Jefferson Swivel and Secretary

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chair-maker in the making...

I had been sitting at the shaving horse all day when my 3 year old daughter Lily, came out to see me. I stood up and walked over to the bench a few steps away, turned around and Lily was on the shaving horse doing what she saw me do. I had to take a quick picture with my phone before this one got away. I hope even if she doesn't go as nuts over woodworking as I have, that she at least appreciates it down the road. It would be incredible if I had a chair making buddy though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Life of a Windsor Chair Spindle

When you look at a Windsor Chair in it's completed form, there are so many parts that come together to make the beauty you see. Part of that beauty are the plain and simple back spindles providing the anchor of the upper half of the chair. What you don't see is how those plain and simple little back spindles came to be. To do them the right way they need to be split or riven out of a green log. First you have to find a good straight log (in this case White Oak). You have to saw it to length, split it in half, then again into quarters, and even if you can read the bark well, the log may have some hidden defects that make it unusable. Once it's split into quarters, and any defects discovered and discarded, a grid is layed out across the section, some people split it into eight sections instead. The 1" grid gives you more even squared up spindles stock making it easier to shave with the Draw Knife in my book.
Each grid line is strategically rived using a riving brake, giving gorgeous straight grained oak providing the utmost strength and quality. Then each wide plank is rived again and again till 1" square billets are produced.

With each billet split out, it's time to shape them square with a draw knife. First you have to follow the grain on one side, flatten it out, turn it end for end, up and down, back and forth, then move onto the next side and do it all again. Once thats done four times, you have to make it octaganal and oversize the tenons, the swell, and taper. After you have all that done...  
They need to set around the shop a week or so before they go in the kiln for 2-3 days. Then they are ready to final shape with a spokeshave.
  So, those plain and simple little spindles have been through so much just to be a plain and simple spindle. Even if they seem like plain and simple parts of a Windsor, they provide the backbone of the chair allowing you to sit and rest your back. Now I'm ready to lean my tired back against those plain and simple spindles and relax.    

As the Drawknife Slices

 There is truly something magical and mesmerizing about a Draw Knife. I split out in the neighborhood of 100 billets and roughed out 93 yesterday and today. A good quality oak made the last two days so pleasant to work, on top of the fantastic weather and great scenery I have at my shop. The super sharp draw knife (thanks to Pete Galberts video on the grinder jig) made the work seem to fly by. I learn something every time I pick up the draw knife (or any tool for that matter) but I have gotten so attached to using a draw knife. What a wonderful tool, so simple in design, but so useful in so many ways. When you can make a pile of shavings and not remember what your doing (work) or what the rest of the world is doing has a wonderful effect on you.