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Book Reviews

How to Build a Ladder Back Chair

Written on August 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm, by Bill Krier
There is perhaps no higher expression of the craft of woodworking than the creation of a beautiful, durable, and well-functioning rocking chair. And for my money, few rocking chairs beat a ladder back chair like the one shown below (built by Russ Filbeck from ancient kauri wood) for good looks and comfort.

Russ Filbeck ladder back rocking chair in ancient kauri wood
If you’ve ever had an inkling to make a ladder back chair, you’re in luck because Russ is this country’s preeminent expert on the subject and has made it easy for you to learn the techniques it’s taken him a lifetime to acquire. Russ, who has helped us produce articles in WOOD about steam-bending and other topics, has now self-published a book titled Making Ladder Back Chairs with Russ Filbeck.

I’ve read the book and can tell you that Russ spared no expense in producing this beautiful and easy-to-follow guide. The hard-cover, 230-page book has hundreds of color photos that show every step in the process, along with background information on the history of these classic chairs and the tools used to make them. Of course a book this nice doesn’t come cheap: the price is $85 plus tax (California residents) and shipping/handling. You can buy yours directly from Russ at 11088 Delphinus Way, San Diego, CA 92126-4706. For more information go to: www.russfilbeck.com.

If you want even more assistance than the book can provide, the news keeps getting better because Russ recently retired from his job teaching woodworking at Palomar College. So now he has the time to work with you in his home, building an heirloom chair your family will cherish for generations. Russ works with no more than two students at a time. The class lasts a week.

I know that I run this risk of this blog post coming across as a sales pitch, and I never endorse products in WOOD magazine or on this Web site. But in this case, I make an exception because Russ is such a rare talent and so generous with his advice. You won’t find a more knowledgeable or gracious woodworker anywhere.


—Bill Krier, Editor-in-Chief

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Russ Filbeck has written the quintessential book on classic America chair making.  With some basic woodworking knowledge and this book as a guide, anyone can learn to build one of these chairs, using the jigs and techniques Russ makes so abundantly clear. The photos are so illustrative, it's almost like having Russ right there in your shop with you, guiding you step by step. If you have always wanted to make a chair, Russ's book will make you proud of the chair you build.

 

 

 


 
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