Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Balloon Back Windsor Chair

Six day intensive building a Balloon Back Windsor Chair with Peter Galbert. Split, shave and bend green wood, carve the seats and install the turned legs. Learn the techniques to build this iconic piece of American furniture. 


Balloon Back Windsor Chair

Peter Galbert



The Windsor Chair is one of the most enduring and versatile chair forms to evolve in America. The skills and techniques involved in building a Windsor depart from the world of straight and flat woodworking and span many disciplines, from splitting, shaving and bending green wood, to carving seats and making joinery that guarantees a long lasting result.

Peter Galbert, one of the leading chair makers on the East Coast, lived in Sterling, Massachusetts.

Class Description

Building a Windsor chair is not about a style, but a technology. It is a way of working with wood that is a wide departure from the usual flat and square. The project chair for this class, the Balloon Back, is an icon of American furniture, and was an innovation in the development of the Windsor style and technology. 

This class covers all the action from tree to chair while building a Balloon Back. Students will split parts from a log, shave them, bend them and join them into their hand carved seat. We will cover topics including sharpening, wood technology and design that will enhance students ability to go forth and make chairs at home. The legs will be provided for the students or they may turn their own before the class with instructor provided patterns. Be ready to work hard and learn a whole new way of woodworking.

We’ll demystify the angles and curves that go into making a successful chair while demonstrating how hand tools are the most effective way to build an heirloom chair.


The following is a list of tools you will need for Windsor chairmaking.

For more information and specific recommendations, see Peter's blog here: Tool List for Students

We encourage you to bring your own tools to the class. However the School has an extensive collection of hand tools which you are welcome to use during the class. If you do use the school's edge tools we ask you to leave them sharpened at the end of the class. Tools available at the School are listed in italics.

If you have any questions regarding the tools we encourage you to contact Peter.


  • Drawknife
    First choice is an older, tuned up tool.  Peter will have refurbished antique drawknives on hand for use and purchase. For a new tool, one can be purchased through Barr Specialty Tools, www.barrtools.com, Country Workshops or Lie Neilsen.
    The School has a good selection of drawknives and you are welcome to use them.
  • Spokeshave
    First choice is an older, tuned up spokeshave (Stanley 151) with a flat sole. For a new tool, Peter recommends the Brian Boggs Spokeshave from Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley Tools spokeshave.
    The School has a good selection of spokeknives and you are welcome to use them.
  • Scorp or inshave
    The hand forged scorp from Barr Specialty Tools, www.barrtools.com, 1-800-235-4452. The Barr scorp is also available through Highland Hardware, 1-800-241-6748 or the scorp from Country Workshops.
  • Scrapers curved and straight
  • Rule (folding with extension is excellent if you have one)
  • Camera and Notebook
  • Flat Carpenters Pencil
  • Posterboard for copying patterns
  • Bench chisel - 3/8” or ½”, sharpened
  • Sliding T bevel
  • Combination square
  • Marking gauge-tuned up and sharpened – with a pin, not a wheel
  • Dead blow hammer 
  • Steel hammer
  • Masking Tape
  • 1” chip brush (cheap hardware store item)
  • Block of Canning wax (a candle will do)
  • One 5/8” Dowel
  • Rubberbands


  • Smoothing plane
  • Travisher and reamer
    There will be some available for sale during the class. We will be using a 6 degree angle
  • Hand saw
  • Bevel boss (angle finding tool)
  • Veiner carving tool - # 11 - 7 mm
  • Gloves
  • Cordless drill  (with 1/2" Chuck)
  • Large gouge with a flat sweep like a #3


The Continuous Arm Windsor Chair is a challenging project and is better suited to woodworker's with prior experience. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $950
Materials Charge: $300
Register By: May 31, 2015

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.