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default Chair #3: The smoker's bow

Post by Chilli-head on 12th January 2016, 12:45 pm

For the last few days, I've been turning legs.  Turning a log of wood into chair legs in the shortest possible time is a traditional race amongst bodgers.  I would not be winning here - it took me 2-3 hours per leg !  In my defence, the wood was left over from another job, and rather dry by now. And log to leg racing is usually done to a simpler design !

Chair #3: The smoker's bow Chair310

Here's the process. Leftmost - split from the log, aged roughly to shape.  Next - made approximately round on the shave horse, ready for the lathe.  And two I've prepared already !

The finished kit of turned parts (minus 2 to be completed) looks like so:

Chair #3: The smoker's bow Chair311

There's some spare at the ends of some of the pieces that will need trimming off, but I don't want to lose the centres until I'm sure that the tenons are the right size (they may still shrink a little in drying).

I've got a nice piece of walnut for the seat and arm rest.  More later.


Last edited by Chilli-head on 31st May 2018, 4:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ploshkin on 12th January 2016, 5:22 pm

Ooh, looking good. Does all this come out of your head or have you got a diy chair book.
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Post by Chilli-head on 13th January 2016, 7:49 am

I have a couple of books I'd recommend.   My main source is Jack Hill's Country chair making.  That has a lot of classic chair designs and instructions,  though not necessarily all intended for making from green wood or by pole lathe.  Also useful is Mike Abbott's Going with the grain.  The designs in there are all made fron riven wood shaped by drawknife,  no turning.  But Mike has made a good job of updating the designs to look a little fresher and contemporary,  a certain lightness to them I like.

When I've done a few more hopefully I'll be good enough to make them to my own designs.
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Post by FloBear on 13th January 2016, 3:05 pm

I am so full of admiration for the skill involved in making these chairs, Chilli, and really enjoy seeing the process. Thank you for posting your legs Smile
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Post by Chilli-head on 18th January 2016, 11:45 am

I finished off the last couple of turned pieces at the weekend, more of the same so I'll not bother with photos. The next stage gets interesting, as it is the bits I have not made before - a solid seat and arm rest from my prized slab of walnut. I will draw up some full sized plans before I start sawing, to reduce the chance of major cock-up.
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Post by FloBear on 22nd January 2016, 12:26 pm

Ooh, quite a heart in mouth moment, I would think.
I remember buying some really expensive woollen fabric with money left my my grandmother and it was very nerve-racking cutting into it when I started on my coat-making.
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Post by Chilli-head on 5th January 2017, 3:49 pm

I finally got back to this chair as some light relief after Christmas. All part of my New Year "just get on with it" initiative Very Happy I've sawn out the seat, and roughly shaped & glued up the arm bow. Photos to follow ...
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Post by Chilli-head on 17th January 2017, 5:18 pm

Here's the seat, and arm rest glued up, and with the beginnings of shaping. As usual, I'm being purist and sticking to hand tools so the shaping is by (homemade) bowsaw, travisher and spokeshaves.  There's more work to do, so it looks rather heavy at the moment.

Here I departed from the otherwise excellent instructions from Jack Hill's book.  He would have you shape the seat etc then drill the holes for the spindles.  As I'm using brace and bit, and struggle enough to drill straight, I prefer to drill the holes whilst I still have square, flat faces to work with and shape later.   His instructions also are very terse regarding position of these socket holes - I had to resort to a mix of full sized plans on tracing paper and trigonometry. There must be an easier way.

The parts:
Chair #3: The smoker's bow 20170110

To drill the holes, I copied the  sightlines from the plans, marking out in white pencil.  I judged the angles by standing a tri-square to judge  vertical perpendicular to the sight line, and frequent checking with a sliding bevel for the angle between the drill and the sight line along the seat.  The other white lines are for the seat shaping;  to do this I sat on it and drew around my fundament.

