Elia, I’m enjoying hearing about this adventure. I’d bet you can do better than 30 hours for a CA. I was curious and timed myself doing a CA last month and it took me about 29 hours. Since that was only my 7th chair and 4th CA, I’m guessing you are much faster than me.
Hope all is well!
Would like to hear more about Meadowcroft.
Nice post, enjoyed reading that on this rainy night in TN. Here I am dreading running my sawmill this week due to the mud from this weeks downpour but after reading your post I have decided my toil could be a lot worse. Here is to humble beginnings and good Butternut logs. Cheers.
Nice story Elia. And nicely written. It brings back memories of my earlier days and driving in one of my beat up old cars in the snow belt of western New York. At least two of my old clunkers had rust so bad that you could see through the floor in a couple spots. Lucky I didn’t fall through. One of them, a VW beetle, I had to push to get it started sometimes, but it was small enough that I could push it from the drivers door, then jump in, pop the clutch, and be on my way. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Great story! Thanks for sharing!
And so it comes around. Must have been satisfying from all perspectives.
Nice piece Elia. I’m sure that Roy, and Curtis, are satisfied with lending you a hand and are quite proud of how you’ve come along.
Today I’m reading your article it is very different from other blogs and different images share with the help of this blog.
thanks a lot for this article!
Hi, Do you have plans (full scale drawings) for this chair. Its so beautiful!
If you look on Curtis Buchanan’s website, you will find plans for the Loop Back Side Chair.
This is so clever! what are the angles of the front and back legs?
Is my eye deceiving me or is the bow laminated wood strips rather than bent solid wood?
Laminated? Effectively, yes! But, accomplished by Nature and the growth of the tree. Your eye is detecting the layers of growth rings. The attached image shows a continuous arm bow section with a natural finish.
I think option 2 is very plausible. You could stuff as many bows as will fit in your steam box, pull one out, bend the bow to your form then almost immediately stuff it into the rack you described. This would mean you’d only need a single form and it wouldn’t be tied up for hours per chair. Also, as long as you keep your bent bows square to the slats (and the slats don’t flex) in the drying rack, all of your tenons will be the same angle at the same distance apart. You could bend up as many bows as you like and they might dry quicker with air circulating around all surfaces, unlike being clamped to a form. Period correct? Who knows. Period possible? I think so.
My first thought is similar to your first idea. But I think there are 6 dents. I think the other two are at the bottom of the bow inside the seat. I think they used pegs to form the bending form, with a simple curved surface for the top of the bow. I attached a very simple sketch of how I would do it. The black dots represent posts or pegs on a large flat surface, the triangles are wedges, the brown line is the bent bow, and the large orangish shape would be the only true part of the form. The wedges would hold the wood against the pegs, and keep the outer fibers from splitting. Notice the top of the bow actually has very little curvature. The dents are all where the curves become the steepest. With a peg shape like this, you could theoretically build a very tall form where you can bend a bunch of bows all at once (second picture). I did something like this when I was lazy and didnt fell like building a bending form. I just used the hold fast holes on my work bench, found five that forms a nice even curve, put a one inch dowel in them, and bent the steamed wood around the pegs. I had little dents in mine as well.
I think this has got to be the answer — it was formed around pegs.
Elia, I wonder if the form that was used was more of a flat panel with dowels to create the shape? Imagine a flat panel with two dowels at the bottom holding the narrow part in, those dowels would be on the outside of the hoop, then the other dowels at the wider part and those dowels would be on the inside. With the amount of pressure on those points of contact it is possible that the dents would set in during the drying process. Just a thought.
It seems to me that the dents could be driven by the shape of the bending form. Just below the curved top, the sides of the bow back are straight. If the bending form was just the curved portion, then the sides might have been clamped against the bottom edge of the form.
I’ve seen similar dents in a couple of the rocking chairs I made. I don’t think the steam box I used was hot enough and the wood was too dry, and in one case kiln dried. Maybe those are different but they sure look similar too the ones on my chairs.
Really like your work and your blog, keep it up, it’s inspiring!
BBC and British Pathe are not the same: you watched Pathe in the cinema and the BBC was broadcast, principally on the radio. Pathe was pretty jingoistic and as you know celebrated the wartime efforts especially. It also exposes the class system – the narrator is condescending and upper-class. BBC was similar but less so.
We recently bought a trug from a young woodworker in Sussex, Charlie Groves, who told us he uses chestnut for the boards that has been rejected by the cricket bat makers, http://www.thetrugstore.co.uk
Thanks for that! I’ll correct the text – I think some part of me knew the difference between BBC and Pathe, but not the part that was writing the blog at 10pm. I’m glad there are still trug makers.
Excellent information, and when I wear out the box I made I’ll make sure to incorporate a bunch of these suggestions.
Hi guys…excellent video. I tried bending the crest last week and went no where. The jig that Curtis made looks awesome. Thanks so much for photos. Could we have a photo of the steam bending jig, where you put all nine spindles on? including the ring to hold in place til dry? Maybe a simple drawing with measurements for us to follow? Thanks so much
I have been putting off the drilling spindle mortises in the crest because I was intimidated by the prospect. This morning, I got my head on straight, and decided to go for it. After drilling the center mortise square to the chair, drilling the others along the sight lines identified by each spindle was a piece of cake. Then I put posts, spindles and crests into the chair for a dry fit.
Beautiful, Elia. Many thanks for sharing…..
Thanks for sharing, Elia. Being welcomed and accepted are a big part of what it means to be human and it’s a wonderful gift to be invited into a circle of friends and find your circle larger.
So, I’m pretty far behind in completing the rocker. One thing that has bedeviled me is boring mortises, so I’ve been putting off as I got caught up on other parts of the chair. Last night, I started boring the spindles in the butternut I’m using for the seat. Challenging to get things consistently on the angle, as well as in line with the square. Plus some tearing as the auger bit entered the wood. Driven to make this better, I finished the drilling guide designed by Peter Galbert, ground a 1/2″ twist bit into a brad bit, put the drill extension together, and began again. Incredible difference! Easy, simple, accurate, and quick. Drilled the remaining spindle mortises, then holes for the arm supports and posts. Done. I am elated! I know that using a brace and bit is a time-honored, well-proven method, but I am not going back to it (and my elbows are grateful). So very much more straightforward with the guide. Peter has described it in his IG feed, plus on his blog. He shows it as well through his Foundations of Chairmaking series of teaching videos on Vimeo. Free plans for the guide are available there, too. Pics are attached. Info on bit grinding is in his book.
The very first Windsor chair class I took, in 2009, the instructors used a hinged wooden platform on a drill press. They had angle shims for the front and rear legs and the posts. So we just lined up the sight line and made the drill. It was an efficient process when trying to get 10 chairmaker s through the step. But, since then I have used the brace&bit with square and bevel gauge method. We all have to find a method that appeals to us and lets us do the work to the standard we want.
Like Herb, I too like the recorded format because I find myself scratching my head and barely keeping up at times. Having the luxury of going back over what was demonstrated has helped a lot. I liked that little drilling guide that was used both for the stretchers and the arm mortises. Realized that I had everything to make one. A nice add-on. A 6º taper from 1/2″ to about 7/8″. 1/2″ dowel that rides in a 5″ hole, fixed with a set screw. The dowel is hollowed out to support the 1/2″ drill extension I use. Ash from the offcut pile.
Nice idea. Thanks for making your creativity available to the group.
I do not regret the live classes I have taken with Curtis and Elia, but I really like the zoom/video approach. I watch the session once to get the overview and then view it again for details and I take pictures of tricky moves.
After todays class on carving and fitting the arm, I wanted to test how to drill the two step hole in the post. I found that drilling the 5/8 hole with a brad point, followed by a 3/8 Kreg’s bit to center in the lead hole of the first bit (but don’t go all the way through) followed by a brad point 3/8 bit with the clutch method of stopping the exit, then return with the 3/8 Kreg’s bit. Some tape on the exit hole helped too.
Beautiful pictures, Elia. The fancy-pants camera is taking great photos, and you’ve a nice eye for composition.
Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful setting and a beautiful man. Thanks for sharing, Elia!
I have had to delay assembling the legs to my chair. While shaping the last rung, the tenon snapped off. So, back to a GreenWood spare blank and making a new rung. It took 8 days for the rung to dry. To avoid cracking, in my super-dry locale, I only leave the rung in the air for 8 hours and then put it back into plastic until the next day. But, this morning all was “go” and I have installed the rear and front rungs. Drilling went very well. Tomorrow, I will do the two side rungs. In the image, you will observe that I used a two piece seat blank, and installed cross grain butterflies to secure the glue joint. I am super conservative.
So much for being conservative, while assembling the side stretchers into the legs, I cracked a tenon. Progress is on hold while I shave a new one from my last piece of GreenWood.
Hey Elia/Seth, I really like that you have those locations marked with the white dots. Makes it much easier to find topics without fast forwarding through the whole video.
Bob Simmons asked for photos of the seat scraper I used in class #4 – here you go!
Very nice! The images have my brain ticking! Thanks for posting them. Bob
Elia, do you find the long handles useful, or do you grip the tool down close to the main body? Bob
Shorter handles would be fine, I think.
My Walnut Seat is coming together. I’m using air dried stock and glued up 2 pieces to fill the required distance. I did the grain across the seat and I can’t even tell where I glued it up. The tool work was easy and a joy to use especially the travisher. I went front to back across the grain to work. I think being air dried was the reason why the walnut was easy to carve.
William, can you post an image?
Here you go
There’s a 3mb limit and I had Live Photo turned on
That is a really nice looking seat! What finish do you intend to use???
I’m going to use tried and true oil varnish
Here’s the finish I use
Bill, I use an oil-varnish as my go-to-finish but have not tried “Tried & True”. I will have to give it a go on my next oiled project. Thanks.
Beuatiful grain! That is really lovely, William. What wood are you using for the other parts?
In using all walnut except for the spindles which are white oak sapwood
Best way to remove pencil lines? I figure I should get rid of these marks on the legs before assembling the undercarriage. Even though they are far from perfect, I’m a little nervous to get back in there with the draw knife and risk messing up the nice sharp “peaks” that I managed to creat and maintain on the bobbins. Thoughts?
As fellow chairmaker, Dan Hawley, said: I have eliminated a weakness in one of my parts for Velda’s Chair. I was doing final tenon sizing on the stretchers with spokeshave and test block. And, SNAP. I have a spare piece of GreenWood from the same shipment, so I will shape it today. Life is an Adventure. Life might have roadblocks. But, Life Is Good.
I finally bent my crest this weekend, but I wasn’t able to keep the ends flush with the form. No matter how many clamps I put on it, once I started bending, it pulled off the form on each end about 1/4 inch. Did anyone else have this issue? Hopefully it will still work.
Hi, Peter – I had the same result. I wrote Elia and Curtis about it and they both said not to worry about it. So I won’t. Apparently, you shouldn’t either.
Great, thank you!
Peter, I had a similar result. IF, after I mount the posts into the seat, the crest does not quite fit, I am going to try to boil just the ends and attempt a re-bend of those regions.
mine did not either Peter, the main curve looks good so will see once the layout is complete.
Today, Saturday 22 May, I began carving the seat for Velda’s Chair. After not too many strokes with my Barr Inshave/Scorp; I realized that I made a tactical error. I purchased seat blanks from Elia and knew, in advance, that he only had 2-piece seats available. I ordered two sets, and glued up one. Layed out the mortises, drilled and reamed as appropriate. Instead of putting the glue joint town the chair seat center, I should have split one of the pieces and put glue joints closer to the sides. The existing joint is making it difficult to do a good seat scooping task.
Pic of the drawknife would finish it off nicely.I don’t think any of us appreciate the longevity of a small investment in time in an old tool until we have had the opportunity of hindsight to really understand it was worth it. I came across a chisel of my Grandfathers whom I never met at my Aunties house . It was sitting in a bucket with a hatchet of his with the fine envelope of rust which visits all that are forgotten. Both cleaned up a treat and both will outlast me if cared for.
