Friday, August 29, 2014

Welsh stick chair build day 2

Another day of the epic chair building arrangement has come to an end.

Today we worked on stuff that ended up looking like parts for a chair, which was a great leap forward compared to the various #$£% ups yesterday.

I started out trying to make a nice round dowel for my final attempt of steam bending. I had done some of the job yesterday with one of Brian's spokeshaves, but it needed some more work to look really nice.
After a short while I decided that it would probably be a great idea to make a dowel maker. So without consulting any books ore other sources of information, I ground an old plane iron and made a wooden holder for it.
At first it worked really fine, but it was a bit tight on the dowel, so I wanted to try to reset the iron. Then it went from fine to disastrous. I got a bit angry since I had made this special tool to make it easier. And with a bit of temper I decided that maybe it would be better to clamp the tool in the bench and turn the dowel instead. This really didn't help since the dowel wasn't completely straight, and the new setting of the iron was more aggressive. The result was the some heavy tear out and a not so round dowel.
I managed to cut my finger in the process too, so I resigned and went back to the spokeshave that had to be used even more now because I had to reduce the diameter of the entire dowel to 25 mm (1") from 30 mm (1.25"). The dowel is 2.4 meter long, so it took some time.

The finished dowel went into the steamer and sat there for about an hour and a half.
For some strange reason the bending actually worked OK. There was a bit of splitting, but not more than what could be glued once the piece had dried.

With such a huge success under my belt I was ready to start on the seat itself.
I planed the blank using a scrub plane and traversing the entire time. Much to my surprise the result was a nice flat surface without tear out. It didn't even look fuzzy. 

In the mean time Brian had finished planing his seat blank and he had started saddling it. He was happily chopping away with an adze and looked just as professional as he is. That did sort of put some pressure on me.

Having had success with the steam bending and the planing of the seat I decided that I was probably smarter than anyone out there who had ever built some sort of Welsh stick chair or Windsor chair. Therefore I would not use that old fashioned adze method for saddling my seat. First off it looked kind of difficult, secondly it also strongly resembled good old fashioned work!

I have seen Mario Rodriguez saddling a chair using a tablesaw, but I had to saddle the seat of a settee so I had to invent something else.
The logical step was to use a circular saw.
I attached a board under the base of the saw and started dragging the thing diagonally over the surface of the settee seat blank, using the saw as some sort of router.
This approach worked really well. 
In very short time I had saddled the seat and it looked good with a minimum of bumps and definitely better looking than what I could have made using an adze. Here's a link to a video of it.

Next I used my old compass plane to make the saddling a little more round in the bottom.
After that I used my belt sander to clean up the saddled parts of the seat.

Actually today was a great day with success pretty much all the time.
Tomorrow I'll probably start on the legs and the spindles for the back of the settee.

Remember to visit Brian's blog for even more pictures and yet another eye witness account of the day.

Scrub planing the blank for the seat.

The steam bending results of yesterday.

The successful bending.

The blade on the sawmill, compare size to the safety glasses.

Someone needs a haircut and a shaving..

Brain professionally adzing out a seat.

Ripping the seat blank for the settee.

Saddling freehand using a circular saw.

Using the compass plane.

Selfie while test sitting the settee seat.

The bending straight from the form.


  1. I remember nothing of 'happy' while adzing. It was probably because of the doofus who sharpened the adze.

    1. The truth should never get in the way of a good story, and since this is my blog I reserve the right to say that you looked happy.
      It gives my shop a certain credit to have had a happy adze user in it :-)
      See you tomorrow

  2. This is great watching (like a fly on the wall) a group of pals trying something new together. Having your two accounts going, is almost like being there.

    1. Hi Jeremy.

      I'm glad you like the idea of the simultaneous blogging, Actually Brian came up with that idea almost two years ago. It is kind of neat since we do work in slightly different ways, and being able to ask someone competent about an advice, or discuss something with him really makes for a great experience.

    2. Yes, it is good that Olav is there so there is at least one competent woodworker to give you advice!

  3. Looks like great fun. Experimental woodworking. What could be better? You guys are making some good progress too.


    1. Hi Greg
      It really is fun, but in the same time incredibly challenging to make a chair because there aren't any "real" angles or straight lines.
      Today the progress have been more moderate, at least in terms of looks, because it took a lot of time making legs, so there wasn't much to show in the end of the day.

  4. Nice. Sorry for the baffoonery on my part. I think I may attempt to use these posts as a guide and follow along at some point in the next 6 months...

    1. Hi Travis.
      I feel really sorry for you, but I am sure you can manage to make a chair using some of the photos as guide.

  5. Here is a true story. I showed your last post to my wife in order to wow her with the fact that you had been away from home, returned, and immediately went into your workshop without your wife becoming upset by it. She looked at the photos and commented "It looks like your friend needs a haircut and a shave." So not only am I fighting an uphill battle, it is an uphill battle against a snob.
    Don't be offended, the last time my wife saw Christopher Schwarz on the Woodwright's Shop she felt that not only should he get a haircut, but he also needed to wash his hair because it looked really greasy.
    BTW, I can't wait to see the finish of the project. It looks like it will be awesome.

    1. Hi Bill,
      I hate to say it, but your wife is right. I do need a haircut and definitely a shave.
      I kind of skipped the hairdresser last time I was home because our car broke down and all kinds of other excuses. So it has been close to 3 months now.. I might get a role in Planet of the apes though.
      Normally I don't rush into the workshop like that but I do have a very understanding wife :-)
      Your wife's comments made me laugh a lot. Those are great observations. I'll have to post a photo once I do start to look a little bit more civilized.