Monday, February 4, 2013

Harvesting Large Trees for Seat Wood

I get really excited about carving seats and trying different woods. The seat material I use on my painted chairs comes from white pine or poplar. The white pine I use comes from the north east and usually I order it from Nicholas Cicchinelli out of New York. I use a lot of pine for chair classes. Lately I have sawn some Sassafras into seat material. I flat saw these into 8/4 boards to get the widest possible seat blanks. Other woods I have sawn for seats have been Walnut, Cherry, Elm, Poplar, Basswood, and  Catalpa. If you have never carved Catalpa then you are in for a treat. We just sawed a 3' diameter Catalpa for seat blanks. It reminds me of carving butternut or Sassafras. Seat blanks are the only thing I have to saw then wait for a couple years to dry for chair making. As I stack these sometimes very large boards I get so inspired thinking of different chairs I can make. It is tough to have to wait. 
Here are some pictures a friend of mine sent me the other day. I wonder how many seat blanks one could get from these giants.
 Check out the length of that crosscut saw. These were some real men. Or maybe that lady helped too.
 Here is a shot of an Elm seat. I have cut a lot of these and although it is very tough to carve they make a very warm inviting texture. Very nice wood to use with white oak turnings.
Walnut always makes a nice seat material and takes such a nice finish with hand tools. This is a seat for a writing arm chair. Whatever you choose to carve make sure it is easy to work with hand tools and you will have a blast. Let me know if anyone has carved something unique for seats. 
 Ziggy finished his Galbert style ratcheting shavehorse which turned out very nice. It is made from a Sassafras natural edge piece with maple legs and dumb head. Works great. Pete Galbert and I are teaching this horse at Kelly Mehler's school this spring along with some tool tuning and other goodies. Spaces are filling fast but I think there might be some left if you hurry.


  1. Hi Greg,
    great post. It seems theres a few parallels happening on either side of the globe at the moment! I just finished a Sassafras seated Perch ( our Black Heart Sassafras )
    for a client and I'm in the process of finishing a Crested Rocker with a one piece English Elm seat.

    Both really nice to carve.... You wouldn't credit it either, but a mate and I made the mechanism for the Smarthead shave horse today too. Love the natural edge to the one above.


  2. Thanks Glen, I really like those elm seats on your perch. "Smarthead" how could I forget.

  3. Wood furniture looks nice than plastic or metal furniture. Specially antique model furniture. Metallic furniture are long lasting but wood furniture always looks gorgeous.

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  4. Making wood furniture is very hard task and takes long time to complete. However, after that that piece of wood turns into beautiful looking furniture. It’s a great art.

    Aluminum Arm Chair