IF you were not paying attention during the reaming lesson: Don’t forget to reset your sliding bevel gauge between front legs and rear legs and arm supports and posts. Every lesson is filled with learnings which either (or both) Elia or Curtis has made. Experiential Learning passed on by the Pro’s.
Every time I make a chair, I get to the point of shaping the tenon for the top end of the spindle, and I think: “Wait, that can’t be right. They are too skinny. They will certainly break.” But, they never have.
FREE SAMPLE PARTS: To the first responder who is making a rocker, I will ship one rocker leg (with a crack) and the whittled arm stump I made during class last Saturday.
Hi Elia, if no one has responded yet, I would love to have a sample rocker leg and arm support. Thanks, Dan
They are yours! What’s your address?
It is time to drill some holes in the spindle deck. Here is hoping that my crest comb bend matches the angles for spindles and posts on the plans.
When Elia demonstrated spindle bending for Velda’s chair, he did an over bend to increase the plastic deformation and reduce the elastic spring back. I doubt that this spindle will have any spring back.
When shaving, I size tenons using a washer. Fit the end, and then slowly adjust and keep moving the washer towards the center.
I am in the process of shaving stretchers. My first is the short, rear, stretcher. I have a spare long stretcher, so I figured I could replace the short one IF I messed it up.
Does anybody know what to do about orange mold on the Red Oak chair parts? It shaves off, but does the mold have roots down into the wood?
Hi, Bob – I have not seen that on any of the red oak I’ve used. My understanding of fungal growth is that they do grow tendrils into the material. Typically, you won’t see this, but a good example of fungal growth within a piece of wood is spalting. I would think that if it’s on one of the chair components that’s going into the kiln for a few days, it won’t be a problem, as the heat would possibly kill it off. Is it visible on all your wood?
Dwight, thanks. Not all the parts. I am going to watch things closely. Elia suggested a mold spray.
I just made my first bend with this contraption that looks like its from the Spanish Inquisition.
Herbert, what wood are you using for the chair crest? Did the bend go smoothly?
Hey Bob, I’m using white oak that I got from Elia and Seth. I haven’t taken it out of the form yet, but it looks like it went well.
How long do you intend to leave it in the form as it dries?
I guess I’ll give it a few days, sneak a peak, then put it back in the form for a few weeks.
I like the bending contraption you made. I’ve been looking at winches and rope. Too many to choose from. What is the rating for the winch? What kind of rope did you use? Thanks, Paul
I got these items from Harbor Freight. $30 for the winch and $11 for the rope. Probably overkill but, who knows.
HAUL-MASTER3/8 In. X 100 Ft. Diamond Braid RopeThis durable diamond braid rope is built tough to pull and secure loads to 600 lb.. The rope is woven with tough, 100% polyester strands and built to resist rot, mildew, oil and gas.
HAUL-MASTER1 Ton Capacity Hand WinchThe 2000 lb. capacity worm gear hand winch is easy-to-mount and ideal for mobile use on pickup trucks and trailers. The worm gear winch features steel towing cable and a smooth-action worm gear drive to keep a firm hold on items in tow.
Thanks Herb. That was quick.
Hi Herbert, could you email me a few photos of this crest bend contraption?
I (over)built a compression strap similar to the one Elia used in class. Used wood that I had on hand (white oak cutoffs & ash from another project). I bought 16 ga stainless steel (5 by 48) from a local fabricator for $25. Drilled, then bolted together with carriage bolts. Building the forms for the crest and spindles next. Might actually get started on the chair soon…
Well, Dwight, that strap should do the job! I assume that you have three able bodied teenagers lined up to help you make the bend. Your workbench certainly looks stout enough to not move around the shop when you do the bend!
After much meddling with WordPress settings, I have gotten the photo upload to work again. Post away!
If you are looking for a source for sheet metal for a bending jig, I obtained this reference from Jeff Lefkowitz, a chairmaker in VA. You can order any size of multiple gauges. http://Www.cut2sizemetals.com
I did the same this Bob. After checking on the price plus shipping I took Jeff’s advice and looked form something near me. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a new resource. It’s call Metal Supermarket. They’re a franchise operation and there around the country. They had what I wanted – 16 ga. stainless steel. https://www.metalsupermarkets.com/
Now to figure out a bending method. I’m considering something similar to what Jeff L. does with the long posts or what Mursell does with the winch.
I will look into it.
Let the good times roll. Another dynamic chair making session has begun! Curtis’ dynamic instruction and subtle wit, coupled with Elia’s fantastic tool skills, promise to make for hours of viewing pleasure and learning. But, first, I gotta go make a bending jig………I tried to post an image but the technology requires someone smarter than I am…..
Great post Elia. How DO you find these old shorts. Delightful!
It’s my version of getting lost on Facebook for an hour. One video leads to the next…
Lovely, but neither actually were “english craftsmen”. It’s a bit like calling someone from Texas a yank.
… and the variations of wooden clogs: in Northern Germany they were usually made of poplar,willow, basswood, or alder. The local clog maker – his house was distinguished by a large conical pile of shavings next to the work shop – made a couple of sizes. The final fit was accomplished by a leather strap over the top of the opening – to match the wearer’s foot.
Some insisted on a larger size to have room for some straw inside. My grandfather’s favorite footwear. They also were fairly water-resistant – especially the alder shoes.
There were some other advantages of this type of footwear on farms – but I don’t remember them.
I do remember how fast a chunk of wood turned into a clog through the quick work of the clog maker. The spoon gouge worked just like a spoon bit – just creating a much larger opening.
Obviously, some clog makers were far more mechanized than the shop I visited during my grade school years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78gvuS-2kXc
Cool! It’s amazing to me how long these trades lasted in Europe. What a great memory.
You mentioned on Sat about you having information on drawknives in your blog but I could only find a video from a course last year.
Can you point me in the right direction please?
I’m hoping for a bit of a tutorial on sharpening and technique ect.
It’s actually one of the online classes: https://handtoolwoodworking.com/videos-about-chairmaking-hand-tools/
thank you did it.
If you have watched Dave’s videos on YouTube or Fine Woodworking, you have seen a only little bit of what’s in these three classes. Here we get much more complete explanations of every aspect. THANKS Dave!
Thanks too to Elia for mimicking the carving activities, and John, Ian and Seth for making the technology blend smoothly.
Well done, all!
From the discussion below, Mark Terry has not been able to post an image of his chair. I am going to attempt same for him. Well, so much for that!!!!!
Late to the party, and embarrassed by the lack of craftsmanship, but just wanted to show that I finally completed the project. Wish I had another set of riven lumber to try it again.
Mark, please attach an image!
I tried, clicking the paper clip, then choosing a file, but no success! Tips?
There is a size limit.
If you want, you can send the image to me and I will see if I can post it for you.
I recently fixed the issue with photo uploads – sorry about that!
I want to thank Elia and Curtis for making it so easy, and enjoyable, for home bound hand tool woodworkers to learn new skills and processes. They have been truly innovative.
MANY thanks to Dave for the wisdom and Elia for enabling and demonstrating!
Dave’s videos for Fine Woodworking were great for learning the essentials, but looking back they seemed heavily edited and shortened to bare minimum content. In contrast, this style of video lesson gives us more ability to learn about the presenters, definitely a huge plus and very enjoyable.
I realize it’s all optional, but I wonder if the group consensus has been to glue the mortice and tenon joints, or not? Especially, the non tapered ones?
On the tapered Mortise & Tenon joints I glue the wedge. I live in a very dry climate and I take an extra precaution on the blind M&T joints (spindles). I install a “Fox Wedge”. For the tenons on the stretchers, I make them a through tenon and then I add a cross pin. I use 3/16” brass rod for that purpose.
So, for the blind M&T joints in the spindle deck, you make a slot in the tenon, insert a wedge in in it, then insert the tenon? Do you make any attempt to widen the deep end of the mortise before inserting, to accomodate the presence of the wedge?
The way I was taught, the growth rings of the tenon are oriented perpendicular to the long grain fibers of the wood with the mortise. The wedge also goes perpendicular to those long grain fibers. I use a small gouge to go into the mortise and scoop out on the two sides of the mortise where the tenons will deform.
I opted to glue all the joints except the spindles, reasoning that they are held in place by the glued posts and crest rail. I wedged the tops of the spindles, though, to make them fit tighter visually. I wedged the legs and posts as well. I’ve made six or seven chairs now, and when it comes time for painting and finishing I always wish I’d been more religious about glue clean up!!
What finish schedule do you intend to utilize? Are you happy with the way your Democratic Chair turned out?
My Democratic Chair turned out OK, but not as well as I’d hoped. It certainly improved my drawknife, scorp and mortise and tenon skills, but will probably be my new “shop chair” 🙂 I made the legs too skinny, and they ended up short as a result. I am attaching a picture of how it stands now. I plan to use Sea Green milk paint, since I already have it, and want to see what it looks like. It’s darker than the vibe Curtis has settled on, and probably won’t look as nice, but as I said, it’s a shop chair now! As for finish, I have some Teak Oil, which I will use. If I had more time (I am about to move, and my shop is closing down for a while) I’d experiment with Shellac flakes. I used the BioShield #2 on prior chairs and it was too slow!
I do not think you can do anything to keep them from looking good. Once they are painted and a top coat applied the light plays off all the facets and edges and they just sparkle. I opted for black over red over yellow with plenty of red and yellow showing through. It sits at our dining table and gets lots of comments. Some of the comments are even positive.
Seeking advice as to the lesser of evils. I screwed up, and now one of my uprights has a more lateral splay than the other. If I put my spindles in the suggested location, there will be a bigger gap on one side between outside spindle and post, or if I spread out the two on one side, bigger gaps on one side than the other.
If I were to ovalize my mortice in the seat, maybe I could straighten the post up to match the other side, evenly spacing spindles, but resulting in a loose mortice, which I’d have to fill with wedges.
Anyone have experience or thoughts? Thanks
Mark, is the difference in splay, of the back posts, due to a difference in the angle of the mortises? Or, is there a bend in one of them? Most likely the mortise angle. Rather than changing the spindle spacing, I think I would plug the offending mortise and then re-drill it. Do you have spare stock?
Thank you ever so much for your response.(Seems like you’re the only one monitoring this site!) You were spot on with your suggestion. I turned a plug for the hole, then redrilled and reamed. By the way, it’s a lot easier to set up guide lines before the seat is carved. With the proper angle, problem solved.My crest rail shortened about a couple inches. The spindles are all evenly spaced. It’s all good.
I am pleased that the proposed solution worked for you. Yes, laying out sight lines is, in fact, much easier before the seat has been carved. It is not that I monitor this site; rather that I am interested in how people are doing. The challenges they face and the solutions which they find. Maybe it is because I do not have the pressures of life, which frequently get in the way. Matching post angles and evenly spaced spindles are all a good thing.
I just took a look at my parts, which have been air drying a little over a week now, and discovered some cracks have appeared on two of the legs. Quite a bit up the side of one and a small end check at the bottom of another. Oh well… time to carve a few more I guess! Any advise on how to avoid this happening in the future?
Tom, they probably dried too rapidly. Where did you have them and where do you live? At this point, if you have the GreenWood stash, I would make a new.
You’re probably on to something there, Bob. Our winters here in Wisconsin and notoriously dry. I did keep the parts in my 42 degree basement in hopes of keeping the drying slow, but maybe that wasn’t enough. I do have extra green wood and I plan to make a few new legs tomorrow. I will say, however, that despite having been split from the same log as all the rest, the leg with significant cracks on it’s tangential section was for some reason noticeable darker in color on it’s tangential face with much greater contrast between it’s early and late wood. I feel like this might suggest that something having to do with the characteristics of that particular piece of wood might have been at play here, whereas the leg with the small end check may just have been a flunk.
