Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Behind Every Good Chair is Some Really Good Wood

After a long chair class it's good to get out of the shop and build up the material stash. Sometimes it seems I spend half my time looking for chair materials and the best logs. Late fall is the best time to head to my favorite log yard in Kentucky. It was a good day. I found 2 sugar maple logs that would make any respectable wood turner blush. I love these 15'' diameter 12' long logs that are white to the center. Very little taper (if any) and straight enough to saw on the mill.

 Maple log #2. These make me so happy!
 After unloading the maple I cut them into 6' lengths to make milling down the pith easier.
 Six 8/4 boards from one half of the log of some of the clearest material I have had in a while.
 Maple this clear should be illegal. I hope I can do this log justice. I have many turnings to complete.
 If the maple wasn't enough I scored an 8' white oak for only $10 because it had several nails in it. My splitting wedge does not care. Great spindle material. I can even re-use the nails in some ladder back chairs or something....haha
 I also picked up this nice white oak at full price. $1 bd ft. I think it was about $75
 As much as I love local hardwoods sometimes I have to travel to get material. Last month I made the trip to the upper peninsula on Lake Michigan to buy some 8/4 pine for seat blanks. Almost every board was 20'' wide and clear for 10'. I've never seen pine like that around here in the south. The pine here grows too fast and carves too spongy. It also has a lot of sap. These boards after air drying should be fun to carve.
 I had a heavy load on a 20' trailer. Kim and Logan tagged along but 48 hours from middle Tennessee to Escanaba Michigan and back (in 2 days) was no vacation. Saw lots of stuff out the windshield but that was it. I wish someone had told me to avoid the $16 toll fee through Chicago. Overall it was a good trip and I should have plenty of seat material after these dry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writing Arm Class part 2

Day 5 begins with drilling the arm and seat for spindles.  Yes we use lasers for this but only in one plane. We simply sight over the arm centered over the spindle deck to line up. Works really well.

 Spindles go in one at a time after careful sizing to the seat, arm and crest rail. The spindle hole through the arm is tapered from underneath and securely matches each spindle.
 Spindles installed waiting for the arm rail.
 Now the fun begins fitting the writing tablet to the chair. It slips over the last spindle and is routed underneath to fit over the arm rail. The two arm post hold the tablet level. This process went very smooth with great results.
 Day 6 and John has the tablet installed.
 Two wedges in the post.
 Martin installs his tablet beginning day 7.
 Fits like a glove.
 A few clamps to set the hyde glue and we are ready for the crest.
 Nice! Two writing arms complete. Ready for some drawers.
 The last day consisted of laying out and chopping dovetails. They insisted on cutting the tails first even though this is wrong. Ha Ha!
 It rained all day which is great for sitting down and chopping dovetails. These guys did great.
 John's completed chair with two dovetailed drawers. The upper drawer is curved to match the tablet. Notice the turned ebony knobs.
 Martin, myself, and John after a long 8 day class. Martin told me everyday how much he enjoyed the class and I feel like we accomplished a lot. Although we were tired we really had fun.
If this looks like something you want to try I am offering the same class again next November. Check out the 2015 schedule and sign up for one of 4 spots in this class. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Arm Chair in a Week!!!

Ok, it has only been 4 days of the writing arm class but these guys are flying by with great velocity but with extreme quality. It is always a pleasure teaching chair making alumni. I won't lie. I had reservations taking on such a class with so much detail but so far this has been so much fun. I can't believe they pay me for this. You can see below John (right) and Martin (left) day one working on spindles.
By the end of day 2 they had the spindles roughed out and the crest carved and bent.
Day three started with drilling and reaming the seat with lasers. Wow! Check out Martin's snazzy ebony reamer that Tim Manney made. What's next Tim, ivory reamers? 
 Day three and the seats were carved and all the stretchers were measured and turned.
 Day four John carving the knuckle. There is only one on this chair since the other side is a writing arm.
 Martin carving his knuckle. Both guys are making right handed desks.
 John fine tuning his legged up chair on day four. He's getting good use of the chair makers workbench.
 Fantastic work. These are museum quality chairs these guys are making. The bottom half is complete and all the carving is done by the end of day four. The next two days should have the chair complete. Saturday we start the writing arm and yes....dovetailed drawers!! Stay tuned to see how they turn out.