Chairmaking from green wood

Making chairs from green, unseasoned timber allows us to make use of the natural qualities of the wood and build them into the finished product. Working with nature, rather than against it, we ensure that the chair retains all the strength, flexibility and grace of its parent tree. Where machine tools cut into the grain and weaken it, we work with the grain, using traditional tools, to shape each of the component parts. This way, no matter how fine and slender the parts, they remain strong and resilient.

Our techniques are cleaving and shaving, with the froe, hand-axe, drawknife and shave-horse. Some of the components are steam bent. Once all the parts are ready the joints are squeezed together without glue, screws or nails. Then the seat is woven with sea-grass or cord. The finished article is a thing of beauty, a country style chair with Shaker notes, which may have a life of 150 years or more.

Ash is the chairmaker’s wood of choice for many good reasons. It cleaves well and is relatively straight grained. It responds to steam bending and holds the curve. Above all it is resistant to shock. For centuries ash has been the first choice, not just for chairs, but for tool handles, arrow shafts, hockey sticks and tennis rackets!