and hobbyist woodworkers. And THAT’s the point of the video.

  16. As any woodworker knows, to build a REAL windsor chair you need to plant the seeds, that grow the tree, that you cut down with a hatchet or beaver, that produces the log that you make the chair from. Come on guys. GEESH!

    Seriously. What if someone doesn’t have access to logs? Are you never supposed to build a windsor chair? While chairs made from split logs might be better in the long run, who cares. People have to start somewhere.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a table to start, so I have to gather some walnuts before the squirrels eat them all.

    Jonathan
    ==========================

    • Underscorefunk February 18, 2011

      What?!.. really?!…

      well looks like I’ll be sticking to my box varietal of furniture then….

      Agh nuts (no pun intended)

  17. Paul February 18, 2011

    This is okay, i guess, if you want to have a simulation, and there is nothing wrong with that. But to say you are building a windsor chair, NAW! Unless you have seen a few made or actually made one the proper, authentic way, you cannot appreciate the intricacies, the forces, the engineering that these critters have in them. You do not learn the various compound angles, and how to drill them with brace and bit,and understand their purposes. You do not develop a love ove for the spoon bit.You don’t get a feel for the wood as you work it from raw to finished. You just assemble something,just like a model airplane. Everything is exactly made and fitted, not individually formed, most likley by machines.. My chair I made, under instruction from one of the best in business has five kinds of wood in it, just like the originals, and it is painted just like the originals. . I just wonder where the woodworking skills come in with these. I know some of these are going to be slapped together and passed off as handmade originals. to me THAT is the worst part.

  18. Honestly Marc I don’t know how you put up with some of the idiots commenting on here. You have way more patience than me. Thanks again for a great video. Some people have too much time on their hands. Keep up the great work. Only problem I have is that with my slow connection it takes far too long to download in HD.
    Is there any way to get a lower quality format instead?

    •  

      haha thanks Andrew. I don’t think of them as idiots. I think of them as differently-opinionated. :)

      As for the videos, we have various versions available for download. Right above the video, you’ll see “Right Click to Download” and Right Click to Download in HD”. Just use the non-HD version and you should be good to go.

  19. Thanks Marc, I just noticed it up there after I posted, I was clicking the HD button wondering why it wouldn’t change.
    Now I’m the idiot! :)

  20. I didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers I was just stating my opinion and like the saying goes, “opinions are like, well you know, everyone has one and they all stink”. I am just someone who learned how to build these chairs on my own, got into the history of them, not just getting one knocked out and done as fast as I could. I again am just giving my opinion, I think a handmade Windsor chair could put these chairs to shame but again that is MY OPINION. This is a great video for someone who can’t afford the real thing and doesnt want to.

  21. Lyle March 5, 2011

    Here is my question. . . . how well do they hold up?

    Reason for my question, is I purchased some cheap import Windsor style chairs from a local furniture store a few months ago. They were at a “good” price and I needed chairs for the dining room table I made.

    I brought them back today because they have been falling apart. I glued the first one back together, but now three more are falling apart. The straw that broke the camels back was when one completely collapsed when my I sat in it.

  22. Neil March 9, 2011

    Building a windsor chair under Drew Langsner’s tutelage was the most incredible skills acquiring 5 days I ever spent. BTW, you go home not with a completed chair, but with the pieces, with the knowledge of how to put them together. I’m glad you learned something by tapping spindles home and wedging them but you will have to build a Windsor with the pieces that you have personally made to appreciate the viewpoint of those of us who have built one from scratch.

    •  

      Remember Neil, I am a woodworker so I completely understand the process that goes into building any piece of furniture. Assembling this Windsor chair from a kit would be no different than assembling any piece of furniture from pre-built parts. All I am claiming is that there is SOME value in experiencing this part of the process and for some people, its a fun entry point into the craft. I can certainly see the aspect of your “viewpoint” that says there’s a whole host of details to learn before assembly. That’s fairly obvious. What I can’t understand is the need of some folks (not necessarily you) to put others down for building a chair like this. Thats the exact snooty attitude that creates a barrier to entry and keeps many folks from venturing into the craft in the first place. A kit like this could very well inspire a new woodworker to delve further into the chair building process and take a class like the one you did. I hope you can understand that part of my viewpoint.

