Presented by Jon Grant
Democratic Chair notes by Jon Grant
Recently designed by Curtis Buchanan, the Democratic Chair is so much more than the simple chair
you may see at first glance. Being besotted by the baluster turnings and carved volutes of traditional
Windsor Chairs, my first impression of the Democratic Chair was that it was somewhat understated
if not naïve in style. How wrong I was!
The story behind this chair is one of accessibility and legacy. Curtis openly states that this is not a
‘trophy chair’ but rather a vehicle for as many people as possible to experience the pleasure and
fulfilment that comes with hand tool woodworking and chairmaking. This is achieved primarily
through the limited number of simple, affordable and available tools required for its construction. If
you choose to rive out green timber into square blanks there is no requirement to use a lathe. If you
don’t have a steamer set up you can boil the crest. Much of the seat can be done with a drawknife,
The chair is by no means an easier chair to make than others and the added feature of the faceted
legs, post, spindles and crest provide an opportunity to develop the maker’s drawknife skills like no
other chair. Even after making my first Democratic Chair I felt that my skills with a drawknife had
Curtis also notes that this is a chair for young people and in terms of legacy to carry the craft into the
future, the accessibility aspect of this chair maximises this potential. This chair provides for more
people to gain an insight into chairmaking without the specialised and often expensive tools and in
doing so the craft will be preserved into the future.
I now see this chair in a very different light than when I saw the first prototype in Curtis’ shop some
years ago. Apart from the backstory and as always from Curtis, it is a beautifully proportioned chair
and it sits well too!
I look forward to seeing you at the Democratic Windsor Chair course!
CHAIR & PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY CURTIS BUCHANAN
$990 (Inclusive of GST)
All materials included
Thur 18th to Sun 21st June 2020
From 9am to 5pm
Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking.
14 Cottage St,
Blackburn VIC 3130
Register for this course
Sign Up Now
About the Instructor: Jon Grant
Jon has a strong commitment to creativity, craftsmanship and the fulfilment that these processes bring to those who engage in them. Having been a teacher in trade training for over 20 years he has a strong background in teaching and learning, and has experienced firsthand what a great platform for learning craftsmanship can be.
Jon’s work reflects the simple principles of Shaker philosophy, design and integrity and he works as much as possible using only hand tools. He is an experienced woodturner and 40 years on he still turns on the lathe he built as a young man in high school.
His love of Windsor Chair Making has recently led him to spend time in the United States working with some of the masters of the craft and developing his skills in order to share this with woodworkers here in Australia.
Making Windsor Chairs aligns with all of Jon’s philosophies around craftsmanship in that each piece is unique and handcrafted, the tools you use are particular to the craft and often handmade themselves, and you gain a deep connection with the unique characteristics of the timbers you work with.
Jon values the privilege of living in Tasmania and having beautiful and unique timbers to work with and is currently working on exploring which Tasmanian timbers lend themselves to making Windsor Chairs.