Make a Country Chippendale Chair with Alf Sharp
Join Alf Sharp for a full week long class to make a classic Chippendale chair. This is a unique opportunity to learn form one of the world's best. Alf has won every award there is. See Alf's page on the Maine Coast Workshop website and the detailed description below for more info. ....
Chairmaking is often regarded by many woodworkers as a difficult mystery. But by the end of this week, everyone in the class will be on the way to completing a country Chippendale side chair, and many of the mysteries of chairmaking will have been revealed. Anyone with the skills of at least a capable beginner should be able to master all the necessary techniques. This chair follows all the best high-style Chippendale lines and proportions, but is very simplified in its details. It has the certain naïve charm that characterizes provincial furniture without sacrificing the eternal proportional rules that the mid 18th century makers used so well. The entire chair could be made very easily by a student with nothing but hand tools, and we will emphasize their use in this class, while still demonstrating any appropriate machine tool methods that apply. Several clever tricks to help create the off-square and contoured joints, that seem to make chair-building so intimidating, will be revealed. Students will come away much more comfortable with their back saws and spoke-shaves than before
The emphasis will be on learning to sharpen and use a number of traditional hand tools, especially the spoke shave. Students will discover that hand tools can often be just as fast as power tools in small-run applications, and a real visceral pleasure to use besides. Power tool alternatives will be taught wherever they don’t compromise the design.
Procedures will include mortise and tenon, both square and round, multi-radius spoke shave shaping, non-measuring layout techniques, scratch-stock beading, and flushing curved and angled joints. We’ll begin the class by making sure everyone’s tools are really sharp and well set-up. It would be best for each student to bring his own core set of hand tools, so that he or she will learn how to sharpen and then get accustomed to the feel of that exact tool .
Wood for the project
Lumber packs will be available for those who wish to purchase at the shop. We will need to know well ahead of time in order to mill and prepare the packs.
If you wish to bring your own, here's the details. Your wood must be precisely milled to these dimensions:
1 pc. 1-3/8” x 7” x 38”
2 pc. ¾” x 8” x 21”
1 pc. 1” x 3” x 20”
1 pc. 7/16” x 6” x 16”
3pcs. ¾” x 2” x 16”
In the material list below, wood species are not specified. Walnut, cherry, or maple, plain or curly, are woods appropriate for this project. For the secondary woods specified, sap poplar, maple or oak will work just fine.
. Dimensions are thus: Thicknesses are final dimensions. Lengths and widths are rough, and larger than will ultimately be used. The last dimension in each piece is the length, along the grain. It would be a good idea to bring extras of each dimension for possible mistakes. Make sure you bring square and flat stock.
Student tools to bring (Not to worry, we have extras if you don't have all of these tools)
adjustable bevel guage tape measure
12” steel rule mortise guage
x-acto knife, or layout knife sloyd or chip carving knife
spokeshave – flat blade block plane
bench chisels – ¼” thru 1½” draw knife
back saw fret saw or compass saw
try square, preferably adjustable
leather bench hone and green compound
marking guage w/ knife edge (for cross grain)
smooth plane or small jack plane
medium to large shoulder plane
narrow, low-angle shoulder plane
standard mill file for sharpening scrapers
coarse half-round file
scratch-stock beading tool and blank cutters
Here's more info on Alf Sharp