Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2nd Annual June Chair Build - My Seat Blanks

Don't forget about the upcoming 2nd Annual June Chair Build! It is my little challenge and motivation for as many people who want to build a chair in the month of June.

June is quickly approaching, and I wanted to show a glimpse of what I am planning for my chair build this year.

I briefly entertained an idea to use for a seat blank a piece of 8/4 walnut I have had flying about for some time. Then, I decided to make a couple of staked and painted outdoor patio chairs.

Those ideas all went out the window when I had the opportunity to buy this board from a friend:
A chair or two.
A local cabinetmaker that I met on Instagram has a stunning collection of lumber for tables - his real passion. I mentioned to him I was on the lookout for a nice piece of wood for a chair, and he said he probably could help me out.

We looked at some really cool, really wide oak, ash and maple, but my heart stopped when he said he had some appropriately sized zebrano, or zebra wood (Microberlinia brazzavillensis).

He had three pieces like this, and I'm pretty sure he didn't want to let any of them go, despite the fact that they have been waiting in his shop for three years or so (no judgements here - I have wood in my shop that has been there much longer than that).

I am certain that this wood is going to be a royal pain in the neck to turn into chairs, but if I am successful, there will be nothing out there like them.
It is a pretty big board. 45mm (8/4) x 30 cm (12 in) x 215 cm (7 ft).
As soon as I showed this board to The Frau, she decided I need to use it to build a console table for her. I agreed, but told her she had until I broke this board down to come up with a design.
Time's up!
Does anyone else pause before crosscutting a long, beautiful board? I always feel a little guilty, like someone who knows what they are doing might want that whole piece for something proper.

I cut three 45 cm (18") blocks from one end of the board. This left a hunk about 30" long for a table top.

Amusing aside - I decided to list the measurements of this board in metric, as it came from a German cabinetmaker's shop. It's how he measured it. But, now that I have made some cuts on it, I can discuss it purely in proper inches.

Moving on.

12 inches in width isn't quite wide enough to get a seat blank without a glue up. I also noted that I have three blocks, and if I rip one in half I can get two seat blanks from these three pieces. I am pretty sure I will be able to come up with a glue line that is hardly visible.

It turns out there was a big challenge with this, as the end of the board checked, and there is a massive crack straight down the middle of one of the boards. This one will have to be ripped and used to widen the other two.

I think I have come up with a pleasing layout.
The center will be ripped and the glue up will yield two chair blanks.
I have heard from one guy on Instagram regarding his plans for his #junechairbuild . What are you going to build?


  1. Wow...beautiful piece of wood! These will be a stunning pair of chairs.

    1. Thanks, Greg! I sure hope so. But I'm not looking forward to adzing them. Did you ever smash pop gun caps on the sidewalk with a hammer when you were a kid? I imagine that will be a lot like what adzing these will feel like.

  2. Oh yeah, smashing pop gun caps with a hammer, guilty of that :-)
    That is one gorgeous piece of wood you got there, can't wait to see the final look.

    As for my build, still hunting, gathering wood for it

    Bob, who is glad June is such a long month

    1. I can somehow see you doing that, Bob. :)

      There is still plenty of time.


  3. I think you are going to have quite a seat there. The Frau's design will definitely look better in ash.

    I have many plans for chairs, but for June's build it's probably going to be 1 of 6 of stacking stools with woven tops (maybe all 6) Not exactly in the staked style, but made with efficient joinery techniques, it will be staked if I can iron out the design. I'd really like to dive into my Maloofian stools as well, or who knows, I might just say "screw it" and make a one-off stick chair that has no place in my project timeline or house right now.

    The problem is I have a bench that really needs attention (and is non functional and taking up space) and a shop full of remodeling detritus...

    1. A stick chair sounds like just the thing!

      BTW, I was able to get the table top out of that board, too!

  4. Hi everybody!.. I am the guy from IG... will be building a replica of an Erich Dieckmann arm chair circa 1926. You can follow me here, no IG subscription required: Happy Shavings
    Best and good luck with your build!

    1. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!