Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vacation is Getting in the Welsh Stick Chair Building

But with a day like this, how can you NOT go outside!
Near the Alpspitze in Garmisch today.
The Frau and I have a couple of weeks off together, and we decided not to go too far out of the area.  Instead, we are going to enjoy our surroundings in the area we live.  Luckily, we have had the first couple days of summer the whole year, or so it seems.

Before we headed off to the mountains, I thought I would try to get somewhere with my Welsh stick chair.  I have been able to spend only about an hour on it since I brought this thing home from Denmark.  Happily, I got almost a whole day in the shop with it.

Boring Arm Rail Holes
I left off having roughly shaped the arm rail and crest.  After some thought, I decided to take sandpaper to the sticks after all.  They were all a bit too 'rustic' and I don't think two of them had the same diameter.  This was easily fixed with some sandpaper.

I bored some holes in the arm rail.  I built the jigs in Drew Langsner's book to help hold it in the right spot so I could just eyeball the angles the holes needed to be.  That was easy enough.
Now the hard part.
I thought I would be clever, so I bought an 18" brace extension off of eBay.  It functions perfectly, but I realized too late that it was too big to fit in the 5/8" holes I bored in the arm rail.
Still a problem.
"No problem," I thought.  I'll just bring it in from the underside and bore that way.  WRONG!  I still can't lift the drill bit high enough to get started.

Plan 'B' was to take the arm rail off and eyeball the angles, so that's what I did.  I thought that if I used the extension, I might be a bit more accurate on the angles, which not only worked, it made me feel better about having blown my hard-earned moolah on a useless tool.
A bonus on this shot, you get to see the pristine state of my shop.
It seems to have worked.
I got all of the sticks in.  Next up, just drop on the arm rail and we're good.  Only problem is, putting the arm rail on this way was a bit hairy.  Since the sticks all fan out from the seat, they don't really line up with the holes on the arm rail until it is in place.  This mean that I had to bend the sticks into place one at a time, while whacking with my rubber mallet (Trevor the Mallet died not long ago).  This must have put an incredible stress on the rail, as I had a small issue:
Potential for disaster?  Naaah - I just squeezed some glue in there, got the sticks in place and clamped it back together.
We'll see what this looks like when I get the clamps off.

Here is the state my chair now is in:
Starting to look like a chair.
When I get back from vacation, I'll take the clamps off of that break and see how we're doing.  If it looks like doodie, then I'll heat it up (hide glue is great for this) and re-do it.  However, I think that I can probably make this work.

The only bit of construction left on this chair is to attach the crest, which glues directly to the arm rail.

I will still have a lot of work left on shaping everything to it's final shape.  Things need to be a bit rounder for comfort, and I need to think of something to prevent me from winning a Darwin Award while it is sitting in my dining area. 


  1. Was there any grain runout on the rail? Also would it have helped if the sticks were green or steamed before installing? Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks for the comment! I think it probably would have worked better if I made it so the sticks would insert through the rail and go all the way through into the seat. I didn't notice much grain runnout, and elm tends not to split much, so I think the stress on the rail was exceptional.

  2. Really like the low back version you have completed already!, I'm tempted to attempt something in that style someday. Are there no lower stretchers in this style chair?

    1. Hey Jeremy! Welsh stick chairs frequently do not have lower stretchers. Theoretically, this 8/4 solid elm blank should be plenty strong enough without them. I like the look.

  3. That is sure looking good.
    I am impressed that you drilled the holes free hand just eyeballing the angle.
    Have a great semester.

    1. Hey Jonas! Is semester another Danish word? We usually use it when talking about a length of time at school. Luckily, I am done with those, for now.

      Eyeballing the angle was easier than I thought it would be. Luckily, wood is somewhat flexible!

  4. I LOVE the picture of the area around Garmisch on a beautiful day! More pictures, please. And the chair is amazing!

  5. How did the chair's "owie" turn out?