Sunday, September 30, 2018

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza III - Day Six - Final Day

Just a quick update, as I left my camera which has the best pictures in the shop. I'll post some of those photos tomorrow.

Today was the last official day of the DCBE. I don't fly home until tomorrow evening, so it is possible I might be able to sneak a little bit more time in Jonas' shop. It looks like a bomb went off in there. I think tomorrow should be dedicated to putting it back in order and helping move Olav's benches out. I'll also need to pack my stuff to get ready to fly.

Ty left today. It was great getting to know him over the week, and it was refreshing to see him work on his chair which required such precision. He pulled it off to perfection, and completed his chair with time to spare. Something of a first for the DCBE.
Jonas giving Ty's chair a test.
The rest of us have all made a lot of progress on our builds, but Jonas, Olav and I will all have to put the finishing touches on our builds later.

Jonas is saddling the seat of his nanny rocker. It is a mammoth task because it is a pretty big seat and bassinet combination, and he is going the full 3/4" depth into whitebeam, which is doing everything in it's power to resist being saddled. Once he's done with that, I think he'll be on the downhill stretch.

Olav is wrapping up his shave horse. I look forward to seeing it completed. It should be a massive thing when it's done. He has designed it with removable legs.

I'm actually pleased with my progress. I hoped to finish this week, but there are certain things that just take time. No shortcuts allowed. One such thing was getting the rockers on.

It really wasn't difficult, I just had to get my head around what I was looking at, what I wanted to see, and where the problems were coming from. Next time will be a bit easier now that I've done the mental gymnastics required.

I discovered one thing that was giving me fits, and that was the front right leg. I must have been just a hair off in drilling the mortise for the stretcher, because the front leg assembly doesn't quite snap into the seat as it should. It's not much, but the angle is just a tad bit too open. I decided to charge on with it rather than making a new front leg assembly because it is just a small thing, and the legs are flexible enough to lock properly into the mortises in the seat.

The issue is, that tiny bit of tension has changed the angle of that leg ever so slightly.

It's not enough to be seen or noticed, but it does make aligning the rockers so they are perfectly in line difficult. The usual method of measuring distances between different parts of the chair isn't working.

Once I made this realization, the alignment was pretty easy. I just levelled the rockers with each other using winding sticks, then measured from the seat bottom to the rockers on each side to ensure the chair sat level, left to right.
Aligning the rockers.
I then marked out the full depth of the rocker slots on the legs, sawed to depth, and used a chisel to permanently mark the baseline to chisel to. There is still a few things to get ready on this chair that I have to do in Jonas' shop rather than at home, so I didn't chisel the waste out to the basselines and final fit the rockers. That can easily be done later.
It works!
The rest of the day was spent roughing out parts from Jonas' massive stash of wood for the pieces I still needed: back spindles and arms.

I found a really nice board of kiln dried ash. Since they were the delicate back spindles, I spent some real care laying out the cuts for the spindles resulting in blanks with perfectly straight grain.

Here's how I did it: I crosscut the board to length, then I used a straight edge to pencil in a line on the board which followed the grain from one corner of the board until it ran off the other side, as best I could. Some of the boards already were straight, some of them had a little runout which wasted a little wood. After laying out these lines, I jointed one face on the machine, then cut to the previously marked line on the bandsaw. This freshly sawn edge was run over the jointer giving me a flat edge and a flat face to take to the table saw. There I ripped out about twice as many blanks as I needed, as not all of the defects could be seen through the rough finish of the rough sawn boards.

I ran them all through the thickness planer and selected eleven of the most perfect blanks that had the least runout, (nine for the chair and two extras, just in case).

Once the spindle blanks were four-squared, I used Glen Huey's trick to taper the blanks on the jointer.

Now I have eleven square spindle blanks that are rough shaped on the machine and double tapered. The next step is to spokeshave them to final shape.

The last thing I did today was use the leftovers from the board I cut the rockers from to rough out arms to the general shape I want. They will eventually get a round tenon on one end.
Here's a picture of the upper assembly as it looks right now.
If I'm able to get some shop time tomorrow, I'll see how far I can get final shaping the spindles. and the crest (it is bandsawn to rough shape)

Here is what's left for me to do on this chair:
  • Finish shaping the crest, and tenon it into the back supports.
  • Shape the spindles
  • Drill 1/2" holes in the seat for the spindles and 3/8" holes in the crest for the spindles.
  • Final scraping of the seat to remove any marks - ready for finish. 
  • Plane the bottoms of the rockers to an angle so they sit flat on the floor.
  • Mount the spindles and crest rail after gluing and wedging the back supports.
  • Perhaps before that I should glue and wedge the legs (after finishing the mortises to final depth).
  • Finish shaping the arms, mortise the back supports.
  • Final shaping of the arm stumps, glue and wedge into seat.
  • Mount the arms, glue and wedge.
  • Shape the bottoms of the legs and mount the rockers.
No matter what, the rockers go on last. One piece of advice Ray Schwanenberger gave both Jonas and I was to mount the rockers last. I can just imagine the clown show involved in assembling the upper assembly on a chair with permanently affixed rockers.

