Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 52

Thread: Making my first Windsor Chairs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211

    Making my first Windsor Chairs

    I've been thoroughly enjoying this project, so I thought I'd share...

    I'm a big fan of Curtis Buchanan's work. His videos have a humble, 'golly-gee' quality that is endearing.

    His latest offering, the Democratic Chair is really on a different plane though. I have never seen such an accessible way to approach Windsor Chair making.

    He offers the plans as 'pay what you can' on his website.

    The chair is designed to be made with a minimal number of tools. Windsor chair making can be daunting because you need reamers and a way to cut tapers and shape edges. But he finds ways to keep that to a minimum. Even the steam bending and drying of green parts is approached with a view towards economy.

    Many of the parts are made from green wood; so it's a good entry into selecting logs, riving them, and making good chair parts. Again, this is done with a minimal number of tools; no need for a froe. He works all the parts down to the finishing with a drawknife. He pushes the drawknife past the point that most of us would typically stop using it. This has really improved my appreciation of grain direction and layers of the wood as well as the tool.

    Contouring a seat can be very non-intuitive (for anyone who's tried to follow plans can attest). But this chair has such simple, elegant, and easy-to-follow lines.

    The simple design really lends itself to being a springboard for a more personal design. While I did a lot of the rough work with the drawknife, I did much of the shaping on the lathe. The plans and videos rely less on exact measurements and lengths and more on dynamic adjustments and fits. I love that style of woodworking, and it really gives you license to adapt the design.

    All the while, the basic principles of Windsor chairs are preserved: tapered, socketed joints, stretchers that stretch the legs instead of holding them together; super drying tenons before mating them.

    I'm making this one from a pin oak we had to take down at work. The spindles and posts are from that tree. The seat is sycamore and the lower assembly is red oak.

    I happen to have a lot of the tools like reamers and a carbide carving wheel for an angle grinder. But some of my past efforts at Windsors have stalled because they have tricky crests, arms, or rockers. This chair is just distilled down to the bare elements.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; Yesterday at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    5,308
    All that good sounding stuff and no pics Prashun?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
    Posts
    1,592
    Thanks for sharing Prashtun. I am very interested in following this to the end.
    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,156
    Wow, really nice work, Prashun. Look forward to the rest of the build.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211

    Spindles and crest

    Buchanan drawknives the spindles at his shave horse. I wanted to get some practice using the skew at the lathe, so I turned mine. I haven't tamed my skew yet, so I will end up smoothing these with a block plane. It's just hard for me to minimize the vibration on these skinny parts. The block will make the spindle flat and straight much easier. I do like the finished surface that the skew leaves; it really doesn't need to be sanded much; but the block does as well here. Because these parts are split from straight grain, they are much easier to smooth with blades than sawn parts; you can come at it from either direction.

    I steam bent my crest rail. He just cold bends his with a piece of pipe for leverage. Once steamed, this green oak bent like rubber. There was a good deal of spring back, but again (despite leaving it in the form for a few days). But this is why this project is good; it doesn't matter. The aesthetics are forgiving enough, and the fitting to the posts and spindles is dynamic enough that it can still be made to work.

    It's a lot of trimming, fitting, walking around and checking for balance, and iterating.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,992
    Skinny spindles at the lathe are helped with using a support mid-way...I assume you are doing that. It helps curtail the natural vibration. And bravo on the skew...a tool I was never able to get used to!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211
    John Jordan had a great post on turning skinny things. Using a steady rest helps, but I realize that by holding spindles in a chuck at the headstock (instead of between centers) and then altering the tension at the tailstock either up or down, the resonance is greatly reduced. Also, the order of ops helps (Shape the center, then tail end, then head end). I also mount the skinniest (top) of the spindle at the headstock. This is thinned last. I also use my hand as a steady. All these things give passable results.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,992
    Oh yea...I was just suggesting that it's sometimes "fun" with skinny spindles on the spinny thing.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington State rainforest
    Posts
    106
    Someday, when Iím a better woodworker, Iím going to give this a go. Great post and good looking chair. Thanks for posting!
    Don't ask me how I know that!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211
    Thanks, Tom. FWIW, I am doing this build with a coworker who is relatively new to woodworking and absolutely new to the drawknife and green woodworking. Heís been able to do everything.

    This is in fact a great project to learn on.

    I encourage you to watch those vids if u are at all considering doing it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    512
    Your artistic eye is evident in all your projects. Are there structural reasons for selection of different woods for the components? (Maybe this is covered in the Buchanan video.) How was the sycamore to work with? Thanks for sharing!
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington State rainforest
    Posts
    106
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    Thanks, Tom. FWIW, I am doing this build with a coworker who is relatively new to woodworking and absolutely new to the drawknife and green woodworking. Heís been able to do everything.
    This is in fact a great project to learn on.
    I encourage you to watch those vids if u are at all considering doing it.
    I definitely will, thanks for the lead. Did you go the shaving horse route?

    Itís interesting that the Port Townsend School of Woodworking near me starts students in their Foundation course with a three-legged stool project - from raw log, to riving through construction. It makes sense how this fosters an appreciation for the wood itself, grain direction and basic hand tool techniques.
    Don't ask me how I know that!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211

    Fitting the spindles

    I got a chance to fit the spindles today. I have the Veritas 'pencil sharpeners' to do the tenons. However, I find that it's easier to to do them at the lathe.

    I am toying with the idea of swapping out the 4th spindle for one with a little knot in it. THis log was full of these.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    12,211
    The design is not mine so I cannot take credit for that.

    Sycamore is great to work with. Like poplar it feels halfway between a hardwood and softwood. I used sycamore for the seat because it was an offcut from another project. It was a good choice here because it was easier to carve than a harder wood seat.

    The spindles and posts were made from green wood mainly because they are thin but need to be strong and to withstand bending a little.

    I used red oak on the bottom again because they were offcuts from a previous project. They were already dry so it saved me a step in cutting the tenons; green tenons need to be dried longer and really should be cut again once dry.

    Red oak seems to split easier than white or this pin oak.

    I did make a few three legged stools last year. That was also satisfying. The techniques for the base of a Windsor chair are exactly the same.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 10-13-2019 at 12:51 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
    Posts
    1,592
    Jeez Prashtun, it already looks like a chair and I hardly had a chance to settle in for the show. What was that about "walking before running"? Oh well, can't hold an eagle down I guess.
    David

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •