Chair making is a specialist craft in its own right, just as cabinet making is, with furniture making a modern, watered down, merging or blurring of the two. Years ago cabinet making and chair making were highly specialised, two very distinct different crafts, with people specialising in either one or the other, and just a handful of craftsman that were successful at being highly skilled at crossing over into both areas. As mentioned on my furniture page it was difficult for some craftsman to traverse between the two crafts without some compromises along the way.
I studied the history and construction techniques of chairs and the chair making industry over many years and gained a distinction in advanced chair making along side my degree in furniture design and craftsmanship. I am not only able to produce faithful reproductions of the past but also design and construct chairs with a contemporary twist that are not only functional, but pleasing to the eye.
Chairs more than any other piece of furniture are the most ergonomic. Which gives them a special relationship with the user. A well made chair becomes more than just piece of furniture but part of the person using it. Someone should be able to sit in a chair without realising they are doing so, otherwise they will be distracted from whatever they are doing. There is nothing worse than sitting on an uncomfortable chair such as one made with a flat wooden seat for an hour or so working at a desk or eating a meal at a table. Which is why the scalloped shaped seat of a Windsor chair was developed and upholstery added to seats of other chair designs.
Chairs are made for many different purposes, but most of all they should be comfortable to sit on. If it is not comfortable then it does not perform its primary purpose. An uncomfortable sitting position is due to the pressure exerted on the body at the point of contact with the seat. This can be up to 75% of the weight of a person on just 8% body surface area (Trumble, 19301), with most of that on the ischial tuberosities (the boney part of your bottom).
Chairs come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. When Shetland Fine Craft designs and makes chairs I employ many different traditional skills to produce a chair. Ranging from simple mortise and tenon joints through to woodturning, steam bending, shaping and carving. This means I am able to design almost any type of chair a client might want without the design being a tweaked stock item.
I very rarely use completely straight components to construct a chair. This is because it has to marry with the human body, which has no straight lines. Preferring to use gentle curves and careful shaping to the human form. That is, unless I am making a reproduction chair, or for the part of a chair that has no human contact eg. below the seat. These pleasing shapes are produced predominately using hand tools or traditional chair making tools that when used, become an extension of the craftsman himself, leaving that personal touch.
Shetland Fine Craft also make a variety of children's chairs which can make a beautiful birthday, Christening or Christmas gift, that can become well-loved and cherished heirloom. The name of the child and any dates required can be hand carved into a cresting rail and at no additional charge for this service.
1Trumble, H.C.(1930) The skin tolerances for pressure and pressure sores. Medical Journal of Australia; 2:724 - 726