Here is a picture of my completed parts (pre cracks!) just for fun. I’m kind of bummed to be having to whittle a few new legs, but I’m also kind of looking forward to it, as I feel like I am now just finally getting the hang of it!
As a follow up to the cracking. In a pinch, when I have not had spare GreenWood to shave a new piece, I have stabilized the crack. I fill the crack with CA glue and clamp the crack shut. I have never been unsuccessful. However, IF I had a stash of GreenWood, I would always opt for shaving a new one.
I had enough green wood to make two new legs, but I still think I will do some crack fill so that I have an extra or two, for practice purposes on future steps. CA glue, eh? In passed woodworking experiences, I have repaired cracks/splits by using regular wood glue in a syringe to administer it deep into the crack, but I suppose CA glue might do a better job or wicking into the crack. I’ll have to try that.
David Fisher, the bowl carver who is doing the next webinar (tomorrow) with Elia has a recent entry on his blog about a beautiful Cherry bowl cracking during the drying phase. He describes how he saved the bowl with CA glue and a butterfly. https://davidffisher.com/blog/
Here is another attempt to show my bent crestrail, with more springback than I had hoped.
Mark, if you send me your crest rail image file, I will see if I can make it post. Rlmlsimmons@cox.net
Sounds great, Elia – but I’ll point out one thing to save some frustration on your readers’ part. Dave Fisher has no Instagram account. It must have been his website/blog combo. He’s too content for social media. https://davidffisher.com/
Oh! Good point – I didn’t realize. I’m proud of him.
I steamed my crest rail, clamped it to the form and left it there about a week. When I unclamped, there was “some” springback. It’s still curved. but doesn’t match the form. Should I be content, or is there any reason to resteam?
In preparation for carving tenons, should I superdry with foil in center to preserve moisture for eventual mortices?
I tried to post a picture of it, but not sure it worked.
Mark, I do not have any experience with re-steaming. I don’t have any advice in that area. Relative to the form, how far away are the ends of the crest rail? You speak of carving tenons. I assume you mean tenons on the crest rail. The tenons on the spindles are wedged into the crest rail mortise, so it is not really necessary to preserve the wet-dry relationship. So, I would follow your own suggestion, wrap in foil, leave the ends exposed and put the piece into the kiln.
Thanks Bob. I just tried again to post a picture. All of this may be a moot point, cause I’m not sure my crest rail would fit into my 4″ pvc steam box.
That’s a great story, and I’m glad you have such a friend. The chair looks good too – as expected.
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.
Right good day folks! I’m a bit of a newcomer to the chairmaking world, and have a question about radal and tangential planes. My logs are quite small in diameter, about 10 inches. If I rive the log into 4 quarters, and make a leg from each section, the growth rings turn 90 degrees (give or take) through each section. Surely this means I end up with two radial planes next to each other, rather than opposite, and like wise for the tangential planes?
Does this make any sense to anyone, and if so, is it an issue?
Fred, after rivings out a piece, the focus on Radial vs Tangential is based on ease of initial shaving to form a square blank. The Radial plane is easier. Once you have a square blank, and have eliminated the juvenile pith, then you will take the stock octagonal. Have a great time. Make nice shavings, and post pictures. Enjoy the adventure!
So, Like Bob said, you will need to remove the pith and a few rings of Juvenile wood. If you do that to a square piece like the one on the right in your diagram, you’ll end up creating a new face (blue) that is 45 degrees to all the others. Then, if you re-square up the stock referencing off that new face, you’ll end up with a blank (red) that has it’s radial and tangential faces opposite each other. It seems to me that if you started with a 10″ diameter log, you’d still have plenty of room to lay out a chair part, even after squaring the piece up in this new orientation, No? I’m new at this myself, so I hope someone calls me out if this is a dumb way to go about it!
Many thanks to both – that makes sense! The log is actually about 8 inch diameter, which makes it quite tight but I’ve gotten 4 legs and a couple of stretcher parts out of it so far. A few failed attempts but learning a lot!
Good looking parts. Thanks for making the image available.
You could do it that way, but you might get better yields by cleaning the two sides farthest from the pith (the two adjacent sides that we can see in the drawing) and making them your reference surfaces. Mark from them with the marking gauge set to your part’s major diameter and proceed as normal. Since the part is going to be octagonal when it is done, you’ll remove just as much if not more of the juvenile wood and maximize the yield from the part at the same time.
Thanks all. Makes sense!
Finally found some wood for the seat – english oak. Hard as nails!
Fred, you better have sharp tools and strong wrists!!!
So it’s looking like very soon I am going to need pull the trigger on one of the intimidating larger purchases “required” for this project and buy myself a scorp. It’s seems to me that my best options are the 4” models by either Barr or Ray Iles. I’m leaning towards the Ray Iles because of the price and the fact that having the bevel down just seems to make sense to me. Does anyone feel the need to stop me and steer me in a different direction before I spring for it?
I have no personal experience with the Ray Iles, but, what I have read is that the angle of the handles will need to be adjusted. Apparently Elia has some experience with this.
Do you have a Barr scorp, Bob? Does that one really come ground with the bevel on the inside? What is that like in use? I have no experience hollowing seats, but based on my experiences with using edge tools in other woodworking applications, it just seems to me that a bevel on the OUTSIDE would be necessary for carving out a hollow.
Yes, Tom, I use a Barr and yes it has a bevel on the inside. I have found it very effective on shaping seats. Barr has a video on how to sharpen their tool. Having said that; Curtis uses a Barr that he has ground with a bevel on the outside. He has a YouTube video showing how he does it. I have not arrived at the point where I want to try that.
Tom, what coarse of action have you selected? You could write Elia a note and ask him for his opinion.
I think I’m going to go with the Ray Iles.
Please, after you have used it, leave comments on how you found it!
It certainly won’t be an expert opinion, but will do!
Crest bent! Señor Steam Box had to wrap up in some towels and put on his Mexican poncho in order to get over 200 degrees in my cold basement, but that sure beat trying to steam in the -1 degree Wisconsin outdoors today. You can relate. Right, Bob Simmons? 😉
HI guys, Does anyone live in the NYC area who wants to come pick up some really nice red oak logs? Two ten foot lengths about 14″ diameter available. I live in Rye, NY. and this wood is excess to what I need so I would rather it go to greenwood chairmaking than firewood if possible.
What an offer! I hope somebody SNAPS it up! Unfortunately, for me, AZ is not even close..
What a magnificent & lovely article this is! Really great & phenomenal. Thanks a lot. Keep up the great job. Happy blogging.
Hey. Me again. The plans state that length of the stretchers is adjusted to fit the actual chair later on in the process. Is that accommodated for in the way the stretches are drawn in the plans, or should I cautiously leave them a little longer then they are shown? Thank you!
Be cautious, and leave them long. You will cut them to length and do the final tenon shaping after the legs are fit into the seat and the mortises drilled for the side stretchers.
Tom, this blog is for success as well as questions. Be sure to post pictures when you are shaving and after you have some parts drying. Make shavings, not dust.
Noted. It took four attempts to get two side stretchers that I’d be willing to put in a chair, but here they are! I hope I’m now all warmed up to tackle some more complicated parts next!
The side stretchers look really good! How did that Red Oak log split? How does it shave? Is the wood still fairly wet?
It is very wet and shaves well, which I am pleased about. It a;so seemed to split well, although that is something I need to lean to do better in order to use the log more effectively with less waste. Speaking of waste… it became clear right away that I was going to screw up a lot of pieces, so I brought home another similar size chunk of the same stuff for peace of mind! 🙂
Do you deliver? I live in AZ! I make killer Mexican Food!
🙂 No, but I’d be happy to mail you a 200lb piece of Red Oak. You’ll just have to cover the cost of shipping! So what DO you use for chair making in AZ??
It is pretty simple, really. I either drive somewhere, take a class and buy extra parts, pay to have greenwood shipped, or alter processes and make the chair out of dried wood. In the case of the Democratic Chair, I bought the wood from Elia and Seth, stored it in a home-built humidifier to keep it wet, and then altered the assembly to account for both mortises and tenons being bone dry by the time I was ready to assemble. I have been making chairs since 2007 and have done “all of the above”. Travel to CA, OR, VA, KY, TN, two different places in NC. In this chair, I ruined one of the stretchers and had Seth send me three extra rivings. The rivings are cheap, at $7 each. By the time they got to my house, still nice and wet, I had spent over $50. But a guy does what he has to do to pursue a passion.
You need to find a class using saguaro for chairs. Thanks for the thoughts about replacement rivings. After looking at my drawknife work, I think I need a complete set.
Found a Red Oak log that I hope to use to get this project rolling! I’m not sure how fresh it is and the end checking that has begun has me a little worried (any thoughts on this?). Regardless, I’m looking forward to splitting into it this weekend and seeing what I find.
Good for you. It appears that there are regions where the growth rings are not concentric. Splits from those regions might not have straight grain. But it looks like there will be sufficient wood for a chair and spare parts, if needed. Once you split it, it will begin to dry, so take steps to mitigate the rate. It appears that the two major checks converge, as expected, towards the center. I think I would try to split out that smaller section first. And then see how that piece splits, by trying to split out halves.
It looks like there’s good wood in there, best I can tell from a photo. Those cracks exist in all good logs, just follow them when you split it in half.
I just split it open. It looks like there is a fair bit of beautifully wet, straight grained wood in there! I look forward to carving a few parts this afternoon.
Hello! I’m about to embark on the Democratic Chair adventure. At least, as soon as I find a suitable log to start splitting parts out of, that is. That shouldn’t be that hard as I work as an arborist! The trouble is, I’m not exactly sure what I am looking for. I’d love to use red oak, but I could be waiting a while to come across suitable red oak, as we don’t remove them all that commonly and pruning them rarely produces sizable enough material. (Speaking of size, is there an ideal log diameter I’m looking for?) Can anyone point me in the right direction by suggesting a few tree species common to the Midwestern United States that feature wood characteristics suitable to this chair? My apologies if this has been discussed elsewhere and I missed it.
Tom, in terms of diameter, there are two criteria that I know of. Don’t use the juvenile pith wood, and don’t include sapwood and heartwood in the same piece of the chair. Obviously, if you do not intend to paint the chair, use the same type of wood for all similar chair parts. In terms of wood species, IF you intend to achieve the small diameters indicated on the plans, then I think you should restrict your selection to Red Oak, White Oak, Hickory or Ash. The only seat materials I have experience are Eastern White Pine, Elm and Hickory. Both of the latter options are a real challenge to carve.
Thanks for the helpful info Bob! I’m glad to hear you confirm that Ash would be an okay choice. I’ve been thinking that that’s probably what I would end up using. Emerald Ash Bore is absolutely decimating it around here so I figured I might as well put some of it to good use!
Out of curiosity, how do the wood characteristics of Red Oak differ from White Oak?
Tom, for my information, IF an Ash tree is harvested because of the Emerald Ash Borer, is the tree dead. If so, how long has it been dead? Is the wood dry or still green? In my opinion, Green White Oak is much easier to shave than Red Oak. And it certainly bends with fewer failures. The bend in the Democratic Chair is fairly mild, so either work and I am sure Green Ash will also.
Good Question Bob. It really depends. Sometimes trees that have been killed by E.B.D. are stone dead when they come down, but often they are removed only because they are in severe decline and, despite being unhealthy, are still actually living and green. This has me curious though, I would imagine that even a dead standing tree can retain it’s moisture for quite some time. I wonder how long a dead tree can stand and still be a viable candidate for green woodwork. Hmmm…
I just found this pretty amazing looking horse that folds up like a yoga instructor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZrxdC-QFys
Working on finishing off the Milk Paint, before top coat application, and I was reminded of a learning I think is worth sharing. IF you rub down the Milk Paint with steel wool, WEAR a MASK. IF it gets into your nose (mine) and mouth (mine) then it might make it to your lungs!!!!
