• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Franklin "Ladder Chair"

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

OPJ

Established Member
Joined
31 Jul 2005
Messages
5,565
Reaction score
0
Location
North Somerset
I actually completed this project, my very first, back in the summer. But it wasn't until recently that I got myself a half-decent digital camera (thanks to eBay!! :D) Saying that though, it's taken me a week to get these pictures onto my PC!

For anyone interested to have a go themselves, I took this project straight from a book: The Essential Pine Book (McGuane and Fitzpatrick, Popular Woodworking books).
You can find it at Play.com, probably Amazon aswell, quite a few places.

It's lacks perfection in several ways and I've tried to illistrate them below. I also left them in there intentionally - as a reminder to myself; something I will commonly use and (hopefully) learn from the obvious mistakes that others may not easily notice. ;)

I did enjoy making this though and I think that's very important for me. The success of my small stairs at college really spurred me on to do things like this (you can see pics of that at the bottom).

Anyway, here are the images I've taken. I apologise for some of the quality as I took some in the evening, some during the day and I am still getting to grips with this new camera. My fingers are crossed!




Here you can see the basic chair form of this... piece of seating furniture. It is fairly simple, as it may well look. Biscuit-jointed timber to make the sides; the shape's roughed out with the jigsaw then sanded back. I also rounded over all the edges to go with the curved shape - no simple "portions" here for me, Norm! Most joints are simply screwed, glued and plugged. There is one groove cut to seat the lowest rail (you can just about see it down there...).

The timber's southern yellow pine. It was my first time with this timber and I fell in love with it instantly! The smell, no knots, that strong, straight grain - I could go on!

"What's that piano hinge for?", I hear yo ask...




Well, this is the one feature of this chair that first caught my eye and might me think "I must have one!". I'm always looking for a stool that can't be found to find something out of reach and back of this chair simply folds over on itself [I have also spun the chair around 180 for my convenince in this photo].

My time spent measuring, marking and measuring again really payed off here. With an extra rail under the front-half of the seat, it has extra support while the back of the chair provides stability.




...And this brings me to perhaps the biggest and most notable mistake I made. I went throught the routine of dry-fitting, sanding, but when it came to fitting the hinge and I first flipped the chair over, I notice a 'wobble' as one end on the back was shorter than th other!
I'm not overly pleased with the result here I must say. A couple of 8mm dowels, a horrible black joint line and I thought I had a matching piece of yellow pine too.

What would you have done differently?

I knew not to simply take the other side back to the same length as that woul've given the ladder a serious backwards tilt. Trimming the feet back would've also meant a loss in overall seating height - which could be quite uncomfortable for a taller person like myself.




Here's the other mistake I made, which could've easily been solved had I waited until assembling the chair before machining all pieces to their finished size. As you can tell, the width of the lowest step (as given in the book) didn't match up to my drawing after all. I should've used that given information to set out in the first place - at least I know now! :)


I finished it off with a few coats of a clear polyurathene varnish from Rustins. I didn't want to obscure the grain at all, I love it too much. It's beautiful. It's also quite comfortable to sit in, as the others who've tried it will also testify, even if the two back rails are slightly out of square.

If I was to do this again (and I may do, several people have shown an interest!) I would start by taking my drawing and transfering it straight onto a sheet of MDF to give me identical sides that can be cleaned up with a router so quick and easily I wouldn't need the spokeshave again!

Benjamin Franklin was an even greater man than I thought! I'm keen to see what else he got up to as a woodworker back in the day. I may even attempt to recreate his original library chair using a reclaimed timber, possibly oak, which I believe he may have used himself at the time.

Thanks for having a look, I'd really appreciate any feedback and comments you people have - especially any suggestions on how to improve on things for next time -- because I'm confident there will be a next time!! :D

And as I mentioned back at the start, here are some pics of the stairs I made at college last year, recently finished off with a few coats of liquid beeswax and sanding sealer (first) for the MDF treads and risers.






Thank you!
(Sorry I made this so bloomin' long.)[/i]
 

Chris Knight

Established Member
Joined
14 Jan 2004
Messages
6,641
Reaction score
3
Location
SE London - NW Kent
Oswaldo,

That is a great project and thanks for sharing your mistakes with us. We all make mistakes and it is the way we overcome them that marks out those who have been making them longer than others! As it is I think you did very well in the circumstances. Your chair looks very good and is functional too.

For the top of the back that was too short, since you couldn't match the grain exactly, you could also have considered a contrasting piece of wood - say two black pieces for example, matching on each side.

For the through groove that should be stopped with the lower step as it is, you could have fitted a couple of blocks in the grooves (assuming the same problem on the other side). If the grain is very difficult to match, it is then best to use a plainish piece of wood and to paint in the grain using a fine artist's brush and a suitable medium - acrylic paints can be good under an oil finish or oil paints under a water based finish.
 

dedee

Established Member
Joined
24 Jul 2003
Messages
2,637
Reaction score
1
Location
14860, France
Oswaldo,
The man who never made a mistake never made anything.

I am sure that most people who sit on the chair will not notice until you point them out

Thanks for sharing. I have a magazine somewhere with a similar step-chair that just requires the tuit.