      • Lyle March 10, 2011

        Hi, so I am a newbie. . . see previous post. How well would these chairs stand up?

        I am working on getting my shop submitted in the mean time, but I have received the “ok” from my wife to replace our dining room chairs we returned with these. I am VERY nervous about not being able to finish them and having a POC.

        Any info on these would be great, I will be building 4 side bow backs and 2 arm bow backs.

        Thanks!

  23. Lyle.. Here are some comments from one of the “snooty” chairmakers.

    These chair kits are mass produced by a furniture company. The only difference between the kit and the chair you buy off the shelf from this comapny is you will be putting it together. I have watched the video Marc did several times and in the assempbly there are are some disasters waiting to happen, ie banging on the arm bow to set in position. Hit the bow wrong and the bow will split or snap a spindle, set the wdges in the set wrong split a seat in half. There are much better safer ways to assemble a windsor chair.

    When these chairs were first made they were not shipped out in kits or as depicted in the “Patriot” by gentalman planters, and we all know how his turned out, but by master craftsman.

    There are a lot of chairmakers who have learned to make these chairs on their own and there are some really good books out there to get you started “The Chairmakers Workshop” by Drew Langsner as well as websites to windsor chairs like The Windsor Chair Resources.

    Sure I would love for you to call me up an order a set of chairs, but on the other hand I also promote the craft and the challenge of YOU learning to make the chair.

    Marc you said early on this could lead to the next Great windsor chairmaker. Well that is something we will never know for it will take generations to prove that. The Great windsor chairmakers were men like Gilpin, Henzy, Cox, Tracy and Trimble. Their chairs have stood the test ( 200 years+) of time and are the standard we “snooty chairmakers copy both in method and style.

    Charles

    •  

      My only point is you can’t predict where people will find inspiration. I got into woodworking because we needed a recessed medicine cabinet and I knew I could cobble something together. I took pre-cut plywood pieces and some door casing from Home Depot, bought a cheap hand miter box, and cut the miters. Some glue, nails, and paint later, the project was done. It wasn’t very pretty and it certainly didn’t take much work on my part. But I felt pride in my involvement in the process. It was that pride that eventually led to me switching careers and immersing myself 100% into woodworking. Now what if I had gone into a forum to ask advice from someone and the reply I received was to not bother because I wasn’t making all the parts myself? That the version I want to make might fall apart because all the work was done for me and thousands of old cabinet-makers will roll in their graves if I even think about calling that a real woodworking project.

      The point is, you can’t predict where inspiration will come from and that’s why we need things like this out there. No one is stealing your lunch by building a chair from this kit. But if it inspires someone to get into woodworking, I think its a win win. And what’s the problem with taking generations to develop?! Isn’t that how woodworking has survived all these years? I bet if you do a quick survey of our readers, you’d find that most can trace back their woodworking inspiration to some childhood event. So if some kid today gets inspiration by improperly knocking a Windsor Chair kit together with their parent, I say let’s celebrate it instead of discouraging it.

      • Lyle March 11, 2011

        Marc, I completely agree.

        My father was a woodworker and my grand father was a wood worker. Neither did it for a living. Both were just for hobby.

        I have looked at well made Windsor chairs from some CT specialty shops. . . . they were $659.00 per side chair and 879.00 for end chairs! I just do not pull in that kind of gravey.

        Though making them from scratch would be cool, it is waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy beyond my ability at this point. (Time too!) After the disaster of the “Ethan/Allen” look chairs I bought at local chain store for a “great” price, I want something better.