Overall, it has been an amazing week. Although I hoped to finish the chair, I am pleased with the progress I have made. I've only made a handful of staked chairs, and this is my first rocker. It was fun, and I would like to make another one someday.

Next: Bonus (Cleanup) Day

EDIT: More pictures! I took a lot fewer than I thought.
Field expedient measuring dividers

Dividers in use

Rough shaped spindles.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza III - Day Five

This morning started out great. Three of us were in the shop making marvelous progress. I started the day by finishing up the carving of my seat blank. I had gotten as far as hollowing out the bowl last night, and today I finished up the shaping of the seat blank.
Doing this in raking light was much better than carving it after dark.
Ty seems to be moving more at a pace of realistically finishing his chair.
Ty is fast approaching a finished chair.
Jonas' nanny rocker is coming along, too. He has his legs mounted.
Jonas giving it a test-sit.
It was such a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, it was warming up outside, we had the door to the shop open to let in some fresh air, and life was good. This is about the time that Hurricane Brian hit the shop. I didn't get any pictures of this because it was so embarrassing.

A giant Danish bee flew in the open door and decided to investigate the area around my bench. I'm not normally bothered by bees, but the thing was trapped inside, so I figured I ought to help it out before it got angry about being trapped inside.

Naturally, I grabbed the closest thing to shoo it away, a shop broom. Unfortunately the bee didn't follow my directions and fly back out of the door. Instead he made a beeline (get it, "bee-line?") for the window near my bench.

While he was on the window sill, I figured I'd put him out of his misery, so I gave him a whack. It turns out that brooms aren't really that efficient as flyswatters. The stunned bee took a couple more whacks before I hauled back and went for the death blow.

I have no idea what happened to the bee, as the broom went through the window and I forgot all about the bee.

Luckily, it was a single pane of glass and wasn't expensive to fix, but poor Jonas didn't really get much farther after this point as he had to go get a piece of glass, fix it (in which he broke his new pane of glass, too), and finish the window off. By the time that was over with, Jonas' dad showed up for a visit, and it seemed as if Jonas never did get back into an efficient rhythm until after dinner.

Later I apologized to Mrs. Mulesaw for being so clumsy. She said, "Don't worry, it happens all the time."

This begs the question: who else has broken a window in their home with a broom?

Let's get back to some non-bee related events:

Jonas' dad, Jens, arrived with another trunkload of Swedish tools to sell us. It's fortunate I arrived by plane this time. This helped me in selecting only a few tools which will fit in my luggage, rather than my customary glut of chisels, hammers, and axes.
We had a miniature Swedish tool flea market in the horse barn. Olav, Jens, and Jonas.
Jonas looks pleased. He wound up fixing the glass with another piece he must have found at a nearby archeological site.
Meanwhile, while Jonas was fixing the window, I got all kinds of progress done on my chair. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the finished seat. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that. It is ready to go, except for a bit of final scraping on the seat.

While Jonas and Olav went to the home center to get a new piece of glass, Ty went to visit his mother and I was alone in the shop. I spent that time looking through Jonas' wood stashes for a suitable hunk of wood for rockers. I found the perfect piece. It was a little over an inch thick, and had some grain that followed an arc. The arc doesn't perfectly match the pattern for the rockers, but it is close enough that there are some long wood fibers that go all the way from the front of the rocker to the back.

I copied the general shape of the rocker from Ray Schwanenberger's nanny rocker plans, and added my own flair to the decorative parts. I think a plain form will better suit my chair.
I finished the blank of wood to the final shape before resawing.
The blank of wood was not so thick that I could waste thickness resawing it on one of Jonas' machines, so I used a Dick saw instead.
Action photography by Ty, who is a professional photographer.

More action photography.
I took my time, and tried to make the most perfect cut possible.
Jens, who is a retired wood shop teacher, gave me an A- for my resawing skills..
Seeing Jens again was great fun. He is a character, and loves woodworking.
Jens giving my chair a test-sit.
Meanwhile, Ty is finished with the woodworking for his chair, so he started sewing the canvas seat.
Ty's chair is beautiful. The wood he chose was hornbeam.
Now it's time to mount the rockers. With all the care I took to ensure the legs lined up perfectly, they are now a tiny bit out of alignment because I was just a hair off on one of my stretcher mortises. Not the end of the world, everything will still fit together with some care.

