Friday, December 25, 2015

Constructing the Satan Santa Pope Chair - Part II - Shaping Legs

See the first in this series HERE.

I am pretty sure one could use this technique to make legs that are round, mimicking the look of a turned leg. I decided I wanted facets to highlight the fact this was not turned on a lathe. I thought about how to do this for a long time, and decided I would use a drawknife for most of the work, and aim for an octagonal pattern with the tapered lower leg. 
Preparing for a saw cut to define the feet.
To get the feet to all look the same, I used a crosscut saw to saw the four faces to a specific depth, then matched that depth on the octagonal axes.

How about that? The plural of axis is a woodworking word!
My trusty DICK saw with dry-erase marking the proper depth for the first cut.
Perhaps this is easier to see from a bit farther out.
Do this on all four legs before going to the octagonal, which needs to be a bit deeper.
Honestly, I don't remember how I came up with this measurement, but the octagonal bit definitely needs to be deeper than the horizontal cut.
My four color pack of dry erase markers came in handy.  Green for the first cut, blue for the second!
To make this easy and repeatable, I just opended my vice a little and used it as a bench hook.
I think that perhaps I am putting in way too much thought for describing defining the feet. It was easier to do than explain. Going about it in a methodical way, I hoped that I could get the legs all to look as much alike as possible.

Moving on. Next up, the tapered, diagonal, stopped cut on the lower leg.

I was excited to try the drawknife that was kindly given to me by Ray Schwanenberger. This knife is a proper drawknife, compared to the short one I have. I found this to give much more power and control. Despite it being bigger, it can be a much finer tool. Much more versatile.
I tried to keep the angle a consistent 45 degrees with my new angle gauge. This really helped, and assisted in my efforts to make legs that all look about the same.

This worked pretty well. I went from a mark where I wanted the top of the taper to start, and ended when I bottomed out the saw kerf at the foot. I found it easiest to try to keep this cut as flat as possible the whole time, rather than hog out all of the depth and then try to make it flat, but I imagine that could just be my preference.
I am not that experienced with a drawknife, so I imagine there was much I wasn't doing correctly. Even though the grain was mostly straight, I found sometimes the grain direction made things easy, and sometimes very hard.
This process took me way longer than it would have had I used a lathe. I found out during this process that the old carbon steel on the vintage drawknife does not hold up well to this kiln-dried ash. I had to sharpen it much more often than I would have liked. The steel on the modern, short knife I had felt much harder and held up better, so I used that. I also found using a chisel near the foot was required.
When I finished, this is the shape I wound up with.
By the time I was finished with all sixteen tapered cuts, I found I was using the following tool kit: short drawknife, flat spokeshave, a 1" chisel, an angle gauge, and occasionally a low angle vintage spokeshave when the grain wouldn't behave.
The toolkit I found most useful for this.
I wound up with four legs that looked pretty similar.
The finished legs.
This looked a bit more angular than what I was going for, so in the next post I carve on them a bit more.

Finished Chair
Part I
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII


  1. I'll add a tiny bit of information here. There is another type of marker called a wet erase that is like a dry erase only slightly more permanent as it must be wet first. Also Sharpie markers are alcohol soluble which means they are permanent until you wipe them with alcohol (rubbing alcohol or bourbon say) for me learning this has opened up a lot of opportunity for things like your depth gauge

    1. The dry erase worked great. It wiped off with a paper towel, and disapeared if I sawed too deep.