        Also based on what I have seen at the finish your self store, I am only seeing Cr**! I personally am quite proud of my dining room table I built, the Hay-rake Table featured in Popular Woodworking a while ago. That basic table really pushed me. Angled tenons and hand chiseled mortises??? Serious?? But I did it! Some forget what what we know and what others don’t, I know this personally from what I do for a living. Though it is a very basic table in concept, actually doing it is a whole different subject for me.

        I like the idea of a kit chair, I do not have much for patience for steam bending wood for the first time or turning little spindles, X6 but I do like the idea of “I can do that”.

        Maybe I will break some parts and need to buy a couple spare chair kits just for that, then maybe I will find the need to re-make those parts to have some extra chairs. Who knows where this could go.

        But we all do start somewhere and some of us can make a living at it, others it may be just a, “Hey Hun, do you think I can do that? I’ll try not to throw a tantrum/hammer!”

        Last for me, I loved “helping” my dad when I was a kid, I really loved turning, well, nothing on my dads Craftsman lathe when I was young teenager. Now, I have my fathers tools and added my own. I was fortunate enough to have a great barn on my property to use as my wood shop. My wife was awesome enough to let me invest in some items to make our first daughter a rocking horse. Maybe I will make the chairs from scratch some day, maybe not, but they are defiantly not looking like the chair kit from Ikea and I think I will learn a lot.

        Thanks for the great tips and video Marc!

  24. It may seem hard and out of your reach but believe me if you set your mind to make something like this you can and it will pay you more in pride than a chair made from a kit. Plus the cost of building one the “old fashioned way” is increditably cheap compared to this kit. Yes you do have to have certain tools but isn’t that what being a woodworker is about, getting new tools and learning how to use them to make a long lasting piece of furniture. I just don’t see how a woodworker no matter how novice or experienced thinks a kit is building something. Your putting something together, just like if you buy a particle board desk from an office store and follow the directions of how to “ASSEMBLE” it. It was already built by some minimum wage peon following directions. If you’re a wodworker you need to better yourself by taking on a challenge and making yourself a better woodworker. I wonder what you would do if you were putting this kit chair together and god forbid a spindle breaks or you crack the seat, knowing how to make a part or fixing it is what will seperate you from those who can just build from a kit. Plus your pride and craftsmanship will take an unbelievable step forward. You will always know that you built this from a kit, but if you can take the steps to do it all yourself and no matter how it turns out YOU did it not someone else.

  25. I agree with Matt 100%.
    In woodworking we are able to challenge ourselves continuously either thru new projest and or new tools. If you do only the same over and over it really gtets boring, boring leads to you mind wondering and mind wondering leads to accidents.
    Lyle you described the table you made and how you did it. You said “I personally am quite proud of my dining room table I built, the Hay-rake Table featured in Popular Woodworking a while ago. That basic table really pushed me. Angled tenons and hand chiseled mortises??? Serious?? But I did it!”
    With that statement right there you just told me you have the ability to make a windsor chair in a “traditional manner”. Now why are you wanting to deminish your handcrafted work with a “Kit” windsor chair??? You speak of how proud you are in your table, now add 6 windsor chairs you personally made to the mix.
    There is plenty of help out there for anyone wanting to build a windsor chair from a whole host of windsor chair instructors, books, you tube, web forums & even Norm Abram built a WIndsor chair (even though was with mostly power tools) which you can get the dvd and plans for.

  26. That is exactly where I learned to build Windsors from the Norm Abram show. That was 7-8 years ago and I did my first 4 or 5 that way till I started learning more of how they are really made with riven wood and logs but hell thats at least a better jumping off point than a kit. I now have in the range of 200 windsor under my belt if not more. I am busy making them all the time for customers. I even have a DVD I made building a bow back windsor I sell on my website. You can become so much more of a craftsman by taking a little time and effort to do a windsor the right way than you can from a kit. You aren’t a craftsman if you put together a kit you are an assembler.