Hi! I am new to spoons and I almost felt guilty when thinking about using the drawknife for spoons! 😀 He is using it really a lot, and so I think, could I!
Could burying the log in sawdust be the warmer weather version of sticking it in a snow bank to stay green?
I think you are right. Sawdust was often used as insulation in icehouses, for example.
I’m late to this party, struggling to get through the drawknife work with my limited skills. I’m working on spindles now, and notice that several of my spindle blanks are curved. Any thoughts about straightening in the steam box? Before or after whittling?
Mark, have you managed to keep the blanks “GreenWood” or, have they dried out? It is pretty common for spindles to have a curve. But, they remain pretty flexible and still bridge the gap between the spindle deck and crest rail. The installation strategy is to mount them in the spindle deck so they curve back and they look and feel nice. When you shave them, do not be tempted to shave them straight. That would cut across long grain fibers. Just shave with the grain.
Sorry for being so rude! Welcome to the party!
Rude? I didn’t notice. I used Elia’s advice, and submerged the pieces under water, with a bit of chlorine to prevent mold. They’re still “green.” Thanks for your thoughts.
Did I ever SCREW UP! I have been building a Continuous Arm Windsor in parallel with The Democratic Chair. The seat blank for this Windsor, is a piece of Eastern White Pine, which has been stored in my low humidity, hot, garage for several years. When it came time to paint the chair, I did not even consider using Extra-Bond adhesion additive to the first coat of Barn Red Milk Paint. BAD Decision. There are large regions where paint just will not adhere. I ended up scraping the seat and then applying a new “first-coat” with Extra-Bond mixed in like I should have initially. As I have told myself multiple times, it is time to develop ma checklist.
Hi All – A bit confused as to what is being done with the hand plane during the carving of the seat. Is he tapering that section over the edge from front to back so that inside line along the seat con cavity is higher than the outside edge? And what’s happening to that front corner Curtis says to bring down to 3/16th? Can someone post a couple pictures of what the sides and that corner are supposed to look like? The camera doesn’t really show what’s happening. Looks to me like he just made to flat and I know that’s not the case. Thanks again!
David, if you send me an email, so I have your address, I will send you some images that you can really zoom in on. Do you have the seat counter from the plans? Bob. Rlmlsimmons@cox.net
After rubbing out the Milk Paint I applied the first top coat. A great design and plenty of learnings.
If you have not used a thin Milk Paint “Wash Coat”, do not be put off by initial appearance. They look like crap until they are rubbed out. I will post finished product later.
Merry Christmas All – I’m hoping to bore and ream holes on Tuesday with an acquaintance that is a chair maker. It’s a 2 hour drive . I may have missed the video section on prepping the legs and posts before boring/reaming. Do I need to super dry those first before rounding the tenons and reaming? If so, for how long prior to rounding? And how do I keep them super dry for the 2 hour car ride? Thanks! – David
David, the tenons on legs and posts should be bone dry before you do the final shaping and then ream the mortises to match. I would dry the tenon ends for 24-48 hours and then wrap the tenons is cling wrap for the drive. Good luck. Keep us posted.. Include pictures.
David, did you successfully shape tenons and bore and taper ream you seat?
Happy New Years Bob and All – Thanks for asking. Yes and no. Yes, the boring and reaming went well and I was pretty much hitting my angle targets with the first initial twists after I got to holes number 5 and 6. Took much of the day though to get to that point. And no….my tenons are too small. I didn’t leave enough meat on the octagons to be able to really bring them down to round. So they’re going to have to sit in the mortises as octagons. I realize that’s problematic but it is what it is. I’m going to stuff some glue and sawdust in there to hopefully help shore things up. Chair may not last 300 years, but maybe it will be a nice conversation piece for the next 20-30. LOL!
Be sure to post an image when you are done!
I lost many big trees back when Laura came through
central Louisiana, and due to my antiquity, I am no longer able to get
out and pick that wood up myself. It is not like it was cut last week,
but it hasn’t been down more than a couple of months. I would be glad to
donate wood to anyone who wants to put it to good use, and has the
wherewithal to get it off the ground.
A minor setback. Driving wedges for the Posts produced a split in the seat. Si, I will install a butterfly before painting.
All that remains is drilling the 5 spindle mortises in the crest rail. For that, I will wait for a spotter to guide my drilling. What a great project, learning, and class this has been.
Nice work Bob. inspiration for us!
Thanks. It was a great project. I really improved my tool skills.
I really appreciated, and enjoyed, the basic premise of the Democratic Chair Class. Make a really nice looking chair, with a minimum of tools, and improve hand tool skill in the process. After trying to dome tenons with a drawknife, twice, I decided I needed to try another approach. In keeping with the concept: “If you have the tool, then use it”; I followed Dan Hawley’s lead and used my spoon carving hook knife. It really worked slick!
The replacement stretcher was ready to finally shape and install. The image shows me drilling the mortise for the medial stretcher. Gotta love that auger bit extension.
Oh, what a day! I am waiting for a replacement stretcher to dry in the kiln. So, I started playing around with Milk Paint on some White Pine and Red Oak off-cuts. I have finished chairs before, bit never with all these facets and crisp edges. What a great look!
Here is an image
During the Milk Paint session, on Saturday, Curtis mentioned a new color combination he really likes. I believe he said he used it on the Child’s Continuous Arm Rocker displayed on his web site. I have attempted to replay the session, but it just stalls. Does anybody know what colors Curtis described using on that little rocker?
I heard back from Curtis. The Milk Paint scheme for that child’s rocker is 3-coats of Barn Red and 1-coat of very dilute (4-parts water to 1-part paint) Black. The resulting “Bronze” look is, in my opinion, stunning.
Hello All, I want to take this opportunity to thank Curtis and Elia (and all the support team) for an absolutely splendid session. As Elia was demonstrating staining and then painting his sample leg and rung, it became apparent how great all the octagonal facets, and crisp edges, look in the finished product. A superb journey!
Well Folks….obviously I’m making this harder than I should be. Previously I asked about tapered auger bit extenders. Well, I actually have hex shanks instead. My 5/8 bit has 25/64 shank (I assume this can be considered 3/8) and I also have 5/16 shanks. I’m looking at extenders that have set screws in the female socket. How do I know if they will hold any specific size shank? Will smaller shanks be offset and thus offsetting the bit? They only list the extenders shank size, not the female socket size. And….Is an extender only necessary for the legs and stretchers? Which means I only need one that fits a 25/64 hex? Am I making sense and for those that have hex shanked bits, what are you using. Thanks.
David, your assessment is correct. IF you put a 5/16” shank into a 3/8” socket, you might be able to get the set screws to hold it in place. But, the centerline of the two shafts would not line-up. I don’t think you would get a good mortise drilled. I use bit extenders for drilling the undercarriage mortises (legs and stretchers) and for drilling the mortises in the spindle deck.
What’s the difference between a bit extenders and the auger extension, Bob? You mean just a longer version of probably the small bit extenders we all have in our tool box for the various choices of Phillips, flat, hex screw driver bits?
You mentioned, above, that your auger bits have hex-drive shafts. I use the more classic design auger bits with the square-taper drive designed for the older style bit-brace. The one I use was made by Millers Falls back in the early 1900s, I believe. It is 18” long. Elia has shown how they are used in the videos.
here’s a dumb solution — get a cheap mechanics deep socket that is the correct size for the hex bit to fit tightly into. if you can’t find the perfect size, then you can wrap the end of the hex shank with electrical tape until it fits tightly. if you are the fancy type and have a cheap socket, then you can drill and tap a set screw into the side of the socket to hold the bit.
Then grind off the female end of a long socket extension bar so that it can fit into your brace.
I don’t think the assembly will be grossly off center — at least for these purposes.
You can get this together for less than $30 from either a discount tool seller or online.
Hey Bob. Did you say you had a extension that would fit the jenning bits
Jay, the auger bit extension is not specific to Jennings or Irwin pattern bits. It accepts any bit with the standard, square-taper, fitting for chucking up in a bit brace.
Happy Monday All – I’m way behind and just finishing my second set of spindles. But getting prepped to start the seat over the holidays. Question………want to get an auger bit extender. I bought the augers from Lee-Valley but not sure I see the correct extender. The bits have a tapered shank. I then tried Highlandwoodworking, but they say they’ve never seen one for a tapered shank. Anyone know where I can get one? Thanks!
Hi David,. I bought mine on eBay. The one I bought was a vintage North Brothers number 2150 Yankee auger bit extension. It cost $18.
I bought mine on eBay. It is a vintage Millers Falls #11. I paid $18.
mine cost $12.50 from Ebay — it was 15″ North Brothers one though so maybe i will regret the shorter length.
Is there an easy way to use the downloaded chair plans, in order to convert to full sized templates, patterns, like Elia uses in the video?
I believe you can take them to a print shop or architect’s office and have them printed.
Have a recommendation for Elia’s spindle that end that partially broke off. In California we have a beautiful granite formation called half dome. He could fashion it after that.
Good idea! I took one, put it in photoshop and scaled it to.0000000105%. It fit perfectly.
Had a problem assembling the chair back that I thought I should share. The crest rail needed to go farther down the spindles than I estimated. I hammered on the crest rail to get it down far enough to seat the posts. Problem: once I start hammering I stop thinking. I should have stopped and thinned the spindles more. Instead I banged away and cracked the crest rail. I’m making a new one now. I plan to fit the next one without the posts and make sure it can go down about an inch farther than I expect. P.s. the spindles are in the seat for good now. Couldn’t get them out if my life depended on it.
That is the beauty, and curse, of dry-and-not-so-dry joinery. Can you still thin the spindles in-situ?
Yes, I should be able to use a spokeshave.
Hi I’ve ben posting on istant gram but I thought I’d come by and say hi here too…
Welcome to the group. We have been having a great time building chairs and swapping tales.
If you are looking for an alternative to the scorp for doming the leg tenons, try using a hook knife with a long handle, if you have one. I use mine for carving spoon bowls. It was much safer and infinitely more effective than the scorp. You can see the tool and the results in the attached photo.
What is the advantage of the long handle? Does the increase in leverage come with a decrease in control?
Hi Bob,. I think the increased leverage provides more control because you can make minor adjustments without straining. It was a pleasure to use the hook knife after the scorp. The hook knife gives more control with less risk of gouging the seat – which I did twice – or my leg – which I almost did once. Plus I could finish a dome in about 2 minutes.
Was interested in knowing if you anticipate in-person classes being offered for 2021?
Have watched the green woodworking video but would love to attend a live course on chairmaking.
That’s the million dollar question! I won’t be booking anything until Covid slows down, but I don’t know when that will be.
Thanks! Will be checking back often! Thankfully, and meanwhile, there is the Zoom instruction to get a jump-start from!
Carlos J. Collazo
Hope all had and are having a Happy Thanksgiving! No class this weekend,correct? Next one in Dec.?
Correct! Dec 5th and Dec 12 are our next (and probably final) classes. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Elia
From my perspective, these sessions have been a huge success. I can only hope that the Curtis & Elia show will have a sequel.
I went looking for a 5/15 chainsaw file to enlarge the opening on my 5/16 dowel plate but could only find packs of 6, which were many more than I will need and about $22-$25. Then I found some “5/16″ Burr Grinding Stone File” (diamond coated) for about $7.50. With one I was able to enlarge the hole in my 5/16 dowel plate (smoothing with high grit sandpaper) to match my #5 auger bit.At least I think I have the fit right. The spindle tenon is snug and won’t fall out but can be pushed in by hand with moderate pressure. Anyone know if that’s the right fit?
