As busy as I was I did try to take a bunch of photos.
I spent thirteen hours at the school today to get the chair finished. I have a new baby coming next week and I knew that if not today then not for a long, long time.
As busy as I was I did try to take a bunch of photos.
Today was devoted to assembling the stool or the lower half of the chair. We drilled holes in our legs for the stretchers and holes in our stretchers for the cross piece. With the "H frame" dry fit we double check the fit in the legs and seat.
After a deep breath we glued up our joints and drove the wedges home.
If yesterday was devoted to the curves of the sitter today was devoted to curves designed to complement the work we did yesterday. As far as comfort goes probably could have stopped with the shaping yesterday but that would have left the rest of the seat looking flat and angular, not exactly the most inviting look.
We also spent some time in the morning taking measurements for the stretchers, the horizontal elements that run between the legs.
Today was devoted entirely to the seat. We spent most of our time reaming out the holes that we drilled yesterday for the legs and arm posts. A reamer is used to turn a straight hole into a tapered one. The rest of the day was for carving out the seat.
There are a few reason why the tapered hole requires so much time and attention.
First it is the tapered mortise and tenon joint, with the wedge to lock it in place, that makes the Windsor chair so strong. If improperly tapered and assembled the joint and thus the chair will actually work itself apart so the chair actually pulls itself to pieces. If assembled properly, however, will last forever.
The second reason these joints are important is that they directly determine the angle at which the legs hit the floor. When looking at a chair from the front this angle is called the splay and when from the side, rake. If these angles are different for each leg then we can still make all four legs touch the ground but the chair will look lopsided and a seated person will put uneven pressure on the legs.
Not too many photos of the process but this one gives the idea. The reamer (the t shaped tool under Pete's elbow sticking out of the seat) is lined up simultaneously with the square (in the middle) and the bevel gauge (on the left).
Next we carved our seats. The goal is to make one fluid curve that will support the sitters weight in the most natural way. If your run your hands from front to back of the bowl you do not want to feel any distinct transition.
Finally, I spent some time at lunch and during a break tuning up a drawknife that belonged to my grandfather. Hopefully I'll be able to use it for the next chair I make.
This is the before shot. An after shot in due time.
Day three of the class with Pete Galbert. I would say that today we did the two steps that define a Continuous-arm Windsor: we bent the arm and drilled out the seat. Naturally the bent arm is the stand out feature of a chair named for its continuity. The drilled out seat sets the stage for what makes this chair a windsor in that the seat ties the chair together. In most other chair the back legs go up through the back corner of the seat and in to the crest (the top of the back). If there are arms then they are often the front legs as well. In the case of a windsor the pieces that go to the seat stop in the seat. This is a loose definition of windsor chairs that more experienced makers might take issue with but I think it serves well as a starting point.
The first set up photos are of the continuous arm in the bending form. It spent about an hour in the steam box and is then bent in to the form in about thirty to forty five seconds.
The next set of photos are of the layout and drilling process for the seat.
Here are some photos from the class that started on Saturday. Taught by Peter Galbert, an expert chair maker and excellent teacher. I consider myself lucky to be taught by him. I have a lot to learn from him beyond just the steps of chair making.
This first photo is a continuous arm chair that was made by Peter. I think it will help put the following photos in perspective.
After splitting a red oak log in a way similar to fire wood but a bit more deliberate and discerning in just where to place the wedge we shape the spindles into squares. The spindles are the vertical elements that run between the seat and the continuous arm.
In the following pictures the spindles get progressively more shaped. A taper and a bulb is cut into them and they are made octagonal, the first step to the infinite sided shape that they will become.
Here's a shot of the shave horse with a spindle held in place. I put pressure on the spindle by pushing down with my feet and pull the draw knife towards myself.
In the following photo I stopped mid stroke. I'm taking off quite a bit of material here but the draw knife is capable of taking a very fine shaving.
To end the day we started shaping the five foot long continuous arm. After it is steamed it will put into a form and bent to the final shape.
It's a bit hard to make out but in the foreground you have the underside of one of the hand holds.
Here's Pete demonstrating the arm shaping process
Here are some photos from the work that I just finished on the Shaker inspired Chest of Drawers. I have some images of the finished design in another post.
The mitered corner with the cove molding as well as the arched profile for the feet are the most significant elements of the piece that I have never done before. The rest of the project was designed with components and joints that I am familiar with and have implemented before. I wanted the scope of the project to be manageable and feasible with just a few unfamiliar but important (for the piece as well as my own skill set) elements. Note that the molding has not been applied but cut directly into the base.
The base as pictured here is still not glued up and will receive a lot more attention after it has been glued in order to get all the corners square and the surfaces ready for a finish. Unfortunately these dovetails will be painted over.
Ultimately this stack of rough poplar will be turned into the rest of the dresser.
Here are the images that can also be found on the In Progress Page.
One thing that I have come to love about all of the Windsor Chair makers that I have come to know and many furniture makers in general is that they have an "Open Source" approach to the work that they do and how they do it. So here are images of some SketchUp models that I did and if I can figure out how to post a .pdf I will include the cut list for this project as well but I may have to do it as an image.