Chris Schwarz's Blog

Wait, Leather Already?

planing_roorkhee_IMG_6055

With this class in building Roorkhee chairs, I bit off way less than I could chew.

After the second day, we just have to finish up a couple details on the leather and metal work before we start finishing the mahogany. Tomorrow, I hope we will finish all the chairs with shellac and black wax – a finish I call “Filthy Mahogany.” And then we will all sit out on the front lawn of the Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking and drink a beverage and/or smoke a dried plant.

What will we do for the following two days of the class? Build a camp stool with our mahogany and leather scraps and – as one student put it – “We could just drink.”

Today was a full-bore introduction to basic leatherworking principles: cutting it, riveting it, adding belting and buckles and the like. Like me, most of the students were kind of shocked at how easy it was for them to make the chair’s leather components.

Tomorrow should be interesting:

Mixing shellac from flakes and discussing the fine points of bug scabs.

Teaching how to do traditional surface prep. We covered planing and scraping today. Tomorrow we’ll look at some abrasive solutions that don’t contain the words “sand” or “paper.”

Spraying finish. Yup. You can nail me on some sort of cross made from badger-hair brushes, but I usually apply most coats of a finish with an HVLP system.

Wax on. Wax off.

— Christopher Schwarz

4 thoughts on “Wait, Leather Already?

  1. Brandon Ryder

    I was kinda surprised when you said it was a 5 day class.
    My first attempt at making the Roorkhee literally took me 2 days(once I had all my materials and tools gathered). The first day was turning, and I literally spent half that day practicing and screwing up legs ( I practiced in poplar).
    The leather day wasn’t really a day at all, more like half a day. And most of that was laying out the parts so it would all fit my hide. I didn’t have patterns, I just used a square and measured.

    So if I can make a roorkhee chair in two days, without anyone there to teach me, and teaching myself turning in the process, then 5 days in a classroom setting with all the stock prepped and all the tools at hand and with an instructor there to show the way is way overkill.
    Oh, and be sure not to take this as some sort of insult. I’m not some internet tough guy. I’m just confirming your realization that this class can be shortened in the future, unless you want to teach your students the virtues of resawing 8/4 stock by hand for their legs. :)

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