Andy
 

Pete W

Established Member
Joined
31 Jan 2004
Messages
911
Reaction score
0
Location
London
waterhead37":ck6tk8f5 said:
That is a great project and thanks for sharing your mistakes with us.
Agreed - with both sentiments! No problems apparent in the first photo; you could have got away with it easy :)

Not a simple project, either - all those curved cuts would give me cause for concern and you pulled those off superbly.

Let us see Project #2!
 

Waka

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
8 Mar 2004
Messages
4,490
Reaction score
7
Location
Weymouth
Oswaldo

Don't worry about mistakes, I've lots of them arouind the workshop.

I really do like the chair that folds into library steps, I don't suppose you have any plans floating around for it do you? Its something I could use in my study.
 

les chicken

Established Member
Joined
14 Feb 2005
Messages
426
Reaction score
0
Location
south wales
Oswaldo

Very nice project I like the practical use of the chair, would like to make one myself.

As for the mistakes :roll: I am about to buy a hotspot wood burner for the workshop that will sort them out.

Les
 

frank

Established Member
Joined
10 Sep 2003
Messages
938
Reaction score
0
Location
cheshire
oswaldo they are not mistakes they are design changes 8) 8) and we have all made a few :wink: :wink:

nice chair will you be making the libary to go with them next :D :lol: :lol:

frank
 

OPJ

Established Member
Joined
31 Jul 2005
Messages
5,565
Reaction score
0
Location
North Somerset
Thanks to everyone who's replied. It's really pleasing to hear how commonly you all make your own mistakes, I'm glad to see people take quite a serious view on these, as opposed to laughing them off. :)

waterheard37,
I did at one point contemplate filling the exposed grooves with a less distinguishable pine and then painting over it, as you suggest - I remember reading about 'Hiding Your Mistakes' in Good Woodworking back in the summer. Although I have a lot of experience with painting (on paper) I decided I wasn't too confident with the idea, having to varnish on top of it aswell - but I'll certainly bear it in mind for the future. If this was for someone, I probably would've attempted it. But for me, I do want it to stick in my mind, each and every time I see it.

Dedee and Pete W,
You're both spot on! Nobody who has sat on the chair appeared to notice either of the mistakes I've shown here, until I later pointed them out - and they were very surprised to have missed them so easily too! :) They even commented on how comfortable it was, which is also nice to hear.
The curved cuts were quite a nightmare at times, you're very right. My jigsawing needs some more care to be taken with greater control and probably a slower speed. But a lot of hand-sanding and some awkward spokeshaving later and it's not too bad. The sides don't make a totally identical pair, but that's not something which sticks out like a sore thumb. I think the rounding-overs help to hide any discrepencies in the shape also.

Waka,
As I mentioned at the start of the first post, you can get the book from any number of places on-line or otherwise these days. At Play.com I think it costs £14.99, while you also get a number of useful pine projects to tackle; including a finger-jointed step-stool, various storage units for all-sorts around the home, garden planter-bench and some smaller tables you can hide around your living room.
Apart from that, I suppose I might be able to photocopy it for you, or make a post on it, perhaps...?

-----

Thanks again everyone, I really do appreciate all your feedback. And as Norm would say, "I hope you'll build one too - if I can do it, you can do it!"

The second project was an awful lot simpler - a wall shelf for my ever-growing DVD collection, based on an American "Craftsman" design from another book, made from Maple or Cherry - but I simply used redwood and changed a few dimensions. I'm pleased with it, it's measured very well and, if I were to do it again, I would change a couple of things.

I may well post it on here at some point, If I can get the lighting sorted to take a decent enough picture... :)

After that, I made a simple "shoe rack" (for six pairs - featured briefly in GWW a few issues back), made of the yellow pine offcuts (not MDF, YUK!) and some 21mm softwood dowels. Unfortunately, it seems to be sloping to one side - I'll have a good look at it tomorrow.

I went to my (preferred) local merchants (Staddons, Clevedon) to get the lengths of dowel only to find they come in sizes such as 18mm, 21mm and others of which I do not have a matching drill bit in either of my forstner or spade bit sets! :shock:
Anyone else found this with theirs, locally?

Only trouble is, I can't really finish it until the temperature picks up as my garage-workshop is stone-cold at this time of the year and there's barely enough room for the Franklin Chair in our bungalow!! :D


Thanks again everyone!
 

MikeW

Established Member
Joined
15 Apr 2005
Messages
1,933
Reaction score
0
Location
Forest Grove, Oregon USA
Waka":ey6xqt6x said:
...I really do like the chair that folds into library steps, I don't suppose you have any plans floating around for it do you? Its something I could use in my study.
I posted a response that I think was vaporized--or I forgot to click submit...

Here's a free plan in pdf format.

Comes from a site that has free plans. Note that the designer says he did not build this and so one needs to test all dimensions.

I've posted a PDF of the original DXF format on my web site:
PDF link. Even printed it to A4...I think <g>.

The originating site is:
Woodworkers Workshop DXF files

The home page has links to other free plans scattered around the web.

Take care, Mike
 
Top