Thursday, August 28, 2014

Modern Danish Welsh Stick Chair Build by an American living in Germany, Day 1

I made it to Denmark!  Last night after a drive only a little more than twelve hours, I pulled into the Mulesaw compound when the weather and the light were just perfect.

The Mulesaw Family Compound.
What a beautiful place this is.

I actually beat Jonas home.  When he finally got home from work, we went out to the shop and spazzed out over tools and chairs and stuff until early in the morning.

After a few hours sleep, we got up and got the shop ready for our chair build.  Altogether there will be either four or five people building Welsh Stick Chairs here over the next few days.  Unfortunately, not everyone could make it today, so Jonas and I figured we would rough out all the parts so all everyone would have to do Saturday is pick out their parts, and start shaping them.
Jonas' shop.  There should actually be room for a few people to build in here!
We started by roughing out seat blanks.  We took our time laying out seats on all of the different boards we got, avoiding anything bad in the wood like barbed wire (really) and punky wood.
This is what happens to your hair when you are at sea with no one to make an appointment at the barber for you.
Jonas has an amazing set-up here.  About six weeks ago, he cut some 8/4 elm from a log he got just for this purpose.  A chainsaw made easy work of the blanks as soon as we figured out where to make the cuts.
We wound up with seven seat blanks, and a blank for a settee.  Some of the seat blanks have grain going fore and aft , and some of them have the grain going starboard to port (a little sailor lingo there).

Mrs. Mulesaw snapped some candid photos of us, so I figured fair is fair.  She's moving horse manure out of the stables.
One of our distractions today is we decided we wanted to test steam bending.  This decision cost us a lot of productivity, but we got to try a bunch of cool things.  The first thing we thought we would try was to rive an ash log for straight grain steam bending.  There was an ash log nearby, so we figured we'd give it a whack.
This was interesting.  This log is right next to our waste from the seat blanks.
Not doing this often makes you tired fast.  After a few whacks, we traded off until the log was apart.
It turned out that log was so twisted and knotty, there was no way we were going to get anything resembling a stick we could steam out of it.  This reaction wood likely will go in the burn pile.
Ash log #2.  Notice how good a man with sideburns looks with a broadaxe.
The second log was a lot straighter, but straighter doesn't necessarily convert to straight enough.  We needed to go hunting for straight grain in the air-dried pile.
Hell Boy in the rafters.
We found some stuff, and were joined by Olav, a local German Zimmermann who thought it would be cool to build chairs with us.  I'm glad he did, and it is neat to see an educated aproach to this rather than what we've been doing.  It'll be cool to see what he comes up with.
Jonas the Furry with Olav the Great.
Jonas had an interesting idea for a steam box, which included a galvanized pipe standing on end.  In the end we broke two sticks and learned what not to do.  Tomorrow, we learn even more what not to do.
The french-fry steaming contraption.
We finally got all of the legs roughed out, with some focus provided by Olav.  Not only that, we got a metric buttload of sticks roughed out, too.  After all that, I had to do some work on my chair.  I came up with a pattern for my laminated arms, and roughed it out on the band saw before resawing it.
Resawing my arms.  No body parts were harmed in the production of this photo.
Elm is a gorgeous wood.
Book matched arm blanks.
It will be interesting if my thoughts for this arm scheme fulfill the thoughts I have in my mind for it.
Great Danes!
Olav is going to work on a couple of seat blanks that wound up with pith in them at his shop and bring them back later.
Steam failure #1
Did I mention that elm is gorgeous?
An interesting bit I am considering implementing into my piece.
That's about it for today.  More finding out what not to do steaming tomorrow.  Oh!  I almost forgot.  Jonas cut up an entire log for me for a tiny piece that I needed, and I wound up not needing it.  More about that later, with a video or two.

And Saturday, beware of the Wrath of Snakeye!  

And check out Jonas' blog for his version of events.

For the other posts in regarding the Welsh Stick Chair project, click here.


  1. Tomorow we will be more efficient :-)

  2. Sounds like a fun way to spend the weekend! Looking forward to seeing the chairs.

  3. Ya'll are nuts, but i love it, can't wait till ya'll build those walsh stick chairs...

  4. Have fun guys! Looking forward to the build!

  5. I'm gearing up... last day of work today and I'm enroute! Hopefully his place was easy-ish to find...

    1. It was during daylight hours when the sun was shining, not so sure about the middle of the night when it is raining.

  6. This seems like a great time, and reading your two perspectives is the next best thing to being there. Looks like a great time

    1. Thanks, Jeremy! We are definitely having a great time. It's also weird, but fun blogging about and reading another's blog regarding the experience.