Wood It Be Beautiful

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Professional Biography of Russ Filbeck

Russ Filbeck lives in San Diego, CA.  He retired from the United States Navy’s Submarine Service in 1985 and he retired from the Palomar College Cabinet and Furniture Program in May 2010. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with Bachelor and Masters degrees in Industrial Studies. He also has a furniture repair and refinishing business (Wood It Be Beautiful!).

In 2004 I decided to write a book about making Ladder Back chairs.  I not only wanted to describe every step of the process for making the chairs, I wanted to document a small but important historical part of our American culture and also feature current chair makers who are keeping this culture alive.

Russ created a small, private woodworking school that started in August 2010. Classes include chair making, tool making, tool sharpening, wood bending, wood finishing and furniture touch-up and repair. He will be traveling and doing guest speaking seminars on these topics throughout the United States.  His book, “Making Ladder Back Chairs with Russ Filbeck” is available through his website, www.russfilbeck.com, www.amazon.com  and wood working stores throughout the country.

He is a member and past president of the San Diego Fine Woodworker’s Association.  Russ is an avid chair maker, building Windsor and the Appalachian Ladder Back chairs. Each summer, Russ travels to Missouri, Pennsylvania to harvest oak, walnut and cherry logs, bringing them back to San Diego. His chair making students then have the fresh material needed to make the Windsor and Ladder Back chairs. He also obtains the hickory bark from fresh cut logs to weave the Ladder Back chair seats.

           Russ donated two of his Appalachian rocking chairs to the New York City Fire Fighter’s families and the Pentagon families following the 9-11-01 bombings. His most recent rocking chair donations were to President Carter’s annual fund raising auctions benefiting the Carter Center and other worthy charities. Russ also conducts chair making seminars for the Good Samaritan Boys Ranch near Springfield, MO as a benefit fund raiser.  


I am a woodworker, chair maker, sailor, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend mentor, teacher and leader. These are but a few words that describe who I am.

I believe in conserving and protecting our natural resources. I now appreciate my father telling me as a boy to “use it up, wear it out or do without.”

I know that trees are one of the most important, renewable natural resources on planet Earth. Currently, the human population is consuming, using and wasting our natural resources at an unprecedented rate. This consumption and waste is generating water, earth and atmospheric pollution that is and will effect change to Earth’s climate.

I choose to work in a way that minimizes waste and pollution. I also want to make things that are comfortable and functional. I strive to make things that will last for generations to come. This requires a clear understanding of wood movement caused by humidity changes. It also demands precise joinery to endure many decades of use. Esthetics and beauty are also necessary within the design elements.

I view craftsmanship as the ability to transform raw materials into beautiful, comfortable and functional products. The process includes using the simplest of tools as well as modern technology. As a craftsman, I strive to teach and keep the skills and discoveries of our forefathers alive. I know the pieces that I make today will be heirlooms of tomorrow.

Don’t endure the drudgery of boredom, make something. Make it again and again. When you are satisfied with your craftsmanship, give it to someone special or to your favorite charitable organization. Once you do this you will understand why I wrote this.


  • Making Ladder Back Chairs with Russ Filbeck

  • Professional Refinishing Magazine issue #1 (Furniture Repair)

  • Wood Magazine issue September, 2002 (Award Winning Oil Finish)

  • Wood Magazine issue #164 September, 2005 (The Enduring Locked Tenon and Socket)

  • Wood Magazine Issue 175, March 2007, "Bend Wood to Your Will" Steam bending process

  • Profile of Woodworker, Russ Filbeck, Woodworker's Journal ezine article February 28 thru March 13 of 2006. www.woodworkersjournal.com/ezine/archive/144/todaysww.cfm

  • Fine Woodworking’s Tools & Shops, Winter, 2002 (Spoke Shave design)

  • Taunton Press’ The Workbench, A Complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Bench, by Lon Schleining (Shaving Horse/ Workbench by Russ Filbeck)

  • HGTV's Modern Masters Episode #808 features Russ building his signature rocking chair, July, 2003

  • Modern Masters is currently in rerun on the Fine Living channel

  • Wood Worker West
    January - February 2006, Craftsman Profile
    September - October 2010




Russ Filbeck meets President Carter

Russ Filbeck meets President Carter
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Original Spoke Shave Design
Fine Woodworking's Second Annual Tools and Shops magazine features article on Russ Filbeck and his Spoke Shave Tools
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