G. W. Mathews  Windsor Chairs & Joinery
   

About

 

American furniture for the mid to late eighteenth century has always had the greatest interest for me.  I learned Windsor chair construction from Mike Dunbar in New Hampshire, and have added these graceful chairs to my custom carpentry selection.  My Windsor style follows the lines used by early Connecticut makers, however certain seat shapes and leg rings are my own design features.  Although chairs and other pieces are occasionally sold from my inventory of samples, most pieces are made to the customer's specific order.  Having a chair custom-made allows you to choose various finish options, the replication of an historical piece and even certain dimensions of the finished chair.

The tools used to make these chairs are antiques of the period or accurate reproductions.  That said, I will admit to using an electric lathe to turn the legs and arm posts and a power saw to cut rough seat patterns.  Period hand tools are used for carving the arms, bows, spindles and for sculpting the seat.  The marks of these tools can often be faintly seen on some of the chair components, identifying the chair as a one-of-a-kind, handmade product.

The wood used in the construction of these chairs is chosen for the clearness and straightness of grain.  Hard maple or locust are turned for legs and arm posts; red oak is used for the back spindles and for the steam-bent components.  The seats are sculpted from white pine, poplar or basswood.  These are wood species that the early makers also used.

American Windsor chairs were typically painted, and I highly recommend this finish for its look of authenticity.  Chairs are painted with milk paint, then oil or varnish is laid-on over the paint.  This painted finish can be distressed to give a look of age if desired.  At your request I also can give a chair a natural finish...and occasionally a finish that features both painted and natural parts.

Other joinery I produce includes chests of various sizes and purposes, bookcases, stools, benches, made-to-order items and quite honestly...often quaint items that strike my fancy.

These chairs and furniture are handmade by one man.  No busy factory, just a workshop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where I literally carve-out things of beauty.  If you would like to visit my workshop to see a chair being made you are invited to make an appointment (I'll have fresh coffee on).  I also participate in
several eighteenth century reenactment venues in the Southeast where I demonstrate early woodworking techniques.  I will seasonally post a schedule of the events planned; in this way you could possibly find an event near your home and stop by to see (and sit in) my chairs.

Each chair or other furniture piece is signed and dated on the bottom, and when custom-made it is personalized.

On July 4, 2009, the Winston-Salem Journal featured an article about my chairs and interviewed one of my clients, Jack Hollan, who said, "George is not a craftsman, he is an artist." The very essence of an American Windsor is to my mind an artistic statement, and I do my best at it.

 

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