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The Chair – The End of Phase One.

I am not a great fan of sanding, but I had been looking forward to getting to this stage since it meant that we were nearly on the home straight.

For sanding the legs I recalled a method using an F-clamp in a face vise by a carver friend, and modified this for sanding the legs by securing a clamp in the tail vise …

I used cloth-backed sand paper, which is preferred for the curves, beginning with 120 grit to remove any dents and nicks, removed these scratches with 240 grit, and then finished on 400 grit.

Once the sanding was done it was time to do a final test fit prior to glue up. This is where I nearly went demented and came close to tossing the whole lot in the bin. Blame it partly on the weather. It has been Hot in Perth the past couple of weeks. It’s just that time of the year. The temperature has ranged between a low of 38 Celsius (that’s 100 Fahrenheit) to a high of 44 C (111 F!!!). And in my workshop it is about 5 – 10 degrees higher. At most I could spent just a couple of hours each day working on this chair.

Trying to fit the parts together suddenly became a series of disasters. I would push two together, and a third would fall off. It did not do this before! It took a while before dawned on me that I should glue up the sides first (heat obviously slows down the frontal cortex).

At some point one of the sides fell over and the tenon at the top broke off. Damn! I really did not need this extra work in my life at this time. Deep breath … turn a dowel on the lathe, drill and fit … all good as new …

Glue” is West Systems 105 Epoxy Resin and 206 Slow Set Hardener. The extended time of the hardener is really needed in this heat. I had waited until nearly midnight to do the job as it was simply too hot during the day. Even so, the epoxy was hard within 10 minutes, so I had to work quickly: wet out four mortice-and-tenons (sides), clamp together, leave to set, and come back the next night to finish the remaining four mortice-and-tenons (front and rear).

Working with epoxy is not fun. I spent precious time wiping away the excess with methylated spirits (alcohol). It ran over everywhere, poured out the mortices that were open at the sides (remember – double mortices!).

Below is the final stage, where the sides are done and now the front and rear stretchers have been added. The joints look tight. A clamp has pulled the legs/seat onto square. This is checked across the diagonals – perfect!

The next morning I removed the clamps. There was 2mm spring back across the diagonal, leaving one diagonal at 560mm and the other 562mm – I can live with that.

Time to sand again. This time it felt good as we were in the home straight. There were really only a few epoxy runs to remove and the remainder was surface stain from the alcohol-resin residue.

Again, ran through 120/240/400 grits.

During the first sanding session I had taken the opportunity to collect some of the dust. The plan was to use this mixed with quick set epoxy to fill and chipped off corners.

Finally it was done.

Now let me invite you into my finishing booth (the other side of the workshop/garage) …

I was introduced to the Ardvos Universal Wood Oil by Neil Erasmus, a local furniture maker. I’ve used it a few times and liked the finish as well as the colour it imparts to Jarrah.

I rubbed on a single coat for now. This will waterproof the wood and protect it from stains and grime.

Here is the result …

This marks the end of Phase One. Phase Two is the building of the arms and backrest.

Regards from Perth


January 2014