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The Chair – Towards the Round

It’s been 4 months since I last worked on The Chair. Time to get back to it.

Since so much time has elapsed, I shall provide something of a repeat of the last report, and build the other armrest. There is more on offer, however - the arms need to be brought together with the seat back. On seeing this one can recognise why The Chair is also often referred to as “The Round” chair.

For continuity, here is the completed base, as detailed in earlier posts. It has only the woven seat to be added.

Below – the right side arm fingers are being traced from the chair back.

Blue tape covers the end of the arm, and a knife is used to scribe the outline (as one would transfer dovetails).

I mentioned this in a previous post – these fingers are more difficult to shape and fit than any dovetail I have cut. I can use all the help I can get.

The ends of the fingers are round. Above, a half finger is prepared with a round file.

Below, preparation for mating rounded fingers is made by drilling. A jig (cobbled together from a Stanley #59 doweling guide) ensures the drill runs perpendicular.

It is vital that every angle has a reference side. Every finger will be trued to that reference.

Above, the sides of the fingers are scribed (because the blue tape may get pulled off), and the outline is run from the reference side for later, when the fingers will require tweaking.

Above, the guide is positioned to saw the fingers.

I recall someone once suggesting that I saw these freehand. Well, if you can mate, you are a better man than I.

The issue that makes these fingers so difficult is that the important fit lies at their centre, not on the outside where one expects the fit to count. Once the pieces are glued together, they will be shaped, and this involves removing the outer areas.

I used a deep tenon saw.

Well, the saw kerfs look a little off the holes, but I am not too concerned at this stage. There is likely to be a fair amount of rasping of the fingers before the parts fit.

A close up.

The rough edges are filed away, and the parts are brought together for a first look-see.

The fit is very gappy at this stage. Not unexpected - the ends of the fingers on the arm are still square.

Front side …

and rear.

The fingers are rounded …

The sides are constantly checked for square as the high spots on the sides are removed with a float.

Shave … check for fit … shave … check for fit …

Eventually the fit is good.

I am resigning myself to the likelihood that there will be gaps to fill at the end of time. It is simply too difficult – impossible – to obtain the fit that the factory achieved. Well some might, but I fear this is beyond me. So far it is a decent fit, but I really cannot tell until the time I shape the chair back and reveal the fit at the centre.

So, here above is a first look at the three pieces together. Not round .. yet.

Time for more templates. The back is angled at about 70 degrees but that is an average as it also curves at the upper and lower ends.

The template above is the total thickness of the back. From this will come the inside and outside curves.

Above, the waste is removed on the bandsaw.

This is the grain pattern in the chair back I was chasing at the start of the build. I was hoping for a curve to match the final shape of the back. We’ll see how it turns out.

In preparation for shaping the back, it is brought to square …

Finally, the back is ready …. can you see the round in “The Round Chair” …?

Regards from Perth


July 2014