Brian, I assume that you are fitting bone-dry tenons into a test mortise of some sort; and that the tenons will be going into a crest. My experience with Continuous Arm and Sack-Back Windsors is that I started with the test fit you describe, and then, because I was aligning 9 long spindles into a curved bow; I needed to loosen those tenons a little. I can only assume that there were small mis-alignments within the collection which contributed to increased friction. I would use the fit you describe to size them all, and then scrape the tenons a little, if need be, during assembly.
Thanks, Bob, that’s the situation precisely. I figure I can always take a bit more material off a spindle if needed. If doing so becomes a chronic issue then I’ll go back and enlarge the hole in the plate a bit more. I can make the hole larger, but can’t make it smaller…
It sounds like you have the right fit.
After seeing Elia craft a dome on the end of a leg tenon, I decided I needed practice. I mounted a Red Oak tenon into a White Pine off-cut and commenced to shape. I produced a decent domed tenon, but the ring around it, in the seat, clearly indicates I need practice keeping the tool from contacting the seat.
What a great session on assembling the undercarriage. The method for drilling leg mortises and stretcher mortises is new for me. It is a much better method than I have previously used. Thanks again to Elia, Curtis and all the support staff.
When was this, Elia?
A couple weeks ago.
When you are taking a live class, and hit the point where you say: “Is this right”; you can go ask the instructor what it was that he said/meant. With the webinar, there is the recording. I was about to begin carving the front of the seat, and something just did not fell right. So, I stopped and went back to the video recording. I am glad I did as I was about to make an error! Watch it once for flavor and watch it again for details! Thanks to the Curtis and Elia show for making the video available.
I second that.
I am taking a little side journey today for a virtual presentation from The John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. Lyle Wheeler, resident artist in woodworking, is presenting about chair making at the school. If you do not know about the Folk School, it is like summer camp for adults.
The presentation was about making a 3-slat ladderback chair; but, the splitting, riving, and drawknife work were all related to what we are doing. And, Lyle has an awesome shaving horse.
I actually prefer this flatter seat.
Alert! Do not make the mistake I just made. I drilled the seat mortises for the legs and had not put the sighting lines on the bottom of the seat. The error is recoverable, but it is much simpler to layout both the top and bottom before you begin. It is really difficult to ream the mortises without sighting lines. This is a good place to share both successes and challenges.
locate your sight line points on the bottom centerline and draw directly through the center of the holes, or as close as you can get… because the angled hole is directly in line with the site line. it will be correct. it’s what I did..
Thanks. Like I said, it is a recoverable error. But, I should know better.
After viewing Elia carving the seat, yesterday; I found myself wondering: “If I get a set of leather suspenders and a red hat, will my drawknife skills improve?” For years I have been one of those blokes who reached for the spokeshave or travisher too soon. But, I al learning to stick with the coarse tool longer.
Pretty sure it’s not the suspenders, or the hat. But if it works let me know!
Thoughts or knowledge on why my bobbins are squarish?
David, I assume, from what you are asking, that when you completed shaping the bobbins, they were fairly uniform octagons and now they do not look so. It is because they are drying and shrinking and wood shrinks differently in the tangential plane than it does in the radial plane. I am sure that Elia or Curtis will address how to true them up during final assembly.
Good Morning All – Remind me bc I’m a bit slow …. how long does the crest stay in the bending form before being removed and just set off to the side? And …anyone else in the Houston/Galveston area? Thanks.
Hopefully Elia will chime in. But, Dave, here is my read. It needs to be dry. Did you put the crest, and bending frame, into a kiln? I would leave it in the frame until it is ready to be used, then super dry it before the tenons are inserted into the posts. I bend slats for ladderback Post&Rung chairs and then transfer then to a drying form. When they are dry, and set, they are loose in the form, no longer under compression.
Thanks Bob. I bent and put it in the form on Saturday and have left it there. I noticed last night that the C clamps were a bit loose so I gave them a little twist. So it’s still just clamped up. The “drying form”…is that different than the bending form, and if so, what is it and how is it different?
I don’t know about drying forms for the crest. When I bend legs and slats, I use a very sturdy bending form and then transfer the piece(s) to a second form to hold the shape and free up the bending form to use for the next piece. For the crest, I left mine in the form for 2 weeks; but it is very dry where I live so the crest had set by then. I would just leave the crest in the form to minimize the chance of spring back.
Perfect! Thanks Bob.
I put this list together from books that I have personal experience with. Please expand the listing with your favorites. I look forward to your input.
Four new entries today! Keep them coming! I periodically go in and rearrange so they remain in alphabetical order by last name. Thanks
IF you have any interest in Welsh Stick Chairs, there are three books on the list. John Brown’s presentation of his chair making process, Christopher Williams’ presentation “Good Works” about John Brown, and the Bowen’s presentation of superb images of Chairs and Stools made in Wales.
On the subject of winding sticks. As Elia fit the posts into the seat, last Saturday, Curtis prompted the use of winding sticks to help assure that the two posts were in matching, symmetrical, angles. Elia used two convenient straight edges. Some woodworkers take the time to make a pair of matching wood strips. I prefer to use two pieces of commercial 3/4” angle. The angle allows the strip to support itself on the ends of the posts or legs. I also spray paint the lower strip so there is a easy to read color distinction.
Sorry, I failed to mention that it is lightweight aluminum angle.
Same approach I use. I picked it up from Curtis’s videos.
On the topic of marking wet wood. I tried several different pens pencils and markers and was having a difficult time seeing my marks until I tried my Pica marking pen (it’s a pencil but it’s labeled as a pen?) https://www.woodcraft.com/products/pica-dry-longlife-automatic-pen This thing works awesome on wet wood and it can still be erased with a normal pencil eraser. It’s awesome.
Cody, thanks for the info on this pencil/pen. Mine arrived yesterday, and I am impressed. IF it marks as well on GreenWood as it does dry; it will be an asset to my collection.
Elia, the quality of the recordings seems to improve every week. They look great!
Ricky Record really stole the show last week. Need to see more from him.
Thanks for the kind words! We had fun and are working hard to improve the show technically and otherwise.
I am waiting for a seat blank crack to stop moving before I decide which side of my Democratic Chair seat to carve. Meanwhile I have started butt scooping the seat to a Continuous Arm Windsor that I am also making. This seat blank has been in my shop for 4 years so it has stopped moving. In addition to honing my tools, I am honing my skills, before I attack the Democratic Chair Seat
Did we discuss whether the steamed crest needs to be placed in a kiln? I don’t remember that being said but I’m reading in Galbert’s Chairmaker’s Notebook that it stays in the form for a few days and then moved to a kiln for two days. If not, he says it stays in the form for several weeks.
David, my read on this is that the ends of the crest rail are tenons which will penetrate the posts near the top of the posts. Because of that function, the ends need to be super-dried. But, there is a significant time, yet to elapse, before we begin the assembly process. I do not see an immediate reason to energize your kiln.
Thanks to Curtis’ introduction of drilling guides to replace a square and bevel gauge when drilling seat mortises, I have created a set to use on both the Democratic Chair and a Continuous Arm Windsor I am building in parallel. The image shows them lined up ready to use. Drilling begins in the morning.
The posts have been fit into seat mortises and checked with winding sticks. I sure prefer using the drilling guide instead of bevel gauge and square.
Got my spindles made and put into the kiln. One bowed on me. Not sure if I can save/use it. Went ahead and roughed out another seven for practice if nothing else. So far it’s going much faster the second time.
Brian, thanks for sharing this example. I am interested in how the direction of “bow” relates to the growth ring orientation on the end of the spindle. How flexible is the thin section? Bob
Brian – Just read n Galbert’s book that you can use a heat gun to pull the bow out of a spindle. With the end in a vise, carefully heat the bowed area; pull the bow in the opposite direction; may need to reheat a couple of times; allow to cool while holding in desired place. Too many heats will dry out the wood and crack. Now I’m just paraphrasing here…. get prior approval from Elia and Curtis !
So, I’m curious about the radius on your scrub plan, Elia. I have a Stanley #40 which appears to have a similar width to yours. I bought it off eBay years ago and only when watching you plane did I think to wonder if the camber on the blade as bought was a good camber. I suspect it may be too curved, which is why I ask…
I doubt it can be too curved – the more curved it is the more wood it will take off, which is what a scrub is for. I have no idea what curve mine is.
Good morning, All. Has Elia already posted the link for the recording of yesterday’s class and I missed it?
Yes! The link is in the e-mail you get when you registered for the class.
Thanks, Elia. That helped me find it.
Here are some progress photos.
Good Morning All – Another steaming question…..does it matter if I steam the crest when it’s freshly carved and green, or if it’s sat out on the bench for several days? I guess I’m asking if it matters when I steam it. Should I wait to carve it until I’m ready to steam or does it not matter. Thanks.
It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t let it dry for months and months.
David, if it were me: I would steam the piece just as soon as I complete the shaping into an octagon. Not knowing where you live, it is hard to judge how quickly the newly shaved piece will dry. But, in my experience, whenever you can bend the wood when it is green, the better.
In today’s session, Curtis mentioned Welsh Stick Chairs and there was brief discussion about possibly using Hickory for a seat. I have made 3 Welsh Stick Chairs. Two had Elm seats and one had a Hickory seat. Never again on the Hickory. It was crazy hard work. An image is available by scrolling down to previous comments about bending.
If you are new to Steam Bending, Lee Valley/Veritas offers a free steam bending instruction manual. Granted it is based on using their products, but it still has good basic information.
Does a plywood, 6’ steam box need ventilation holes? If so, how many? Pics I see on the internet don’t show any.
David, here is my experience. I do not use ventilation holes along the top, but my closure is a rag stuffed into the business end. So I get plenty of ledge. But, you do need at least one condensate drain hole on the bottom at the low end of the box.
Thanks Bob! I had not thought about the need for drainage. Did find one video with guy saying vent holes were necessary to allow for the steam to circulate from front to back. But he did have both ends sealed tight rather than using a rag.
Good Morning All from Houston, Texas – Has there been any information shared in this venue regarding building the crest bending form? If not, what are the dimensions and how do you figure out the correct curvature? Thanks All! – David
I may have just discovered the answer….. it’s on the template page. LOL! My work week is too full of details and constant inundation of information. Takes me awhile to process other details come Saturday morning. Thanks All! See you in class.
David, I was going to comment that trying to build this chair, without a set of plans, is kinds like planning a trip across the country without any type map. But then you fessed up. It is good that you get to take weekend breaks.
testing photo upload
Whatever photo image you uploaded must have been sent to the moon.
Getting the old steam box out today
Nice bend. Did you need to use a cheater bar?
No Sir. Cooked it about 45 minutes. It just pulled right around
Well, that is a good thing! The only thing sweeter than steaming Red Oak is steaming White Oak.
I was a little concerned. About the thickness of the crest. Compared to the contionous arm on the Windsor chair but I guess no more than your bending it it doesn’t matter
Jay, this image is of the steam bent arm bow on a Welsh Stick Chair I made a few years back. The GreenWood White Oak has a cross section of about 1” x 1.5”. A cheater bar was required, but it bent fine. Bob
thats a chunk of wood to bend . I watched Roy and Elia bend some crest that go on a high back windsor rocker and they used a cheater bar.
Its amazing that you can bend that and no fiber or cracks on the back of it
How long did you steam that before trying to bend
The wood was very Green White Oak. We did several in one day. Steamed foe 1 1/2 hours, bent with a heavy duty steel compression strap and a come-along connected to the strap ends. Each arm bow took about 1 minute to bend, then transferred to a drying form, and bent the next one.
ok now you lost me. How do you transfer that big piece of wood after you bent it.
Within a couple of minutes of having made the bend, can relax the come-along, pull out the arm bow, put it in the drying frame and wedge it in place. The bending frame is a little more severe than the drying frame. Does this intrigue you?
Yes- I would like to see some pictures if u have them
There are no images of these actual bends. Sorry. At the time, I was more interested in making than documenting. I have gotten smarter as I have aged, even more.
