A Visit from Dave

             The May 16 Writing Arm chair class is in session. This gave my old friend Dave Wachnicki an excuse to visit. It was good to see Dave again. Our working relationship dates back to 1995. Most people don’t know that Dave used to teach with me. While here, Dave had to tweak and tune and overhaul so many wooden spoke shaves for so many students that he became an expert on this tool. I lost him when he decided to start making shaves. However, he always has been (and I expect always will be) our recommended source for this tool. Students who arrive in class with a shave from a different source always regret it and end up using one of our shop shaves (which are of course, Dave’s Shaves.)

             Dave is the only person to both teach at The Institute and be inducted into the Chairmakers Hall of Fame. He became an Immortal by virtue of his innovation Dave’s Dipsy Doodle. All who have taken a class with use have used the Dipsy Doodle to calculate the length of their center stretchers. To jog your memory; remember the story about the crisis caused by chairmakers cutting their center stretchers to the wrong length? We were mowing down entire forests to provide center stretchers for chairmakers who can’t do math. Greenpeace picketed outside. Sierra Club filed suit against us in Federal Court.  (You do realize this is all a gag?) We assembled the Knights of Windsor and sent them on the quest for the Holy Grail of chairmaking – a way for chairmakers who can’t do math to directly measure their center stretchers. That’s the Dipsey Doodle. You use it in combination with McKelvy’s Harness.

            Here’s a trivia question, how could Dave who taught here, be in the Hall of Fame? The bylaws strictly prohibit instructors from membership. (We do this to prevent corruption. A six pack is enough to buy a trustee’s vote.)  See answer below.

            I last saw Dave this winter. He probably hasn’t changed, but I was surprised at how gray he has gotten. He no doubt thinks the same when he sees me. I think of Dave more than I see him, as he is the guy who told me about using jalapeño stuffed olives in martinis. I will be forever grateful

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            The October 3 sack back class has filled. We have opened a second sack back class October 17. Other than that class, the only sack back opening left this year if July 25. There is one space left in that class.

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            I received this email from Ray Duffy regarding his brother Tom. Tom is the oldest person to ever take our class. He was 87 when he did sack back with Ray.

            “Hi Mike: The subject sounds like the beginning of one of your jokes. I am just back from California and it is official Tom is 90 years old and still making Windsor chairs. We had a good visit, worked on a chair, planted the garden and had a birthday bash with a big crowd, good food and plenty of liquid refreshments. I am attaching a picture of Tom with his cake and also Jesse the Lab with his cake. Tom and Jesse share the same birthday 88 years apart.

            “There is also a picture of Tom with some of his chairs. He has completed 16 and is working on two more in his shop. Tom is in good health, stays active and still drives himself everywhere. I had hoped to get him back for another class this year, but that will not happen since he now wears hearing aids and is unable to use them in noisy surroundings. Also, the pace of the class is too fast for him to keep up. On his own he can do just fine. It just takes a little bit longer. Tom will be here in August and we usually visit Woodcraft in Portsmouth, I will check to see if you are available and if so we will try to stop to say hello. Regards, Ray”

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The next email is from H. G. Lyndon Gallagher, First Duke of Canada. “The buds are just coming out and the sun is shining….it won’t be long now. By the way, I made a chair that was  auctioned last Saturday where the proceeds go to the local nurses and caregivers. My balloon back went for $700. Right now I’m working on a high chair for friends that had a baby 3 months ago. I sure am enjoying my chair making……Thanks again Mike.”

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 The answer is – Dave was inducted before he donned the coveted green staff shirt.

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