Chair making at the Appalachian Center for Craft: Day 1

This week I’m on vacation and taking a chair making class at the Appalachian Center for Craft which is a satellite campus of Tennessee Tech University where I got my undergraduate degree in engineering and am currently working on a masters of engineering. Every summer, the craft center offers several, week long workshops in all of their offered mediums. So this year I decided to commit to attending a class and not letting life get in the way.

The class is based on a modern dining chair. This is one project that I’ve avoided to this point as I am still a bit intimidated by the angled joinery and overall design concepts of chairs. The class is being taught by Steve Tengelsen, who is a former artist in residence at the craft center and is currently a furniture maker in Asheville, NC. The class is going to focus on basic machinery techniques to to handle curved and angled surfaces along with the structural and comfort aspects of the chair. Surprisingly most of the chair will not be template based. He did have one template for the back legs and even that was just a rough jumping off point.

Tonight was mainly orientation and discussion around Steve’s design progression on how he landed at the particular design for the class. I took a couple of shots of the various design progressions. He actually brought two different variations on the design. You can see that the first couple of iterations are simple dimensional lumber mock-ups to get the basic dimensions.

I can’t wait to get into the shop tomorrow. The craft center has an amazing array of equipment. I will try and get some pictures of this stuff throughout the week.

Stay tuned…. hopefully I’ll have one chair down in five days and 3 to go! (or 5 or 7?)

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