The Fruits of the Forest: Staked Chairs from Native Woods

One of the wonderful things about making chairs from sustainably-harvested local wood, right off the homestead, is getting to see all of the beauty of these graceful trees over the course of time…

…Wild Apple…

apple blossoms in springtime…

…Red Maple…

a view of fiery red and yellow autumn maple leaves set against a blue sky
fall maple leaves
maple samaras…

…Red Spruce….

spruce tips…
spruce cones…

The wood that goes into items for our everyday use is not plain or utilitarian, but is a product born out of beauty that can be celebrated from seedling to harvest, and then called back to memory each time you look at your finished product.

Each element of a chair is individually shaped and smoothed ~ each leg, each rung, each back-splat, the seat, the crest. It’s a fun combination of skills and tools.

Seat blanks are split and shaped and smoothed with a saw and an axe and chisels and gouges. Back pieces are shaped with axe-work and draw-knife and spoke-shave and hand-planes. Round and tapered tenons for the assembly joints are formed with a hand-auger. The spokeshave is the final stage of smoothing for legs and rungs, taking fine shavings that leave behind a smooth but very natural finished surface.

The drawknife can be used for removing bark, roughing out, and also shaping.

Legs and rungs are roughed out with the draw-knife, and then it’s time to get out the lathe.

setting up the pole-lathe to turn a leg

Joe’s spring-pole lathe integrates into his workbench, so that he can set it up when he has something to turn, and pack it away when it’s not in use. It’s leg-powered!

roughing out legs and rungs on the spring-pole lathe

From the tree, to the chair. Bringing the outside in, quite literally.

by Sydney Michalski

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