Soon after I turned into Michael Fortune’s driveway in 2002 to shoot a Master Class article on shaping curved furniture parts (FWW #159), I knew I had stumbled upon a gem. Here was a guy making only the pieces he wanted to make, all original designs, and living on a woodsy homestead northeast of Toronto, where he worked in a cavernous shop with one assistant.
The first thing editors do when we arrive at a shop like that is to sniff around for the next few articles, and I soon realized that this guy’s left brain was as strong as his right. Michael had at least five great ways to bend and laminate wood (see FWW #193, #197, and #205), yet was able to do all his bandsawing on one cleverly set up 15-in. saw (FWW #173), using a single blade. The innovations went on. He was making slip seats in a very simple way (FWW #163) for his signature chair, but used an amazing plywood exoskeleton to locate the chair’s complex joinery (we haven’t covered that yet).
Then I found out that he was the only woodworker to win Canada’s Saidye Bronfman award, the country’s highest honor in fine crafts, and that he traveled regularly to Central and South America to design chairs and workshops for local economies. The story doesn’t end there. To learn more about this amazing guy, go to FineWoodworking.com/extras.
I’ve often said that we could get a year’s worth of articles from Michael Fortune, and now that he has joined our masthead as a contributing editor, I can test out that theory.