John Coombe

Green woodworking means working with wood in its unseasoned form fresh from the tree using the simplest of hand tools.

Chair-making is an interesting and rewarding process involving so many different stages including design, choice of wood, working the wood to make the components, steam bending, hand augering the mortises, assembly, oiling and finally weaving the seat.  There is an enormous sense of satisfaction in the finished hand-made product.

I mainly use Ash but like to experiment with other hardwoods such as Oak, Beech and Cherry.  Starting with a log cut to length I cleave the timber into sections.  These are then axed to rough shape then shaved on a shaving horse using traditional green-wood working tools such as draw-knife and spoke-shave. These methods allow the natural long fibres in the timber to be maintained as far as possible giving the components natural strength.  After drying, holes are drilled using hand-brace and auger and the chair is assembled and oiled. Finally, I weave the seat usually in Danish cord.

I have gained a number of prizes for my chairs at craft competitions held by the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green woodworkers’, initially in 1997 (double bow Windsor in Ash, Elm and Beech) and also during the last 4 years (lath back side chairs in Ash) eventually winning first prize in 2017.

My work has recently evolved into also making Armchairs in the same style as the side chairs.  For these Armchairs I learnt the traditional craft of rush seating and this suits them admirably.

I work from my workshop at home at The Narth, near Monmouth.  I promote my work through my Facebook page ‘Green wood chairs @handmadechairs’.

 Ash lath back armchair with rush seat

Ash lath back armchair with rush seat