Trial fitting the spindles as I went to be sure I all looked OK.
Chair #3: The smoker's bow 20170111

Again, trial fitting the spindles and offering up the arm to check the top hole positions line up.  My maths seemed to have worked fairly well.  Time to knock off for dinner, the last couple of holes will have to wait.
Chair #3: The smoker's bow 20170112


Last edited by Chilli-head on 31st May 2018, 4:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th January 2017, 11:16 am

That is shaping up to be one fabulous chair CH. It's funny that with all the maths and precision measuring there's no substitute for drawing round your backside.
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Post by Chilli-head on 18th January 2017, 12:17 pm

That trick - sit on it and draw round your bottom - came from Fine Woodworking magazine. I like that sort of method, very direct. I have to decide how deep I want to scoop out the seat, and more detailed shape. I was considering laying a bag of bricklaying sand down on its side, sitting on it, wriggling about a bit, then measuring the depression made Laughing
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Post by FloBear on 24th January 2017, 10:41 am

Oh!!! It's a teacher's chair. I didn't know they had a proper name. I rescued two of them innumerable years ago when the school where I worked was having a chuck-out. They're not very handsome but they are comfortable.
Yours is truly a work of art, Chilli.
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Post by Ploshkin on 24th January 2017, 3:00 pm

I would have called it a captain's chair.
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Post by Chilli-head on 13th February 2017, 2:53 pm

A bit more done.  Here is the seat, with my bottom divet scooped out :
Chair #3: The smoker's bow 20170210

Here I've drilled and fitted the legs and stretchers, this is a trial assembly.  Here I mixed maths and practical methods again - I worked out the stretcher lengths and drilling angles by trigonometry, then checked them by marking the stretcher position on all four legs, stretching an elastic band round at that height, then measuring the angle between the band and the centreline of the legs with a big protracter.  Happily both methods gave a similar answer.

It's now all glued up, waiting to be oiled and waxed:
Chair #3: The smoker's bow 20170211

Oh yes - I have seen similar chairs called captains chairs.  But captains chair seems to be equally often, if not more so, used to refer to chairs more of the shape of a modern office swivel chair, with a central post and radiating legs with castors.  Though why on a ship you'd want any furniture to have castors is a mystery to me.


Last edited by Chilli-head on 31st May 2018, 4:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ploshkin on 24th February 2017, 9:12 am

I recall thinking, and thought I had written, what fabulous chair once again Chilli Head. Do you have a favourite out of the 3 so far?
Regarding the name, traditional Welsh farmhouse kitchens often have a chair with arms and a high back at the head of the table and it is called a captain's chair.
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Post by FloBear on 24th February 2017, 1:53 pm

It looks terrific, CH. Anticipating the pics of the oiled and waxed finished product.
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Post by Dandelion on 24th February 2017, 4:47 pm

A very handsome chair!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 3rd March 2017, 11:49 am

Finished !
Chair #3: The smoker's bow Dscn1011
Chair #3: The smoker's bow Dscn1010

Here it is in its new home.  This is DS's "library corner"; he likes to sit here to read next to his books and with the good light from the conservatory.   Should be more comfortable than the footstool he was using before !


Last edited by Chilli-head on 31st May 2018, 4:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by FloBear on 3rd March 2017, 1:49 pm

That is beautiful, CH. a+
I'm full of admiration for such skill and workmanship.
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Post by Ploshkin on 3rd March 2017, 3:59 pm

That is beautiful CH. I love the woodgrain pattern. What's next on the drawing board?
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Post by Chilli-head on 6th March 2017, 11:59 am

Glad you like it. I'm pretty pleased with how it has turned out (mild understatement Very Happy), and the oil & wax finish has brought out the character of the walnut nicely.

I don't really have a favourite chair. They have a different character and I like each for different reasons. The first one, well, it was my first. The second has more of a greenwood crafty type character, though it has more flaws in execution (my drilling could have been straighter !). This one is less of a greenwood style and getting more towards the look of more industrially made chairs, but I know it was hand made and I do like the style.

Next one will be back to a craft style, a greenwood lath back chair. I have a few other things to do before then though; coathooks, cabinets and other stuff !

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Post by freebird on 7th March 2017, 8:44 am

Ooooooooh, it's lovely.
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