NBSS Week 24 – Chair class part 4, a full-day upholstery demo, and a bit more work on the basket weave table

We began this week fitting the crest rail to our chair. We first set up the mortise machine and cut the mortises for both the rear seat post tenons and the upper rear backsplat.

It was then back to the bench to fine tune the fit. This is a laborious and time-consuming process: we are trying to get two surfaces (the shoulders of the rear post tenons and the bottom surface of the crestrail) to fit flush to each other. I thought I’d cut my rear seat post tenons perfectly, but while fitting the crestrail I realized they did not fit as well as I had hoped. So I re-marked the tenon shoulders and used a jig Dan recommended (that I made) to get the shoulders better.

The fit now is much improved. After the crestrail was fitted we clamped the chair together and made a template for the backsplat that is specific to our individual chairs. With this template we are able to transfer our backsplat mortise angles to our backsplat lumber blank and then take the blank to the tablesaw, where we cut those angles to give us a referenced flat surface to cut the front of the tenon. We then cut the backsplat shape out of the blank at the bandsaw, making sure to leave room for fine tuning of the fit later. After that, we flattened our tablesaw reference surfaces a bit further up the backsplat in preparation for the next step. In this step we cut the front of the bottom backsplat tenon, we held the backspat vertically with our reference face riding against the fence while the blade cut the front of the tenon to fit our lower seat rail mortises.

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Finally, we handsawed out the haunch and perfected the fit of the lower backsplat tenons.

During this process of fitting we are also trying to ensure that the “aim” of the backsplat is in line with the upper crest rail mortises. This is where we can make fine adjustments to the lower backsplat tenons if needed. Next week we will work on fitting the upper backsplat tenons.

Our lecture this week was a bit different. Instead of Lance speaking, we had Joseph from Pioneer Upholstering Co. show us the full process of upholstering a newly built chair. The featured chair was one we saw being constructed last semester by fourth semester student Seth Capista. He built a beautiful formal armchair that was now going to receive the full treatment with a horsehair seating surface. We watched from the beginning as Joseph wove the seat webbing,

applied the box edge,

stuffed the seating surface,

applied muslin,

and then fitted the seating fabric itself. It was a fantastic experience and Joseph was a most thorough instructor.

On the basket weave table this week I cut the tapers on the legs, cut the angles on the aprons, and used the dado stack to cut the tenons on the aprons. Unfortunately as I was fitting the apron tenons I realized my angled tenon setup block had a ridge in it that resulted in a 1/16” gap on opposing tenon shoulders. So next week’s post will explain how I recut a new set of aprons—mistakes teach us what to watch out for next time! Until then…

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