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The Chair – Initial Steps for the Arms and Back Rest

This is the section of the build I have been looking forward to most. I must also admit that this has been with great trepidation. The first phase – building the legs and rails – was more complex than I anticipated. I am a little amazed that it came out so well. But now I face a double challenge.

The shaping of the arms and backrest has been on my mind for some months – trying to visualise how to reduce the whole to the parts, and how to create the parts so that they form the whole. This is difficult even with The Chair in front of me. In the end I decided that it needs to be reduced to a two dimensional plan first – that is, cut out the wooden sections, join them and then shape this.

Here are some images of the parts involved …

Added to the complexity of reproducing the shape is the finger join between the arms and the backrest. This has been cut with a Shaper. The one modification I shall be making is to saw points to the joint where it is rounded.

The second issue is the wood. Or lack thereof. I mentioned at the start that I would be fighting the whole way to have enough wood to build this chair. Some of the sections I had put aside turned out to be too small. I spent some time robbing Peter to give to Paul.

I do have this, roughly, 1m long (about 3 feet) and 150x150mm (6x6”) “chunk” (lower right corner in photo below). The problem was, as I shall shortly show you, is that little of the wood was usable owing to checking.

What I did have were two boards that had been set aside for the arms but turned out to be too narrow as they did not take into account the degree of curvature involved.

My brainstorm was to saw out the waste inside the curve, and epoxy it on the other side where it was needed.

These went well, and the glue line is almost invisible. However, the figure does not match each other as closely as I hoped, and one is a shade darker than the other as well.

From the remaining “log” I managed to cut away two sections, one that was large enough for another arm, and the second would become the backrest.

Below are the three arms. The two in the foreground are the likely choices. The figure is very similar, and the colouring is close enough. And the third piece is in reserve. A nice thing to have!

Now here is the section that remains for the backrest. Notice the check that runs its length …

First step was to see what we have. This means smooth the surface to better see the figure. Today I felt like using woodies. First a jack plane …

Then the aircraft carrier that doubles as a jointer – all 36” of it!

Finally, smoothing with a modified HNT Gordon Trying Plane …

This is repeated on adjacent sides, and the section is left square (as I shall be dimensioning it on the bandsaw).

Here is a rough template for the backrest to help select the section of the timber.

There are checks on two sides of the section …

Determining the angle of the backrest. This was repeated at the front as well.

Finally, a template was drawn up. This included square ends for sawing the finger joints ..

Below – one of the checks is removed. It does not extend deeper than the surface.

The other check unfortunately continues. Hopefully it will be possible to work around it.

The template is used to transfer measurements to the blank …

What I would like your opinion on is the run out when creating the base for the arms and the fingers that join them together.

The other end …

Looking forward to you comments on the forum …

Regards from Perth


January 2014