Photography & Video Woodworking Workshop
A Chair That Builds Itself

Frank Howarth is a maker who possesses the dual talents of woodworking and filmmaking. In this video, he uses stop-motion to show the construction of a spiffy lawn chair, from rough hewing the wood, to final assembly and staining.

He took 12,000 frames to assemble this, and did all the sound design in post-production. There’s something about it that’s whimsical — like the chair’s components are trying hard to put themselves together. There’s also a sort of haunting feeling as if the chair is being built by a mysterious invisible man.

It’s a novel take on a woodworking tutorial. There are no human bodies to get in the way of the action, and as a result, safety concerns the viewer may have are stripped away. The result is just unadulterated construction.

12 thoughts on “A Chair That Builds Itself

  1. The way you use the jointer looks a little different than what I’m used to (according to this video, anyway). Is there a reason for that? You are using the wood efficiently, leaving minimal waste and I love the furniture cart. Where did you get that, btw?

  2. Sweet! I love that monster bandsaw and the shots from the wood’s point of view. I also love the sound elements. Like when the box joint hinges on itself… it wouldn’t have made that sound as he filmed it in stop motion, but he did it a second time, recorded it, and put the sound over the top. Very cool. I wouldn’t have minded if a human showed up periodically in this either. DiResta’s stop motion stuff resembles this and I enjoy watching the stop-motion depiction of the tedium that the maker goes through.

  3. Very nice. In places it has a very 80s feel to it. Like something we would have watched on Sesame Street.


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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

View more articles by Michael Colombo