Joe’s Backyard

Last week I shipped a Continuous Arm Rocker to a customer in AZ. This is a story about his chair:

Seth and I stood in the yard and stared. Sheds and and lean-tos filled to overflowing with machines surrounded us; rusty mammoths from a bygone age. Machines that didn’t fit inside were scattered between the buildings, rusting in the damp North Carolina weather. The runt of the litter weighed over a thousand pounds.

We were in Joe Hunt’s yard, and he was giving us a tour. “This is an awesome machine — it’s a Oliver 14″ tablesaw with a 10hp motor. Do you want it? You wouldn’t believe what it can do. Just a little work and it’ll run like a top. I’ll bring it over to your place next week.

“We built our house with the machines. We made the windows and doors, cabinets, trim… Everything.

“See this fireplace blower that I made? The fire grate is made from hollow stainless-steel tubing — you build the fire right on top. This blower forces air through the grate and back out into the room through this opening. When the fire is good and hot, it will run you out of the room.”

The tour continued to a shed where he repairs WWII Steerman airplanes and into the shop where he and his friends built a full scale wooden car, complete with functioning wooden shocks and pressed-veneer body.

We went home with nothing heavier than a few rust stains on our pants, but Joe became my go-to for machine troubles. When my 32″ bandsaw was giving me fits, Joe traded me his nicely tuned-up machine for one of my chairs. When I bought a new lathe, Joe brought a friend over and they wired it for me.

A couple months ago I started working on a white oak and butternut rocking chair for a customer. I needed a piece of quartersawn white oak for the rockers. So I called Joe. “I probably have a scrap laying around someplace,” he said.

When I got there, Joe had laid out the most beautiful piece of quartersawn white oak I’d ever seen. I exclaimed, “Where’d you get that?”

“It’s called backer board. When they are cutting veneer, they get to a point where the remaining wood is too thin to cut from anymore, so they throw out what’s left. It’s usually really nice wood. I went to the mill and brought back several hundred pieces of the stuff.”

That’s Joe. Always excited about a good deal. Always happy to help. Thanks for sharing, Joe.

 

 

Posted in Chair Stories
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Dana Horton
8 months ago

That’s a great story, and I’m glad you have such a friend. The chair looks good too – as expected.

Bob Simmons
8 months ago

Elia, this chair is a really attractive marriage of the Continuous Arm style and the Democratic Chair design details. It must have been a pleasure to make. It allows us all to see that we are free to experiment.

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