Ok, here’s the image. The original was too large and I had to play around with the sizing until the uploader accepted it. Thoughts from y’all?
Here’s this image. Did this work?
EDIT: It did not.
Ryan, it is hard for me to infer size from your image. Has the tenon end already been tapered down close to final? I think, as it is, it will all be captured in the seat mortise and will be of no import. However, I don’t think you should allow it to propagate. IF it were mine, I would get CA glue into the crack, and end grain, and clamp it tight on the flats which close the crack.
The tenon has been tapered close to its final green size. I’ll get some CA glue in there. It’s only about 3/8″ long in the longitudinal plane. Thanks!
I have a question for the brain trust here. I made my posts about a week ago and they’ve been air drying since. Today I noticed this crack appearing at the tenon end. It doesn’t run (visibly) very far up the post. Should I make another part, or will the wedge I drive in it during final assembly make it a moot point?
EDIT: Having trouble posting the image. Will probably need to use a separate post.
How can a great day be so sad? All of my GreenWood Democratic Chair parts have been shaped and are drying in my workspace. BUT, that means I don’t have any additional GreenWood rivings wo work with sharp drawknife. And, no more of these glorious shavings to make. Perhaps, I just need to order another 60 pound shipment!
I’ve got a question for Elia and Curtis about the sequence for shaping the spindles. I am wondering why you make the concave shape in the spindles around the bulge on four sides first and then turn it into an octagon? To make it easier to get the 5/8 end? To make it easier to keep it balanced? Other reasons?
I am neither Elia nor Curtis, but I have some ideas. You are starting with square stock that you just made from a riving. Whether you want a straight taper, a concave taper, or ultimately a round taper; the easiest and most balanced approach is keep it square as long as you can. So you first create the desired taper on two opposite sides. You can hold it up, compare the two sides and decide if it is the taper you want. Then you do the same thing on the other two faces. Now you should have a symmetrical square taper. Knock off the corners and get the octagonal taper with a concave shape. IF you were going for a round spindle for a Continuous Arm Chair, then knock off the corners again. When we fit the post tenon to the post mortise you will see conversion of the octagon into the round. I hope this helps. One man’s opinion. In the past, I have made the starting stock octagonal, and then attempted to taper it and I created a mess.
Bob is right, the longer it stays square, the easier it is to control the shape.
One final comment about wood losing moisture. I shaped my first leg on 11October and have been weighing it every day. It is sitting in my shop in free air flow. It has lost 27% of its weight immediately after shaping! And, those nice uniform octagonal surfaces have gone strikingly oval!
With respect to Steam Box design, I bought a 10 foot section of 6” black plastic sewer pipe (ABS?) and cut it into a 4’ section and a 6’ section. I bought a single end cap and a union. So I can make 3 different boxes. I drilled drain holes in the bottom, and side holes to insert 1/4” dowels for support shelves. I made a 3 sided wooden support carriage to prevent the plastic from sagging. And away we go making steam and heating parts.
We just finished the webinar for today. I have two comments about kilns. First, I bought a 36” long used ice chest at GoodWill, cut a hole for a cord, inserted an automotive drop light and built a rack to lay parts on. It works for most things I need. But, as referenced by Elia and Curtis, I live it AZ so most of the time my shop is a kiln. As far as leaving the wood in the shop, I currently am preparing two Walnut square (2”) blanks for shaping into front legs on a Post&Rung chair. I leave them in the garage, with a fan blowing, and weigh them every day. They arrived from Jeff Lefkowitz (VA) in late August. They are still slowly losing weight. So far, they have lost about 10% of their original weight.
Elia, very sorry for your family’s loss. What an honor that your brother-in-law asked you to build his urn. Well done!
Sorry for your loss, Elia. That’s a nice urn, and while it was maybe a bit outside your comfort zone, it looks like a good result from here. Well done!
Is anyone else building the democratic arm chair? I didn’t realize how much bigger the arm chair until I saw a picture of them sitting next to each other on Instagram.
Cody, I did not know that there is an Arm-Chair option. I went to the Instagram link provided and did not see it. How is it bigger? Seat Size? Leg Length?
Well, I went to Curtis’ web page and found the Democratic Chair Arm-Chair. A reall nice look! Good Luck! I particularly like Curtis’ treatment of the arm profile.
Reflecting on making this chair via the ZOOM platform. I have made a Continuous Arm Windsor in Elia’s home shop. I have made a Sack Back Windsor in Curtis’ home shop. I have made 2-chairs with Elia in Portland. I really enjoy the personal contact. BUT, I am certainly pleased that the ZOOM platform is allowing me to make this Democratic Chair at my own pace. I fear, that for me, the days of making a chair in 6-7 days are over. Thanks to Curtis and Elia for providing this option.
my leaf raking muscle group is the same as my draw-knifing. adds up but one activity is bringing a lot more joy than the other.
At least, now you know that, IF you don’t have any GreenWood rivings available; you have an activity to keep your muscle group in shape!
Okay this is starting to be real fun. I can understand now the spark of joy I hear in Curtis voice when he talks about the drawknife. Still have a long way to go before I’d call myself good but that’s okay it just means I get to practice more!
Here’s my center stretcher. Maybe a bit thin in the middle but I’m overall very happy with it. I can see improvement in every piece I shave.
Not sure why my image is upside down. Was right side up when I uploaded it.
I was shaving a spindle at the county fair a few years ago. A man said that i needed a lathe. I said: NO! Every time I take a shaving I can hear the wood, feel the wood and smell the wood. Every stroke is an erotic experience. He turned to his wife and said :”I am going to go buy a drawknife!” Remember: Make Shavings, Not Dust. Yes, indeed, real fun.
Hello, everyone. I’m making templates from the hard copy of the drawings and noticed a discrepancy between the drawing and the cut list. On the cut list, both side and center stretchers are listed as 17” long, but the drawing of the center stretcher has it as 20 1/2” long. The 17” length matches the drawing of the chair itself on that same page. I apologize if this has been brought up already. Thanks!
Dwight, the key here is that the stretchers have to be fit to length after the legs are temporarily placed into the seat. So, they are left long, initially. Then, after placing the legs into the actual seat mortises, the span is measured, the tenon penetration is added to that measured span, and the stretchers are cut to length and the stretcher tenons shaped. I hope this helps.
Hmm, yep, I get that, but the rough length for both is given as the same in the parts list, but are different on the stretcher drawings. And it’s not trivial. One measures out at 17”, the other at more than 20”. I understand the build and fit approach to match the actual chair, but something is off is there’s a 3”+ difference between what’s called out for rough/green length and the drawing. Feel like I’m beating this up, but the side stretcher drawing matches exactly what the specified rough length, so why is the center stretcher so different?
Found my error: because the bobbins appear “offset” in the drawing, I read the rightmost one as the center. A nice catch, because that would have given me a very strange looking stretcher. All is well. Thanks for the response, Bob.
’tis a good thing when we can figure out our own errors! But, having a group discussion format is also a really good addition to the class setting.
Does anyone have advice about what pencil works best to strike a line on the wet red oak? In kiln-dried wood I’m used to having super sharp lines, like from a mechanical pencil or a knife blade. with the pencil and template, the marks are pretty ambiguous. i’ve tried laying out with different leads, different colors, ballpoint pen, fine tip sharpie, even tried blue tape. I’m getting better at “eying up” a “fair” line, but i’m having to pull the piece out of the horse more than i feel like i should.
Bill, I have experience with 2 different options. The one that works best is “Sanford NOBLOT Ink Pencil :A bottle of ink in a pencil: #705”. However, they are no longer manufactured and those which are available, on eBay, are quite $$$$$. I am down to my last 1 1/2. The other is offered by Veritas and called the Veritas indelible. Does not function quite as well as the Sanford, but better than regular lead. There is supposedly a replacement for the Sanford, but I have not tried it. Good luck.
thanks Bob. Never heard of the NOBLOT. If I ever run across one in a drawer, I will know it’s something precious. I will pick up some of the veritas indelible. maybe my eye will “train up” soon that i won’t need such an aid.
I like using the Veritas Indelible pencils.
Another option for drawing on green wood that requires a trip to the art supply store is a Watercolor Pencil. These are colored pencils that can be activated with water to get a watercolor paint effect. Because they’re water activated, they mark well on wet wood, but they’re not great at very fine lines.
Another option is a carpenter’s pencil made by SOLA, available on eBay and at Grainger. These work really well, but are also pricey. As an alternative, Elia recently scored a couple bundles of wooden fabric pencils with a colored-pencil like blue “lead.” They also work quite well on green wood, but need to be sharpened frequently. Ours are labeled “Dixon Cloth Marker 787 Blue.” Don’t seem too easy to find, though there’s a couple boxes currently on eBay. I’m sure there’s cloth-marking pencil equivalents that would be easier to find.
I have been using a white paint marker: Markal pro-line high performance. Part# 96960. It works great.
Is anybody interested in opening a discussion about building a steam box. In the next session we will shave the crest rail and then it will be ready to bend. I am not sure I want to try bending Red Oak without steaming, so I am going to get my steaming stuff out of storage.
Funny you ask. I started building one last night using the Rockler parts. I need to build both a steam box and a kiln.
My plan is to put the crest rail in my sink and use a tea kettle to pour hot water over it until it’s warm enough to bend. We’ll see how that goes.
Good luck. I managed a decent bend out of dry Red Oak by soaking it for a week and then boiling it for an hour.
I need to go look up the Rockler parts. Mine is all cobbled together from black plastic pipe, an old pressure cooker, and a gas fired turkey cooker burner.
Matt, I have seen that system, or one like it, in use. It is very effective. One woodworker uses two of the water boilers so he can refil one and still keep the box how with the second. The entire system is probably less expensive than my cobbled system.
Hey Bob did you cut the draw knife down
Jay, thanks for asking. I am still working on it. The flat grinding process, with 80 grit paper, is a slow process. I will post when I finish. Thanks.
We were able to observe, and enjoy, Elia’s skills with a drawknife in the first session. And, I am sure there will be more hours yet to come. IF you don’t know, Curtis has some YouTube videos making this chair. So, you can sit back and learn from his skills and techniques.
It seems like I figured it out!
IF I am successful at posting this image, you will see I am comparing dimensions of partially dry parts to the drawing. Time to slim some of them down.
On 11Oct I did the initial shaping of my first Democratic Chair leg. My first reaction is that my template is too fat. After shaping, I weighed it and put it aside to dry. 1# 8 3/8 ounces. On 13Oct it was down to 1# 5 1/8 ounces. This morning it was 1# 4 ounces. My dry AZ air is sucking the moisture out. I hope that it does not dry so fast that it checks!
Did anyone else have trouble watching the online class video.
i have tried several times to watch yesterday and this mourning, but no luck.
Jay I haven’t tried yet. Have you addressed the issue with the moderator?
No. Would the moderator be Tilly.
and does he see this or only if specifically name him.
this is my first time being in a group like This. So I don’t know
Nope, It played just fine for me. I wanted to go back and review cutting the betweenst the bobbins concavity.
I made my first Post & Rung GreenWood chair in 2007 and my first Windsor in 2009. I live in a retirement community in AZ that has a slpendiferous woodshop; but I am one of the few handtool hold-outs. I have taken 3 classes fro Elia and one from Curtis. My learning for this class is to become proficient with those concavities betweenst double bobbins. My first couple are a tad fat, but it will come. Tomorrow I tackle the posts!
Fat is better than skinny when it comes to these green spindles. You can – but you can’t +.
As dry as the pieces I have worked are, I have had to resort to using my spokeshave. Not the ideal.
At the end of my day I remembered something that I learned from Greg Pennington that I want to share with all of you. That pile of shavings under you shave horse are good for something else besides starting fires with. Take the part that you have shaved out for the day and place them inside that pile of shavings and it will help them maintain their moister. The Amish use this same technique in their ice houses to pack the ice using saw dust. I hope this helps out some. In the picture my parts from the day are inside those shavings. Todd Reid.
