Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Danish Chairbuilding Extravaganza 2018, day 22. Sack back nanny rocker completed.

I elegantly skipped blogging after the official DCBE part was over. There was just too much stuff to do - to be bothered with sitting in front of a computer.

As a side note, I didn't work full time in the nanny rocker every day after the DCBE, but I did try to put in a couple of hours whenever possible. I didn't keep track of the time used in the build, but I think I am well past 100 hours.

On the Friday (day 5), we had a visit from my dad, and Mikkel from the blog Haandkraft also paid us a visit.
It was nice to meet Mikkel and talk with him about woodworking in general and also about the challenges of blogging about woodworking in Danish.

Using the whitebeam (Sorbus Intermediare) for seat material seemed like a great idea since it is dense, incredibly split resistant and sms to be not porous at all. The problem with the material was that it was incredibly hard to work. traversing the grain only helped during scrub planing. Traversing during the hollowing of the seat didn't do anything to help.
I ended up doing all the saddling with a gouge and a mallet and two and a half full days of work.

The armcrest was assembled after I had test mounted all the short spindles, so I could assess how long the piece should be.
When the time came to dry mount it, it was something like 1.5" too short, and besides the glued part broke. I had expected some sort of challenges along those lines, so I had milled more wood than I needed of the same dimensions, so I just took a piece of the spare wood and made a new insert for the straight back part, which was also where the piece had failed.

Large complicated glue ups are definitely not my favourite thing, and I am certain gluing on the armcrest is the biggest and most complicated glue up I have tried so far. 28 short spindles, 7 long spindles and two end spindles (with tapered holes) all had to go together at the same time. In addition there was a bit of spring back int he arm crest, so it was definitely a task for liquid hide glue.

Mounting the back piece was not much easier despite only needing to receive 7 spindles, and perforating the armcrest two places. There was a bit more spring action in that piece, and the risk of breaking it all was nerve wrecking.
Originally one side was supposed to come approximately 5/4" further down, but it started binding and I didn't want to risk anything, so I stopped and decided that I could fill the small gap with some sort of putty instead.

I reasoned that the seat had to be level at stand still, to be as comfortable as possible for the child in the crib part of the nanny rocker. This will make the chair part slightly less comfortable and relaxing compared to a reclining rocker. But the nanny rocker is not intended to be a slouching chair for the nanny, but a place for the nanny to sit up straight and knit while soothing a baby at the same time!

So I leveled out the top part of the seat and marked the correct seat height on the legs.
The legs were sawed to length, and I marked out for the positions of the rockers. Mortises were made in legs, and the ends of the legs were terminated by sawing at an angle.
Finally each joint was secured with a peg.

The plan is to paint the nanny rocker in a shiny dark green. But given that I completed the piece the day before going back to sea, I thought that it was a wise decision to wait until I got home next time before attempting to paint it. Instead of experimenting with homemade milk paint or linseed oil based paint, I have purchased a standard paint from Jotun.
Those people who have seen the chair so far seem to be appalled to learn that I wish to paint it, but I think that the many different grain patterns and the visual difference between the elm, whitebeam and ash is kind of disturbing to the eye.

Thoughts about the build:
To someone like me with a very limited experience in building Windsor/stick chairs, the sack back nanny rocker is a huge challenge.
I am so glad that Ray Schwanenberger provided me with a set of plans, so I had the knowledge of building something that would actually work. That was a great comfort compared to building something of my own design that might not work or look good.
I haven't got much experience in steam bending, but so far I have learned that not rushing it - is a good thing.
There are a lot of individual parts that are not very difficult to make, but given that there are so many it still becomes a daunting task. I opted for uniformity rather than exact copies for all the spindles. My guess is that since there are so many of them, few people will never notice it they are not exactly the same, and even fewer people will care.
Assembling the individual pieces is just as intimidating as I remembered from the loop back settee I made four years ago. very step becomes more and more frightening because of the risk of messing up the accumulated hours of work.

Now I just have to wait for some grand children to emerge in the horizon... (Or lend out the nanny rocker to a friend who is a bit closer to becoming a grand parent).

