The Magic of Iron & Fire

A chairmaker explains his fascination with the ancient art of blacksmithing and being able to make his own woodworking tools.
By Don Weber
Pages: 72-75

From the October 2005 issue #150
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It was April of 1986, and I’d just arrived at a craft show up a long dirt road, an hour’s drive into the redwood-covered mountains of Northern California. I was setting up my treadle lathe – the traditional tool of the bodger or rural British chairmaker – when I realized that I’d left some critical pieces of the lathe back home. I didn’t relish the idea of a two-hour trip out and back, but I needed the parts to do my demonstration.

As if out of nowhere, another demonstrator at the show, Jon Soini, a blacksmith of Finnish descent, piped up, “Don’t worry, just sit tight – we’ll make the parts.” In less time than it would have taken to get home – let alone back – Soini had handforged four bolts, nuts and the lathe’s centers. My lathe was up and running. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to get into this.”

From the October 2005 issue #150
Buy this issue now