Well I think I have now figured out how to attach photos
Todd, that is a great idea, if you don’t live here in AZ. By the time I finish a part, the shavings are so dry they snap and crackle. 90 degrees and 5% relative humidity just suck the moisture out.
Bob my last duty assignment before I retired was at Ft Huachuca so I know what you are talking about. I’m now back in my home town in Ohio so it’s the complete opposite. 80 degrees with 95% humidity. Cheers
Todd, I actually have all my GreenWood parts stored in a humidifier that I made. Essentially they are stored in 100% relative humidity and I take them out one part at a time. Today, I will compare the 3-stretchers and a leg to the drawings to see if I want to take more off.
Well it’s great to be in this class with all of you. I want to first say tell Elia and Curtis what a great format you have set up for an on line class. You two work very well together. It was mentioned already during the class but, I would like to reiterate the need for you to show the part you are working Elia on the blue prints along with the demotions. Was the the first piece you worked on in the class the SS or the Post?
About me; I have attended three in person classes with Greg Pennington but, never one with Elia or Curtis. I started my chair making adventure three years ago and had hoped to be two more chairs further than I currently am but, COVID19 has changed a lot of our plans. I’m 52 and retired from the active duty Army. I have been a woodworker for forty years now. I saw my first Windsor chair in a country living magazine in the 70’s and it has been a live long dream build them. I hope in a year I will be far enough along in my training to do so.
I am taking this class to get more practice with my draw knife and it appears from the first class session that I will be able to achieve that goal. Currently I have all the parts rived out and ready to start riding the horse today. I’m building a King size arts and crafts style bed in the morning and making a chair in the afternoon.
I look forward to seeing the rest of your stories. Todd Reid.
P,S. You can find me on Instagram todd_reid
Well here’s my side stretchers. I’ll definitely be cleaning things up with the spokeshave unlike Curtis
We all do what we have to do!
Glad they were helpful!
Elia, thanks for posting these snippets! Having a quick review is very helpful!
The session on spoons was superb! Elia in NC performing as the capable student and Curtis in TN providing insight, instruction, direction and history. What a duo! I was suitably impressed with Elia’s ability to use his drawknife for fine surgical cuts. I am anxious for the Democratic Chair sessions to begin!
Thanks for the kind words! We had fun.
The session on spoons was superb! Elia in NC performing as the capable student and Curtis in TN providing insight, instruction, direction and history. What a duo! I was suitably impressed with Elia’s ability to use his drawknife for fine surgical cuts. I am anxious for the Democratic Chair sessions to begin!
Will you put out a list of items we will need for the FIRST, SECOND class and so on. “Like a couple days before the second class you will need these tools and this piece of wood on hand before class starts.” Thank you.
We will probably be moving faster than you can keep up with, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with having every tool you need on hand. The minimalist tool list for this class (link on this page) will give you a pretty good idea of what you’ll need, but since you’ll be doing most of the work in between each class, I haven’t made a tool list for each class.
That makes sense. Thank you very much for your time. I’m also signed up for this Saturdays spoon class. What size and type of wood should I have ready? Or is it the same as with the chair class that you will be moving to fast and will need to do it after the class?
i GUESS 1# 10 OZ.
holy cow, this is a brilliant idea! gonna share this with some colleagues and try to get an Oakland chapter of the Curtis & Elia show!
I’m really excited about it too.
Elia, I assume you are going to record the sessions, I live in Sydney Australia and being able to watch them at my leisure instead of 05:00 in the morning would be great.
Yes, indeed! No sleepless nights need be endured for the sake of our TV show.
Great. Please send me the link in due course. Cheers JH
Elia will the classes be recorded so they are available if we are unable to attend the live broadcast?
How do we get into the recording? I’m new to the zoom process and I am unable to attend the in person class. I have paid for the class.
The recording of the class will go up on my website a few hours after the class – the link and password are in the automated e-mail you receive when you register for the class.
great! I wouldn’t do it if it was a republican chair…
I’m glad you can do it! Just remember, this is a lower-case “democratic” chair – it’s for all people.
I had purchased the democratic arm chair plans and was planning on starting to build that soon as my first windsor. Would it be possible to add the arm stumps and arms to an order for the rivings and seat? Or are there more differences than that?
The only parts that are the same between the arm chair and side chair are the legs and possibly the stretchers. Why don’t you go ahead and order the parts you need for the arm chair (not the package) and put a note on the order that I said you could have a seat blank for $60 (if you want it) and free shipping.
Thank you Elia. I’ve done just that.
A good mantra is: Make Shavings, Not Dust…….
Nice! Wish I’d seen this before I built my Manney shave horse. 🙂
That said, having a shave horse in the middle of my shop is a good reminder to focus on learning chair making and not getting distracted by other stuff… 😀
I like it. A lot actually. I don’t have a shaving horse and I’ve wanted a design that is simple to build and doesn’t take up much room when not it use (one of the reasons I’ve avoided machine tools). This one fits the bill.
What a great design! Thanks for sharing the idea and the details!
Thanks Elia! Some really good ideas here. Now to see if I can modify my horse.
Hi Elia. I think the online classes are a great idea.
I thought I read that the classes were available for download or online viewing, and I just ordered the greenwood class. Since I live in the land of horrible internet service (I have satellite internet), I wanted to download the class since otherwise I don’t have a practical way to view it (as you may know, ‘free’ internet time on satellite is only available from 2 am to 8 am, so I was hoping for the download option so I can watch it at a normal time of day). Unfortunately, I can’t find the download option when I go to your website, only a ‘view now’ option. Is there a way to download it?
By the way, I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on the continuous arm rocker I made at your place, and can’t wait for this lousy year to end so I can get back to Hillsborough to take the greenwood week class in person!
Sorry about that! This was the second video I uploaded and I didn’t realize I could let you all download it. I have updated the page to allow you to do so. Thanks! Elia
Evidence that visual exposure can increase understanding is apparent from this 2-hour webinar. In early 2018, Elia posted a blog entry reviewing the various drill bits and their uses. It was very well written and helpful. But hearing the words and seeing the actions really helped me improve my understanding. I think I am actually prepared to sort through my collection of auger bits, mixed between Irwin and Jennings style, and make some decisions about which to retain and which to pass on to others.
If there is time, after talking drill bits, perhaps you can discuss various types of bit braces and what to look for.
When is the next one. I sit here quivering in anxious anticipation. What will be the topic?
This Saturday, about Drill Bits
Great news! Look forward to watching them. Thanks for the reply, Elia.
Will you be offering replay?s of your on line classes
Yes, the classes are recorded and will be made available on my website as soon as i can get the details sorted. Elia
I have shave horses (Alexander/Follansbee model) I use when teaching chair making and the horses breakdown fairly easily for storage and for transport.
I was in the drawknife class last weekend and enjoyed it very much. So far I use a bench vise and the V-block like Bob mentions. But I love his idea of a bench-vise-mounted pony used with a stool. Gotta look into that. Now if I only had access to riven green wood …
Oops. The plans I posted a link to are for a bowl horse not a shave horse. My bad. But I bet they could be adapted for a shave horse.
folding shavehorse plans from http://www.mike-loeffler.com/plan-sets. I have not used them but this showed up on my instagram feed.
I teach hand tool classes at a WoodShop where I belong. We shave “spindles” starting with 8/4 stock to become stool legs or legs for side tables. IF all our shaving was thinner stock, destined to become spindles in a chair back, the shave holding devices would not have to be so large. Bob
Bob I like your “Sit-n-Shave” apparatus. I may just have to give this a try.
From my perspective, the advantage is how easy it is to customize work surface height and angle. And then, of course, how easy it is to take it with. Throw it in the RV and then sit on a park bench or stump and shave away.
I participated in the drawknife webinar today. It was a splendid session. I look forward to the Q&A tomorrow. Monday I will apply what I learned and tune a couple of drawknives and tighten the handles!
Roy Underhill’s half sister knows all about drawknives.
The winner is Mark Nicholson! They weight 2# 8oz.
1lbs 15.96oz. ….. I know, I’m trying to be calculating!
3 Pounds, 14 Ounces
My cousin got my grandmother’s typewriter, love the post
51 and one half ounces
Or should I say 3lbs 3.5 oz
My guess is 4 lbs 3 and 1/2 oz.
4 lbs3 oz
3 lb. 3.1 oz
3lbs 1 oz
2 lb 7 oz
3 pounds 3 ounces
My guess: 1 pound, 11 oz.
From another who seeks less computer time, brilliant method Elia! Inspiring. Spindles guess: 15 pounds.
Love the typewriting…brings back memories
I’d guess 2 lbs 11 oz.
4lbs 12 oz.
2Lbs, 4 oz
19 ounces on the mark.
3 pounds 4 oz.
I guess 1#11oz.
I would like to see something with chairs or high chairs where u demonstrate like in class
Then later we ask questions
Thanks everyone for your notes – each one of you was compelling in your own way. My wife and I looked through the applications together. The reamer goes to Jake Torola.
Thanks so much,
It certainly is incomfortable to try and work ones case to ask for a free tool, but I must admit, having a reamer would certainly help me out.
I discovered woodworking, more specifically with handtools, when I moved in the US a few years ago.
Having a H4 visa I am not allowed to make money in any way for now (only my wife is allowed to work, as a biology researcher).
While this leave me some time to build furniture (basically, as soon as my 2 year old daughter is sleeping), it also leaves me with next to no budget for tools.
I’m trying to build all the furniture in our home. Hopefully it’s an experience I’ll be able to turn into a job when I’m allowed to work again.
Chairs have been on my radar for quite a long time, but without the place for a lathe (to try and build a reamer) or the money to buy a proper reamer it has been on the back-burner for now.
I’m not exactly young, but I’m hoping to take up chairmaking in my retirement, which just started. Chairmaking has always been of interest to me and I now have the time to learn it.
I nominate myself but I don’t think I’m any more deserving of anyone else. Once I tried to get a relative to buy me one of your reamers for a birthday gift but you were sold out. My most recent chair has untapered holes for want of a reamer–it will most likely explode and cause great harm to many. But there is still time…
This would not be for me , but for my daughter Emma. She was in your shop a few years ago during the fall art tour. She took to the lathe quite well. This reamer would be a great addition to her vintage hand tool collection. She is an artist in every sense of the word. By the way she is 13. Thank you for your consideration.
I know a young army veteran who served in the 3 tours in the Middle East and is using hand tool woodworking as a form of rehabilitation. He suffers from PTSD. He wants to start making Windsor Chairs in his shop. I have worked with him in his shop and his goal to start building chairs. His name is Jake Torola. The reamer is a good start in chair building.
I am not young. More poor. But I have made several stick benches and chairs and have struggled at drilling the angled holes for the tennis. I have read everything Chris Schwartz wrote about resultant angles and I was successful in each case and happy with the final result. But I blew out a corner and one seat and ended up painting the seat Tuscan Red (Sono Toscano).
Thanks for the musing, Seth. The Windsor chair making class that I took there was one of the best craft classes I’ve ever attended, and that includes quite a few. After reading your post, I’m almost sorry that I already purchased all three tools when I was there — perhaps you and Elia need to think about adding some more tools to the catalog! I do have to tell you, the travisher is still the most beautiful tool in my workshop, and it’s a joy to use. This is what makes hand tool woodwork so satisfying.
Thanks for all the work and thought that you and Elia put into making your HTW tools.
Thank you for this post. There is also a wonderful article of the same topic in Mortise and Tennon magazine (issue 4 I think). It’s an awesome magazine and well worth subscribing to. I am in the process of making an advent calendar box of drawers for my wife. It needs 60 housing dados. Like you, I have had some similar learnings in making all these dados.
Great post. This is the accomplished feeling we receive in working wood with hand tools. Each piece of wood is different and no two results are the same.
