NBSS Week 25 – Chair Class part 5 and you guessed it: more basket weave table work!

Alright folks it’s been 25 weeks now and let’s face it my posts have gotten a bit dull (heck they may have even started out that way). Many of you who know me have been like what’s up, where’s the Mike we know and love? For those of you who don’t know me, just look at the color of my Shaker nightstand,

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and the acrylic knob,

and of course the Rasta chair.

I’ve been described as “not quite right” many times and now’s the time for that side of me to have a voice in the blog.

So let me get this off my chest, chair making sucks! No way around it, it’s one of the harder tasks to learn as a woodworker. So much so that woodworkers who actually build chairs for a living have a somewhat elevated status within the woodworking community. I’ve heard the joke many a time: Ah, so “Jim” thinks he’s a great woodworker, but does he build chairs? All of this is a great segue into the fact that I have struggled with the chair class so far. Sure parts 1-3 were pretty straightforward, but parts 4 and 5, oh boy, and part 6, well you’ll have to wait a bit for that one.

Back to week 5, I revisited the problems encountered last week fitting the post tenons and the crestrail. It all started to unravel as I had to begin fitting the upper tenons of the backsplat.

You see, now we have three surfaces that all have to be in the same plane and flat in relation to one another… and all the joints have to be gap free. I cut a test splat, fitted it, and it was horrible; lessons were learned (don’t we all cut test pieces?) and I applied those to my “real” backsplat. To get everything to work I had to tweak my post tenons a bit more (by which I mean I slightly undercut them) and I then snuck up to the fit of the backsplat to crest rail joint in very slow increments. Here’s what the joint looks like:

I have to keep reminding myself it’s not gonna be perfect, it is after all my first chair. For those of you saying but wait, what about the Rasta chair – that’s a chair right? No, it’s actually a stool, I’ve described it wrong this whole time. Besides, that’s “green” chairmaking/stoolmaking and it’s carefree and easy, like eating cake and getting into bed after your sheets have just come out of the dryer. It’s somehow just not quite as stressful. . So after I slowly fit the crestrail it was time to… alright you caught me: I spent a good part of the week chasing after fitment problems so I don’t have any other progress to show on the chair. But next week you just wait.

I did have quite a bit more success on the basket weave table this week. Remember last week how I cut my aprons and I had shoulders that were misaligned?

Well I thought it was a ridge in my angle block but I was wrong, (this does happen from time to time) Anyway, the “real” problem was this: an out of square fence, I figured this out while setting up to cut my new set of aprons. What you see is that the auxiliary fence (the piece of MDF clamped to the table saw fence) used to bury a bit of the dado stack to cut the tenons is clamped only at the top. Why is this a problem? Well here’s why:

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That’s right the clamps pull it out of square, resulting in misaligned shoulders. So I moved the clamping pressure to the bottom and it was perfect:

 

Now that’s a lesson! Something I never even thought about till an error occurred. Brilliant. I then returned to the bench and cut the tenon haunches and fit each tenon to its leg.

I also cut the bottom stretcher tenon for the drawer side of the table. After a test fit I thought the leg taper (1 3/8” to 1”) looked a bit bulky for this small table, so I re-tapered the legs from 1 3/8” to ¾” and it looks much better in my opinion.

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Our Lance lecture this week was all about wizardry. I mean let’s face it this guy knows it all. He can talk to you about pianos, the Spanish Armada, upholstery, cameras, Dropbox, rhino (drafting/design software he taught himself to use)… the list goes on and on! Like I said: wizardry. Lance is a big part of what makes NBSS the school it is. Take a moment this week to recommend him for “mentor” of the year.

And last but not least it’s time for a card game update. So we’ve been playing 45’s for about five months now and in true 45’s fashion (this game is weird) we’ve come up with 2 new rules. The 1st is that we’ve decided to make the 10 of clubs (the absolute lowest valued card in the game) a wild card so that if you possess it for the last hand (trick) of the game it automatically wins. The 2nd addition is what we’ve termed the “lucky charm hand”. If you manage to get dealt 4 of a kind you automatically win that round, supplying you or your team with 25 points.

Fantastic! Up next week….Spring Break…..Cabo San Lucos, Daytona Beach, Miami, Key West, the Bahamas…….naw… I’m gonna do some work in the shop, probably on the backsplat for the chair…

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