NBSS Week 26 – Real progress on the chair and some actual basket weave carving on the basket weave table

I managed to accomplish a lot of work over the past two weeks so let’s jump right in shall we? Now that the backsplat is fitted to the chair it’s time to work on some of the decorative details that I’m incorporating into my chair.

(I’m going rogue at this point with fellow student Sean Regan as we are each building the same chair design to eventually sell as a set with a chess table we will build later.) To match the details of the chess table we are veneering the backsplat with quilted cedar. So we first cut a slight curve into the shape of our backsplat

then cut the quilted cedar veneer to match the shape on the front surface. Then we took these pieces to the vacuum veneer press where we glued the veneer to the backsplat in a process that looks much like this.


After the backsplat came out of the press we returned to the bench to inlay a solid line of black stringing to accentuate the design of the veneered backsplat. To do this we made what is known as a scratch stock. This is basically just a small sharpened metal piece (most often sourced from an old bandsaw blade or handsaw) that has the profile of the shape you want to “scratch” into the wood. In our case we are scratching a groove to accept a piece of 1/16” thick black veneer, often called stringing. We   made a wooden holder with a fence that holds the small metal piece. Then we filed the shape we desired into the metal and sharpened it. After it was inserted into the wooden holder we adjusted it for the position we wanted the cut to be from the fence and also for the depth of cut. The scratching process is just like it sounds; you run the scratch stock over the surface of the wood in multiple passes and the metal starts to scratch/excavate material till you have cut the shape of the scratch stock into the wood. Here’s what our groove looked like.

We, of course, had a few mishaps along the way. (It was after all our first time making and using a scratch stock.) But with some persistence and some perspiration we managed to power through and here’s the end result.




















After some sanding, the backsplat was ready to be glued into the back of the chair. This was a big hurdle as it represents the first half/back half of the chair actually going together. I took the crestrail to the bandsaw and cut out its final shape and then faired it smooth and close to the fit of the posts. This process ensured that once the back half is glued together I would have minimal work to do to flush all of the joints. With that done it was time for the big moment. Glue was applied, help was called, clamps were clamped:

Drumroll please………and here’s the back half of the chair!





















Now that that was done (whew!), it was time to start working on the front half of the chair. Here Sean and I are going rogue again as we are applying some more decorative details. Specifically, we are using rosewood to apply “socks” to the bottom 3” of the front legs. This process first involves removing 1/16” of material of the bottom of all the faces of the legs. We then replaced that material with 1/16” veneers of the rosewood, working 1 face at a time. Here’s what the completed leg looks like.

We cut the arched profile into the front and side seat rails and flushed those rails to the front legs.

After that we cut the rabbets on the inside of the seatrails that will eventually accept the upholstered seat frame.

We then dry fitted the front half of the chair and marked the front legs to extend the seat frame rabbets into the upper corner of each of the front legs. Finally, we removed that material.

And now it was time to glue up the front half of the chair…




















With that done it was time to head to the router table to cut the top edge profile on the front of the chair.





















Now we were ready to glue the front half and rear half of the chair together. (I told you this was a busy week!) More perspiration, more glue, more clamps, and even some wedges in the rear tenons.

Voila! Here’s the chair with both halves united.




















On the basket weave table this week I started by hand planing the front of my aprons to follow the shape of the taper of the legs.




















With this done it was time to layout the design for the basket weave.

I took some time and carved a test panel and then knifed in the design on the aprons themselves.

Our Lance lecture this week was all about lathe and grinder safety. He demonstrated some interesting methods for performing off center turnings that even involved him putting this boat paddle looking leg blank on the lathe and showing us how to ensure that it was balanced for turning.

This week was also Anime week at the Hynes Convention Center so it has been very, very interesting walking through the Prudential Center Mall this week seeing all of the attendees in costumes. Up next week, building the chair upholstery frame, sanding and applying finish to the chair, carving the basket weave pattern and oh so much more, until then…

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