Rustic Ash Chairs

cleaving break for splitting logs, rustic ash chairs, wood shavings
cleaving logs with froe and maul rustic ash chairs workshop

Splitting logs / cleaving

Using a froe and a wooden club the logs are split lengthways with the grain into quarters and then eighths. If size permits they are also split tangentially to produce leg, rung and rail blanks ready for further shaping with and axe or draw knife.
Mark Griffin using draw knife, shave horse at rustic ash chairs
steam bending jigs at rustic ash chairs with green woodwork chair legs

Shaving and steam bending

The cleft log is held in the shave horse and, using a draw knife, it is shaved to approximate dimensions ready for drying or bending. If the component needs to be steam-bent the piece is placed a steam chest until supple, then set to the required shape using a jig.
green woodworking drying cabinet, spindles, rails at rustic ash chairs workshop
rustic ash chairs refining wood using spoke shave

Drying and refining

The smaller components are dried in a drying cabinet over several days until they are seasoned. The dried rungs and rails are then worked with a small spoke shave to refine the dimensions to the selected size. Larger steam bent pieces are left in setting jigs for several days before being worked. The final finish is achieved using a cabinet scraper.
rustic ash chairs joint cutting and planning chair back spindles
rustic ash wood armchair with rope design lath back

Joint cutting and assembly

Depending on the chair design, individual components are joined together using either round mortice and tenon or traditional square mortice and tenon  joints. The joint's strength and stability is achieved by compressing an oval tenon into a round mortice which means the use of modern glue is not necessary. Once assembly is complete, the chair is ready for seating.
rustic ash chairs danish cord seating irish twill pattern
rustic ash chair with danish cord modified Irish pattern weaving


Chairs are sealed with 3 coats of Danish oil.  Once this has fully dried a woven seat is applied. The seat is made from Danish cord, Sisal, paper rush, Kambaa or Elm bark. These materials can be woven in a variety of patterns that add individuality to the chair. 
rustic ash chair with black and natural danish cord twill pattern
hemp rope seat weaving pattern on rustic ash chair armchair
danish cord diagonal twill pattern used on rustic ash chair
danish cord rustic ash chair seating, modified Irish pattern
danish cord traditional weave seating pattern on rustic chair
danish cord traditional simple weave seating on rustic chair
danish cord seating twill diamond pattern used on rustic chair

Work in progress

  1. Traditional green woodworking tools, froe and drawknife used for chairmaking
    A selection of froes and drawknife used in green woodworking chairmaking
  2. mark griffin sat on shaving horse, using a draw knife at rustic ash chairs
    Mark Griffin using the drawknife and shaving horse
  3. green woodworking tools, drawknife and wood shavings
    Drawknife and shavings
  4. selection of mauls on a bench used for green woodworking chair making
    Selection of mauls used during log splitting/cleaving and chair construction
  5. green woodworking tools used for cleaving ash logs for rustic ash chairs
    Saw horse, froe and maul
  6. knotty spindle-back rustic ash chairs armchair frame, unseated
    Oiled, before weaving the seat on a knotty spindle-back armchair
  7. green woodworking tools used for chair making, shaving horse, spoke shave
    Selection of green woodworking tools used for chairmaking
  8. rustic ash chairs green woodworking with shaving horse and draw knife
    Mark Griffin working at the shaving horse, using a draw knife
  9. ash logs ready to be made into rustic ash wood chairs
    Ash logs ready to be cleaved and split down into more manageable working sizes
  10. cleaving ash wood with a cleaving break and wedges
    Cleaving wedges are used to help to keep open and extend the initial log split.
  11. mark griffin at the rustic ash chairs workshop using a shaving horse
    Mark Griffin at the Rustic Ash Chairs workshop, using the shaving horse
  12. bundles of green wood chair making rungs and rails, seasoning wood
    A bundle of rough-cut rungs and rails ready for seasoning in the drying cabinet
  13. cleaving wood with a cleaving break and froe at rustic ash chairs workshop
    Cleaving (splitting) the wood using a froe and cleaving break