Peter Galbert's Wonderful Windsor Chairs

WoodWise

A year ago, our resident design scholar Anna wrote a fascinating history of the Windsor chair. Today, I profile Peter Galbert, the skilled Catskill chairmaker ushering this 300-year-old tradition onwards and upwards.

This time last year, I had the pleasure of hearing Peter Galbert discuss his portfolio of work at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. His delicate, handwrought chairs were striking, yet what struck me most was his humble attitude and deep knowledge of the craft. (No, not the Neve Campbell movie.) When Galbert isn’t making his own Windsor chairs, he is teaching one-on-one weeklong courses at his Bethel, New York workshop. There he emphasizes hand-tool techniques, wood selection, steambending, and working with unseasoned, “green” wood.

Galbert’s Windsor chairs are a work of art — and a labor of love. As he explains on his website, each chair is constructed with four types of wood, “maple or cherry for crisp turnings, white oak for strong bends, hickory for light flexible spindles and white pine or butternut for carvable, comfortable seats.” The resulting chairs are an elegant update on the classic design — much like the maker, they are up-to-date, but down-to-earth.

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