beautiful chairs ken! but i'm reminded by the picture police that there is one pic missing. the one of the all important load bearing test (thinking of one of the opening scenes from the movie, the patriot).
To Dan - I tested out the seat for fit [groan] as I was carving it, then once the undercarriage was assembled sat on it again. Like so many things in the movies, what they depict is far from reality. Also, the design and materials are so strong, it would be hard to imagine a leg just breaking like that under a normal load.....but it sure was funny, and I appreciate you sharing that scene. For those [like me] who hadn't seen it or didn't remember it, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr9U7jNze_o
To Darren - so, the process is a great education in itself. Some of the better lessons:
Skew and slice with a draw knife. It is more like cutting a tomato than chopping with an axe.
A sharp draw knife is a very precise tool, with a wide range of capabilities.
Skewing a spokeshave also changes the nature of its cut.
The first step in carving the seat is to get the shaping tools - drawknife, travisher and spokeshave as sharp as possible. There is a whole other learning curve from plane and chisel sharpening that goes with these tools. Peter Galbert has a blog and goes into a lot of detail as to how to sharpen these tools. Worth the study. He also has an excellent book about building Windsors, the title is "The Chairmaker's Notebook".
Use mirrors to align a bit brace, and trust your eyes. Surprising accuracy can be achieved.
Don't follow directions on milk paint labels. Dilute it about 2:1 with water by volume. Rubbing Old Fashioned Milk Paint [that's a specific brand - http://www.milkpaint.com] with 3-0 steel wool brings out a wonderful sheen. But it takes a lot of pressure, and effort. If you sweat on the milk paint, it removes a dot of paint, and is a PITA to fix.
Raw dark tung oil mixed with citrus solvent 50/50 is a wonderful, non-toxic finish, that while taking a long time to fully cure, smells great, applies easily, and gives fine results. Bought from http://www.realmilkpaint.com/products/oils/dark-raw-tung-oil/
Oh, and this is a big one - experiment with the finishing steps on mock ups of the same woods, to see how you like the results before going ahead with the real project.
Those are the main lessons that come to mind.
Thanks again to all for support and positive feedback. It's good to be back here, and I hope to contribute more to this forum moving forward.