NBSS Week 19 – Completing the “Rasta” Windsor chair and more toolbox details

With the undercarriage of our chair glued up last week, we moved on to completing the top half this week. We started off by finishing the shaping of the seatback hoop with the spokeshave and then test fitting it into our seats. Once the hoop was fitted we grabbed our spindles out of the kiln, finish shaped those, and fit each one to its hole in the seat. With each spindle now positioned and fitted into its individual hole, we refitted the hoop and marked the top of the spindles where they intersected the hoop.

We then drilled the spindle holes into the hoop. This was a scary process in which we had to create a bulls-eye on the seat spindle hole and then use left-to-right and forward-to-back sightlines to “aim” the drill to create the hole at the proper angle.

Once this was completed for all 5 spindle holes we shaped the top of the spindles to fit these holes. We were now ready to glue up the top part of the chair, but first we had to perform the final shaping and finish preparation for our seats. We used the travisher, spokeshave, scraper, and even some sandpaper to get the seat surface ready for paint. With that completed we moved on to gluing the hoop and spindles into the chair. We first glued the bottom of the spindles into their holes using hide glue and then placed the hoop into the chair, lined up all the spindle holes, and pushed the whole hoop down into the seat. With the hoop fully seated we flipped the chair over, wedged the hoop from underneath, and then returned to the top where we wedged each spindle into the hoop.





















With this the chair is now fully constructed!

Now for the finish, Peter uses milk paint on his chairs and he demonstrated his techniques for preparing the chair and applying the finish. He likes to leave the tool marks created with the drawknife, travisher, and spokeshave so the surface has texture and conveys the process of how the chair was built. The only part that gets truly smoothed is the seat, and we had already prepared that surface earlier. We did apply some naptha to the seat surface to remove any pitch from the pine. In between coats of paint we leveled the surface with a combination of burlap and Scotch Brite pads. After the final coat we used the burlap to burnish the surface before applying a few top coats of oil.

Here’s the chair Peter built and finished during the class.





















For my chair I decided to try the technique of rubbing through the top layers of paint to show bits of the bottom colors, which gives the impression and patina of years of wear. I also decided on the concept of a “Rasta” chair, so my first two coats of paint were red, yellow, and green.

I then applied three coats of black paint over the multi-colored base layer, waited for those to dry, and then burnished and rubbed through the paint in select areas to expose hints of the colors underneath. After three coats of oil here’s the finished chair!



















Our Lance lecture this week was a drill press and mortise machine safety review. He walked us through each machine and explained the proper adjustments and techniques to use each machine correctly. He also described the areas where improper techniques occur.

On the toolbox this week I finish milled my ship-lap back panels and cut them each individually to their length and width. I then installed the dado stack and cut the rabbets in each piece to create the ship-lap.

This design allows us to install large pieces of wood to cover a large surface area while allowing those pieces to move individually with seasonal changes. (Think of the backs of dressers, entertainment centers, and other large cabinets.) Once the pieces were cut I fit each at the workbench and also marked the locations where I needed to drill the screw holes that will attach them. After drilling the holes here’s what the back looks like.

I also took some time this week to turn a bunch of different knob designs to try and determine which shape, dimension, and profile I like best. Here’s the batch:

This is the one I decided I liked the best:


Now I’ve just gotta turn seven of them!

I also experimented with finishes this week. I used water based dyes to color some maple sample pieces, fumed some sample pieces of butternut with ammonia, and applied different oils and shellacs to both to try and determine what colors and finishes I like best. It ended up that the samples I liked the best were pretty simple and straightforward—keeping the colors of the wood natural. I prefinished the maple panel with 2 coats of super blond shellac followed by 2 coats of wipe-on polyurethane. When the toolbox is ready next week it will get 4-5 coats of the same wipe-on polyurethane, which I’m creating by thinning down regular brushing poly with mineral spirits. Up next week, gluing up the toolbox lid, installing the lid locating pins and lock, final hand-planing and surface prep and the start of the finishing process, until then…


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