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Thread: Making my first Windsor Chairs

  1. #16
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    Apr 2007
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    Ready for finishing

    I had a chance to wedge and assemble the chair this morning. There isn't a lot of glue used here. Most of the tenons are wedged. I've always pre-sawn the kerf when making wedged tenons in the past. But Buchanan's method is more elegant: He just cuts the tenon a little proud of the mortise, and then splits it with a chisel. It's so quick and easier to align.

    I tried like heck to finish turn the spindles with the skew, but I think I may still have to use some sandpaper.

    I had amazing success reducing vibration by turning with a drill chuck in the tailstock. It captures the end without providing any longitudinal compression. That, and my fingers as a steady really gave better results.

    I made a mistake on Spindle 5: I had not seated it fully before cutting it to length. So, when I hammered the wedge, the top went below the surface. I should have used an end-grain plug. Didn't think about that until too late. This is all going to be painted anyway
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    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 10-14-2019 at 10:02 AM.

  2. #17
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    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I LOVE how you left that knot-hole in the spindle!
    --

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

  3. #18
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    Mar 2006
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    Austin Texas
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    Love it. Is it comfortable to sit in?
    David

  4. #19
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    Jan 2004
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    Lewiston, Idaho
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    27,082
    Looks great Prashun! I enjoy using my skew in a lot of my turning! After a lot of practice, it has become my "go to" tool for most of my spindle turning with occasional spindle gouge use!
    Ken

  5. #20
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    Apr 2007
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    New Jersey
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    David, Yes it is. The Windsor design has been scrutinized deeply by so many people. Rake, splay, spindle angles, seat cant, are all pretty well understood.

    There's a great book by Mike Dunbar on making Windsor chairs. He does a good job of describing the mechanics of the chair. The leg and post joints are tapered tenons. While they are wedged, really, every time you sit on the chair it drives the tapers home, which if formed properly, hold remarkably well even without glue. Unlike some contemporary chairs, where the stretchers actually hold the legs together, these stretchers push the legs apart, which also helps reinforce the socketed joints. All of the tenons are 'super dried' in a makeshift kiln such that when finally shaped and placed in their respective sockets (tapered or straight holed) absorb a tiny bit of moisture from the surrounding mortise, and swell to snug up the joints (I can't vouch that this happens in a meaningful way; I haven't made enough to see it in action. But it's what they say).

    The selection of 100% straight grained wood with no run-out means the spindles and posts can bend to absorb the users weight without snapping. The legs are also stronger in their length by virtue of the straight grain. All this means you be a little more delicate with the proportions than might be possible with a conventional chair.

    Peter Galbert has some amazing resources online too. I recommend his Perch stool (for which he's also posted some videos; he has a wealth of info on his blog too). Galbert is really fun to watch because he uses some modern, very clever techniques for drilling, and bending wood. His designs are just sublime and innovative while still being traditional enough. He's the Veritas to Buchanan's Lie Nielsen. (He's also a Ninja with the lathe, so that's fun to watch).
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 10-14-2019 at 5:34 PM.

  6. #21
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    Apr 2007
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    I totally agree, Ken! It can do a lot of things that the roughing gouge, spindle gouge, and parting tool can do. And there's something so satisfying about the way it cuts. So crisp and smooth. Like the drawknife, it's been fun to push myself to do more than I thought possible with it.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    NW Indiana
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    638
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I LOVE how you left that knot-hole in the spindle!
    2nd that in a big way. Love it. I enjoy trying to incorporate some of the woods interesting defects into the design. You did a great job of it.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  8. #23
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    Mar 2006
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    Austin Texas
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    Thanks for the info Prashtun. I have long considered "chairs" to be the mark of a true woodworking craftsman and I applaud your efforts. I will look into the Dunbar and Galbert source info to see what I can see. You are pushing me to jump into a "chair" sooner than later.
    David

  9. #24
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Washington State rainforest
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    Very, very nice. I do lots of wedged through tenons and the idea of just splitting it for the wedge with a chisel kind of freaks me out, but makes a lot of sense. I really appreciate all the references and little tips in here!
    Don't ask me how I know that!

