04 August 2012

woodwork goodness

As a long-time designer who now collects and restores mid-century furniture, I have had a jones to design (and make) chairs for a while now ... but no experience in the process of turning a tree into something you could use at home.  Looking at a craftsman-made piece, it all looks just way too complex.
BUT, that was then.  Last week I was lucky enough to participate in a 3 day intensive workshop at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Wooodworking, where the amazing Alastair Boell took a group of us through the process of making our own 'perching stool' (designed by Boston-based chairmaking wonder Peter Galbert).  And it was the most inspirational and empowering fun!
This is what we were working towards ...
 The whole 'fine chairmaking' process is about the use of traditional tools and hand-work for the shaping and forming - drawknives and travishers rather than sanders and routers.  At the start I was a little doubtful about the possibility of me making something even half as nifty ... especially seeing the big square chunks of wood that we were expected to transform ...

Sure - a fat rectangle and five long, skinny bits of mahogany - that looks like potential (?!?).  I'm confident with a pencil and paper, at ease with a mouse and some software, even happy enough with fabric and scissors.  But a block and a super-sharp curved blade on a handle?
So, day one of the course was all about the seat ... here's a few step-by-step pics ...

And what do you know?  After 8 or 9 hours of scorping and scraping a curvy shape had emerged, and the rest of that fat chunk was on the floor in teensy shards.
Day 2 is legs - wood-turning on a lathe ... again - how the heck am I going to do that?

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