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The Chair – Shaping the Arms and Back (Part 2)

It is time to make the chair look something like this (but without the seat) …

When we left off last time, the back and arms had been glued up.

The big question was how did the fingers come out?!

Below: the right arm/back joint, and the left arm/back joint, both facing the front of the chair.

The right side has a tiny gap at the end of the middle finger. Otherwise all else is looking good. The real fit is on the inside, and will only be seen once the waste is removed.

It’s Saturday. The weekend is here. I am hoping to finish the woodwork by the end of Sunday.

To work we go …

With the arm/back now one solid section, the positions for the arm mortice and tenons were marked out.

There had been a little movement in the process of glue up, with the front of the arms no longer in the same position. Good thing I glued up first before drilling.

Drilling for the leg tenon is complicated by the legs angling in two directions (back and inward). I sighted the angle, and used a sliding bevel to guide the drill …

I started drilling with a long pilot drill bit, increased this once before the final size.

This worked out pretty well.

Now to shape the arm extensions: I began by marking the circumference of the legs.

Before shaping the mortices, I needed to mark out the shape of the underside of the arms.

The depth was plotted from the arms on the original, and then transferred to one arm.

It was apparent that the marks followed the curve already established, and so I could use a gauge to follow the curve …

and then transfer it to the other arm.

Above and below: all the areas where waste will be removed.

The waste is removed with a coping saw.

It’s starting to look like The Chair.

This took a fair number of hours. No short cut removing the waste. I could not remove much with a spoke shave. The wood is simply too hard and interlocked. The 10-grain Auriou rasp and the Shinto remained the best tools.

And that was the end of Saturday.


I started early. I really must finish by the end of today. There is a deadline that is looming ahead. In two weeks it is the Perth Wood Show. I will be joining Chris Vesper on his stand again. He is coming down from Melbourne. We always have a lot of fun together. The woodshow is also host to a furniture building competition run by my club. I usually enter something to make up numbers – there are some really serious and excellent woodworkers there and I am not in the running – it’s for the camaraderie. I would like to enter something, and this chair is all I have that is recent.

If I finish today, that will give me a week to study how to weave the seat, then next Saturday and Sunday to do the weaving and any tidying up. Deliver it on Monday or Tuesday. Time is tight. To work …

I started with shaping the leg extensions (what is the correct term for these?!) …

1 2

The rear mortices …

They are left slightly oversize, which will be reduced later when the legs are attached.

I really struggled throughout with work holding. I am not set up for such odd shapes. One makes do, but it could be easier.

1 2

3 4

This is one of the front mortices …

This is another example of how difficult it was to hold the work. Above, the fingers are being rasped flush.

This is how they look. The fit is better than I expected, and nearly perfect. There is one tiny gap, and I shall need to fill this at the end.

The curve is shaped on the upper side of the arms. This angles inward.

I added a handle to the end of the Shinto (and the Auriou) to save my fingers, which were getting chewed up by the sharp edges.

The basic shaping is completed on the upper side of the arms.

Finally I can get to use a spokeshave, here to round the edges and add in more curve.

The arms are turned upside down, and the underside is shaped with a taper to the outsides.

The teeny-weeny Lee Valley miniature spokeshave came into its own in the confined space!

Scrapers were used to smooth and fair the surfaces after the rasps.

Joining the legs and mortice required some work for all. The legs angle and the base of the mortice does not.

I carefully sawed inside the join (mindful that there is a tenon in there!), opening it up, creating a kerf that was parallel to both surfaces.

The leg and arm come together, and the join is trued with sandpaper (apologies for the poor image).

Finally, it was time to start the finishing process. Starting with 120grit, then 240 and finishing on 400 grit.

The photos below are after a single coat of Livos wood oil. Over the next week I shall complete about 5 coats.

At this point the arms and the base are simply pushed together (not glued).

A few comparisons with an original Wegner The Chair …

I must admit that the result has exceeded my expectations. The Fiddleback Jarrah is stunning. The match with the original is so close, and better than I could have hoped for.

I shall post better pictures once the seat is woven.

Regards from Perth


July 2014