Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A few more Perches...

Saturday saw David and Michael arrive at our workshop for our first 'official Rundell & Rundell' chair course. I know I've said it before, but these little Windsor style stools are great fun to make and just the right introduction to chair making. The combination of simple cigar style leg and stretcher turnings and a small hand carved seat ensures that the process is not all intimidating, no matter what your level of expertise. 

Both David and Michael had wood working experience and took to the turning like ducks to water. Same deal with the carving too. 

At the end of the three days they each took home a very fine Perch of American Oak and Eastern White Pine, quite fitting I thought, U.S. 'lumber' for a U.S. designed stool. The timing of the course worked well as I had a commission to make a special order Perch for a local artist. I used the commission piece as my demonstration model. 

This was no ordinary Perch however, with the commission calling for a figured Black heart Sassafras seat and Black Walnut legs. I've made a good deal of furniture with that combination, the Black Walnut highlighting the dark figure in the Sassafras.

The stock for the seat was some of the first timber I milled. I had bought the log in from Tasmania and it had been strapped and stacked in the shed for years. 

I think it came up a treat. Another coat or two of Danish Oil and it'll be ready to head to it's new home on Friday.

There's a lot going on in the workshop at the moment, with classes booking up and orders for chairs. High on the list is a Galbert Crested Rocker which has to be finished in a few weeks. It's for a very special customer indeed. A new customer you might say. A few updates to come.... 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Workshop

A plumbers shed a couple of times, an auto electricians workplace, a hospitality and packaging warehouse. Our new workshop has worn a few hats over the years. It even lay dormant for a long time. When I say new, I should say, it's only new to us. You see she's a pretty old and run down old shed, but it's a good space. Space being the operative word, there's a lot of it. Not just inside either, which is what appealed to me when I first enquired about the property.

As our first 'official' Rundell & Rundell course draws closer I thought it might be of interest to show you all around the shop. There's a long way to go, but the bones are there. 

Here's the machine room. I may espouse the virtues of traditional wood working and hand tools, but machines obviously play a part in our business and some of the wood work I produce. To that end I feel the same way about the quality of the machinery I buy as I do about my hand tools. For a number of years I have collected my machines methodically, often waiting for years until the right old machine turned up. That's true of most of my drill presses, the mortise machine and my older lathe. 

Some of these have been in pristine original condition and some I've restored. When I couldn't find the right old machine or didn't feel confident that the 'right' machine had been treated well, I bought new. ( trust me, old machines -just like old cars-  cost a lot of money to fix if they break down!  ) That's the case with my Austrian made Felder bandsaw and combination machine and my new Australian made Vicmarc variable speed lathe. 

Yes, I'm very proud of my machines, in fact some people might say I have an unnatural love for my Waldown drill ! ( Far right in pic, nice eh? ) But it's not about their cost. In fact I see it as the polar opposite. You see while the new machines might cost considerably more than a Chinese or Taiwanese option, in my eyes they are usually much cheaper. Not only will a quality machine provide years of faithful service, if they do break down, they can be repaired. Cheaper Asian imports with their poor castings, bearings, motors and plastics are most often reduced to boat anchors when they fail. So after you've bought yet another machine to replace the first one, the price of the quality machine is actually quite reasonable. Not to mention resale value. But, back to the workshop!

The machine room is also home to a considerable amount of our stores of dried and green milled timber. Everything from Elm to Ebony, Blackwood to Blackbean, we have a goodly selection of some pretty nice stuff. Our old Vicrail Workshops workbench is out here too, for any hand held power tool use.

There's also the yard. Another storage area for the timber we are milling. Here's some of the Blackwood from our trip to the Otways. But the yard is not just for storage. It's also home to one of the best specimens of Pin Oak I've seen in a while. 

This lovely old Oak will provide shade for budding chair makers while they sit on their shave horses making spindles. Nothing like a bit of good 'ol fresh country air!

