Chris Schwarz's Blog

It's Back: "The Chairmaker's Workshop"

Good news: One of the best books on making chairs is now back in print and available at a reasonable price.

“The Chairmaker’s Workshop” by Drew Langsner has been selling for ghastly prices ($200 or more) on the secondary market ever since the original publisher allowed this book to lapse out of print.

“The Chairmaker’s Workshop” is a must-have 304-page book for anyone who wants to build Windsor or post-and-rung style chairs. Langsner, who runs The Country Workshops school in Marshall, N.C., has done an outstanding job of collecting his decades of chair-building experience into one book.

My personal copy is dog-eared and coffee stained. Some of the chapters I read more than 10 times as I made my first forays into building stick Windsor chairs. Without this book (and a couple classes), I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to build a chair on my own.

There are great chapters on setting up your tools (or making your own), setting up shop, processing wood and shaping it using traditional methods. For me, the heart of the book is the plans and instructions Langser offers for the 11 chairs featured in the book.

So once you pick out a form that you are interested in, you can fully explore how that form is built and learn all the skills particular to a Windsor chair or a post-and-rung chair (they’re very different forms).

This book is clearly a labor of love. Every single page is packed with detail, the kind that comes from personal experience. There are hundreds of line drawings and photographs of every step in the process.

Unlike the original edition, this one is made using a “print on demand” process. The paper is not as glossy, and all the photos are in black and white (the original had both color and black-and-white photos). Langsner also noted that he updated some of the photos and drawings and made some necessary corrections.

To help promote the book, Langsner is also giving away a package of enlarged plans for all 11 chairs (which normally sells for $16.95) to everyone who buys “The Chairmaker’s Workshop.” This offer is only while supplies last.

Langsner sells “The Chairmaker’s Workshop” directly for $50 plus shipping and handling. You can get more information on the book through the school’s web site countryworkshops.org or you can order it by calling 828-656-2280.

Be warned: Chairmaking books are tricky. They go in and out of print worse than any other kind of woodworking book out there (just try to find a copy of Michael Dunbar’s book on Windsor chairs). If you think you’ll ever want to get into chairbuilding, secure your copy now for that day.

– Christopher Schwarz

2 thoughts on “It's Back: "The Chairmaker's Workshop"

  1. Christopher Fitch

    Good lord…$200+

    That’s crazy! I bought my new copy a few years back on sale for around $20.

    Now one thing I will point out. It is a very good book. Even though I have not had the chance (yet) to make any chairs, I found the info to be very good and well-written. It’s chock full of good stuff and I would advise any type of woodworker to buy it.

  2. John Cashman

    You keep finding new ways for me to spend my money. Take a break, will you?

    I’ve been looking for this book for a while, and refuse to pay the extortionate prices when I’ve been able to find one. There were only two libraries within a one hundred mile drive that had copies, and both of them listed the book as "missing."

    Thanks (I guess.)

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