Jefferson Swivel and Secretary

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Upholstered Pieces

I have began to make upholstered furniture, kind of in the same style of the 18th and 19th century work I normally do. I have never really seen how upholstered frames go together so I build all mine with mortise and tenon joints, later finding out most frames made by companies are done with dowel construction which apparently is strong enough, so a mortise and tenon would be even better and much stronger. I use a basic fabric of Osnaburg for everything to have the look of a period piece. The webbing in the seat make for very comfortable furniture. I also use cotton batting to give a fluffy and less modern feel. I am going to make one when I have time for my house so I can put it through a durability test of my own.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New shop coming soon

My wife and I have bought a new house in Nixa, Mo. It has about 3.5 acres of land that our daughter Lily can run and play and grow up in a much better surrounding than we are in now. Also the place has a 30 x 50 shop that I'm going to work out of and do chair classes from. It's a monster from what I have now. I am very lucky we found the place and actually got it. As soon as it's all finalized and we start moving in I'll post some pics of it. It's a shop the size I have wanted (and needed) for quite some time. As you start getting more tools and more orders you have to have extra room to get everything done and working. This shop will make room for me for a long time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And the paint goes on...continued

Here I am putting the black milk paint coat on. The chair is getting into the final stages and becoming more of what you think a Windsor Chair looks like. 

After the black Milk Paint dries, again for at least 4-5 hours, overnight is even better,  I will put on at least 2 coats of the mixed finish I use and depending on how it looks after the second coat I will put on a 3rd coat if needed. The mix I use is a 1:1:1 mix of Spar Varnish, Boiled Linseed Oil, and thinner. Once dry, the chair will overtime develop it's own wear and look even better. The more it's sat in, the more it will take on a shine in the areas it comes into contact with bodies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Painted Titanic

Here is how the Titanic looked after it was painted. I have to say this was a hard chair to paint. With 37 back spindles, 10 legs, 9 stretchers and all the in between areas, it took quite some time to get it completely coated. The nice thing about it though was by the time I had gotten to the end of painting, the parts I did first were almost completely dry. For the finish, I used a 1:1:1 mix of Spar Varnish, Linseed Oil and Naptha as a thinner.

And the paint goes on...

Here is what is known as "in the white". A chair ready for paint and begging for color.

Here the first color is going on. This is Terra Cotta Red. I always start with the undercarriage and work my way up. The bottom of the stretchers get the first dose of color and I always complete an individual part before moving onto the next. You can also see my label I put on the underside or the seat. I sign and date every piece I make and glue on a paper label. The underside of the chair only gets a coat of Linseed Oil and will age to a golden brown color in just a few years.

After the whole chair is painted, I set it aside to dry at least for 4 or 5 hours. If you apply Milk Paint to soon to a previous color the water in the next color can soften the first making it a blob of a mess. This chair will be ready for the black tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Steam bending rig

 This is the Steam Box I have used for 8 or 9 years now. It's just a simple pine box screwed together about 6 foot long. I can hold almost everything I need to steam with this one box. The 5 gallon gas can was purchased new and has only been filled with water, the turkey cooker base is one purchased from Wal-Mart and few years ago. This setup puts out enough steam to get the entire box up to 212 degrees in about 20 minutes of so and depending on how much water I fill the can with will last from 45 mins- over 3 hours.

 My jigs for bending are simple construction lumber and a plywood base. I never had the room to have multiple jigs so I made one base and interchangeable forms. I can do Sack backs, comb backs, C-arms, and Bow backs just by unscrewing the form and putting the appropriate one in place. This way I only have one big clunky base to contend with and with just a couple of screws I can keep everything together when not in use. If I need to do several of the same chairs I bend 2 at a time and once bent I tie a string around them and wait till I have 2 more bent and clamp them all together to help keep them from moving around.

The "Titanic" is about to set sail

I got this behemoth of a Settee done today and am very happy with it. I have never made one this big and by big I mean --BIG. It's just a little over 8' overall.  I have seen other chair makers who have made longer settee's, but it's not an easy task and I am well aware of that now. I had a good time figuring out how to do everything, how long to make the bows, how many spindles to make etc. and getting all the spindles in place before the glue set up was a real chore. I was very careful drilling the holes in the 2 back bows because one little mishap and I would have to make all new bows, that means, splitting a new piece out, shaping it, plus steam bending and waiting for it to dry, talk about nerve racking.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chairs all in a row

I finished all the chairs except for the Titanic 8' settee for this order and just had to take a picture of the chairs. I couldnt get a good enough shot so I had to arch them and the two arm chairs get kind of lost but man thats a bunch of chairs. I will begin painting hopefully this weekend. I have to say I am extremly pleased with the way everything came out. Now I just have to finish the Settee and I'll be ready for paint.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seat Shaping

These pictures show shaping a seat starting by hand planing the blank flat then carving out a seat with the inshave and travisher and finally using a spokeshave. These are the same tools used to make all the antique Windsor Chairs and they still work, probably better, than most power tools we have today. Plus, you don't get those cool looking hand tools marks if you use a sander to smooth it up. Hand tool work is really not as hard as most poeple think, if, the tools are sharp and tuned up. They really can make quick work if you use them right and can read the grain direction, and the only noise is that sweet swooshing sound the tool makes from the contact with the wood.

The "Titanic"

I started work on a huge 8' long Sack Back Settee the other day and here I have started carving out the seat. I took me just over 3 hours to carve the seat, talk about sore arms. I still need to smooth it with the travisher and a spokeshave.  A friend of mine Terry Kelly @ coined this thing the "Titanic" and I think I am actually going to call it that, it's a perfect name for this monster.

Laughing is the best medicine

One night while we were getting our daughter Lily Mae ready for bed and into her PJ's, a fly started buzzing around, so I was trying to smack it in my hands and Lily just started busting up laughing. I couldn't help but but keep it up. I mean who doesn't love a laughing child. Theres no better medicine than to hear those few seconds of pure joy.