March 26 we held the first class of the year. It was our chance to introduce our new Square Back class. Don and I had been preparing all winter as we worked out in our minds how to structure a class that is so different from anything else we teach. During this time we made the numerous bending forms and jigs for each work station. We made chairs ourselves to fine tune our process. We got excited.
All our preparation was worthwhile and the class was everything I had hoped. There were no major glitches, short of a propane burner that chose Monday morning to buy the farm. However, it turns out that we were able to do everything with one steam box.
Before every sack back class I tell the students that chairmaking is going to stand their woodworking experience on its head. Everything about chairmaking is different. Before this class, I told everyone Square back is going to stand your chairmaking experience on its head. It did. However, we had planned well and worked out enough safeguards that no one made any significant mistakes.
In fact, Square back is so different we had to delay the celebration that begins our school year. This was because the leg holes in the seat are blind. We always drill the first leg hole of the year and stop to celebrate the Drilling of the First Hole. We do this as soon as my bit passes through the seat and into the backboard. This year, we could not hold the ceremony until I drilled a hole for a stile. Those are the only through holes in the Square back side chair seat.
Square backs are a striking design. The class picture of all those arm and matching side chairs was impressive. By the way, this first class filled so fast I scheduled a second Square back class June 4. That class still has two spaces.
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There were no Royal Orders ceremonies in this class, as so many of the guys are already dukes. However, we cannot pass up a chance to party. So, last year when faced with the same circumstance, we decided to celebrate our first Canada Day. Canada Day is a floating holiday. It occurs in the Windsor Institute calendar on Wednesday of whatever week His Grace Lyndon Gallagher First Duke of Canada is present.
Last year, the lady at the market decorating the cake spelled Canada the way we in New England pronounce it Canida. As you can imagine, this gaff caused a lot of amusement. This year, when we recalled the woman that had misspelled Canada, a wag in the class said, “Everyone knows it’s spelled with a K. The result, this year the cake read “Happy Kanida Day.” I suspect this gag will take root and will become the holiday’s official name.
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Before the class His Grace Kurt Rothermel sent gifts for all the guys that would be present March 26. It was a T-shirt with the coat of arms of a Duke of Windsor. I can never pass up the chance to pull a few chains. So, Don and I wore our shirts the first day. I knew that seeing us in our shirts would get everyone frothing at the mouth and asking where they could get one. My tease went as planned. Once a furor had been raised over our shirts I had H.G. Kurt distribute them. Those shirts are now the hottest item in all of chairmaking. If you’re in the Royal Orders and want one; too bad. You should have signed up for the Square back class.
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We had one sack back class scheduled this summer – July 9. It has filled and we added another sack back July 23.
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