666 Cady Hill Rd., Perkinsiville, Vt.
George Ainley learned to love the forest and woodcraft from his father. Those early influences led Ainley to focus on woodworking since shortly after his graduation from Dartmouth in 1970.
Ainley lives in historic Perkinsville on a 30-acre farm of Vermont pasture and woodland with his wife and two children. His workshop is based in the barn, which he shares with the sheep. He lives just a mile from “a small hardwood mill where I can buy my pick of straight-grained, healthy logs from an ample assortment,” rather than cut from trees from his own land.
According to his website, appreciation for the classic styling of the Windsor chair is in the continuous arm that provides style, strength, and comfort. “The dramatic sweep of the back-arm rail has the strength and beauty of a suspension bridge. It eliminates the need for any joinery between the back and the arms, or for any other rail across the sitter’s back.”
His craftsmanship embraces traditional techniques, starting with whole logs, cutting them with hand tools to split along the grain into individual leg sections. These are then turned and shaped on a lathe, tapering the ends. “The tapered fit is used where the legs enter the seat and at both ends of the arm posts, ensuring that these joints will remain tight.”
He uses locally harvested wood, three or four species of native wood are used for the parts of the chair to which they are best-suited: pine seat (usually one piece), hard maple turnings, white oak bows, and ash, oak, or hickory spindles. His most popular finish is of hand-polished and oiled milk paint, with a top color that is rubbed through at points of natural wear to reveal a different under color.
He is so confident of his techniques and craftsmanship, his furniture comes with a lifetime guarantee.
For more details on his craftsmanship or to look at some of his lovely furniture, visit his website, www.vermontwindsors.com.