Sack back nanny rocker.

Seat, turnings and rockers in whitebeam.
Backrest and spindles in ash.
Armcrest in elm.

Bertha inspecting the nanny rocker.


22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Brian.
      It is a fun build, now I just need a litter of Newfoundland puppies to fill the crib part of the nanny rocker.

      Brgds
      Jonas

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  2. Jonas,

    Really nice, I'm not sure I could handle the glue up. I hope you had help and kept your glue warm :-).

    Contrasting milk paint base coat with with a lighter/darker milk paint finish coat would be my goto. As it aged it would be beautiful.

    I may do that finish to the current build but for sure with the next chair. Red under black for the chair but for the nanny rocker maybe a black undercoat with a light blue or green finish coat.

    ken

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    1. Hi Ken

      Thanks for the nice comment.
      I actually made the glue up all by myself. I used liquid hide glue, so that helped a lot on the process, though it still felt scary!.

      I would like to make a contrasting milk paint job too, but I have never seen milk paint for sale in Denmark, and my only attempt was a disaster.
      I have found a new recipe, but I am still afraid to try it out on this piece. I would like to make the tests on something that I have spent a bit fewer hours on building.
      I once bought two packages of milk paint while visiting Brian in Germany, but that shop no longer exists.

      But regardless of the future colouring, I am now a bit more prepared for any future grandpeanuts coming in our direction :-)

      Best regards
      Jonas

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  3. Fantastic rocker, Jonas! That is an impressive piece of furniture. I guess you could call it a "vuggestol".

    I am sure you can manage to whip up some milk paint by yourself. It is really easy, and you could always make a test board to try it out.

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    1. Hi Mikkel
      Thanks for the nice comment. I guess that I should try to make my own milk paint once more, following the recipe that I got from you, but I need to pull myself together to do that - and that is not easy :-)

      brgds
      Jonas

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  4. Usually I don't like furniture with such a narrowly defined purpose. I do, however, think that this piece can serve as much more than its official designation suggests. I can just picture it being appropriated by a knitter.
    I don't know what you did wrong with milk paint. I've tried the packaged mixes and wasn't happy with the limitations. If you can make custard, you can make milk paint.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mitchll

      I tend to agree with you on the too narrow defined purpose furniture, but I just liked this chair so much that I had to try and build it.
      So far it is back in the shop again. I only moved it inside to take pictures of it. It does occupy quite a bit of floor space.

      My problem with milk paint stems from trying to use an American recipe to make it.
      If I remember it correctly it was skimmed milk, lime and colouring plus maybe one more ingredient.
      The biggest problem was that no matter what recipe I looked at, it was all the same, and lime is a very vague description in my world.
      Or perhaps it is just one of those places where things get lost in translation.
      It could be either lime like the lime fruit (which I guessed it wasn't)
      It could be slaked lime.
      It could be hydraulic Lime.
      It could be Jura lime.
      Or it could be lime as in chalk (which is the same name as the other types of lime in Danish, but without an extra designation on it).

      I can't remember what type I used, but absolutely nothing in that recipe worked as described. Instead I got something that looked like dog vomit with little lumps in it...
      I immediately switched to an egg-oil-tempera. That stuff worked but it is sort of translucent, so it will not hide e.g. grain figures etc.

      Later on Mikkel from Haandkraft has pointed me in the direction of a Danish page with a recipe for making milk paint with clearly labelled ingredients, so I might try it again one day. But For now I have already bought the paint for the nanny rocker, and I still think that I will give the store bought paint a chance.

      Best regards
      Jonas

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    2. https://blog.lostartpress.com/2012/11/28/the-mad-chefs-milk-paint-gets-a-shellacking/
      Yes, lime is a very catchall term that confuses even native speakers. This confusion came to light first for me during a discussion of traditional mortars. I deal with the lumps by using an immersion blender and skip the lime unless I were to be painting a wall or a piece with open grain. I prefer the depth of colors from pigments alone; lime softens the intensity. Leaving out the oil from the mixture makes repainting and adjusting the colors easier. Milkpaint, properly stored in a refrigerator, can last two days at best but it requires vigorous mixing prior to each application. Leaving out the BLO saves money because the oil isn't thrown away when the milkpaint spoils. The final oil finishing can also be reapplied more easily to thirsty endgrain, especially the soles of the chair legs.