Our bench room is the heart of the workshop. Housing our two old European made workbenches and a third utility bench, this room is all about quiet woodworking. About not having to scramble for hearing and eye protection when a dust extractor or hand held router is fired up.  Air conditioned for the summer and a wood heater for the winter, it promises to be a pleasant work space.

A separate kitchen area and enough onsite parking for over a dozen cars, the old girl has some merit. Better still in the morning we are talking with the first of our potential co-tenants, an exciting prospect and part of a much grander plan than just Windsor chairs and wood work . So stay tuned and watch this space. Or better still come and take your place here and see it for yourself! 

Monday, 7 January 2013

You bought beans?

The last week has been a dusty and hot affair. I've been down to the Otways milling some spectacular Blackwood with Dad and Carl Karascay. More to follow about Carl and his family later... 

This was no ordinary Blackwood though with each log being around 8 metres long and most of them barrel straight and BIG. Between the 3 of us we milled over 15 cubic metres of the stuff in the last few days, a good effort with a portable mill I'd say. Good friend and fellow furniture maker Tim McLeod even came down and got in on the action, milling up a very nice 1.2 cube log too. 

There was some good variation throughout the logs from light browns through to rich and deep reds. A couple of logs even showed some nice fiddleback figure. The Blackwood will be set aside for both furniture pieces and chairs. The timber earmarked for furniture has already been sticker-ed and is going to be kiln dried, the chair stock will be sticker-ed, stacked and put aside to air dry naturally. Why? Air dried stock can still be steam bent reasonably successfully, kiln dried cannot, unless it's a very slight bend. So the air dried is much more versatile stock for me, chair wise.

                       Some of the wany edges split for spindle and legs stock......waste not

The unfortunate part of the whole deal was starting last week with two 40 degree days in a row, unpleasant. But the nights were anything but, staying out a Carl's place. 

                                             His view of the Otways is pretty damn fine. 

But beans you say??

Whilst I was down that way I happened to come across a few stacks of pre-cut stickers. Stickers, spacers, sticks, I've even heard them called sliders. Whatever you want to call them, these wooden spacers for puting between green timber are invaluable to sawmillers and without them your just wasting your time and the wood your cutting. 

So when I heard from Carl that he had a source for them I was pretty happy. Happier still when I found out they were 'Class A' hardwood. Knowing that I have a lot of Elm, Oak, Plane and other logs to mill I thought I'd best buy a couple of packs. Ok, I bought four packs, but you can never have too many right? Well perhaps I should have looked at the packs first. They are immense, so much so that when Carl loaded them onto the ute the springs lay flat!  I have another trip to Colac later in the week just to collect the rest! Over 3 tons worth all up I think.....oops.

I came home that day with the first load of stickers and a couple of packs of Blackwood. As I unloaded I had visions of Lisa seeing the huge pile of sticks and saying you came home with sticks? "You went milling Blackwood and came home with sticks??" "STICKS!?"  You know the whole Jack and the beanstalk thing. Of course then then I started thinking of beans, which in turn made me think of the Blazing Saddles bean scene.  Hilarious. Anyway enough about the beans. I'll eventually have a page on our website ( which is all but a week or so away from coming on-line ) about the timber I'm milling, but in the interim I thought I'd throw open an opportunity here on the blog. 

Blackwood retails for around the $4700 per cube mark for 2"/50mm stock at one of the better known Melbourne timber merchants. I thought I'd make some of this magic freshly cut stock available, but at a very reasonable price. It all averages around 50 and 60mm thick, 400 wide and around 4m long.

So if you are interested in either green or kiln dried Otways Blackwood, drop me an email  here and let me know. Cheers.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hear Ye! Hear Ye !! 2013 Course Dates

Happy new year to you all. Although we downed tools and needle and thread for a moment or two between Xmas and New Years, we've been furiously collating dates for our first year of workshop classes. It's such an exciting prospect for us to be officially offering the first classes in our new Central Highlands Workshop that it's a little like Christmas all over again.

