Jennie’s legs

Back to post-and-rung ladderback chairs this week, steam bending the back legs for a new design of chair. The ash was lovely to shave down with the drawknife and bent very easily after about an hour in my steamer.
Steam bent chair legs
Actually, this isn’t a new design of chair at all but it’s not seen in the UK. The chair is the style made by Jennie Alexander in her book ‘Make a chair from a tree’, which kicked off the greenwood working revival at the end of the 70’s. If you live in America, this is a very familiar chair as it’s the one taught by Drew Langsner on his chair making courses at Country Workshops but in the UK I’ve never seen one or heard of one being built by a green woodworker. Over here the most common chair designs are those from Mike Abbott’s books (based on chairs made by Philip Clissett in the 19th century) which don’t seem to be made in the US. It’s a lovely looking chair and I’m curious how it feels so I decided to make one to add to my range; I think it will make a terrific office or cafe chair.

The main difference of the Alexander chair is in the back legs. Rather than being curved over their whole length, there is a dramatic bend between the lower and upper slat to give the curve necessary to fit the sitters back. I think this also gives a very clean and stylish look to the chairs and I’m looking forward to seeing how comfortable it will be.

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About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe tutor. I carve spoons, bowls and other products from locally sourced greenwood. During the summer I teach scything around the UK.
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2 Responses to Jennie’s legs

  1. Steve,

    Your comments about the Jennie Chair were very kind. Here is a picture of one that Peter Follansbee made from reading Make A Chair From A Tree, even before he got to Country Workshops. Chair making was certainly in the air.

  2. TerryR says:

    Anyone interested in seeing more designs made by Philip Clissett should have a look at the “Chairs” section of the Philip Clissett website: http://www.philipclissett.co.uk

    He produced a large range of spindlebacks and ladderbacks, with more being discovered all the time.

    There’s information, too, on how he made his chairs.

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