My Democratic Side Chair

In late 2020, Elia Bizzarri and Curtis Buchanan produced an online class teaching Curtis’s Democratic side chair. This chair was designed to be built using a relatively small selection of simple tools, and doesn’t use some of the more complicated tools chairmakers typically use. I didn’t always stick to this intent, but used tools I had on hand.

Democratic Side Chair

I ordered wood from Elia, and kept up with the online classes until all the green wood was processed, bent, and allowed to dry. Preparing the leg stock using a hand axe was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed it immensely. When I was finished, I had 2 thoughts: I wanted to remake all the parts now that I had a bit of practice; and I wanted to do more work with the axe. That led to setting aside the project for almost a year and a half while I carved spoons and bowls.

This spring, I finally carved the seat and finished the chair using the original sticks I carved. Curtis typically doesn’t use glue when assembling this chair, except for gluing the wedges into wedged joints. I intended to glue all the joints “just in case”, but in several places I forgot to apply the glue, so most of the back only has glue in the wedges. I didn’t take any pictures until I started assembly.

Unlike a typical Windsor chair, all of the sticks on this chair are shaved instead of turned. They are left octagonal rather than circular. The angular shape of the seat complements the facets on the legs, stretchers, and spindles.

The chair is painted with General Finishes acrylic (“milk”) paint and finished with wipe on poly varnish.