A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Chair Making Project Begins

Now that my shop renovations and tool upgrades are completed (for now!) I have been contemplating a new long-term project to focus on, while filling in the gaps with small jobs and turnings as my attention span wanders.

I have been thinking about a new set of chairs to replace the ones we have been using forever - of course there is nothing wrong with them, so they will likely end up downloaded to one of the boys' apartments.

Shaker/Windsor bench in Cherry & Maple
I have been bouncing around design ideas for a while, but I knew I wanted to use a style I have used before in a bench I made many years ago. This Shaker/Windsor style bench of Cherry and Maple (above) combines the simplicity of the Shaker style of very little ornamentation, with the elegance of the Windsor-style chair with a clean spindle back. I like the clean look underneath, so wanted to make a chair without stretchers - this would take some work as the stretchers provide a lot of support underneath that will have to be replaced.

Design to Wood
I did a lot of research both online and in books on chair construction, and asked lots of questions. Since I had made a number of stools in the past I knew I was in for a geometry primer fit for one of my son's engineering courses. I quickly became schooled on the subtleties of leg splay, setback, offsets, compound angles and knew this would need a prototype build in order to avoid butchering some good material. Also, since I was making six of these, I would build the jigs as I went so I could ensure they would be identical (more or less) when they were finished.

Carving in Process

Carved Seat
I glued up a piece of Aspen and designed a seat, many iterations on paper resulted in this design which I transferred to the wood and cut to shape. I got out the trusty luthier planes and set about finding the shape of the seat, which I knew was hidden somewhere in that Aspen. This process involved a few discussions with my wife as we sat on it to determine if what I was coming up with was comfortable. This process is a lot like shaping an archtop guitar or mandolin so was very comfortable for me.
Hi-Tech Chair Prototyping Jig
With the seat shaped, I needed to determine the angles for legs and location of the tenons in the seat to make an overall look we were happy with. My complex clamping jig was to keep everything correct in three dimensions while I tried various locations and lengths for the legs. When we were happy with the look, I took off all the angles and measurements so I could build some drilling jigs and make some holes. This was easier than I thought, each of my test cuts on scrap was perfect the first time, so time to drill the seat. Now that this done, I will be able ensure all the seats have the same leg geometry and will be able to quickly do that part of the machining when the time comes.

Now to turn some legs!

No comments:

Post a Comment