Wood It Be Beautiful

President Carter with Russ
Russ presents President Carter with Cocobolo Spoke Shave
Russ presents President Carter with Cocobolo Spoke Shave
Rocking Chair Adoption Papers
Rocking Chair Adoption Papers

Russ presents President Carter with a Set of Nested Shaker Boxes for Mrs. Carter
Russ presents President Carter with a Set of Nested Shaker Boxes for Mrs. Carter

Close up of the Top Lid
Close up of the Top Lid

President Jimmy Carter
“Chair Maker”


When I first talked with President Carter, a chair maker, we discussed the harvesting of oak and hickory trees to make the chair parts and stripping the hickory bark to weave the chair seats. This led us to talk about chair making tools. Mr. Carter stated that “I use the same types of tools that my ancestors used to make their chairs and I want to keep those skills alive”. He described his cross cut saw, draw knife, club, froe and spoke shave. I offered him one of my spoke shaves and he accepted. Later, I was delighted to see a picture of Jimmy Carter, a cabinet maker, using that same spoke shave while he made a beautiful, four door, tall-cabinet. This special cabinet was made from a spalted (partially decayed) persimmon log which had lain on the bottom of a river for many decades.

 
 
 
 


Mingei

 
 
 

 

Russ Filbeck Meets
President Jimmy Carter

 

On June 9, 2005, I had the great pleasure to meet and visit with President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.

A year earlier, as I prepared to write a book about making ladder back chairs, I wrote a letter to Mr. Carter requesting an interview to discuss his ladder back chair making techniques. Over the years, I had seen several magazine articles about his furniture and chair making work and I wanted to include his work in my book. He agreed to the interview and in July 2004 we spoke on the telephone.

When Mr. Carter answered the phone, he asked how I was doing. I answered that I was a little nervous speaking with someone that I held in such high esteem. He responded with “You would not be nervous if we were in the wood shop would you?” From that moment I felt like we were old friends discussing a mutual passion (this is true). Later, Mr. Carter agreed to write the Foreword to my book.

We discussed all aspects of chair making as well as the tools used to make the chairs. Mr. Carter mentioned that he had two or three spoke shaves which he used to shave the chair parts. I then described how I had modified the traditional style of wooden spoke shave to be more comfortable and more efficient. I asked Mr. Carter if he would like to have one of my spoke shaves.  He said that he would appreciate getting one. I then decided that I wanted to make a rocking chair for him and I asked if he would prefer walnut or cherry wood. He thought for a moment and stated, “I would prefer cherry.” I made the spoke shave of cocobolo, a Central American rose wood, and then used it to make the rocking chair. As I was building the chair, my wife, Carol suggested that I also do something nice for Mrs. Carter. I made a five-box set of  Shaker oval boxes for her. I truly appreciate Carol’s suggestions and again, she was right!

I delivered the Carter chair to Atlanta, GA on my annual trip to Berea, Kentucky. This annual trip is to harvest green (freshly cut) wood and hickory bark (used to weave the chair seat) for my chair making students at Palomar College. Each summer I cut and haul approximately 10,000 pounds of green walnut, cherry and oak lumber.

Mr. Carter certainly seemed pleased with the chair and Shaker boxes that I had made for him and Mrs. Carter. He made it all worthwhile for me when he stated, “This is going to be my personal chair and I’m taking it to my home in Plains, GA.

I sincerely appreciate Mr. Carter’s support and encouragement in my chair making work.

See Article on Palomar College Website.

Russ Filbeck

 

 

 


 
Russ Filbeck meets President Carter

Russ Filbeck meets President Carter
Read more >

 

Original Spoke Shave Design
Fine Woodworking's Second Annual Tools and Shops magazine features article on Russ Filbeck and his Spoke Shave Tools
Read more >
HomeBiography | Announcing New Book | Woodworking Classes | Chair Making Process | Photo Gallery:Ladder Backs | Photo Gallery: Contemporary Chairs| Mingei Museum Exhibit | Photo Gallery: Windsor ChairsSpoke Shave Class InformationOriginal Spoke Shave Design | President Carter | 2008 Carter Center Auction | 911 Donations: NY Fire Department | 911 Donations: Pentagon | Order Form: Spoke Shaves| Order Form: Chairs | Order Form: For Sale Now | Price List | Satisfied Customers Contact Us |Spoke Shave Class Photos| Favorite Links