The Straight-Backed Chair and Your Homestead

I’ve already started this blog once and the good Lord killed the electricity to our house and I did not have a battery backup, guess what I get to start over.

I want to explain a little bit about how your homestead needs to work. I am going to use the example ‘how a straight-backed chair is built’ to help you understand a little bit about your own Homestead. What I want you to think about when you are working with your homestead, small farm, or dream is what are the similarities.

Most people do not know that the straight-backed chairs are built from green lumber. I am blessed to live in the rocking chair capital of the world as I understand it and have learned from some with a wealth of knowledge.

Middle Tennessee has always had an abundance of small sawmills working with the individual cottage industries. So, running a sawmill here I have been associated closely with Rocking and Straight-backed chair makers and I thought I would explain a couple of things that might help you to understand about your homestead by explaining on how to build a chair.

Now in talking about building a chair I’m going to use two terms; one is Horizontals and the other is Verticals. Except for the Rocker on the bottom, all Horizontals have been allowed to dry more than all Verticals. This is how the cottage industry is able to build straight-backed chairs that can sit on the front porch for 50 years and still be solid. The Rungs on the bottom of the chair are the driest part of part of the chair when they are built. They are normally a hickory or other hard wood. So, when you buy your oak chair more than likely the Rungs are not oak but hickory and they have been dried as long as possible.

Chair makers will buy dowels for the Rungs a thousand at a time and put them up to be dry in order not to shrink any during or after the build. The slats in the back are normally two weeks dryer than the vertical post. The vertical front and rear post can be green as a gourd.

What happens in the shop is the following:

  • Cut a number of chairs, not one at a time.
  • They will first cut the horizontal pieces to length and size. Then put fans on them to dry a little bit.
  • Then they will turn the post to shape and drill their holes and slots.
  • After that they will start the assembly by now shaping the end rungs apply glue and sometimes a brad and press fit. The post will shrink during the drying which will further secure the horizontals.
  • After this the rockers, which are the only pieces that are greener than the post, are cut and drilled. They are secured to the post again with glue and a fastener. They are rocker is ready for a finish or sell. I have chairs that are 100 years old and do not have any nails screws or otherwise adjust the dynamics of the wood and some glue this is what you are looking for.

Now let’s get onto the real subject and that is your homestead. Your homestead has to be like that chair and each designated part of your homestead needs to have a function and be able to work in unison with the rest of the homestead. To explain this a little bit, I will tell you about our homestead.

My Homestead main base is around a sawmill operation, the sawdust from the operation goes into a pile that has manure and soil mixed into it, the slabs are cut and either sold, used in our house to cook and heat, or placed on rocky hillsides where they are burnt to overheat the limestone below and release nutrients along with the ashes sweetening the soil on downhill from the burn pile below. I have a lot of work to do, but the idea that I’m trying to get across to you is even if your homestead is at back yard please look at your yard as a homestead and as an engine that each and every piece of your real estate is complementing and working with the other parts of your homestead. This is actually might be as easy to understand as planting your tall garden crops south of your cabbage, broccoli and let them be shaded for a longer production.

In the following blogs to come I will explain to you to the best of my knowledge on how to make your homestead an engine that powers your dreams and your family’s well-being.

So, for now take care sleep tight don’t let the bedbugs bite and understand that you can make.