Monthly Archives: March 2011


             The Recamier class is in session this week. It is the first class of the year, so yesterday we conducted the Drilling of the First Hole ceremony.  The lucky backboard is now hanging on the wall, waiting for the last day of the last class, when it will again be honored by being the first one into the fire. In the meanwhile, everyone visiting The Institute will stop to look at it and will see all the signatures of the people in this class.

            This class is noteworthy for another reason.  It is the first class I have ever taught where everyone was in the Royal Orders. I have had lots of classes heavily weighted with members of the Orders, but there were always one or two who had not yet accomplished that esteemed passage. Of course, all these people are Master Chairmakers, so we will not be conducting a Raising. Too bad, those are so much fun.

            The class contains five Dukes of Windsor. Combined with His Grace Don Harper who teaches with me, one third of the College is present. That alone calls for a photo to record the event. Of course, as King of Windsor, I am always nervous when so many of my dukes get together.  That’s how coups d’etat happen.  I am keeping my ears open for any conspiracy.

            Most of these guys have taken classes together.  So, there is a lot of reminiscing, often of events I had forgotten. There is also a lot of laughing. My ribs hurt not only from the laughing, but from the ribbing I am taking from a bunch of old friends. Needless to say, I am having a good time.

            The récamier did present us with an interesting debate, one that was of course full of humor. How does one measure rake a splay on this piece? Some dukes argued that splay is seen from the narrow end. They maintain that in every other chair, splay is in the direction the sitter faces. Others responded that in every other chair, splay is measured from the direction in which the sitter sits. On a récamier, one places one’s butt on the piece from the long side, not the narrow. Then, one swings one’s legs onto the seat and faces along the narrow dimension.

            Someone finally yelled, “You’re the king.  Make a proclamation.” I did. After careful consideration and consultation with the dukes, I determined that as chairmakers, our point of view should prevail. Reaming (when rake and splay are determined) is done with the seat horizontal in the vise, like a settee seat. Therefore, splay is seen from the long edge and not the narrow.  That point of view reveals rake.

I have spoken and my word is law.  The bard was correct when he wrote “Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown,” but Mel Brooks was also right when he said, “It’s  nice to be the king.”

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            How about a limerick to round out your day?  This one is courtesy of Dave Pino.

      If a chair-maker’s up in the air,

      And his skills need a little more care,

      Michael Dunbar’s the man

      Who can teach him the plan

      For to build a divine Windsor Chair!

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