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Green Woodworking

 

The chairs start life as a tree, which I have usually felled myself.  The tree is then processed to the required lengths, and used as soon as possible, or stored in the shade to retain its moisture content.  Using wood in this state is known as green wood.  It allows the craftsman to work the wood using hand tools.  This has the advantage of not being reliant on power, creates no noise, dust or pollution and is a pleasant and sometimes therapeutic way to work!

The log is then slit open and cleaved (process of splitting the wood along its grain) to form pieces of timber that can then be worked to produce the required chair parts.  This is done using a side axe to remove the bulk of the waste, and then it is worked with a draw knife, spoke shave, and finally a cabinet scraper to get the final finish.....

I follow traditional techniques using traditional tools.  The back legs and back slats are steamed and bent over a former to get the required curves.  All the joints are not glued, but are rely on what is known as oval joints.  The tennons on all the rungs are dried right down, during which the wood dries oval.  These oval tennons are then squeezed into a slightly smaller round mortice, which gives a super tight joint.

The seating material is then woven on, at the moment I am using bast, kamba and hemp rope.  The bast is the inner bark of a tree which is stripped by hand and the Kamba is a platted palm leaf.

The chairs take from around 20-35 hours to produce, depending on how the wood behaves and the design of the chair.  Rocking and arm chairs take longer!