Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, Noel, Charley, CHJ

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By Sheffield Tony
I sneaked out yesterday to do a bit of chair building. I've not taken a WIP series of pictures this time, as the processes are much the same as I've shared with you before - froe, axe, drawknife, pole lathe etc, and I don't want to bore you. The difference here is the style of back; I'm making a sort of harlequin set with common materials and elements, but each with a different back style. This one is for my wife, who likes a bit lumbar support, not provided by the spindle back and ladder back styles I've made so far. This one should be comfy for her, the back laths are steam bent to shape using a jig made to her measurements.


Sorry about all the c**p in the background. The angle makes it look a bit wonky to me, but I assure you it isn't really !

One thing I wanted to show you is the joint between the back legs and the seat rails. We've discussed a few times how this is a site for failure in chairs, and the sorts of joints you might use in a jointed chair. Here, things are quite simple:


The legs are 1 3/4" diameter, the holes are 5/8", bored with an auger and finished with a Forstner (in the hand brace) to get a bit more depth without the lead screw of the auger penetrating the other side. The depth is 1 1/4". The two holes intersect, but are offset by about 50% of the hole diameter. The side rails are fitted first, then the holes for the front and back rails are drilled through them. This means that the side rails are locked in place when the front and rear seat rails are fitted. Quite a conventional arrangement. You get away with it because the legs are straight grained, knot free, riven ash. The selected piece is fairly young regrowth from coppiced trees, about 5" or so diameter, which is more springy. This comes from near the base, with a natural curve which can be exploited to make the bending easier.

Just need to trim and finish the back legs at the top and bottom when it has dried a bit more, then on to seat weaving again.
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By marcros
When you say that the back was bent on a jig made to your wife's dimensions, how did you do this? Was it trial and error, educated guesswork or is it possible to measure for such a jig?
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By AndyT
Looks great. And it demonstrates the elegance of design these chairs have, where the details and dimensions work because of the material that has been selected and the way it has been worked.
Are you gradually filling your house with chairs or are the handmade beauties displacing more ordinary ones?
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By Sheffield Tony
The making to measure is made a lot easier by having already made a ladder back chair which is quite similar - same form for the back legs and the back slats of the ladder back are the same curve as the back rails of this chair. So I could get the "client" to sit in that one, and measure the height of the hollow of her back above the seat, and the depth of the curve needed. As a rule of thumb, 8" radius makes a nice curve for back laths.

Another comfort factor I got into a discussion about at the last Bodger's ball. A woman I was chatting with whilst looking at the chairs in the craft competition commented that, although it looks nice, an odd number of back laths puts one in the middle, where some sitters find that it presses uncomfortably on the spine. Sounded sensible, so I went with 4.

These chairs are slowly replacing an ancient Ikea black painted dining table and chairs; one more chair then it's the table...
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By Sheffield Tony
I've trimmed the legs, and cleand up a little. I'm waiting for the second coat of wiped on Danish oil to dry at the moment. Over that will go a beeswax/linseed/turpentine polish I've used on the other chairs it needs to match. The seat will be seagrass like the others too, but I have run out, so there will be a pause.

How long does it take ? difficult to know. As a dabbler, I do them in fits and stops. And I do the turning mostly at our greenwood meetings at Wimpole, so lots of chatting time. I reckon about one day making the turned parts, another for the back legs shaved to shape and steam bent. A day to assemble and oil, then an evening of seat weaving in front of the TV, followed by half an hour of vacuum cleaning the living room to preserve domestic calm. So 3 to 4 regular days. I reckon 2 is possible if I were to crack on, and especially if I were doing many chairs, so you could get a bit of a pipeline going. But it would spoil the fun.
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By El Barto
That's brilliant. I've got to admit that I've never been particularly taken by the look of weaving but that really does look nice. What is the weaving made of? Hazel? How do you shave it?

Lovely job.