  10. #25
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    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
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    Finished

    I wanted to finish this chair with red followed by black milk paint. However, I find the mixing and applying of milk paint tedious. I painted the first coat red, and then sprayed black India Ink for the second coat. Burnishing the milk paint is just no fun, IMHO. It's dusty, rubs through, and is just messy in every way to work with. I don't understand the appeal - besides the great stock colors that the Old Fashioned Milk Paint company makes it in.

    I diluted the India ink in ethanol and sprayed it until I got the shade of black I was after. I applied 2 coats of Waterlox Original Sealer Finish, then sanded it. Next time, I would use shellac as a seal coat. This can be sprayed. Wiping or brushing on finishes for a chair is not fun. With colorants, it's just hard to simultaneously knock the grain back between coats while not burning through. As a result, my painted and dyed finishes rarely feel as good as uncolored finishes. In the end, it worked out.

    I think prefinishing would have helped a great deal. Especially in this case, where very little glue is used. The pieces could be wedged, trimmed, and touched up easily, but you wouldn't have to touch the points where the spindles meet the seat or crest - the hardest part to keep smooth.
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  11. #26
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    Apr 2007
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    New Jersey
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    I started my second chair. This one will be in walnut.

    Boy, training with the skew on pin and red oak is like running with ankle weights. Turning this walnut is so much easier. I suspect (but cannot confirm) that the green oak, by virtue of being more pliable, was also more prone to vibration when turning thin. This KD walnut appears not to have this issue. This means a flatter surface before I have to sand.

    I'm going for fewer angles and more curves on this one. Buchanan's seat template is awesome for locating the seat and post holes. I plan to eliminate the concave dip on the sides of the seat and also to round the corners.

    I don't have any green walnut. Curving the crest rail might have been tough with a solid 1" piece of walnut. So, I cut it into laminations. it still wouldn't bend without some work, so I steamed the laminations for 45 minutes, bent them in the form for an hour or two until they cooled and some of the surface moisture evaporated. Then I glued it and left it in the form for 24 hours. I haven't quite figured out the post to crest joint yet.

    I also haven't yet figured out the spindles. I am considering just using oak for those, since I still have green, riven stock for that.
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    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 10-20-2019 at 5:47 PM.

  12. #27
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    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Outstanding result!!! If I'm not mistaken, it was common to rub linseed oil over milk paint, but for today's world, the Waterlox is likely a very good choice.
    --

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

  13. #28
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    Apr 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
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    Steam bending

    The bend on the crest was a little drastic for my taste. The lamination had no springback. i decided to try to bend a solid piece. My first attempt, steaming for 90 minutes did not work. The piece would not bend. i soaked it overnight and tried again. it was largely successful, but the top had some peeling. I think it may be superficial. I also bent the back posts using a curved form made from Peter Galbert's rocker plans. I had to turn the tapers and tenons on the posts before steaming. I was curious whether the fit would be altered on the tapers but they held. I turned the tenons over-sized so they can be adjusted later.
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  14. #29
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    New Jersey
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    Spindles

    These spindles have been riven from red oak and steam bent using the same form as the posts. I did these a while ago, planning to make Peter Galbert's Rocker. They sat around for a year, waiting for me to stop procrastinating.

    I find the size of these Windsors a little more usable for my home and office, so I'm re-purposing them.

    Because the spindles are bent, the holes in the back of the seat could be drilled at 90 degrees instead of the 7 degrees that Buchanan's design calls for.

    I was able to do all the shaping of the top with the draw knife and a block plane.

    The crest needs some work...The previous design has the crest tenoning into the posts. On this one, I'm asking the posts to tenon into the crest. This is tricky because the angle of the mortises is tricky to calculate and drill. Second, the shoulder of the bent posts is not coplanar with the crest. Buchanan suggests drilling a 7/8" counterbore to define the shoulder of the crest. I did not hit it so well on my first attempt. I can get the parts to come together, but there is a big gap in the shoulder.

    Designing this as I go...
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    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 10-29-2019 at 10:27 AM.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    75
    Love it. Beautiful work!

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