One of My Most Prized Things

Every now and then someone does something for me that is so kind  I am blown away. That happened during the September 20 C-arm class. Because of his line of work, I am not sure I should even tell you the guy’s name, so I will err on the side of caution. This student is in the military and recently had been in Afghanistan. While there he had a flag flown in The Windsor Institute’s honor above  the International Security Association Forces Headquarters. Then, the flag was folded and framed with recognition of The Institute. It instantly became one of my most prized possessions, and so everyone can see it, I hung it in the kitchen. During the October 18 class we had two Marines and a National Guard officer, all who had been in either Iraq and/or Afghanistan. They immediately noticed the flag and asked in awe where I had gotten it.  That made me even more proud of this gift.

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 I mentioned the National Guard officer above. Major Mike Lipper is in the October 4 sack back class that is in session right now. He had recently returned from Afghanistan and his third tour of duty. His Sunday School class loves Mike so much that they signed him up for this class before he left for his most recent tour. His Sunday School teacher and his wife accompanied Mike and his wife on the trip. I think that to be that loved and honored speaks a lot for the Major’s character.  It sure impressed me.

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These last two classes, the September 20 C-arm and the October 4 sack back added to the Royal Orders. Sir Mike Raab was knighted in the 9/20 C-arm, becoming the 162nd Knight of Windsor. During the October 4 class His Grace Lyndon Gallagher was duked. Royal Orders watchers and the paparazzi that relentlessly pursue the members well know that a Duke of Windsor has taken every class and has then returned to teach a sack back class. His Grace Lyndon is the 22nd Duke of Windsors. Compare the number of Knights to the number of Dukes and you will see that the latter are truly are a small corps of elites. His Grace Lyndon set another milestone, in that he is the First Duke Errant. A member of the Orders Errant comes from afar. His Grace is from Montreal and commands all Royal Orders members in Canada. As Royal Watchers will tell you, only two other Dukes have a title designating them as special among the other 22. As First Duke Errant, His Grace Lyndon joins the even more elite group made up of the First Duke and the Black Duke.

The October 4 class was even more exciting in that His Grace Mike Borgeest returned to help teach that class.  While already a Duke, and having already done his teaching requirement, His Grace Mike just wanted to spend some time with fellow chairmakers. Similarly, on Tuesday His Grace Jim White dropped by to help out. At that moment, four of 22 Dukes of Windsor were assembled at the same time and in the same place. Of course, His Grace Don Harper, our teacher, was the fourth. The event had to be recorded, so we took a picture of the four Dukes with their sovereign in front of our sign.

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As we do every advanced class, we had a Raising during the C-arm class. At that time, those students who had only taken sack back, and were thus only Entered Apprentice chairmakers, were raised to Master chairmaker. This ceremony is very solemn and fills the newly made Masters and the other attendees with awe. As I was conducting the ceremony some wags in the class began humming solemn background music as a spoof of me. It is hard enough to conduct this silly ceremony with a straight face. These guys kept cracking me up and dragged out the ceremony lots long that it normally takes. I should have remembered the old advice to actors; “Never work with kids, animals, or chairmakers.” You’ll always get upstaged. Of course kids and chairmakers is redundant.

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We had another unusual occurrence in the October 4 sack back. Bob Vergette and Ken Whyte both came all the way to New Hampshire from British Columbia. Over the past 15 years we have only had seven other people from that distant province. To make their presence in our class even more unusual, Bob and Kenn did not come together. They did not even know each other.  They each came separately. Such an event required special recognition.  So, as well as flying the Canadian flag out front of the building, we hung the British Columbian provincial flag next to their work stations.

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Speaking of Dukes of Windsor, we recently received this email from His Grace Ralph Quick and his consort Caron:

Greetings King Mike,

Caron wanted me to let you Guy’s know that we were contacted by the editor of This Old House magazine a couple of weeks ago. They are doing an article about the New York City Bow Back Side Chair and they said they checked several chairmakers’ web sites and that they really liked ours the best.

They said they wanted us to ship them one, if we had one available. We just finished one. I’m not real sure just why I decided to make that style, but it worked out since it was already painted and ready to ship. However, when I checked the shipping cost, I feared they might not want to use us, as shipping would be over $500.00 to send it to Manhattan and back. I called the editor and told her that I was really appreciative of them wanting to use our NYC Bow Back and mention us in the article, but $500.00 is just a bit much for us right now. That’s when she told me that they would pay for all the shipping and what have you. I would just have to pack it. She also said that it will be used on their front cover and come out in the November issue. Hopefully it will generate more business for us since a lot of people get that magazine.

Well Sir, tell every one we said hello and we hope to see you Guy’s soon.

Ralph, Caron & Windsor

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I recently yet another email from His Grace Ralph recommending this video as a less labor intensive way for chairmakers to spilt their logs.

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Speaking of Royals Errant, we received this email from Sieur Vincent Lavarenne, First Knight of France. It is further proof that we are accomplishing our stated goal; for handmade Windsors to take over the world.

Hi Mike!

Last Sunday, with my Woodworking Association  I took part  to the  “Fêtes des Associations”  in  Evry (Evry is a town 20 miles SE of Paris where the Association is located). I demonstrated putting together a Windsor Chair and I had the pleasure to find many people interested. Some found the chair really cute (women mainly, it was a child’s chair!) some guys said they had seen chairs like that in westerns (yes, and in “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson too, and in the books over here…) Some (men) asked how much I was selling it (I wasn’t). Many asked which were the woods; where I had learned that; and they browsed through my books and tools.  That was quite successful, even though the main attraction at our stand always is our  street organ:  the  guy who made it  (and teaches to do so)  has the kids  turn the crank…Do you have a model of chair that makes music?

 I will be  speaking of that little chair at our next meeting on October 16th. In fact it’s the same chair I made for my grandson two years ago,  but the chair and the child are  in Lyon and happy together as you can see. As I wanted a chair to show off, I just made another one ( faster and more enjoyable each time: Windsors aren’t just a bug, they are  a hard drug!)

I am teaching a sharpening class on November 20th at our Association’s workshop.  I just asked the editor at the magazine Le Bouvet to advertise it at the end of my article (it should be published at the end of this month). In fact the class is almost full up yet, but it is such a pleasure to refuse more people… The guy who used to teach woodcarving and classical sharpening will be helping me ( He ‘s a  nice guy, but I believe he is also  interested in the method).

I hope that all of you are well at the WI .


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Dave Rossano and his chairmaking were the subject of an article in East Hampton (NY) Star.  Dave is making chair professionally and this article will certainly give him a boost.

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