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Student’s Chair Design Project Nets $1,000 Prize

042904chair_dl.jpgBOONE–Ethan Rhinehart always wanted to build a wooden rocking chair, but wasn’t sure he could complete the task.

” I think they are so comfortable, but people said they were so hard to make and finish on time,” he said.

Rhinehart, a native of Leicester located just outside of Asheville, is a senior at Appalachian State University.

He designed and made a traditional walnut rocking chair as part of a class in chair design offered by the university’s Department of Technology.

Not only did he finish the project before the semester’s end, he won a $1,000 prize in the department’s first chair design competition.

More than a dozen students entered the competition, creating a variety of traditional and contemporary styled chairs.

The competition was judged by Charles Sutton, founder and editor of the publication Furniture Review. “The rocking chair is extremely difficult to execute,” Sutton said. “It’s functional sculpture.”

Sutton said the different angled wood pieces that make up a rocker make it a difficult project. “It’s a puzzle. The cut can’t be off by very much,” he said.

Rhinehart began designing the chair in January, a process that took about two months to complete. Construction took about a month and a half to complete, and he admits he was applying a finish to the chair less than four hours before judging began. His costs were minimal. Since he already had the walnut lumber on hand, Rhinehart estimates the project cost between $50 and $60 dollars.

Rhinehart is majoring in technology education, and trade and industry education. He plans to student teach this fall. He says the experience competition will help him teach different wood working techniques to his students.

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Picture Caption: Charles Sutton, left, discusses chair design with Ethan Rhinehart, a student in Appalachian State University’s Department of Technology. Rhinehart won the department’s first chair design competition. Sutton, founder and editor of the publication Furniture Review, judged the competition. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)