Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dining Chair - Part 6

Today was a day of shaping, mostly.  So I started by sharpening the toold 'd need - the #4 smoother, the spokeshave and the card scraper.  I've been getting better at sharpening and all three tools responded very well today.  The backrest rails were first, the upper receiving a convex curve on the top and the lower getting a concave on the bottom.
Upper and lower backrest rails with templates
My 1/8" plywood templates have been great.  The surfaces to which I needed to transfer the shapes were curved and the templates will flex just enough.  But it can still be challenging using the larger concave template to mark out the convex curve on the upper rail.  Needing a third hand, I got a brainstorm to hold the two backrest rails together in a vise, front (concave) faces upwards and the bottom of the lower rail touching the top of the upper rail.  (Wish I'd taken a picture.)  Essentially, this extends the front (concave) surface of the upper rail and I can press down on the template to mark the upper rail.

I sawed some relief cuts and chopped out the bulk of the waste with a 1" chisel.  I have a tough time chiseling "flat".  That is, I chisel deeper on one side than the other.  So I try to get close to the line on one side, then the other.
Chiseling to the lines
Spokeshave to the lines, scraper and then a little sanding got the shapes right and edges smoothed over.  Here is a picture of one of the slats partly done.
One side of a slat shaped, other side prepped to be done
The line-up of chair rails - all shaped and finish planed.
Four upper chair rails and four lower chair rails
Before I quit for the day, I wanted to get the backrest subassembly glued and in clamps.  When I did a dry fit, ...
Backrest assembly dry fit
... I found a small issue.  The upper and lower backrest rails' tenons were not perfectly in line with each other.  In this next picture, I'm holding a straightedge flush to the upper rail tenon cheek.  The ruler touches the lower rail tenon about 1/8th" lower than the cheek surface.  I'm not sure if this is enough to worry about.  I tried clamping in different ways to see if I could fix this, but no dice.
Two tenons not co-planer
So I decided to glue up the backrest subassembly and dry fit that with the entire back assembly to keep things in alignment.  Hopefully this doesn't put some twist in the back assembly.
Only the backrest subassembly is glued, it is not glued into the legs
Tomorrow I'll be shaping the front legs and back legs and hopefully getting the whole thing glued up.  Until then, ...


  1. Hi,
    I discovered your blog today.
    Nice project and I like the variation you have brought in to that chair. The wavy backrest looks pretty cool.

    1. Hi Stefan. Thank you for the comment. I experimented with different shapes for the backrest so that the four chairs could all be a little different, but this wavy one was the only form that both my wife and I liked.

      I've been reading your blog, too. It's good to see the workbench coming together.

  2. I am very impressed with how well you are able to dress this doug fir. Especially so with planing. I've found it to reverse quicker and worse than sapele.

    1. Ralph, the lumber I got was called "vertical grain" Douglas fir. It's fairly straight grained with practically zero knots. Maybe that's why it has performed so well. Very little reversing grain. One problem though is that it chips out easily when cross-cutting to length or when spokeshaving the arris of a curved member, so more sanding than I'd like to do is necessary.

  3. I have never used vertical grain doug fir. All of my experience with is 2x stock and 4x4's. And this stuff ain't knot free.

  4. I really like that shape you added to those back slats it really transform that chair.

    Keep up the good work.
    PS I answered your question about the drilling awl


    1. Thanks Bob for the comment. My wife and I both like the curved slats. And thanks for the reply about the awl - I'll have to go look for that now.