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.”