I just ordered one of your travishers and looking forward to seeing the results that it will bring.
Keep it going. Hope to see you in Iowa in 2021.
So, how do you get it to center around a mark? I never know exactly where to place the 5/16 bit to start the hole.
There’s a number of tricks to help – I’ll be writing a post about this soon (I hope). Elia
What was the final outcome of the Windsor writing chair you were duplicating from Williamsburg? I looked on your blog but missed it somehow.
It went well – I brought it to Williamsburg and Chris Swan painted it. You can see a photo here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8MQIDBAQ_f/ Maybe I’ll do a post on it soon.
The steam box is made from drainage tile covered in cement/plaster. Just look at the bell mouth at the joint line where they have joined two tiles.
Surely everyone builds their steam boxes from chicken wire and cement?
I never would have guessed! Thanks, Elia
Looks like clay drain pipes (wrapped in chicken wire and ?).
I found myself smiling while reading your whole blog. Not just a great woodworker, you also tell a good story.
I never regretted buying the van I did with the extra 200kg carrying capacity versus the other models/ brands in the same class… and yet I still find cause to overload it from time to time.
Man, I wish I had access to maple logs of any size, much less one the size you describe. Glad you got it…
Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Thanks for sharing, Elia.
Great Story Elia, The Sawyer house is such a great welcoming place and the Sawyers such gracious people. I have very pleasant memories of my time there, thanks for rekindling them.
Glad you liked it!
Great story, Elia. Keep ‘em coming.
Thanks! I was talking with Joshua Klein a couple weeks ago about Dave and I found myself telling all these stories I had half forgotten about. So many stories about Dave.
Doing drawings for it.
Williamsburg has given me special permission to make one copy of this chair, no more. So unfortunately plans are a definite no-no.
I have watched a few from this series. The title translates as “The last of their trade?”. When a watched it again I noticed a few more things:
– the portion that is split out is used to make a smaller bowls. I think he says up to four.
– this method of making these large bowls/ tubs is unique to this guy’s region. They were sold well beyond the region.
– business was good until the 60s when plastic tubs became more readily available.
– there is a part in the last third where the guy gets a little amused and agitated when he talks about the troubles with using tubs made from boards, as was done in the south of Germany. I think this part is after he had the beer.
– he is 84 years old.
Cool! I always wised I could understand what he was saying.
What a wonderful video Elia, I was fascinated how he separated the meat of the bowl from the shell of the bowl, using wood wedges. What a great tradition.
Congrats on that Elia; a very nice presentation that captures you quite well.
Nice blog! Good looking lady, I mean, you have it going man!I sure enjoyed seeing you on The Wood right show with Roy about a week ago, you make it look so easy.
That is a very nice presentation and a great advertisement for your class. The only thing missing is a comment on how good the food is!
Gorgeous! Any pictures of the tree and the cut lumber slabs?
I’ll dig around and see what I can find. Elia
Great story! Makes me want to have spare stools for an unbelievable opportunity that may be “right down the road”.
You may like Engels coach shop on YouTube
Thanks for sharing the video. Very interesting how they grow the pitch forks. My only regret was not learning more French from my grandfather.
I wish I spoke French! 🙂
Hey, “TraditionallySpeaking”, any chance you remember that blog? I’d love to read it and would appreciate if you shared the name of that other book.
My local library has a copy of the book, so I’ve requested it and am looking forward to reading it.
Thanks for sharing, Elia.
I read about this book on a blog last week and purchased it straight away. I haven’t yet started to read it because another older book was mentioned to read first so I ordered that one used and it won’t be in from the UK for a couple of weeks maybe. I am very excited now to read about pitchforks of all things!
Hey Elia, Where is this class located ??
It’s at my shop. Elia
Thanks for posting the video, beautiful work and at 67, gives me hope.
What a fantastic video! I’ll watch it again.
What a wonderful punchline at the end! And so typical of a 20 something cocksure young man! Great story Elia. 🙂
Thanks to your story, I now have the Benny Hill chase music stuck in my head.
What a great glimpse into the artisan world of Cape Breton. Thanks for posting it. Bob
It made me feel better that he used sandpaper to smooth his turning. 🙂
Makes me want to find that place. Thanks for sharing.
Were you using it in a hand brace or electric drill. I’ve used these bits successfully on spindle and post holes in seats and on legs and stretchers with clean entry holes using a battery powered drill. I have the drill going at full speed on the low setting. I thought the lead screw might be too much but I’ve done two loop backs with them so far. When I tried them in a hand brace I ran into problems.
Interesting point! I was using a bit brace. I’ll try it with a cordless drill and report back. Thanks! Elia
Very informative review. It puts the infomercials in one of the magazines to shame.
Thanks for the effort and analysis, it’s spot on.
Appreciate the information on the Wood Owl bits and the traditional auger bits. The clarity brought by someone like yourself who uses these and why is informative in a relevant context that educates people like myself whom have had only limited experience with a bit and brace (even though I have quite a few because nobody seems to want them ). Thanks again, I will keep in mind the factors mentioned next time I use them.
Thanks for posting. I’m sitting in my chair now – I need to make more for the dining room. Class was terrific!
Add Owl auger bits to the list. They cut fast and clean.
Regards from Perth
I haven’t tried the owl bits, but I’d like to one day. Elia
About the lead screw …
I recall reading a tip in Pop Wood mag a few years ago about drilling a pilot hole for the short point of a forstner bit. This works as the forstner does not have to create the hole to follow. A while back I thought to use this idea when drilling with auger bits in hard wood. Hard wood, especially Australian hard woods, make it difficult for the auger lead screw to gain traction and pull itself into the wood. So I began pre-drilling a pilot with a thin twist drill (1/8″ will do it), and following with the auger and brace. Drilling hard woods has never been easier! Try it.
Curious about the auger bots. Do you use the single flute for softer woods and double fite (Jennings) for harder woods?
Bits and flute. Stupid phone and big fingers.
The lead screw controls the thickness of cut. Jennings (double flute) style bits often have a double-thread lead screw so they look like they’d cut really slowly, but they actually cut roughly the same speed as many Irwin (single flute) style bits which often have a single thread lead screw. Individual bits of either type can vary drastically in terms of of speed. I have one 1/2″ bit that cuts 1″ deep in 12 revolutions and another 1/2″ bit that takes over 20 revolutions.
Fascinating (and clever)! Thanks for sharing this
Whoa….. think you might have a knack for telling stories….or documenting other’s stories… either way… kudos….
The deep seat of this chair may have been necessary to accommodate the fashion of it’s time. As an example, Here is a chart showing dresses worn in 19th century: https://terrizae.deviantart.com/art/19th-Century-Fashion-Timeline-462575158
The users of this chair may not have been dressed this fancy all the time, but some added space may have been standard in that era.
Good point! It would be interesting to know more about that – did chair seats become deeper later in the 19th c. as the clothes got bigger? Elia
Thanks for the interview plug. And the Butternut Table turned out really nice! Maybe a new article for you on that one.
I remember that technique…And Mike’s right it was great and fun class!
It was a great class, Elia.
Nicely put, Elia.
Thanks Elia! This is a great list and very helpful 🙂
Can’t wait to see Roy doing this with you. A new side business, perhaps? Foot Tool Woodworking…enjoyed the videos.
It’s fascinating that you have turned your grandmother’s artistry into something unique! Well written, and amazed at seeing you do something so special.
Thanks! It’s good to hear from you, Cousin Matthew.
I wish my hands had the fine motor skills that guy’s feet have!
I truly enjoy watching your bar stool progress.
Pictures, can indeed, say more than words.
I want to build the long wooden tool rest like you and Curtis have in your shops. I have watched countless you tube videos produced by Curtis trying to catch the specific design, to no avail. Yours seems similar to his. I am in need of some pictures to help me build a tool rest like you guys are using.
Sometime, on your blog, please show different tool rest picture angles front and rear with shots of how the bolting works and how many pieces of wood are used, etc.
I always love your attitude and demeanor in your videos, I really like the “tone” and cadence of the writing in this post. I think you should continue to write like this—are you thinking about a book project?
And of course the woodworking gems in the photos are priceless! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
PS-If you don’t already, you should see a chiropractor on a regular basis, woodworking puts us in odd postures for long periods of time.
Thanks for the kind words! I think a book would be fun at some point, but I’m in no rush. I just called my massage therapist today – thanks for your concern. Elia
I really enjoy reading your post. The same is true here in East Texas, find an old logger or sawmill culler and listen to them. They see things from looking at thousands of logs I will never see. This is a critical relationship that takes awhile (at least for me) to develop, especially when you’re only buying one log at a time.
That is very interesting. Any idea if the #4 ford cup would work for other water-based finishes? Like any viscometer, it might just be a reference. I would expect the shape and surface of the bottle would affect the surface tension of the fluid, which is probably why one can find them from 10-300$.
Yes! Viscosity cups are commonly used to measure paint and other finishes. My home-made cup seems to be slightly less accurate than the $12 cup I bought, but it’s plenty accurate for milk paint. A google search will yield lots of info.
affects not effects in the first line; it will change the effect!
Good point! I’ll fix it. Elia
what are your starting proportions?
I usually start with one part dry powder to two parts warm water, by volume . mix well using a egg beater, let sit an hour or so, the re mix and strain through a paint strainer obtained at the local Lowes or Home Depot.
One has to start with a formula prior to the pop bottle trick… am I close?
Each brand and color of paint is different, but that sounds about right for the dark colors of Old Fashioned brand. Light colors and Real Milk Paint brand need less paint, 1/1 or 1/1.5
What kind of price would you expect to pay for white oak? How do they calculate price? I’ve seen something about the Doyle scale but don’t understand it. One guy I contacted referred to $2/board foot for a log! Also, how much of a log would I need for 4-loop back chairs? I’m thinking 2-5’x16″ logs would be more than enough but not excessive.
Prices vary drastically by time of year, quality of log, size of log, the international market, etc. Whatever you pay, it’s cheap material for a chair – at $2/bd ft you’d still be at only ~ $30/chair for materials. $2/bd ft for beautiful wood will be cheaper and easier than $1/ft for messy stuff, but price and quality aren’t always linked. Some yards charge by weight, some by bd ft. The shortest log is 8′, up to 16′. You could get them to cut a 16′ log in half, but you can work around knots better the longer you leave the log before splitting it open. Plus the ends will check. One nice 6’x16″ section would yield enough for four loops, but two crumby sections wouldn’t yield one spindle, so it’s hard to say how much you’ll need till you split the log open.
Thanks for the post, I was wondering if you knew of any west coast ideas for green wood to use for chairs. Or if someone on here is a west coast woodworker/chairmaker. We have some oak (garry oak) but it is very hard to get and there just never has been much of it her. I often wonder what would chairmakers have used if the colonists had landed on the west coast first? Any ideas?
If the colonists had landed on the west coast they would have designed a chair that worked with the available woods or they would have imported chairs from elsewhere. I have taught in OR several times and it sounds like the native woods might work for a chair like Curtis’s Velda’s chair, but not a continuous arm (unless you managed to get your hands on nice garry oak). Beware: this is secondhand knowledge and worth what you paid for it.
Thanks, I’ll see what I can figure out.
What a beautiful piece.
thanks for posting that one, Elia. I hadn’t seen it before. Just spoke to Curtis a week or so ago. I call him the “happiest woodworker I know…” hope to see you in October. PF
I’ll try to come by in Oct, but I’m supposed to be doing a demo in Asheville one day that weekend. Are you going to need poplar for bowls again? I’m going to try and come up with Curtis next year – be fun to see your new place. Elia
Nah, we’re doing spoons.
I like the design. Is it your interpretation or original? Looking forward to getting your dvd on the rocker.
Thanks! It’s one of Curtis’s designs, Russell’s Stool.
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ELIA BIZZARRI • HILLSBOROUGH, NC • 919.732.3321