Build a Nakashima-inspired Chair – Hands-on Class

(5 customer reviews)


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George Nakashima was one of the most influential studio woodworkers of the twentieth century. And no piece of furniture is more associated with George than the Conoid chair. In this class, we take inspiration from this classic design and make the chair our own.

Conoid Chair

Chairs can be some of the trickiest projects to build. The construction of this chair is fairly straightforward, but there’s plenty to test the skills of any level woodworker. You’ll spend the first part of the week working out the design and joining the chair parts together. The week wraps up with sculpting the seat, legs and crest.

Some of the skills learned in the Nakashima-inspired Chair class are:

  • How to make and fit mortise-and-tenon joints
  • Fitting sculpted furniture parts
  • Working with hand and power tools for accurate fit

Materials are not included in the class fee. Lumber for this project may be purchased through us or on your own and shipped to our shop at least four weeks prior to the class.

Each student should supply his, or her, own:

  • Safety glasses and hearing protection
  • Combination or machinist square
  • Bevel gauge
  • Bench chisels
  • Carvers mallet
  • Dovetail saw
  • Marking gauge
  • Smooth plane or jack plane
  • Block plane
  • Tape measure or folding rule

If you do not have the tools on the list, don’t panic, there are plenty of tools for your use in class.

Course Dates:

  • June 5 – 9, 2023


Previous Dates

  • May 24 – 28, 2021
  • May 2 – 6, 2022
  • August 15 – 19, 2022

The shop opens at 8:30 am. Class begins at 9:00 am.  A delicious lunch, snacks, and soft drinks are provided. Class ends at 4:30 pm – the shop remains open until 5:30 pm.

The class is limited to a maximum of 3 students.

Call or email to be placed on the waiting list if this class sells out.

5 reviews for Build a Nakashima-inspired Chair – Hands-on Class

  1. Edward Kowal (verified owner)

    The Conoid chair was my second course with Chuck. I came back because I really like the atmosphere in Chuck’s shop. A class limit of 3 students kept everything relaxed during the week with the free flow of ideas, suggestions, and light-hearted banter. I looked forward to going to “work” every morning. Besides being clean and well-maintained I also picked up a lot of great ideas for storage and shop organization.
    This class was a little different than I expected although I don’t know if all of Chuck’s classes are conducted this way. Instead of a ready-made plan, cut list and instructions to “do this” and “do that”, the first day was spent going through the design process. We calculated dimensions, made a full size drawing, and decided if we wanted to modify the design in any way. This was very enlightening.
    During the week of actually making the chair we figured out jigs, discussed methods of work, and learned fixes for the inevitable mistakes that were made.
    All in all a very enjoyable experience.

    • Chuck


      All my project classes are similar in that we begin with the design and a full-size drawing (regardless of how many times I may have made the piece). As you saw in class, working through the design helps each person understand exactly what we’re doing and in what order we need to do it. If the classes functioned with you inserting materials into pre-made jigs and pushing them across a machine, I may as well sell kits. Figuring out exactly what the piece is going to look like, the joinery, and how (and why) to make the necessary jigs ensures that you can repeat the process down the road should you desire to make another. And I’m always available (via email) if you can quite recall how we did something in class.

      I’m extremely happy you enjoyed the class, glad you learned a few things, and thankful you decided to spend your time with me in the shop. I sincerely hope it happens again.

  2. Bob Emmons (verified owner)

    Always a pleasure to attend a class with Chuck. Sure, we can all stay home and pick through projects on our own, but in a group setting, we all have to think design parameters and operations through, and learn by interaction with others. There are many ways to build a piece of furniture and have appreciated the way Chuck engages all students to think the design and construction process through, guided by his high woodworking IQ, and no nonsense approach to any project. But most important of all is that we get together and have fun each and every day in the shop all while working on a fine piece of furniture.

  3. chrisharrell71 (verified owner)

    Up until now, the only chair I’ve been interesting in making was a conoid chair. I first saw them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1999, and they were still in mind when I started looking for a class in 2021. It’s a simple design, but you have to get the joinery just right or the chair won’t be solid, and I wanted some expert oversight when I attempted to build one for the first time. So when I found Chuck offered the class, I signed up right away.

    Chuck is a fine teacher, he really knows the craft, and his shop is a great place to work. He keeps the class size small; we were at max size of 4. He’s also a good cook; lunch was enjoyable every day of class, and he even put out snacks for the afternoon and had coffee available. So he is hospitable and creates a good environment for learning, but the points I most appreciated were these: Chuck focuses most on techniques and approaches that once learned, enable one to undertake any project (like using a scaled drawing for example). He made me think differently about the tools I have (like thinking of a jointer as a large inverted hand plane). He helped me to more proficiently and intelligently use my own hand tools, and exposed me to tools I hadn’t used before that I could try out and decide if I wanted to add to my own shop, all while emphasizing that there is usually more than one way to get something done. I would think these benefits are present in any of Chuck’s classes, not just the class I took.

    I was very satisfied with the chair I had completed at the end of the week, but more importantly, I left the class a more capable woodworker with some new ideas of where to go next. I would highly recommend this class and Chuck Bender as an instructor.

  4. holzingerd

    Just finished Chuck’s Conoid Chair class and have nothing but positive things to say. This was my first time taking a class like this but talking to other participants, I heard how some other schools just run you through a series of preset jigs. This was absolutely not the case at Chuck’s, as there was active discussion and participation on design, layout, setup and use of both machines and hand tools. Loved that the classes are small which allows for plenty of individual attention. Chuck intuitively seemed to know who needed help and when to leave someone alone to work something out on their own. Food was great! The shop had fantastic equipment! There was a great vibe! Had a lot of fun and learned a lot!

  5. Richard Wood (verified owner)

    This was my first class with Chuck Bender and hopefully it will not be my last. Chuck’s knowledge, advice, and support during the class are first rate. This is not a fixed step-by-step class, but rather a guided journey to creating a chair starting with rough lumber, selecting appropriate pieces for the chair parts, creating and joining parts together and adjusting and completing the project. I felt actively involved in solving problems that arose during the process as well as improving my skills. Chuck knew when to step in to help me as well as when to step back to let me work. His woodworking knowledge and experience is extensive and he often shared insights on how to address challenges of the project and woodworking in general.

    Chuck’s classes are small (3 people for me) and his shop is a great environment to work in. He’s also a great food and snack provider sometimes making it difficult to return to the shop after lunch.

    The class was some of the best 5 days I’ve ever spent in a shop and, in addition to leaving with a chair, I feel that I learned a lot and had a great experience.

    I cannot recommend Chuck Bender highly enough.

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