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Thread: More Windsor chairs - a bright spot during the pandemic!

  1. #1
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    More Windsor chairs - a bright spot during the pandemic!

    Some of you may have viewed the thread on the first Windsor comb back I built - https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....dsor&p=3030637. That chair fulfilled a bucket list item for me that had been a dream for nearly half a century. Well, completing that chair was not only that, it seems to have become a new "sub-category" of my woodworking hobby. I started with building long rifles in the early 1970s, then rehabbing antique furniture for our home, next came designing and building furniture, then a deep dive into the woodturning vortex in 2009. All along the way I have still been drawn to Windsors. They have it all - turning, carving, detailed construction, hand tooling, etc.

    The first one in the thread linked above was completed in May of this year - due in large part to Covid! Nowhere to go, the classes I teach at John C. Campbell were cancelled, so shop time was plentiful. In that thread I commented there would probably be another one this coming winter.

    Well, the Covid thing dragged on, and I kept feeling the call to start on the next one. Why wait until winter!!

    I called the tree removal fellow I know and acquired a large section of a hard maple log he had - about 32" in diameter. So, I split out stock for the legs and assorted turnings for another comb back. Hmmmm... while I am at it, stock for a sack back and a fan back. Hadn't turned any for awhile, and all that maple stock was sitting there - it needs to be turned!! It wasn't long before the legs, stretchers, arm supports and posts for the comb back, sack back and fan back were turned and drying!

    When I built the comb back I was working from a white oak log section acquired from my wood supplier. There was plenty of log left and with all the turnings completed and drying, I thought I might as well split out the oak pieces before the oak ruined. With that done it seemed prudent to rough out all the spindles and parts to be bent while the oak was green and workable. And....probably should go ahead and bend all the parts that were to be bent while they had moisture in them.

    Still....Covid continued.

    Seemed a shame to have all those parts roughed out, so I finally decided to start on the second comb back. It is now fully assembled and in the house stabilizing before I paint it.

    And, Covid drags on....and on. So, I have started on the sack back. The seat and undercarriage are completed, all spindles are to final dimension, and the arm rail is ready to be laid out for drilling as is the crest rail.

    My hope is to have the sack back done within a couple weeks, depending on deer hunting and some other side interests. No doubt the fan back will be close behind as I have already glued up the seat for it!!

    For many reasons important to all of us I hope the pandemic ends soon. But, either way, I am reasonably certain there will be even more Windsors in my future!
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  2. #2
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    Beautiful work, John. I guess there is a silver lining to this Covid thing. Having the turning skill (which I donít), sure opens up the possibilities.

  3. #3
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    Outstanding work John, I hope the covid issue is behind us all very soon, if not there will surely be more chairs built in your shop.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Phil and Keith! Either way on Covid I am pretty sure there will be more Windsors. None of these are perfect by a long shot. I look at the ones Curtis Buchanan does and they are so refined and well done. But, he has done dozens and dozens of chairs. I will never get there - not enough years left! The upside is that I am learning a lot, enjoying the ride, and the chairs are a nice addition to our home.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  5. #5
    I'm sure it lacks the small imperfections of the old ones, but as long as people want to buy perfect chairs you will do well !
    I don't think I've ever seen a crest rail so beautifully detailed.

  6. #6
    John
    The only thing I know about Windsor type chairs is that they are well beyond my skill level. Yours are just beautiful.

    I have a question, maybe a silly one, how sturdy are they?
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

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  7. #7
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    Gorgeous. I wish I had time to build some.

  8. #8
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    Mel, thanks for the kind words! I donít plan on selling any of them - at least at this point. Havenít tracked the time invested, but I am pretty sure I wouldnít want to know.

    Tom, thanks and you should just make time to build one. I think you would enjoy it.

    Mike, they are amazingly solid. The design consists of opposing stresses and the joinery is done with ambient mortises and super dry tenons. All of the oak parts are riven, so the spindles are very strong. They provide strength, but also allow for some flex making the chair very comfortable.

    Thanks, guys, for taking a look and the comments.

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  9. #9
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    John,

    I was going to ask how you like that lathe, but it sure looks like you got the hang of it! And I remember not too long ago you were hunting for used chairmaking tools...well, you got the hang of those, too! Nice work, hope youíll make more.

    Kevin

  10. #10
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    That's good work, John!

    I'm actually doing some similar, but not nearly as complex, chairs right now myself, although it's more of a collaborative thing with someone else who makes chairs for others. It's helping me understand the geometry better for sure so I can finally get back to the set of chairs I started in 2003 and never got very far on. LOL
    --

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

  11. #11
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    Beautiful work John.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  12. #12
    I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of these a week ago. John, your work is impeccable and inspiring as always. I can't wait to see what you next decide to "dabble" in. First turning, then chairs, what's next?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of these a week ago. John, your work is impeccable and inspiring as always. I can't wait to see what you next decide to "dabble" in. First turning, then chairs, what's next?
    We should get him to build a guitar, Prashun. LOL
    --

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

  14. #14
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    Kevin, you are right - I was on the hunt for several chair related tools. After multiple purchases and some culling I have most of the necessary tools. But, I am sure I will have other "needs." In fact, I just placed an order with Lee Valley for some new HSS brad point bits. Just not happy with the cut of my carbide bits.

    Jim, thanks! I think the better plan on a "set" is to never think about more than one chair at a time - at least with Windsors. If they involve repetitive machining of parts, then working on the whole batch would make sense, but it sure would make it a much more daunting task!

    Steve, thanks for the kind words!

    Prashun, I hope to have pretty quick progress on the sack back. The arm rail and spindles are fitted and holes drilled and tapered for the crest rail. Next will be tackling the crest rail itself and drilling for the spindles. That is something I have not done on the comb backs, so I probably will move cautiously on it. I am hopeful the new bits from LV will help leave a cleaner entry hole.

    Jim, I doubt there will be guitars in my future. I play a little, or at least have in the distant past, and have often been intrigued by a build. But, since I no longer have the passion for playing it just doesn't make sense for me.

    Thanks, again, to all for taking the time to comment!

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  15. #15
    Which bits are you using? The Brad points?

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