  27. I think it’s great to show other approaches to woodworking Marc. I don’t think there should be any shame of sorts to constructing a kit like this. building a Windsor from scratch is no easy task, so this provides a good middle ground. Regards from England

  28. To say that you aren’t a craftsman if you put together a kit is a bit harsh. What if a craftsman decides one day to put together a kit, does he loose all his skills all of a sudden and become an assembler? No.
    Marc provided an interesting video called ‘River Bend Windsor Chair Kit’, he didn’t title it ‘Windsor chair made by me (a craftsman) and that makes me better than you all’.
    I don’t think people should give him a hard time for providing a video like this for free. It is an inspiring video that as he said may provide inspiration for someone wanting to build a kit or even try to build one from scratch in future. Most of the comments on here have contributed nothing to woodworkers, Marc has contributed so much content available to hobbyists and professionals alike and all you can do is whine about irrelevant topics. If you don’t like kits, go and watch a different video from him without the word ‘kit’ in the title.

  29. Dave Hunt March 31, 2011

    I am amazed at the attitude of some “craftsmen!” I have been a woodworker for 35 years, and see nothing wrong with a chair kit. Even though I make and have made many pieces from “scratch” over the years, mostly Shaker and Shaker inspired, I believe the chairs we are going to order from this company will be a nice compliment to our New England style home. And yes, I can build chairs from the ground up, or should I say, the seed up. Just not enough time for the trees to mature.

  30. chris April 19, 2011

    All I have to say is everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I have been an amateur woodworker for many years. My mother and father bought a set of Riverbend Windsor?s 30+ years ago. They have been handed down to me and we have never had an issue with any part of these chairs. I have taken a class, and built a Windsor by hand. The Riverbend chairs are excellent quality for being more of a production Windsor. The only differences I can see In the Riverbend chair compared to the one I built are the spindles are turned. I look forward to buying one of these kits from woodwerks.

    As far as learning, you will defiantly learn more from taking a chair class, but come on guys. If we are out in the shop doing any kind of woodworking we are learning. I agree with Marc their can be quite a bit you can learn from assembling one of these kits. Also you will end up with a nice chair that didn?t cost you 1500.00 to build.

  31. Neal June 5, 2011

    Marc
    I am a hobby woodworker. I enjoyed the video on the chair assembly. I generally learn something from all of your videos.
    We don’t all have the time, patience, skill or equipment to hand build things like Windsor chairs. Most hobby woodworkers aren’t likely to build more then a few in a lifetime, if any. Personally, I get bored reproducing the same thing more then once. Thats why woodworking is a hobby for me, not a profession.
    Keep up the good work.

  32. Scott July 30, 2011

    I want to thank Matt and Charles for illustrating a major flaw in the “craftsman” mentality that pervades woodworking as a whole. In short, that mindset says to all of us ‘outsiders,’ that, “Unless you have requisite skills, tools, and knowledge – don’t even attempt to learn.” I know they are expressing their opinion, but it is the derogatory and high-minded opinions of others that prevent people from trying a skills-based venture like woodworking.

    Marc’s video was not so much about creating a Windsor chair, as it was about finding sources of inspiration to GET INTO woodworking in general, and perhaps finding out what is required of specific furniture structures ( in this instance, a Windsor chair.)

    The uninitiated to woodworking may not be able to realize the engineering requirements of the form that is a Windsor chair from just looking at one in the store. To assemble a kit (as I have myself,) will show — note, I did not say teach — the newcomer where the stresses are applied in the chair’s design. This may open that person’s eyes to to what it would take to successfully make — note, I didn’t say build, or assemble — a “real” Windsor chair.

    In short, I have just described myself.

    After putting together a chair from the very kit Marc used (it was given to me as a birthday gift, and I assembled it in my brother’s garage,) I became curious and interested in woodworking in general FOR THE FIRST TIME. I have spent a lot of time reading previously unknown magazines on woodworking and stumbled on this website as a precursor to getting heavily involved in woodworking.