I used the method from Elia Bizzarri to mount the rockers, which is fairly uncomplicated. It involves clamping one rocker to the legs and using it to mark angles and locations for a perfect fit. The only thing that made this difficult was again my choice to use octagonal legs rather than round ones.
Laying out the stretcher mortises.
Eventually I was successful with one mortise. It only goes in a little way while I fit everything and align the rockers, then I'll sink them to their final depth.
At least it fits. Hopefully it aligns with the front leg.
One of these joints is as far as I got today. Tomorrow I'll finish fitting these and mill the final parts to my chair
The state of my chair after Day 5.
Cross your fingers there are no more bee incidents tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza III - Day Four

It was a good day yesterday, not too many do-overs due to not paying attention today. I did re-do the stretchers I made, but only because I couldn't quite figure out the best way to do them.

Overall, I got lots done: steam bending, stretchers made and mounted, and the seat bowl carved.

Another couple of weeks of this and I'll be done. Too bad I fly on Sunday.

Ty had the brilliant idea of using a plastic bag as a steam box, as the pipe Jonas used for his bending wasn't wide enough for my crest rail.
Just a plastic bag full of steam.

Close up. I tied it shut loosely with a string and poked some pinholes for the water to drain.

It seems to have worked.
There is a crack in the back of the crest, but I think I can fix it with glue.
Octagonal stretchers with a tenon shaped on the dowel plates.

Drilling contraption #1. It works, but is complicated and it would be easy for something to go wrong.

Drilling contraption #2, this worked perfectly and was a bit safer.

Rough crest rail out of the bending form.

Here's what woodworking blogging looks like.

Stretchers glued up, they fit.
Next it was time to move on to hollowing the seat.
Adzing out the rough stuff.
I wasn't able to bring my scorp along this time. I was bummed because it works well as the medium tool after the adze does the roughing. I was leery to use my travisher, a fine tool, right after the adze, but I was surprised that it worked just fine.
Travishing across the grain to remove the adze marks.
Jonas feels like he is behind, but really he is doing amazing things. He decded to turn simple legs, and made a template for his pattern-copying attachment for his lathe. That thing works great, and gave him four identical legs in no time.
Jonas and his pattern copier.

Four identical legs.
Olav's shavehorse is making progress. I had to laugh watching him drill a 2" hole with a cordless drill. Somehow it worked.
Ty's chair is going to be freaking cool.
Day five will hopefully result in a finished seat blank, some rockers made, and perhaps some start on mounting the crest and making the spindles.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza III - Day Three

Today was a bit frustrating for me. I made some forward progress, but spent most of my time fixing screw-ups and re-doing parts that I wasn't happy with.

The day started out well enough. I decided that since I had already cut the whole seat blank out (rather than leaving the rear of the seat alone so I could have something to clamp to), then I would finish the rear of the blank allowing me to use the outside radius of the actual seat to lay out the spindle deck.

I know that elm is an incredibly difficult wood to work. It has interlocking grain, and is temperamental in the sense that grain direction can change from one shaving to the next. That being said, the shaping of this part of the seat was easy. Maybe my tools were sharper than usual, or (more likely) the wood was still has a bit higher moisture content than bone dry since it was milled in February.

Regardless, roughing out of the rear roundover was pretty easy, and it smoothed up with my spokeshave with no problems. Yay!
My cute little drawknife.
To lay out this roundover, I just used my finger as a fence and drew a pencil line about half the thickness of the seat. It's then just a matter of slicing away until you get there.
Finished the roundover in no time flat.
This is where things started to go south. The next step was to sink the mortises for the back supports and the arm stumps. I decided that the shape of the back supports I made the day before were not suitable, so I made some more. I made blanks for four, just in case I made another screw up, and I wound up ruining all of them. I then milled out another pair, this time taking my time and using some care in ensuring they turned out exactly right, and they did.

What I learned was it really doesn't take longer to do things the right way. I know the "proper" way to square lumber and make tapering cuts, and it would have saved me the entire morning if I had done it that way in the first place rather than trying to cut a corner or two because I'm in a hurry.

Rant over.

Meanwhile, Jonas was finally able to get a piece of ash to bend in his loop back form.
This looks weird, but you'll see why it has to be this way once you see his finished piece.
I mounted the back supports and the arm stumps.
This is where another disaster happened. Not due to poor workmanship (this time), but as a result of not understanding the photo of the chair I base this rocker from.

