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Featured Windsor Chairmaker
Elia Bizzarri

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Elia Bizzarri, Windsor chairmaker
Photo by Roy Underhill
Elia Bizzarri's woodworking career began as sole apprentice to Curtis Buchanan when Elia was only 17. He has also worked with John Alexander, Drew Langsner, Dave Sawyer, and the carpenters at Colonial Williamsburg.

Elia Bizzarri is now a professional Windsor chairmaker, who also handcrafts chairmaking tools and turned parts for chairmakers. He teaches one-on-one in his shop and classes at schools around the country, including The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, The John C. Campbell Folk School, and Roy Underhill's The Woodwright's School.

Roy Underhill 's (of PBS fame) new school is only ten minutes from Elia's home, and Elia teaches there regularly. In 2010, Elia was featured on two episodes of Roy Underhill's The Woodwright's Shop on PBS making a Windsor rocking chair. You can view the shows of Elia building a continuous arm rocking chair and demonstrating his turning skills, online at http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/video/3000/3005.html.
Working with hand tools from a log, Elia uses oak and hickory for spindles, crests and arms, maple for legs, stretchers and arm stumps, and pine and poplar for seats. Split from a log, all parts except the seat are worked green and then dried, some air dried and some 'super dried' in a kiln. Removed from the kiln, the ends of these 'super dried' parts are inserted into holes in the wetter air dried parts where they swell like a sponge, locking the chair together.

Seat blanks come from a local sawmill are deeply shaped to fit you comfortably for hours. The slim, strong spindles in the chair's back flex to cradle your back in a warm, strong embrace. Spindles have minute facets, like a cut diamond, left by a spokeshave. These are the lightest, most comfortable chairs you have ever slept in.

Elia Bizzarri Windsor Chair

Elia Bizzarri handcrafted travishers
Elia Bizzarri handcrafted travishers

Despite an ever increasing teaching schedule and thriving tool sales, Elia's passion remains building chairs: chairs are the real challenge, the sort of work that can be rewarding for a lifetime. In his words:

"One clear autumn morning, I go to the woods to find the perfect windfall oak or hickory. I cut the log, split it up where it fell and haul it home. The wood has hardly missed its leaves before it finds itself part of a beautiful chair. This is what I love about my work. The feel of a razor sharp drawknife slicing thick, pungent oak shavings ... watching long ribbons of green maple fly off the lathe to land in a sweet heap at my feet ... these are the pleasures of my life."

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View more of Elia's work, and purchase his tools on his website: http://www.handtoolwoodworking.com

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Elia Bizzarri Windsor chair legs

Contact:
Elia Bizzarri
Hand Tool Woodworking
http://www.handtoolwoodworking.com

2815 Moorefields Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Phone: (919) 732-3321
Email: Elia@handtoolwoodworking.com

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