    However, after reading Matt’s and Charles’ comments, and knowing my skills will never compare to those two demigods of the spokeshave, I’m second-guessing whether I should even bother to build — that is to say, create — my first wood project. After all, as those two gentlemen infer, since I am not now a craftsman and have no expertise, tools or training, I think I’ll just stay clear of woodworking altogether.

    I was thinking that even a feable attempt at woodworking — having been suitably inspired from the assembly of that Windsor chair kit — was as good a place to start. But having learned from the messages above that if I can’t do it like a seasoned craftsman, whatever I do will be nothing more than glorified kindling, I think I’ll save myself a lot of grief, expense and frustration, and not get into woodworking at all.

    Anyone want to buy a slightly used Windsor chair?

    • Scott,

      I was looking for a tag in the response above…but as I didn’t see one, let me say the following in case you were not joking.

      There is not a single artisan in ANY craft that has not devoted years to education, training, apprenticeship, and above all, practice. As you note, it is easy for artisans to forget where they came from and why they started woodworking to begin with. For every derogatory comment posted above by an “artisan”, there are equally just as many skilled craftsman that are able, and quite willing, to offer support and advice, point you to valuable resources, answer questions, and in general, be supportive as you grow your woodworking skills.

      Marc, and the forum on this site, are all the proof you need that there are just as many skilled and professional woodworkers as there are newcomers and amateurs…and as a community, we all support one another. Do not be discouraged. Woodworking is an endeavor worth every ounce of energy and inspiration you provide. If you have the desire, the community is here.

  33. Scott August 1, 2011

    I was, indeed, quite serious about turning away from woodworking David, but your viewpoint mirrored suggestions of some other people I spoke to on this subject.

    I suppose that if they thought about it honestly, all of those who scoff at anything but a “true craftsman’s” way of working in wood have in fact forgotten their own humble beginings. I’m sure that ever those like Maloof, Ng and Marks all have a raggety-looking bridhouse in their past.

    It’s just that those who know, should know better. Anything that gets someone interested in a hobby like this is to be encouraged. The problem is the high-minded are all too willing to build themselves up by tearing down the aspirations and inspirations of others.

    Thank goodness there are people like Marc, who are willing to set aside their own egos and help others gain the skills and knowledge needed to grow. Marc has, with his videos, opened the doors for those like me who are just taking their first tentative steps into this field.

    Taking your kind words into account David — and understanding Marc’s overall goal with these videos — has allowed me to decide to get involved in this craft. I know my first few projects will ultimately be hidden from view for all eternity, but with the help and encouragement of people like you and Marc, maybe I can — someday — make a “real” Windsor Chair.

    I’m off to my local Lee Valley now, as I hear they have a workshop this week on building, of all things, a birdhouse.

    Thanks for the encouragement David. And Marc, thank you for all your efforts. May you never forget what it was like in the begining.

    • Scott, you are most welcome…and again, know that the woodworking community at large is here whenever you need them.

      If you ever need anything, I can be found on twitter @protectedvoid, or on google at http://gplus.to/davidyoung.

      (Love Lee Valley! – Wish I had one near me.)

    •  

      I’m glad to hear you are sticking with the craft. As I’m sure you realized by now, there are people like that in all crafts and all areas of interest. They are certainly entitled to their opinions. But if you hang out here long enough, you’ll see that in general, the vibe around here is that all are welcome and anyone can do this. If you ask me, woodworking is best enjoyed as a “golf game”, where you are only competing against yourself. Your goal is to improve with each project and make things that you find pleasing. Now if you someday want to take it further and have your skills and projects critiqued and held up for analysis by other woodworkers, all the power to ya. But there are certainly no prerequisites here.

