Mark Murray introduced his friend and today’s speaker, Luke Barnette, from the Adrian Center for the Arts (an organization we have partnered with and supported in the past). Luke is a nationally-renowned master chair maker who works in one of the buildings on the center’s campus. Luke spearheaded the center's Christmas Tree Project last year. He brought with him a few pieces of his trade – chairs that he built by hand.
Luke builds American-style Windsor chairs primarily which are made out of different species of wood. He does it, he said, to honor the woodworkers of old and their craft and gives him a very “authentic degree of satisfaction” building them the way he does. The two elements that are needed to build quality chairs are found right here in America, he said: natural resources and American craftsmen.
A good chair needs to meet three important criteria: comfort, durability and beauty. Windsor chairs are identified by the fact that all of the parts terminate into the seat instead of being suspended from the frame, he said. The seat is the keystone of this type of chair.
The term “Made in America” carries a lot of weight, Luke said. It is indicative of quality, innovation and craftsmanship and it was the American spirit that paved the way for so much of its quality. Among the different woods he personally uses are: hickory (typically used in axe handles because of its strength), maple, white oak, and eastern white pine. Popular joinery methods incorporated in his work is mortise and tenon construction. One of the samples of the pieces he brought with him was a Windsor chair he made by hand valued at $2,000. Thanks, Luke, for a very interesting presentation! Before Luke left, he filled out a formal application to join our club!