The Sawyer name has long been world-renown in the world of Windsor chairs. Guild member George Sawyer is the son of David Sawyer, who began making Windsor chairs in 1982. Since then, he has produced pieces that can be found all over the country, in numerous publications, and even in the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
David Fry of American Woodturner Magazine writes: “In the pantheon of American Windsor chair makers, few have exercised as much influence in recent decades as Dave Sawyer.”
A couple of recent videos give us a glimpse at the process of making master quality chairs by the Sawyer family.
What is a Windsor Chair?
First things first: For those who don’t know, Windsor chairs are the those in which the uprights and back legs are not one continuous piece, but rather they are separately joined to the seat. Many Windsor chairs on the market are mass-produced, but when a Windsor chair is handmade, it becomes especially beautiful and strong.
For example, when the spindles are hand shaped by following the grain in still green wood, as George does, they are stronger as the grain is left as whole as possible from one end of the spindle to the other. This leaves fewer weak points, and allows the chairs to have much more delicate features than a machine-made chair while still maintaining strength – strength that lasts a lifetime, a guarantee on all Sawyer-made chairs, by the way.
About the Video: “A quick look … at how we build our Windsor chairs! The process starts with riving the pieces out of local lumber and through hand-carving, shaping and turning it becomes a chair that will last for generations.”
About the Video: “I talk a little bit about what makes a hand-built Windsor chair so special, and demonstrate the family resemblance that my Dad and I share.”