I have taken some time off from painting. In the interim I have been working on a project that I have wanted to try for 30+ years. In 1978 (then John) Jennie Alexander wrote a book called "Make a Chair from a Tree: An Introduction to Green Woodworking". I bought the book and have been thinking about it ever since. Another resource was a chairmaker here in Maine who made these post-and-rung ladderback chairs by the name of J.D. Mecklin. JD died in 2004 but I have two neighbors who each have 4 of his chairs. When one of these friends heard that I was thinking of starting to make this style chair he loaned me one to study and with that chair along with the book I started what has turned out to be a very exciting and rewarding journey. My early attempts were a couple of stools and then a few small youth chairs. I also spent a lot of time reading blogs of chairmakers like Tim Manney. Tim documented making a tenon cutter which was key to my feeling confident making my chairs tenons.
I make chairs with some deviations from the book. But the key to me is paying attention to the grain and the characteristics of how wood behaves in ways that can help hold a chair together. The wood I am using is red oak from our property. Luckily we have a number of very good oak trees that should yield chairs for years to come.
For anyone curious about my process, a very good friend and neighbor (the one that lent me the chair} Paul Heroux hired another friend James Walker to follow me through a day documenting how and where I work. James posted the video as Tim Makes Chairs.
If you are interested in trying one out, email me and we can arrange a sitting at my home and shop in New Gloucester.