After mounting the arm stumps, I gave the chair a test-sit, and realized that there was barely enough room for me to get in it between the arm stumps. Once the arms are on, I won't fit in this chair.

The problem was there wasn't enough splay in the arm stumps. If they were pointed a bit farther out, the chair would be much more comfortable.

I decided to plug the holes I just drilled and drill them again, at the proper angle.
A matter of gluing a piece in, cutting it off and starting over.
It doesn't look that great, but I can drill the new hole from the same spot and hopefully the repair will be invisible when looking at the chair.
Meanwhile, everyone else is plugging along making marvelous progress. Ty has a lot of turned parts on his chair, and it turns out is is an extremely skilled turner.
Stunning turnings in hornbeam.
And Olav is coming along on his shaving horse. I don't fully understand his design, so I am excited to see how this bench comes together.
Olav's progress.

Discussing how to drill accurate holes.
At the end of the day, I made a bending form for the crest rail of my chair. I laminated two 2" pine boards together and left it to glue overnight.
Jonas has a cool Ohio compass plane.
Jonas' compass plane came in handy for smoothing this form. I figured it was good practice for making rockers.
bending form.
One of the offcuts of the bending form gave me a preview of what the shape of my chair will look like.
Testing the shape with a scrap.
The whitebeam we are using for many parts is really interesting wood to work. It has some interesting properties. Jonas was amazed with how an end-grain cut off from a cross cut on the table saw was so flexible. Any other wood is very weak, but this stuff is very flexible.
Jonas and an end-grain cut off of whitebeam.
I did get some forward progress, but I wish I would have gotten farther. Tomorrow is another day. I plan to start the day steam bending a beautiful piece of quartersawn elm for a crest rail. I also hope to saddle the seat and get the rockers cut out and on the chair. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Danish Chair Building Extravaganza III - Day Two w/Video

So far I'm shocked and amazed. Today is the second day with all four of us staying focused and on task. I feel like I am doing a good job of pushing my build forward going from one task to the next. Something I have struggled with in the past.

The problems have been more in the line of re-doing things after we already spent time working on them. Yesterday Jonas decided not to use a drawing and a bending form that he spent several hours on.

Today, I started by re-making the chair's legs because looking at them this morning made me realize I didn't like the shape. It's possible there's more of that to come.

Better to make it right with a second try rather than pushing on with something you aren't happy with.

I didn't take many pictures today, and totally neglected Ty and Olav. Ty's chair is coming along nicely. He should finish with time to spare. Olav is building a shaving horse, and I haven't really been paying much attention to the design of his project because I've selfishly been working on my chair.

On to the pictures.

Jonas got a lot done today. He flattened his seat/cradle blank.
Jonas traversing the board to make it flat.
He also failed three times to bend a dowel into the loop for the sack back, but he nailed the bending for the most difficult bend the first try.
Less than optimal back-bend.

The main rail was very long and had two tight curves. First time 'go.'

A closeup of the bend. The form is screwed to a pallet.
I did a lot today, but there isn't too much visually exciting to show. I re-did the legs, turned the tenons on the lathe and trimmed them with a tapered tenon cuter (Tim-Manney style).

To sink the legs, I started by laying everything out on the underside of the seat, including sighlines to have references on what angles I needed to drill holes. I chose to drill from the underside to avoid having to transfer those lines to the top, too. It's the way I usually drill the legs.

I drilled the holes for the front, then realized my bevel gauge was set about three degrees short of my plan. It looks fine, and doesn't really hurt anything, other than now my back legs aren't going to be on any of the lines I layed out.

The problem is this: with a rocker, the front and rear legs on each side have to be in line with each other so the rocker itself bisects both legs - in line. If the legs aren't in line, then the mortises for the rocker have to be at an angle to the leg on either the front or the back, something that aesthetically doesn't look nice.

Jonas helped here with a great idea. After stressing about how best to layout this leg hole and dial it in to perfection, he suggested laying a board up against the legs. If the board touches both legs along the full width of the board, it's perfectly in line.
A revelation.
I'm pretty happy with the holes I drilled for the back legs. I spent a lot of time laying out the lines for the #3 leg, only to realize that I was chasing my tail. What I usually do is continually check my angles with a square and a bevel gauge every couple turns of my tapered reamer. For these rear legs, the best way turned out to be to leave those gauges aside, eyeball the reamer, then check splay (side angle) with the board, followed by a board-check of the rake (front-back angle). This ensures the back legs are dead-nuts on with the front legs, as well as with each other.

Here's a short video on the process: it shows me reaming the hole, checking, making a correction and reaming to final depth.
Check back tomorrow to see the rest of our progress.