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Newsletter – Spring 2016


It has been a busy year already, with three courses run (English double bow, continuous arm and rocking chair last week) and a stool course this coming weekend. I hope you’ll find plenty of interest in this newsletter:

  • With lots of enquiries for courses later in the year I have been very organised (for me!) and posted course dates through to the end of the year on the website: https://thewindsorworkshop.co.uk/chair-making-courses/course-dates-booking-and-prices
  • I follow a terrific Australian Windsor Chairmaker on Instagram (Bern Chandley) and he recently posted an image of a fine Windsor table. This prompted me to write a short piece about what makes Windsor furniture ‘Windsor’. Do also have a look at Bern’s IG feed at: https://www.instagram.com/bernchandleyfurniture/
  • There’s an article about steam bending that includes all my current thinking on the subject – especially the importance of fast grown wood.
  • There are a couple of new pages on the website and it has also had a makeover to improve clarity.
  • Finally there are a couple of pieces from past students – well worth a look!

With best wishes

James Mursell

Course Dates to the End of 2016

You’ll now find course dates through to the end of the year on the website! There is a limited number of places available on courses before my summer break (most of July and all August) and plenty thereafter.

All my usual chairs are offered, with a few ‘specials’ and all except the settee are open to everyone.

Particular courses to note are:-


Rocking chair

13-17 June


Contemporary double bow

4-8 July

Windsor settee


14-18 November
(need to have attended one course before)

The Meaning of ‘Windsor’?

If you have come on a course at The Windsor Workshop you will probably know the answer to this question, but if not then I will explain.

The key to understanding ‘Windsor’ is to realise that it is not a style, but rather a ‘form of construction’. It is one of those gloriously simple explanations that, in this case, ties together a whole range of furniture. My other favourite woodworking-related definition is: ‘a sharp edge is the intersection of two polished planes’, but that’s a digression!

The short version of the definition of ‘Windsor’ is: ‘sticking bits of wood into a plank’. This is the essence of it, but a slightly longer version is really required:

Windsor furniture has a solid plank of wood at its heart. Into this plank pieces such as legs and spindles are tenoned, but there is no direct connection between those parts above and below the plank.

We are all familiar with Windsor chairs, but it was an image of a table (at the dry fit stage) by Australian maker Bern Chandley that prompted me to write this. He has taken a massive Eucalyptus burl and supported it on an elegant undercarriage, tenoned into the burl. This makes a perfect Windsor table!

Berns table

Bern’s pure Windsor table

My ‘Windsor’ table

Many years ago and before I began teaching, I made a dining table using the Windsor method. Although not as pure a Windsor as Bern’s table, you will see the common feature of the solid lump of wood. In my table it forms the base and in Bern’s the top.

The Victorians used to make Windsor cradles (see Google Images) and as another trivial example of a non-chair Windsor here is an image of a towel rack that I made years ago.

The Windsor form of construction is a very powerful method of solving all sorts of furniture making problems.

Steam Bending Article

I wrote this article at the end of last year for Living Woods magazine and it is a distillation of all that I know about steam bending! The headline message from the article is that speed of growth of the wood trumps almost everything else in achieving success with bending. Read on…….


New Pages and Updated Website

Two new pages: ‘End-of-Course Photos’ and ‘Miscellaneous Chairmaking Videos’ are now on the website. Most end of course photos from the last year are now displayed; and the videos show most aspects of Windsor chairmaking in short bursts.

In the middle of last year I updated ‘The Windsor Workshop’ website so that it could be easily read on mobile and tablet as this is now one of Google’s first considerations when ranking sites. Also, in the last few weeks the layout has been updated to make the site clearer, particularly on laptops. The column on the right hand side has been removed and lots of the ‘extras’ that were there, are now at the bottom of each page.

Windsor Swing Seat

Nick Sanford sent me images of a wonderful Windsor swing seat that he made for his daughter’s wedding. You will see from the pictures what a great idea this was and how well it was used.

Nick wrote: “It was great fun to make and my daughter was thrilled with it. At her wedding it was pretty much in constant use and as you can imagine I was pleased about that!”









Photos of Continuous Arm

Derek Fallon made a continuous arm chair last year and here are the pictures that he sent of his excellent chair in wonderfully atmospheric settings.