Colonial Williamsburg’s ‘Working Wood in the 18th Century’

While this year has brought a lot of suffering and uncertainty, there have been some bright spots. At the top of that list: I was asked for the first time to speak at Colonial Williamsburg’s “Working Wood in the 18th Century” conference, which runs from Jan. 14-17, 2021.

The event is, of course, virtual this year because of the pandemic. But it won’t be like a thrown-together Zoom meeting with your co-workers. 

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

I’ll be on-site in Williamsburg with the other presenters putting together a program that blends live woodworking with pre-filmed segments that you can watch over and over on your devices. The production values will be excellent – this is Williamsburg after all.

The topic of the conference this year is “Back to Work: Functional Furniture for Home and Shop.” 

I’ll be presenting on two topics: Woodworking with low Roman-style workbenches and staked shop furniture. My plan is to build a Sheffield-style work stool (shown above) during the conference. And do it on a Roman bench.

In addition to the impressive cabinetmakers and joiners from Williamsburg, Bob Van Dyke and Mike Mascelli will be demonstrating the construction of a worktable for needlecraft. There will be lots of roundtable discussions and insights into how Black woodworkers, women and people suffering enslavement contributed to the material culture of the day. Here is the impressive agenda.

Oh, one more thing. I have been asked to give the keynote for the “banquet.” (It’s BYOMeat this year, and clothing is optional.) My presentation is going to be a film I’ve been working on for a couple months about woodworking in an inner-city shop. 

Why would you do that? Because it will make you a better designer and builder. While many of us find inspiration in nature, being surrounded by excellent architecture (new and old) can change your woodworking life. It has changed mine.

I hope you can join us. Registration information is here.

— Christopher Schwarz


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