View Full Version : A carved, ebonized, and gilded, wing back chair. (Pix)

John Fry
07-12-2007, 12:32 AM
First I want to thank everyone who visited and responded to my last project post;

A small table that took a whole lot of work. (Pix) (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=44855)

and, as always, I welcome your comments AND critiques on this latest project.

This is a hand carved, ebonized, faintly gilded, and upholstered, wing back chair. It is upholstered in black leather and faux deer hide, over 18 hand tied springs. It has come to be known as “Bambi”.

This custom designed and fit chair is for a very petite lady who has always had problems with chairs fitting her. It is a “modified” wing back chair that is actually designed to be more of an office chair that will be used at a desk, rather than the normal read a book type of wing back chair.




This is the chair that I carved the Ball and Claw feet for;


You can see the entire thread on carving these feet here;

(http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=56054)A unique style of Ball and Claw feet for a chair. PIX


The construction actually started with a full size prototype that was designed from a client fitting in a dining room chair and then we adjusted downward in size to fit her frame.


After we felt we had the correct size, I used the prototype to make the templates, and cut all the walnut parts. Before I started shaping and leg sculpting, I cut all the mortise and tenons in the leg blanks and aprons.


Next the leg blanks were cut on the band saw.


Only the front legs have B&C feet so the back legs were easy, but I cut one extra blank for the front in case something went wrong I would have an extra blank.

John Fry
07-12-2007, 12:32 AM

Before carving the B&C feet, I sculpted the upper legs. Notice the “extra meat” I left on the knee section for the carving elements that will be added here later.


The client’s husband is a very talented draftsman and they designed all the carving elements and submitted them to me in full scale drawings.


This made it easy to transfer the layout to the aprons.


Next I cut all the lower profiles on the rails and checked the dry fit.


I finished all the rest of the parts, cut and fit the arm rests, the wings, and cut all the mortise and tenons. Here is the final dry fit including all the upholsterer’s bars.


I cut all the fabric rabbets around the seat rails, and then made a simple platform to allow me to transfer the rabbets to the upper legs.


The arm riser and arm both curved on two planes and then the carving elements were transferred using carbon paper.


This is actually when I stopped and carved the Ball and Claw feet. Then I cut the outlines for the edge beading and outlined the carving elements using a Dremel and a Stewart Mac mini-base.


After a couple practice runs on each of the elements, I began to carve.


Here all four rails are completed except the end zones, where they will be blended into the legs after glue up.

John Fry
07-12-2007, 12:33 AM

Here you can see the B&C feet are completed, and the knees are done as well.


The arms and risers are done and the recess for the arm pads are routed.


I made a carrier jig to pass the curved sections of the legs over the stacked dado on the table saw. These dadoes will be where the stretchers attach to the legs.


Now the glue up has begun. I used West System’s Epoxy and this picture actually shows the third phase of glue up.


After both the sides were glued, I glued all the cross members and attached the two sides together.


The corner blocks were glued screwed and bolted, and the upholsterer’s bars were all glued in.


I made a two piece template to draw up and lay out the curved stretchers. A “keystone” like center board will lock the two halves in position.


Once the curves were laid out, I band sawed the template to make the bending form.


Using that template, I made the bending form and lined it with cork.

John Fry
07-12-2007, 12:34 AM

I resawed and glued up the bent laminates and glued them up in the form using Unibond 800. I made the one piece thick enough to split it into two stretchers.


After splitting and cutting to length, I dowelled the ends and then used a LN #66 beading tool to create the desired edge treatments on the stretchers.


The stretchers are glued in place and the center block is the “wedge” that ties it all together. The curved blocks were fit around the block and glued to hold the stretcher rosette.


I cut the oval to create the stretcher rosette and rout the recess that it will get inlaid into.


Using the template, I routed the outside shape of the rosette and then carved it in the vise. I used the band saw to “re-saw” the actual rosette out of the carving block.


Using the same the template, I routed the recess to inlay the rosette into the center of the stretchers.


I used Behlen’s SolarLux Jet Black dye to ebonize.


I used Sepp’s Mica antique gold for the gilding. A water based size allowed me to brush back to the very faint accent we were looking for.


The Chisel and Bit medallion was inlaid under the rosette.

John Fry
07-12-2007, 12:35 AM

Here is the frame ready to go to the upholsterer.


I stopped by Mr. Lanzetti’s shop for a picture of the spring work before he covered it in fabric. Both the seat and back have nine hand tied springs. This is a first class upholstery job.


Here are some close-ups of the finished chair and gilded carvings.


The knee carving.


The arm, riser and knuckles.

The clients are extremely happy, she said the chair is very comfortable, and she says she has never really had a chair that fits.

