Sunday, August 30, 2015

Whew, Just In Time!

I am happy to report that I have finished my chair just before the end of the month.  It has been quite difficult to find the time to bring the chair to fruition.  Since February, I have had my hands full rehabbing my daughter's 1920's Craftsman Bungalow.  To be honest, when I would arrive home at the end of the day there was not much left in the energy department.

Allow me to apologize for this will be a post a bit longer than usual.  When I last posted the upper portion of the chair was yet to be finished.  I glued on hand blocks and shaped the handholds.  Then I determined where to bore for the arm stumps.  I bored the holes and then reamed the arm to fit to the arm stumps.

Hand blocks and arm were jointed then glued together.

Based on measurements from the chair I determined where the arm stump holes were to be bored.  That combined with the sightline gave the exact location.

After reaming the stump holes comes the all important task of fitting the arm to the chair.  The arm must lay just right for the remaining parts to fall into place.  First I ream one hole and place the arm on the stump and rotate the arm toward the other arm stump.  As you can see in the picture below the arm is too high so my reaming needs  to be adjusted to lower the arm.  Once I have the right side (as seen from the sitting position) reamed correctly, I repeat the process for the left arm stump hole.

Arm is in need of more reaming.
The next step is to ensure that the arm lays in a level plane as seen from the front and has the appropriate amount of slope as seen from the side.

The arm sits level as seen from the front.

The arm has a nice slope to the back.
Now that this very important  step is accomplished it was time to drill and fit spindle to the arm.  The way I do this may be a bit unorthodox but it seems to work for me.  I drill the 1/2" center spindle hole in the seat at a 16 degree angle along the sightline that splits the seat at the pommel.  I then insert a 1/2" support dowel to hold the arm in place.  Sorry I should have taken photos, I know.

Next I lay out the arm holes.  I favor the back side of the arm so that when the holes are bored they will not come out the front edge of the 3/4" thick arm.  I then bore the 7/16" holes in the arm using a combination of the spindle holes played out on the spindle deck and the sight lines that are transferred to the seat.

First I bore the short spindle holes in the arm and then using those holes as a sighting guide I drill the spindle deck.  I accomplish this by inserting a long 1/2" bit up through the arm hole and then center the bit on the corresponding hole marked on the spindle deck and drill it 1 1/8" deep.  I do this with the four short spindles and then fit each spindle.  I then mark the spindle so that it will be returned to the hole it was fitted to.

Next I remove the support dowel and bore the center spindle hole.  I reinsert the support dowel and bore the remaining holes.  I then follow the same procedure used for the short spindles on the long spindles.  With the long spindles the holes in the arm are tapered very slightly during the fitting process.  This ensures that the arm will register in a level attitude during the glue up.

After all the arm  

Arm and spindle deck after being bored.
Next is the fitting of the bow.  The point at which the bow joins the arm is a steep 41 degree angle.  It is a bit of a trick to get the appropriate angle and not blow out the bottom of the arm and or scar the first short spindle.  So to ensure this does not happen I clamp the arm to a sacrificial block onto of my bench and drill the holes.  I then use a small reamer and ream the holes to accept the bow.  I fit the bow into the arm pinning it between the center spindle and the other long spindles.  At this point I check for how the bow sits.

Before boring the arm for the bow I check it against a bevel square at 41 degrees.  If everything looks good I move forward.

Bow sitting in place after being fit into the arm.  I think I got lucky on this one, it lined up on the first try.
Next step is to bore the spindle holes in the bow.  I space the spindles to what is pleasing to the eye (about 2" to 2 /14" apart), mark them and bore them using the spindles as a guide.

After that I do a dry fit of the entire upper portion of the chair.  This gives me the opportunity to make any adjustments prior to the glue up.  Which is the next and most nerve racking step for me in the entire process.  So many glue joints and it always seems I could use another set of hands.

This is after the glue up and I have already cleaned up the arm stumps and the short spindles.
After the glue has dried overnight I cut off the excess spindle and wedge ends and pare them down with a shallow sweep gouge.  Next I level the chair and finish the bottom of the legs by cutting a chamfer around the foot.  After cutting the chamfer I slice the bottoms of the leg on a #8 plane mounted upside down in my leg vise.

Next I go over the chair and inspect for any glue that I may have missed prior to painting with milk paint.  The first coat I used a dark Royal Blue base coat.  I allowed this to dry overnight.  In the morning I rubbed it down with a maroon Scotch-Brite pad and removed the dust.

Next I painted the chair with a thinned coat of a lighter Costal Blue.  This coat was thin enough that it allowed the darker base coat to show through, giving the chair a mottled look.  After allowing the second coat to dry for four hours I rubbed the chair down with a gray (less abrasive) Scotch-Brite pad.  I removed the dust and then applied one coat of a wipe on varnish.

I usually use a top coat like Danish oil on my full sized human chairs, but for a kids chair I have found it is better served with a varnish top coat.  I was happy with the single coat of varnish so I have declared my June chair build completed.  I will claim success when I see the smile of its new owner.

Hopefully you can see the mottled blue look on the arm stump.

Here it is!  A child's Sack Back Windsor, with bamboo turnings.

Many thanks to Brian Eve for starting the June Chair Build.  I am so glad that he picked the month of June since it is the longest month of the year...............

~ Ray Schwanenberger

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