Kinda Chicken

I've got a goal. I want to build eight pieces of furniture this year before the winter makes shop time difficult. Eight is the number of unique pieces I've identified in the pages of the Maciejowski Bible.

One foot stool, one bed, one table, one chest, one cradle, and three chairs.

This is the chair I'm starting on now.

I've taken to calling it "The Green Chair" and after really studying the image and doing a ton of research I'm confident I have a reasonable argument for my decisions with the joinery and dimensions. I've had it figured out for a couple weeks, and I've had the working measured drawings done for a week plus. Still, I haven't been able to make myself head out to the shop and start severing wood fibers.

I have a complicated relationship with chairs. At this point in my woodworking adventure they are just intimidating to me. Even ladder back-ish straight forward clunkers like this one. For the past several years chairs have been my new dovetail.

I remember a decade ago, just fumbling my way through the early days of figuring out if I really liked this woodworking stuff or not. Just beginning to read and understand some of the mysteries that fascinated me, (and still do.)  Dovetails seemed like such a secret handshake to me. A Mason's coded word book left for me to decipher. If I'm honest I will admit I was scared of them and that fear led me to actively avoid using them.

I read everything about them I could find, I studied them like someday I would need the knowledge to diffuse a bomb. Finally I read an article written by Frank Klausz that told me to just Shut Up and Cut Them. I decided he was right, I had to stop being kinda chicken and start the work. Maybe I'd destroy some stock, maybe I'd completely screw up everything,but at least I'd be working.

This morning I was sitting and staring at my modest collection of woodworking books trying to decide which book would finally give me permission to go and get started. I realized that in the last few years I have amassed more books dealing with chair-making than any other single subject. Hell I even have two copies of "Make a Joint Stool From a Tree" (well because my second copy was signed by both authors silly)

I started to think instead, when I finish this book there will be three chairs included in the pages. If I think of this one as intimidating then the "X" chair, or Dagobert style chair will eventually send me running for the hills.

Instead of pulling a book off the shelf and giving myself another excuse to waste more time, I started to think about my relationship with dovetails and how far that has come. I remembered a couple weeks ago, while I was doing the complicated, staged glue up for the Foot Stool, I wiled away the set up time by making a nice little dovetailed box from some pine off cuts and walnut scraps.

I looked the box, sitting on the floor by our front door, waiting for purpose. I realized that something I was kinda chicken about several years ago was now something I could pull off so well I could build a little box like this in a couple hours time, and the dovetails weren't even the challenging part.

So I pulled on my big boy pants and went out to the shop. There's no time for prototypes anymore, just time to Shut Up and Start.

The first thing to do was kill all my indecision over stock selection. I've got this nice slab of 3" thick by 11" wide, by 10' long Black Walnut that I've been hording like the One Ring since I picked it up this spring. But my precious isn't going to do me any good sitting against the wall in the wood corner of the shop. Today I pulled it out, hauled it around, and started to rip some turning stock.

Kinda Chicken no more.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Hi, I like your ambitious project on making furniture from the maciejowski bible. I look forward to see your version of the X chair. I have started making one some years ago and it is now nearly finished - only the leather seating is missing. If you wish you can check the building process on the Thomasguild blog and the sella curulis (chairs) entries.

    Good luck!
    Marijn / St. Thomas guild / medieval woodworking

    1. Sir, You do me a great honor posting here. I have followed the work on the Thomasguild blog for a long while with much pleasure. It has helped alot in some of my research so far.

      Thank you so much.


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