This has probably been the most extensive detailed work I have ever done. It has probably been the most challenging piece I’ve ever done, because I keep telling clients “Oh, no problem, I can do that!” and then I spend weeks wondering how the hell I’m going to do it. It has probably been the most educational piece I’ve ever made, because I have never done this much carving in relief.

I know that this style and fabric will not suit everyone's taste, but I'm very proud of it!

Thanks for looking,

Don Bullock
07-12-2007, 12:44 AM
John, that's fantastic. No, the fabric doesn't fit my taste nore does the ebonized finish, but I can see beyond all that. What I see is some excellent craftsmanship and a lot of hard work. Congratulations on a fine job of meeting your client's desires.

Jim Becker
07-12-2007, 1:04 AM
Umm...."wow"....I'm really at a loss for words, believe it or not!

Thanks for detailing this incredible piece of craftsmanship!

Rick de Roque
07-12-2007, 1:08 AM

Stunning work. Thanks for the tutorial also. You are in a class by yourself.


Richard Wolf
07-12-2007, 7:48 AM
Great work. I'm exhausted just looking at all the pictures.


Philip Glover
07-12-2007, 8:06 AM

Well done!
You must have sent a lot of time discussing the the design with the lady.
It is an amazing chair. What does the decor look like in the office which this chair will reside in?



Brian Penning
07-12-2007, 8:09 AM
Oh man!! If you told kids that the chair was "Bambi" it'd be all over!!
Bambi made into a chair!! I shudder at the consequences!

Not my style or type of fabric but certainly appreciate the work involved.

ryan smythe
07-12-2007, 8:54 AM
That really is worth being proud of.

Dino Drosas
07-12-2007, 10:13 AM
"YOU DA MAN"Your work is certainly at a level that any woodworker would aspire to obtain. Congrats and many thanks for your detailed postings. Your round table posting was especially helpful to me in understanding your methods of construction and the instruction of them. We all thank you for this, I am sure.

Paul Douglass
07-12-2007, 10:33 AM
That is awesome craftsmanship. I don't care for the choice in upholstery, but to each his/her own. The woodwork is superb. Hate to see it over shadowed by the faberic.

Mike Henderson
07-12-2007, 10:46 AM
That's really wonderful work, John. Very complex and very well executed. The fabric is not something I would choose, but you have to satisfy the client.


Ralph Dobbertin
07-12-2007, 10:59 AM
excellent workmanship. A real work of art. Thanks for posting all the pics.

glenn bradley
07-12-2007, 11:06 AM
John, First off, beautiful work. Second, thanks so much for taking the time to track the process and to present it here. Outstanding.

Zahid Naqvi
07-12-2007, 11:19 AM
Wow! most excellent. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

Mark Valsi
07-12-2007, 2:31 PM

Wow, indeed !!

But I don't like that fabric on the upper part of the chair :+(

Dan Oliphant
07-12-2007, 3:31 PM
Great looking piece John, woodworking is as usual top notch.

Cliff Rohrabacher
07-12-2007, 3:31 PM
That's pretty durn rootin tootin. I really like the claw feet. It's just a nice chair all round.

Mark Singer
07-12-2007, 3:38 PM
You are very talanted and versatile.....you do it all! Great work again!

Charles Jackson III
07-12-2007, 5:33 PM
Very nice chair.

Larry Fox
07-12-2007, 5:46 PM
There are no words!!!!!

I think I am just going to go and list all my tools for sale.

John Timberlake
07-12-2007, 10:23 PM
Great job. Love the carving. And thanks for all the in progress pictures. Helps to see how things are made.

Craig Thompson
07-13-2007, 1:28 AM

That is some great work... what we all wish we could get paid to do... great tutorial as well..

Mike Null
07-13-2007, 7:28 AM
I like it very much--even the upholstery. I'll bet it's a perfect fit wherever your client put it.

Thanks very much for posting the whole project.

Michael Panis
07-13-2007, 8:26 AM

What Jim said.
Thanks for sharing....it's inspiring...

Ralph Okonieski
07-13-2007, 12:57 PM
"Fabulous job" is a gross understatement. I'm left in awe with your skill and craftsmanship. The pics were very beneficial. Thanks for sharing!

David DeCristoforo
07-13-2007, 1:40 PM
Woodwork - A-1
Ebonized finish = Sweeet
Leather seat = Sweeeeeet
"Leopard skin" upholstery = AAAAAKKKK!

I have a "classic" wingback from the early 30's. Very simple lines and no carving but built like a tank and very comfy. Used to be "Grandpa's chair". I hope to have it redone in burgundy leather one of these days.....