Movie Night: 1935 Chairmaking Film

This delightful 1935 film documents several aspects of the chairmaking trade in Great Britain with a knowledgeable narrator and some great shots of people at work in the forest and the workshop.

Titled “Chair Bodging and Chair Making in the Chiltern Hills,” the film begins in the woods as bodgers break down tree trunks into leg blanks that are then turned and dried in their camp. This aspect of chairmaking – as a form of romantic camping – is on full display here.

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Though it’s obviously difficult work, the bodgers seem to be enjoying the process. Some of the best shots include them tapping a beech tree to get water for their grindstone. And making tea using the scraps from the work.

From there the film moves inside, first to a small shop that makes legs both by splitting the work and sawing the blanks out with a circular saw. Finally, the film shifts to a more mechanized factory setting that shows a giant reciprocating saw for making seat blanks. Plus some nice handwork at the bench and some assembly.

Don’t bother turning on the film’s automatic captioning (well do, if you have been drinking and want a laugh). 

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Hat tip to Andy Uhl for pointing me to this film, which I have somehow missed before.


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