Building a Welsh Stick Chair

David Fleming, a former English teacher turned chairmaker, teaches the craft of building chairs on the edge of the Canadian wilderness.
By Christopher Schwarz
Pages: 42-48

From the November 2004 issue #144
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After eight hours of a complete physical and mental workout, the seat of my Welsh stick chair is finally taking shape. What had started as a rough plank of gnarly elm that morning now looks like a perfectly shaped cradle for my now-aching behind.

I’d hacked out most of the depression in the seat using a primitive but powerful tool called an adze. Other traditional chairmaking devices – a scorp, travisher, scrapers and deltoids – smoothed out the furred and jagged elm seat into something that resembled a well-worn leather saddle.

As I reach for my spokeshave with one hand, I turn the workbench’s vise screw with the other to secure the seat. Time for the easy part: chamfering the edges. As the bench dogs tighten their grip, a sickening sound seeps from my seat.

The whole thing – all eight hours of it – splits before my eyes.

From the November 2004 issue #144
Buy this issue now