Chris Schwarz's Blog

Roorkhee Chairs, Day 1 (Then What?)

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Most classes I teach end up being a “dovetail death march” (in a good way). There is a lot of traditional joinery, late nights, sore feet and little hope of finishing the project in five days.

But this class on Roorkhee chairs at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking promises to be different.

If we don’t get too drunk tomorrow at breakfast, we should have these chairs done inside of four days. So we’ll get to mess around with making a stool (the kind you sit on; not the kind you leave) and who knows what else.

This year I have been trying to push students into implementing their own designs in my classes. So we spent an hour reviewing many of the Roorkhee forms than have been cropping up during the last 110 years. Then I asked them to design their own legs — they could be Scandinavian modern, pure 1897 or something else.

The cool thing is that many of the students took the bait and didn’t just design a chair that looks like the original one I showed last year in Popular Woodworking Magazine.

This class also represents several “firsts” for me. This is the first time I’ve taught turning in a classroom setting. Thanks to the Easy Wood tools most of us are using, the transition from furniture maker to turner was a quick one. I’ve been using these tools since I bought my set three years ago. While I like my traditional turning tools, I adore my Easy Wood Tools. (No, they don’t pay me to say this. Or give me free tools. Or a discount. Or even a free pencil.)

The other first: I think I am going to get to teach some finishing. This chair uses my favorite mahogany finish – garnet shellac and a black wax.

And leather work. And riveting. And shotgunning a beer. Pole dancing. Marmoset gelding.

So stay tuned.

— Christopher Schwarz

12 thoughts on “Roorkhee Chairs, Day 1 (Then What?)

  1. msiemsen

    Caveat Emptor!!!

    The Marm-O-Set is a saw set named after the maker’s mother, it is rumored that she had “interesting” dentition. The Marm-O-Set was a dismal failure in the market due to its inability to actually properly set saw teeth, among other idiosyncrasies it had to be held with both hands and struck with a hammer. Sales were abysmal and the owners resorted to gilding the tool to make it more attractive and increase sales. Since the color change had little effect on how the tool actually worked it became an object of derision, workers would comment on a product or a person who had added some “color” in order to appear more attractive or salable as a “gilded Marm-O-Set”, or “gilding the Marm-O-Set” as the case may be. In later years as these rare tools became collectible the less produced and therefore more desirable gilded Marm-O-Set became more sought after and expensive. Unscrupulous tool merchants took to taking the earlier ungilded Marm-O-Sets and gilding them in an effort to get a higher price. So many gilded Marm-O-Sets are now extant that the ungilded variety actually carries a better price! The term is now in common usage to describe a collectible tool that has been “improved” to make it more valuable. A person commonly practicing this art of deception is often referred to as a Marm-O-Setter and the tools as having been Marm-O-Setized. Marm-O-Seti is a term adopted by the scientific community to describe bilking the public through the use of pseudo science. I am certain that Chris is using this term tongue and cheek as he is a person of resplendent character and would never endeavor to deceive.
    Next month we will discuss the entomology of cosmoline in regards to astrology and astronomy.

  2. msiemsen

    A Marm-O-Set is a tool for setting handsaws, I am sure Chris intends to apply gold leaf to this tool. Pole dancing is done by Polish people and can be done by others as well, French-Polish is a person of mixed heritage. Shotgunning beer is when you haul the beer in the passenger seat next to the driver and does not involve firearms!

  3. rellison

    snip Chris, this is so interesting, because when I first admired these chairs, my first thought was to do them in my own style. Thanks! Looks like we’re on the same track.

  4. rwyoung

    One should not geld one’s marmoset in public. It frightens the children and turns the beer sour. Not to mention, a massive mess of mighty miffed marmosets.

      1. nkallner

        I think it may have been shotgunning the beer (probably multiple times) that led to the pole dancing and gelding. I personally would need many, many beers, before seeing Chris pole dance. :)

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