This chair not only serves to hold my can comfortably eighteen inches above the ground, it is a constant reminder of an exciting journey with wood. When I made the chair, nearly twenty years ago, I couldn’t seem to get my hands on a copy of Make a Chair from a Tree. But Jennie Alexander had just produced a video (available for streaming here) that covered the entire process. I bought the VHS tape from Drew and Louise Langsner at Country Workshops. I don’t know what I would have done without the resources and tools available through Drew and Louise.
Anyway, I watched that video over and over, compiling pages of notes and sketches. The whole process seemed magical, and Jennie was extremely encouraging. I could, indeed, build a chair from a tree. I made a shaving horse, simple kiln, and a slew of other things in preparation, all according to Jennie’s guidance. All of those things continue to serve me well in the shop. As I began to rive the white ash log into chair parts, the wonder of wood was reinforced in me and I was equipped with a whole new set of skills and understanding — and a chair!
I could go on and on about my gratitude for Jennie’s contributions, and I’ve written a bit about that here and here. This is just to say that Make a Chair from a Tree: Third Edition is available. It happened due to the efforts of Jennie herself, before her death in 2018, and the dedication of Chris Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, Larry Barrett, Peter Follansbee, Drew Langsner, Brendan Gaffney, and many others who contributed to bringing it to fruition. They did a superb job. All the methods are clearly explained and photographed. The team effort is a tribute to Jennie’s influence and relationships.
It’s all in that beautifully designed package with the cloth cover in the photo above. A ticket to a new understanding of wood and your ability to make a strong, comfortable chair with simple tools. You’ll feel the truth in Jennie’s words, words that Peter Follansbee, having heard them often, reminds us of in the book: “Wood is Wonderful.”
I’ll put a plug in for the revised version of Drew and Louise’s classic Country Woodcraft as well.
On Fri, Aug 6, 2021, 12:50 PM David Fisher, Carving Explorations wrote:
> Dave Fisher posted: ” This chair not only serves to hold my can > comfortably eighteen inches above the ground, it also is a constant > reminder of an exciting journey with wood. When I made the chair, nearly > twenty years ago, I couldn’t seem to get my hands on a copy of Mak” >
That’s another great one, Jed. Here is a post with links to that for those who may have missed it: https://davidffisher.com/2020/09/26/country-woodcraft-back-and-even-better/
Just received my copy, barely into the book and love it already!
Glad you’re enjoying it too, John. There is so much new and updated in this edition.
Similar to you, the video (plus the handy downlaodable appendix of templates and drawings of the various tools used to make the chair) and now the book have completely captivated me, Ive spent the last few weeks making the gauges, guides and tools needed to make this chair.
I used to think that working with wood and making furniture with modern power tools would produce a “better” piece because of the “accuracy” and repeatability that can be achieved. Thankfully before I got too far down the machinery rabbit hole I found Make a chair from a tree, Drew Langsner books and work and your work. This showed me that efficency and accuracy can be achieved with hand tools. The accuracy that is so lauded by the machinery manufacturers is really only a substitute for development of your skill, eye and understanding of the material.
What I got most from Jennie Alexander is the way she works with the wood. Not trying to force the wood to do anything beyond its limits, how she has used torsion, compression and the natural strengths of the wood to make a piece of furniture that will last a generation and longer.
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I do love this chair – I’m just finishing one myself