newbie chair questions

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newbie chair questions

Postby disco_monkey79 » Tue Sep 13, 2016 1:54 pm


Firstly - fantastic site! I've read loads of really intesresting stuff, and still barely scratched the surface of what's on here.

Secondly, apologies if this is treading over well-worn ground. I have used the search function, but still have some questions.

Having read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Jack Hill's country chair making, I'm having a go myself. I've made a little 3-legged milking stool, and I'm currently planning a 2nd stool, hopefully improving on the first - which is functional, but no oil-painting. Then, I'd like to tackle a chair. Hopefully you good people will be able to answer some questions.

- Jointing the seat - gluing several pieces seems common, to make a piece large enough. Is glue sufficient? Or do you also use a mechanical joint (dowelling, biscuits etc)?

- When drilling holes at an angle, the forstner bit wants to skip off, as the outer edge touches before the centre "spike". How do you cope with this? Clamp more firmly, or perhaps start the hole vertically, before moving to the relevant angle?

- Most chairs seem to use blind joints for the legs. I quite like the look of the wedged joints. Is it down to personal preference, or is there good reason for using blind joints for chairs?

- When using a powered lathe, how do you turn pieces fine enough for e.g. slim back spindles? A 3 or 4 jaw chuck? I don;t know the technical term for it, but on my lathe the 4-pronged "spike" that pokes in to the work piece in order to propel it is about an inch and a quarter in diameter, so at least one end on the workpiece can't be smaller than that.

- A couple of years ago, there was a BBC prog which showed a chap making a windsor chair in his workshop. He used an attachment to an angle grinder to rough out the seat (before finishing with hand tools). Any idea what that attachment was?

Hope that all made sense, and apologies for the essay!

Much obliged.
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Re: newbie chair questions

Postby Davie Crockett » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:07 pm

Having recently made my first chair on a course with Gudrun Leitz I'll answer your questions in the order you asked them.

Jointing the seat...Not had experience of this as I was lucky enough to have a piece of walnut which was large enough for the job. But..I would think dowelling or biscuit jointing would be essential as the seat forms part of the integral stress loading of the structure. If you are considering jointing, join from front to back and cross brace between the legs with a bridging piece.

Don't use a forstner bit if you need to drill accurate holes at specific angles. A carpenters brace and bit is your best bet as you can stop and adjust your angles against an adjustable bevel. Remember that approx 20 turns =1" depth drilled and have a sacrificial piece of wood clamped behind to prevent break out. I was taught to use wedged joints for legs and blind joints for the spindles but it all depends on the thickness of the seat and whether it will accommodate a blind joint. If you are using wedges, always try to orient them at 90°to the grain in the seat. For aesthetic reasons this may not always be possible, you may have to compromise for the overall look.

If you're using a powered lathe (Cough!) you might consider getting hold of a trapping plane for the spindles. I used a pole lathe and skew chisel to get them down to about 7/16 and finished up with a rounding plane. (Ashem Crafts). A spindle lathe usually uses a collet instead of a chuck and the other end of the spindle is captured in a ring instead of pinioned on a live centre.

The grinder attachment you speak of is a an arbotech power carver (Axminster tools), but typical bum shaped depressions in the seat rarely go deeper than 3/8" so I feel an adze and inshave is much more accurate for this process.
Hope that helps,
Chair.JPG (36.39 KiB) Viewed 3970 times

PS Could you put your location in the settings as it will help you to find local help when you post. Cheers!
AKA Dave Munday
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Re: newbie chair questions

Postby disco_monkey79 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:43 am


Many thanks for the reply. Lovely chair, by the way.

I wondered if reference to a powered lathe may raise an eyebrow ;-)

Lots of hand tools for Santa's list this year!

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