I’ve started getting my act together for my book project and I have a couple puzzles to figure out. As a reminder, I’m building two-dozen copies of this chair in Independence Hall’s collection, hopefully in about 140 hours:
The chair has four dents in the bow from the bending process. This one (and it’s mirror-image dent) is on the inside of the bow, at it’s widest part:
And this dent is on the outside of the bow down by the seat at the bow’s narrow waist:
What do they mean? I can think of three options:
1. The bow was bent and dried around a single form that bent the top semi-circular bend without denting it, but put the dents into the sides. Possible, but I’m having trouble envisioning what the form would look like. Why would the interior of the bend get dented?
2. Ditto, but after bending, the bow was woven into a drying rack that dented the bow. The drying rack could have three slats on each side of the bend (for a total of six slats), corresponding with the two visible dents in the chair bow and a possible third dent located on the tenon that attaches the bow to the seat. Possibly the bending form would only be a semi-circle for the top of the bow, and the re-curve in the sides of the bow would be created by the drying rack.
3. The dents were created by some sore of freehand bending or “limbering” process while the bow was still hot. I’m doubtful dents in hot steamed wood would stay crisp like the dents in the old chair, but I aim to try it and find out.
Thoughts? Post them on the website comments section. Has anyone seen a bending form or drying rack that like what I’m envisioning in my second option? I’ve seen simpler versions for ladderback and fancy chair crests, like this one pictured in Nancy Goyne Evans Windsor Chairmaking in America, but nothing for a more complex bend: