13 Students, 15 Chairs


We got 13 completed chairs together during the Slat-Back Chair class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking this past week. And two of the students actually made parts for two more chairs while they were at it, but didn’t get all of the joints fitted. I’m not sure that any of the students believed they would finish earlier in the the week, but we had many of the chairs standing by Thursday night, and all of them together before lunch on Friday. Lots of hard work.

The major problem we had in class had to do with left/right issues. Left as you’re looking at the chair? As you’re seated in the chair? I take the “as seated in the chair” approach in my shop, but some of the students preferred the “as looking at” approach. After some discussion, and ultimately, confusion, I decided to change the official terminology to something a bit less ambiguous (so long as I don’t have anyone from a country where they drive on the left side of the road in my next class) and started to refer to driver’s side vs. passenger side of the chair. Yes. I know. No passengers. Or driver for that matter. But it minimizes confusion. And it’s easy to remember.

One other revelation is that I need to collect all of the regular#2 pencils at the beginning of a class. A .5 mm pencil makes a decent line; a marking knife, an even better one. But a dull pencil really doesn’t cut it for layout.

A scribed line is best when accuracy really counts, and it can be used to start the actual cut as well. The .5 mm pencil takes a little getting used to, but it’s consistent and reasonably accurate. A typical #2 pencil (if not recently sharpened on fine sandpaper) is just too unreliable.

Jeff Miller