Carpenters Without BordersAbout Us
Grow a Forest... Build an Economy

Projects 2007-2008

The Bentwood chair makes good use of plantation thinnings which are about 8" to 12" in diameter. This is an artisan piece that is comfortable, lightweight, and very strong. It can be made using simple non-electric tools: a shave horse, a draw knife, and a propane-powered steam chamber.

In January 2007, Dennis Martin, Dan Stalzer, and Juan Castillo examined the luscious tropical woods to evaluate which would best serve to make the shave horses first, and then the chair parts. Some of the students had valuable first-hand knowledge of the area trees.


Bentwood Chair

Phase I
Set-up and Investigation

1. To evaluate indigenous wood species appropriate to chairmaking.
2. To construct shave horses (work benches).
3. To teach tool skills: maintenance and sharpening.
4. To teach basic chairmaking skills while making chair parts to be air-dried for future use.
5. To teach the conditioning of wood.

Twenty-one shave horses were made in the first three days. The chair parts were then roughed out and set aside to dry for 6 weeks. The second class was therefore held in
April of 2007.


Phase II

1. To build simple kilns for drying of chair parts.
2. To build steam chambers for bending of chair legs.
3. To teach steaming and bending of chair parts.
4. To teach new tool usage.
5. To finish pieces for chairs.
6. To assemble the chairs.

The next class in December of 2007 was a repeat of Phase I and was followed by one in April-May of 2008.

We all profited from the experience gained in the first two. Ten more shave horses had to be built for the extra students who came to these classes.

Former students were now advising the novice woodworkers.



Carpenters Without Borders
7410 Wildhorse Valley Rd. Napa, CA 94558
Telephone: 415.518.4337 - Email: timberslick @