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    3. Someone later told me that the sort of lime I should have used was calcium hydroxide as far as I remember.
      That was supposed to work as the active ingredient in activating the caseine (or whatever that part of the process is called).
      The Danish recipe that I have been pointed towards uses chalk as a filler in the paint, or instead of white pigment.

      I like the idea of applying the oil later on in the process, It makes sense in e.g. end grain applications.

      Here's a description of my first (and so far only) experiment with milk paint https://blog.lostartpress.com/2011/11/08/anarchy-in-denmark/

      I never got around to take any new pictures of the chest, but it ended up dark grey since I mixed up a new batch of egg oil tempera using soot from the chimney as pigment.

      Brgds
      Jonas

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  5. Wow, that turned out amazingly well. I think you are right to paint, though I might try to leave the seat natural and paint the rest. It'll turn out great,quite an accomplishment.

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    1. Thanks Jeremy.

      I think that it will look wrong if I leave part of it unpainted, so I'll probably go for painting all of it.
      Especially the seat is where the paint will be able to highlight the subtle forms at the front of the sitting area. But it will also highlight any defects..

      Brgds
      Jonas

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  6. Ouuww that tuned out nice. More balanced and elegant than it looked halfway finished. Fun to see it in early progress and now suddenly finished. Think that Photpmacher got a point, this style of chair could become hip among the nitting nad crocheting people..

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ty.

      Thanks , it did look kind of weird when unfinished. The major drawback on this chair is the fact that it occupies so much space, but it was still fun and challenging to build.

      Brgds
      Jonas

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  7. Jonas, Well done! From everything I see you absolutely nailed it. Most if not all original Windsor’s were painted. The reason being the different woods that were used to exploit their different strengths. In America seats could be made from White Pine, Poplar, Sycamore or even Elm. Anything that doesn’t split/rive well. A ring pourous wood like Oak, Hickory or ash were used on the “upper” parts of the chair because they rived and bent easily. The under carriage could also be made from the same materials as the uppermost part however, Hard Maple seems to be the choice. It turns well and is very strong. So all that being said I agree that the rocker should be painted. It has been wonderful following your progress on this build.

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    1. Hi Ray.

      Thanks for the very nice comment, and thank you so much for letting me use your plans.

      In Denmark the "mantra" of the 70'ies was to strip all paint from all kinds of wooden surfaces, using lye. It was impossible to imagine an antique left alone with its original paint on.
      Our doors in the house were also stripped of paint, and I have never found/taken the time to paint them again.

      Much of this idea still persists today, so people are genuinely surprised when you tell them that you intend to paint something made out of wood.

      Best regards
      Jonas

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  8. My first thought was: Wow you'll be a real young grandpa.

    I (and the grandparents of Emma and Helle) would have loved such a chair!

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    1. Hi Pedder.

      I am just in really good time for once in my life.
      There are no signs of grand children in the near future. There is not even any official boyfriends/girlfriends in the family so far.
      I think the best chance of getting the nanny rocker to see some use would be to lend it out to the children of some of our friends, who are a bit older than our children.

      Cheers
      Jonas

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  9. And I love painted wood. Otherwise I would live in a sauna.

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  10. Wow, i think you really nailed it!
    I sweat just thinking about the glue up :-)
    If you were thinking about using it with a litter of Newfoundland dogs.... I think you will need a bigger chair :-)

    Again, bravo, it is awesome

    Bob, who think it would be big enough for a litter of Chinese crested dogs like Rudy

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    1. Hi Bob.

      Thanks for the nice comment.
      I suppose that it would be a bit crowded with a litter of 10 Newfy puppies, and besides I am not sure that they would appreciate being in a cradle anyway :-)

      Brgds
      Jonas

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