When we decided to offer classes in woodworking we wanted to be sure that we were offering classes that were not 'run of the mill' or say, a little dreary! Classes that inspired creativity in people and of course that related to lost trades and techniques that are rapidly disappearing from our landscape. 

And so with that in mind we put in a considerable amount of footwork and have come up with what we think are a good cross section of classes for the first half of 2013. We will try and run 2 and occasionally 3 courses per month. These will vary and should ensure that there is something of interest for most people. We would have liked to offer more but we have to set aside time to make stock for the shop too and of course allow time for commission work, which is already mounting as we speak.  Please contact us here to express your interest in a course and please remember that we have had an exceptional response to our workshops so we recommend that you book early.

Also, keep an eye on the blog for the opening of Watervliet Shaker Cottage, our self contained Shaker style cottage in the heart of Kyneton. We will be able to offer subsidised rates during the week for people participating in 'chair making courses.'  So without further ado, here's the course information and dates


Due to commitments milling timber and previously booked courses we have only one course scheduled for the remainder of January.

18th - Bar Open!

Rundell and Rundell's Wine Bar, The Chairmakers Wife, re-opens providing a select range of wines, beer and cider in relaxed atmosphere on Kyneton's historic Piper Street.

Perch Class - 26- 28th inclusive.  - FULLY BOOKED

The Perch is an ideal introduction to windsor chair making. A design collaboration between Pete Galbert, Curtis Buchanan and Galen Cranz, the Perch is unique in that it is designed with a short front leg, tilting the carved seat forward. This rotates the sitters pelvis forward keeping their back straight and encouraging good posture. Participants will get an introduction to wood turning, shaping the legs and stretchers. Hand carving the seat and drilling and reaming the leg holes and fitting the stretchers round out an enjoyable 3 day course with most participants getting the opportunity to apply the first coat of their chosen finish. A maximum of 3 students at one time ensures a quality learning environment with personalised attention. Come and experience a great introduction to chair making and take home a Perch made by your own hands and something not otherwise available for sale outside of our retail shop, Rundell & Rundell Chairmakers.

$500 including all materials and light morning and afternoon teas.


Seymour Alternative Field Days - 15-17th inclusive -

Come along to one of Australia's most progressive country field days with an expected crowd of over 45,000 per day, Seymour is where you can see the latest innovations in farming, agriculture and everything in between. We will be part of the Lost Trades exhibit, along with traditional Stone Masons, Lead Light Window makers, Broom makers, Hedge layers/rowers, etc. It will be a great weekend and worth a visit. For more information visit their website here .

Coopered Bucket Course - 23rd - with George Smithwick of Beveridge Coopers.
                                                          FULLY BOOKED

George comes from a very long line of coopers and is an incredible tradesman, able to make just about anything from wood and iron, from barrels to buckets, wagon wheels and carriages to oval boxes and everything in between. 
Come and spend a day in the workshop with George and learn how to make a traditional style coopered wooden bucket, with wooden staves and iron hoops. Then finish it off with the proper spliced rope handle. George will go though the techniques employed by coopers for centuries to mate wooden staves together to form a watertight seal and the techniques for measuring and shaping and fitting the solid wooden base. Learn how to shape flat iron into a round bucket hoop and rivet it together with traditional 'tinmans rivets.' Then assemble the bucket and fit the spliced rope handle, taking a home a watertight bucket that will last for generations! An amazing day class with an inspiring teacher. Limited to six places only, please express your interest quickly as we are already aware how popular this course will be.

$220 per person includes all materials and light morning and afternoon tea refreshments. 


