I'm Jim Paulson. I've been a Lutheran pastor since 2004 and I serve at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Haskins, OH. This website is about the fun I get working on Windsor chairs in my spare time. I hope you'll check it out.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Haskins
Sometimes I will demonstate the use of primitive woodworking tools at a historical site. Last May, I was photographed by the Toledo Blade at the Fort Meigs 200th Anniversary of the First Seige 1813-2013. The event involved a major re-enactment of a War of 1812 battle and thousands of people turned out. It was fun to wear clothes from the early 1800's and to demonstrate the use of a portable foot powered lathe which was available technology at that time. Thanks to a friend who provided me some white oak, I could rive the wet oak (controlled splitting) into billets and then use them to turn legs for a Windsor chair stool. White oak is not what I usually use for chair legs, but it worked fine in this case.
I make Handmade Windsor Chairs for my family and upon request. I have worked with wood and hand tools since I was three years old. As soon as I could reach dad's workbench in the garage and got acquainted with hammer, saw, plane, brace and bit, and hand drills, I quickly discovered that I could make things out of wood and it became an important part of my life. Two years of Junior High industrial arts classes in the late 60's and then three years of Woodworking in High School (1970-72) really got me into building furniture. Working as a geologist, I had the opportunity to take some training as a woodcarver in 1983 and in the 90's. My goal was to learn enough carving so that it could become part of my furniture making. This happened and now I can say that I've been a serious furniture maker for most of my life. My goal now is to incorporate an acanthus style carving into my furniture, because I've discovered over the last ten years that I love period furniture and want to specialize in those designs. Along with building Windsor chairs, I want to build reproductions of furniture styles known as Queen Ann, William and Mary, and Jacobean.
I often reflect on how the Almighty inspired our ancestors to design and build beautiful Windsor chairs and how blessed we are now as chair makers to offer diligent reproductions of those chairs. This updated website provides a portfolio of my work as a Windsor Chairmaker and gives examples of other furniture and carvings I've done over the years.
Nevertheless, my hope is that you might love to own one of these chairs as much as I do making them.
Photo by Barb Paulson
What's Special About a Handmade Chair?
What makes the type of chair I make distinctive is that it is a detailed 18th Century reproduction of a Windsor chair made in the tradition of shaping wood with hand tools. For legs, bows, arms, and spindles, I start the wood crafting process using wood that I hand split from logs. After I have used wedges and a froe to split the wood, I use a hatchet to shape the split pieces into a turning blanks for the lathe. In contrast to large furniture factory operations, I don't resort to using lathe duplicators to crank out identical chair parts with great efficiency. Instead, I make each chair leg one at a time on the lathe and I delight that they are slightly different. It was the same way for 18th century chair makers who made the original Windsor chairs in small shops. For an example, when I make a Sack Back Windsor chair I turn thirteen parts on the lathe (4 legs, 3 stretchers, 2 posts, and 4 short spindles) and that doesn't include the seven handcrafted tapered spindles that make up the back of the chair.
When a friend spends time marveling at the evidence of tool marks on a chair seat I've made, I know that it was because I followed the time honored tradition of building an authentic Windsor chair. Since I build each chair at the workbench, these are bench made Windsor chairs not mass produced ones.
As a chair maker I am quite particular about the woods I use to make furniture. I use several species of wood that are native to America. I also prefer to use thick pine boards for the seats and various straight grained hardwoods for the other chair parts. I make each chair right here in our small shop.
I care about preserving the environment for future generations and we cherish the gift of making hand crafted furniture from solid wood. Also, I'm careful in our selection and use of furniture finishes. It is our practice to utilize environmentally friendly products, whenever practicable.
For a small shop, this is a big deal for me to make beautiful milk painted Windsor chairs one at a time. If you like antiques and the craftsmanship evident in a chair made in the 1700's, you'll like what I offer.