I built this chair in the fall of 2017, under the guidance of Larry Barrett, a chairmaker in Gaithersburg, Md., who studied under Jennie Alexander.
The chair is built in the greenwood ladder-back style, with rived parts shaped on the shavehorse. Here, the chair stick and rung stick are shown – these two simple sticks contain all of the proportions used in building the chair.
The two back posts and two slats are bent, and the rest of the parts are hewn and shaped by hand.
The chair is made from green red oak (Quercus rubra) and assembled with varying degrees of dryness, which allows the parts to swell and interlock in a permanent bond.
The Alexander-style chair is supremely comfortable – this is due to the years of prototyping and investigation Alexander spent try different post bends, slat designs and seating angles.
The seat is woven with hemp tape, which is a strong and comfortable material. The pattern is a stepped diagonal pattern, with two false warp strands woven into each side to accommodate the trapezoidal seat. There is also a small cusion in between the top and bottom layers, which prevents the tape from sagging.
Barrett’s design differs from Alexanders most at the front post. Barrett chose to use the small blocks atop the front posts, which level the leg to the seat and prevent the post from hitting the underside of the leg.