Perch Class - 9-11th inclusive -   please see above
                                                   FULLY BOOKED

Shaker Oval Box Class - 23, 24th FULLY BOOKED

The Shaker Oval box was a mainstay of Shaker community life, utilised everywhere from the Bretheren's workshops to the kitchen, housing everything from copper tacks to foodstuffs. I learnt how to make these beautiful traditional boxes from the modern father of Shaker Box making in America, John Wilson of Charlotte, Michigan and we now bring that tradition to Australia. Over the course of the weekend, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, learn how to shape, and prepare the box bands before heating them in hot water and bending them around a formwork to create your box. The bands are then tacked in place with U.S. imported traditional copper tacks before being set aside to dry overnight. On Sunday afternoon when your boxes are dry, mark out, cut and trim your bases and lids before pegging them in place with wooden dowels and not a drop of glue! An unchanged process for generations, the oval box making class is suitable for most ages and pretty much any woodworking skill level. Set over the weekend, so you can take in the township of Kyneton and experience a lunch or dinner at one of our many chef hat awarded restaurants! Participants can expect to make and take home 3 finished shaker boxes and the know how to continue to make them at home.

$220 per person, with all materials and light morning and afternoon tea on each day provided.


Continuous Arm Chair Course - 7 -13th inclusive FULLY BOOKED

The Continuous Arm Windsor Chair is perhaps the only chair the the U.S. can claim was designed on their soil. Getting it's name from the single piece steam bent crest rail which gracefully sweeps down to become the arm rest on both sides, the Cont. Arm Chair is an iconic New York pattern chair, perfected over years of  fine tuning by Curtis Buchanan of Jonesborough, Tennessee. This chair is one of the most graceful windsor chair designs with 13 slender, hand shaped spindles, shield shaped seat and a choice of baluster or double bobbin/Bamboo turnings. 

Utilising Curtis's chair patterns, over 7 days participants will master the use of the drawknife and spokeshave, shaping spindles and the crest rail. Scorps / inshaves, travishers and scrapers shaping the seat and learn the techniques for drilling and reaming the 19 compound angled holes in the seat and fitting the 'H' pattern stretchers. Taking home a chair which is a true heirloom and will last for generations not just a few seasons, the Continuous Arm Chair is a course for those who want to experience traditional woodworking as they never have before and take home a stunning piece of furniture that is otherwise not widely available.

$1200 per person or participants booking together will will receive a 10% discount.

Please note - unlike other Australian windsor chair classes, we will only take a maximum of two people at once to teach the art of chair making. We truly believe this gives the best opportunity for participants to experience this traditional craft in a relaxed manner, with undivided attention from Glen and not be lost in a sea of other people. It reflects the manner in which Glen learnt the craft in Tennessee and Massachusetts. We are also happy to co-ordinate mutually convenient dates for individual chair courses only. 

Perch Class - 26-28th inclusive -please see above.


We have purposefully left the month of May free to work on commissions or to allow for people wanting to book in for further chair courses. 


Perch Class - 8-10th inclusive please see above

Sussex Trug Class - 29th

Join us at our Central Highland Workshop where Cooper George Smithwick will show you the secret to making this traditional Sussex style staved basket. The name Trug comes from the Saxon word 'Trog,' a wooden vessel or boat. Trugs shot to fame when Queen Victoria ordered a number of them for her family after viewing them at the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Made from cricket bat Willow, as were the originals some 200 years ago, the Trug is the ideal garden companion for carrying freshly cut herbs and flowers, freshly picked vegetables or even kindling for the fire. Come and learn the secrets to making these iconic english field baskets. Participants will learn to steam bend the handle and hoop frame,  heat, bend and tack the willow staves into position and trim the basket to it's final shape, taking home a traditional hand made basket otherwise unavailable in the country.

$220 per person including all materials and light morning and afternoon teas.  


Shaker oval box making class  - 6, 7th please see above

Continuous Arm Windsor Chair Course - 21 - 27th inclusive  - please see above.

The second half of 2013 will see an equally exciting range of new chair courses and other interesting and unique woodworking classes with celebrated guest instructors both local and from abroad. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing some great experiences in 2013. So stay tuned and again, Happy New Year!