My Windsor chairs attempt

larry merlau

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Delton, Michigan
well ben he started with some photos,, but now he's looking for a escape vehicle from the sounds and no more pictures have surfaced.. if yur still home yu should go check on him:) if not i think he is planning an escape from the shop and this project:)
 

Ben Werner

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Hamilton, NY
well ben he started with some photos,, but now he's looking for a escape vehicle from the sounds and no more pictures have surfaced.. if yur still home yu should go check on him:) if not i think he is planning an escape from the shop and this project:)

na I dont think so... he started after I already left. And hes not a quitter. :wave:
 

Brent Dowell

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Ken,

Is the wood still green?

Are you doing anything special to keep the billets from drying out now that you've cut them?
 

ken werner

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Central NY State
Brent, the wood was green in the spring, and after splitting the log open, it is still green. The green wood is easier to work. I'm not doing anything to keep the wood from drying out, as I'm getting to it pretty quickly, now that the billets are split out.

I have to say a couple of things. First, I am a rank novice at this Windsor chair stuff. I spent a week with a master, but that's it. One chair made, under his supervision, and with him bailing me out frequently. So please bear with me, this won't be a tutorial, it'll more likely be amusing as I struggle along.

I will try to explain what I can, and bear in mind, anything I say or do can be wrong. I learned a lot from Elia Bizzarri, but I may not have it all correctly. My sources are what I learned with Elia, notes and photos taken then, and Drew Langsner's book "The Chairmaker's Workshop" which Elia recommended before I went to N.C. to work with him.

OK, so having said all that, I've spent the last couple of days on the shaving horse, using my draw knife. The draw knife is as sharp as a plane blade, and is capable of thick as well as subtle shavings. It is am amazing tool, and one which takes time to learn. Elia must've told me a million times to skew the blade, and at the same time cut with a slicing stroke. Like cutting a tomato.

So to show this process, I start with a billet, split from the log. Looks like this:


To understand the way this is shaved, first look at the end grain. You can see the growth rings, and the rays. The ray plane is much easier to shave along than tangent to the growth ring, so first I shave along the rays.




So the sequence is flatten a side in the ray plane, then flatten an adjacent side [tangent to the growth rings]. then mark off 3/4" on each flattened side, and shave down to that, so the blank is 3/4" square:



I made 36 long spindle blanks, and 12 short ones. Each chair needs 9 long and 4 short, so I made some extras, to allow for problems. I may make a few more.



Here's a picture of a shaving in progress. You can see how thick the shaving is. The drawknife is skewed.



And this is what the work area looks like after using the draw knife. BTW, the shavings make absolutely great kindling, and I will be using all of them in the woodstove.



The next step will be either shaping the spindle blanks into rounds with a nice bulge for the lumbar area, and a gentle taper to the top, or splitting out a wedge from the big log, to rive out the continuous arms. I'll need to get several, as there is a high rate of failure in the bending process. I'll probably get to that in a few days.
 

Brent Dowell

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Very cool Ken! :thumb::thumb:

And the shavings look to be excellent kindling! Something I'm learning to appreciate heating our house with wood this winter!
 

allen levine

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new york city burbs
Im sorry to ask a stupid question ken, but if the log was outdoors all this time, when you split it down to these pieces, and is green as you say, wont the movement of the wood cause you problems?:dunno:
Do the smaller pieces develop warps or cups once they are moved inside?
 

ken werner

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Location
Central NY State
Allen, my friend, the only stupid question is the one not asked. There is a lot of theory about the interplay of wet and dry wood in Windsor chairs. Once I shape the spindles, they will go into a drying kiln. It isn't hi tech. It's a chipboard box, insulated, and with a 100W bulb in it. It gets up to about 130 degrees. The spindles sit in there for a week, and the ends, which are skinny, dry out. Some will bow, and I may be able to heat and reshape them, some are no good, and may become short spindles, or firewood. The seat is pine, and has been air drying for several months. Anyway, the dry spindle ends go into wood that is wetter than they are, and they absorb moisture and swell, locking them in place. That's the theory, as I understand it. I may be wrong. The spindles are glued in with hide glue, and in the continuous arm, are split and wedged. More on that much later.
 

Don Orr

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912
Location
Schenectady, NY
Outstanding Ken. I know it can be tough to get a project moving, but once you do it takes on a life of its own. The shaving looks like a lot of fun. You are off to a great start.

That Ben is some kid isn't he !:thumb: Not so much a kid anymore though.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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ABQ NM
Looking good so far, Ken. :thumb:

And sorry, I couldn't resist.

Ken and his froe:

 

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