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Robert Erickson is one of the most accomplished chairmakers in the country. Raised in Nebraska, he made his way to California in 1969 and a few years later built himself a shop in a remote area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With no power, no phone lines, and no potential clients nearby, he began working with hand tools–and a chainsaw–and decided to focus on chairs because they were easy to ship. These days he runs his fully-equipped shop on solar power and ships his work all across the country.
With no formal training in woodworking, Erickson learned through reading and by trial and error. After four decades at the craft, he’s earned a national reputation for chairs in a wide range of types and various styles, all of them combining a command of aesthetics, durability, and comfort.
Erickson’s chairs typically feature clear-finished domestic hardwoods–most of them western but some from the east–but he also has an affinity for pieces painted in bold colors. And although he’s best known for his chairs, in recent years he’s been building impressive tables and case pieces as well.
More Masters of the Craft Slideshows
• Peter Galbert’s House of Windsor• Silas Kopf: Majoring in Marquetry• Peter Sandback Nails His Designs• Liam Flynn: Virtuoso Vessel Maker • John Reed Fox: The Uncompromising Craftsman • Jere Osgood: Modesty and Mastery • Ulrika Scriba’s Marquetry: Risk and Reward • Adrian McCurdy: Furniture Riven from the Log • Geoffrey Warner: Assembling a Life • Peter Shepard Turns the Page • Curve It Like König • Partners in Craft: Harold Wood and John O’Brien • Tool Chest with an Arts & Crafts Legacy • Adrian Potter: Thinking Furniture • Hank Gilpin: Exploring the American Forest • Doug Mooberry: Kinloch Woodworking • Michael Hurwitz: Planks into Poetry • Brad Smith: Story of a Stool • Hank Holzer and Judith Ames: Labor of Love • Michael Fortune: The Clever Chair • John Cameron: A Musician in the Woodshop • Allan Breed: The Past Recaptured • Kintaro Yazawa: Joint Wizardry • Grant Vaughan: Subtropical Virtuoso • William R. Robertson: Micro Maestro
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Really gorgeous work. Sadly, it makes me want to give away my tools and let real craftsman like this prosper.
After seeing this piece I would have to say he is one of the most accomplished chair makers in the world, not just the USA. The composition of wood and steel in his tables was also very inspiring. A joy to see a true master craftman's creation.
Jon - nicely produced piece about an inspirational maker.
Beautiful chairs - for sure!
The Adirondack's appear to be at least somewhat influenced by the original Adirondack - the Westport of the early 1900's. Much improved - wth the curved back!
The Adirondack Museum has the original Westport plan available for $15:
for anyone who might like the original dimensions for their own 'point of departure'.
Frank Lloyd Wright also based his outdoor chairs at Yemassee Plantation on the Westport...
Beautiful work. I love the artistic quality of their pieces, and the way they incorporate the natural beauty or nuisances of the wood/iron.
I was cutting some dovetails recently. Here are the tools that I use when I cut them with hand tools.
The Shakers had this diminutive design pegged
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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