Chairs with turned posts and
stretchers exhibit different characteristics, depending on
where and when they were made. Country chairs made with turned
posts and stretchers were among the earliest types in America.
In woodworking, "turning" - the technique used to
shape the wood refers to work done on a lathe. Shaping
spindles, stretchers, and posts of uniform size and design
required extensive practice. Once a craftsman became skillful,
however, turning was the quickest, mast efficient way to make
chairs. Separate parts could be turned out one after another
and assembled later.
LARGER IMAGE AT LEFT FOR A TURNED CHAIR
-- It's simple to tell the difference. Turned chairs had many
round pieces -- joined chairs do not.
By the 1730s, furniture began to
take on lighter proportions. Although the tradition for making
turned chairs continued In rural areas for several decades,
newly fashionable joined chairs with flat, shaped posts were
also made. The process of crafting flat furniture parts was
slower, more laborious, and far more expensive than turning.
Each piece was cut with a saw, then refined with a drawknife
(a two-handled tool used for shaving a surfaces) and a
plane. Also, the tops of the posts had to be matched carefully
to the top crest, which was attached by means of mortise-and-tenon
joints. New methods of design and joinery usually appeared
first in the most prominent parts of a chair - the back and
crest. To save on the cost of producing a chair, a craftsman
might combine a stylish new back with traditional turned legs
and stretchers long after turnings were considered
We have much more detain on the
Country Windsor on another part of our site (More on Country Windsor Chairs).
If any one furniture
form could be singled out as the most characteristically
American, it would probably be the Windsor chair. By the time
of the Revolution, the Windsor had become the most popular
furnishing in the colonies. The term Windsor refers to a type
of furniture, also called stick furniture, that is made
primarily of posts and spindles. In a Windsor chair,
lathe-turned legs and back spindles are socketed into a solid
plank seat, and a steam-bent hoop is often used I for the arm
or back rails - a construction method that owes its beginnings
more to the craft of wheel making than to that of furniture
The Windsor chair is
believed to be named for the town of Windsor England,
one of several places where such furniture was first made,
around the turn of the 17th century.
Chairs / Furniture"
Painted country chairs does not translate to a particular
style or manufacter -- it is more an arts and crafts makeover
on top of existing styles. From the time that furniture was
first made, in the colonies, paint was a commonly used finish.
Nearly all 17th-century furniture, in fact, was painted, and
as early as the 1680s professional painters, who ground their
own pigments and made their own brushes, were setting up shops
in prosperous towns along the east coast. Paint not only
protected the wood, but also provided color in houses where
there was little other ornament.