Black Forest Wood Company offers many wood working classes and I’ve always been interested in taking one or two of them. Unfortunately my previous line of work had me away at night and on weekends, which ruled out just about every class they have ever offered. The class that interested me the most was “Anatomy of a Chair” taught by Doug Haslam. Doug is a local furniture designer and maker and has been teaching this class for several years.
The class is limited to 8 students so you get lots of one on one time with Doug. He has a great wealth of knowledge and what I really liked about the class was that he would give instruction, and then let you go and figure it out for awhile. He was always around for questions and you really got the most out of the class by asking as many as possible.
The weekend was spent learning the various geometries of chairs, then designing and finally building a prototype chair out of poplar using screws to hold it together. You were free to do whatever you liked, however the chair was meant to be of the kitchen/dining variety. At the end of the second day we were taught about mortise and tenon joints and shown how to make one. My only criticism was that we didn’t actually get to practice this.
I was quite happy with my chair and how it turned out. It’s not necessarily the style of chair I would make for myself, I chose the design in order to best learn the various techniques needed to build it. It’s incredibly comfortable, and while I never meant for it to be used in my house, it is currently attached to my daughters booster seat high chair as it’s far more stable than our crappy Ikea chairs. I highly recommend the course, it’s well worth the money and you don’t even require a whole lot of woodworking skills as Doug can teach you as you go (a couple of guys in the class had only ever used hand tools but were quickly brought up to speed on the bandsaw, jointer, table saw, and drill press).