  34. Matt November 8, 2011

    Scott and everyone else I offened,

    I am sorry I had such a strong opinion on this subject. I did forget my way up the “craftsmans ladder”. I have several projects that I would like to have never done but they have been stepping stones to where I am, at this point. In retrospect, I wish I would have said if nothing else, that this is a great project for ANYONE. Even I have thought about getting one just to see and compare my own chairs to it. I still believe a handmade one is better however, I understand not everyone has the tools and space or materials at there disposal to build it the old way. This is a great jumping off point for someone wanting to learn and better there woodworking abilities. Please accept my appologies if I’ve pissed anyone off, I just have a strong view of windsor chairs and believe what I believe. If my daughter told me she wanted to build a chair this would very likely be where I would start her at. It takes a long time to make a Windsor from scratch and could very well discourage someone as I have recently learned. I tried teaching a friend of mine how to make one and he gave up because of the labor portion. This kit would have most likely kept him interested and made him want to go down the harder travelled path later on. Again my appologies to anyone I offended in my rants, I was just thinking with my head up my butt. I know not everyone has the same desire as I do to make these chairs or else I would be teaching windsor classes day and night.

  35. harry dearing January 2, 2012

    To: Matt & Woodwhisperer
    I just finished building the chair from the kit and I cannot express how pleasurable the experience of seeing my wifes surprised and happy look when she got her Christmas present. It is a well done kit and despite my ineptness with hammering the wedges into the spindles it really turned out well. Matt, thank you for being humble enough to rethink your original comments and recognizing that many of us lack the necessary equipment and expertise but do so simply for the enjoymnent of working with the wood with our hands. I am confident that our chair will survive into the next generation and that they will derive some satisfaction knowing the chair was built with them in mind.

  36. No kits…but one on one.

  37. Gary B. December 12, 2012

    Thanks again for a great video.

  38. Mark M. February 27, 2013

    Gentlemen, I have read the entire thread about the Windsor chair kit video and I believe there are valid points all around. However, after putting my dream of building Windsor chairs off for the last twenty five years (career and family) I recently was inspired by Curtis Buchanan’s u tube videos on making a windsor chair and have decided to pick up where I left off many years ago. I have been storing some very nice wide tulip poplar boards (20″ width, 6′ length) for over 24 years. I have dedicated myself to learning the skills and abilities needed to make an original windsor the old fashioned way. These skills include the fine art of green woodworking (splitting, froe use, shave horse and draw knife), seat carving (scorp, adze, travisher, cabinet scraper), lathe turning (legs, stretchers), wood bending (steam box, forms), assembly (spoon bits, angles) and finally sharpening and honing of the tools. I bought one of these kits as a visual aid to help me understand the delicate interplay between the stretchers/legs and arms/spindles. It scares me to no end that i will drill an incorrect angle on the leg socket into a seat I just spent 20 hours carefully crafting. Or drilling an incorrect angle socket in the leg that was carefully turned on the lathe. I am quickly learning that there is a tremoundous amount of skill that goes into handcrafting (from log to chair) a windsor. Example: I spent the better part of a day learning how to turn a burr on a cabinet scraper and how to use it properly on the carved seat. I have the books from Mssrs. Rendi, Langsner and Dunbar and have devoured every one of them from cover to cover. You can read all you want but there is nothing like the action of doing it yourself. So, in summary, I will be using this windsor kit as a learning tool to aid me in my task ahead. Sorry for the long diatribe……R/Mark
    P.S. Thank you wood whisperer for posting this video…

Leave a reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Online project based woodworking education.

3 Membership types

  • A la Carte
    Starting at $25/project
  • Subscription
    $129/year
  • Superfan Subscription
    $299/year
Learn more →

Simple Varnish Finish DVD

Coming Up


  • TWW Live

    August 1, 2014 - 10:00 am MT
  • Live Guild Session

    August 5, 2014 - 6:00 pm MT
clearvue-200x200
bellforest200x200-tww10
Image Map
woodwhisperer-200x200-August-contour-300614
Advertisement