The Ash tree is known as ‘The Queen of The Woods’ and ‘The Pillar of The Universe’. In Norse mythology it is the Tree of Life, and to the Druids it was renowned for bestowing peace, healing and spiritual tranquility.
It certainly is a beautiful wood with many properties appealing to the woodworker, a grain that is wonderfully strong, clear and defined. It burns well, keeping the weary worker warm, even when freshly cut.
However, when using it to make a chair I like to keep the thoughts of peace, healing and spiritual tranquility in mind – certainly qualities I would wish a chair to bestow on the person taking rest in it.
The Beech I used for the seat is similarly revered, and known as ‘The Mother of the Woods’, being generous of spirit, offering shelter, nourishment, wisdom and knowledge. It also has a quite magical grain, that will improve with age and use, bestowing its properties on the sitter.
So, after letting the fresh wood dry for a while I set to sanding and finishing the chair I had started a few weeks ago. I’d kept it in the coldest room in the house, allowing it to start to dry very, very slowly in the hope that none of the ends would crack (something ash is also renowned for). Thankfully, all was well when I looked in on it and moved it back to the garden.
I sanded, and sanded, and then sanded some more.
And then I waxed, allowing each of the 4 coats to dry before buffing and applying the next. I find this a very relaxing part of the process, and enjoy seeing the once muted colours of the barks and naked woods come to life and shine, glowing from deep within.
Many chair makers I talk to specify that the seat should be treated with a finish like Danish Oil – hard wearing, and beautiful. I use wax, as it is equally beautiful, but will require reapplication every now and then, encouraging the new owner to really see, feel and appreciate the wood.
The bark on the young Hazel is really beautiful, and with repeated coats and patient care, the lustre will shine more brightly.
Taken as a whole I think the chair works well.
I love the bow of the back legs – they add a softness and rotund-ness to the chair, breaking up the severe angularity that is all you see from the front.
The chair is 70 inches tall, 19 deep, 15 wide at the rear and 22 at the front. The seat is set at 15.5 inches, with the arms at 24 inches high. The legs are approximately 1.5 inches in diameter at their widest, necessitating tenons of 0.5 inches in diameter. The chair flexes beautifully, the joints being tight and will only get more firm as the wood dries and shrinks, the mortises gripping the tenons more tightly with age. The flex in the chair will remain as it seasons – another of the fabulous properties of ash – getting stronger and more beautiful.
This chair is most definitely a variation of the Mackintosh style I have been enamoured of recently – I think it works. It’s definitely a tranquil chair to look at, and most certainly to sit in.
I hope you like it.