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Thread: Hollowing a chair seat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    201

    Hollowing a chair seat

    What is your preferred method for making shallow hollows in stools or chair seats? Iím not looking to do anything crazy, just a slight hollow maybe 1/4Ē or 3/8Ē deep. Recommended finishing tools and where to source them would be very helpful. So far, Iím considering something like the HNT Gordon radius plane after roughing it out with a curved router sled Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    1,323
    You guys that got your copy of the book already are running ahead of me. Smiley. I am happy for you.

    The real answer is it depends on what tools you got and how much time you have to get it done.

    Simplest and most time consuming would be a scrub plan and a round edge cabinet scraper. From there stuff like adzes and travishers can get the job done quicker.

    Are you drilling controlled depth pilot holes to sneak up on?

    Good luck. I look forward to getting to do this someday and will be checking back I am sure.

  3. #3
    I use a chairmaker's plane, which is a plane with a curve from front to back and from side to side. Mine is small so it leaves some tracks which I have to sand out.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
    In general there are two options: use power tools or hand tools.

    1) Power tools: carving disks made by companies like King Arthur, Arbotech or Saburrtooth. There are YouTubes showing the use of these tools. I have a disk from King Arthur tools and while quite expensive it does the job. You just need to practice a little to get used to it.

    2) Traditional chair making with hand tools: specially made tools of the trade are: A scorp (or inshave) a Travisher and a (now discontinued) tool made by Veritas - the pullshave. (I had it for some time and it performed quite well). As always you need to practice and get used to these traditional tools. One of the better makers of these tools is Ray Iles from UK.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
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    I have been using a gouge and a travisher. I also have an adze, a scorp. I bought a kutzall disk for the grinder early on. It's effective, but I used it once or twice and put it away. There was no joy in it for me and I suspect that my hearing and my lungs were suffering. I have actually found the gouge, motivated with a metal hammer or wooden mallet, to be pretty fast and its enjoyable. I am working exclusively in harder woods. If I have a chair seat that is an ornery crotch, sometimes I have resorted to some random orbital sanding. I have seen some vids of folks working in buttery eastern softwood and I would expect the tools might be different.
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  6. #6
    Chairs seats are traditionally made of soft(er) woods like Poplar and Pine.
    The sanding disks may carry health hazards but it depends on how many chairs and hours you spend in the dusty environment. I usually do mine (actually all sanding) outside when weather permits. But at the rate I build chairs - I donít think itís an issueÖLol.

    Hand tools are a nice option but there are downsides: First you need different types. In contrast, power tools are more universal. In total hand tools expense can be considerable. Then, the work depends on the specific wood and grain. A rotating disk is universal. But use a scorp in the wrong direction and it immediately tears up the wood. Last, sharpening curved blades can be a chore. I couldn't put up a good sharpening system that gets repeated results. Now if the tools arenít really sharp, they become useless. A power disk on the other hand, doesnít require such maintenance.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    8,391
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Berti View Post
    In general there are two options: use power tools or hand tools.

    1) Power tools: carving disks made by companies like King Arthur, Arbotech or Saburrtooth. There are YouTubes showing the use of these tools. I have a disk from King Arthur tools and while quite expensive it does the job. You just need to practice a little to get used to it.

    2) Traditional chair making with hand tools: specially made tools of the trade are: A scorp (or inshave) a Travisher and a (now discontinued) tool made by Veritas - the pullshave. (I had it for some time and it performed quite well). As always you need to practice and get used to these traditional tools. One of the better makers of these tools is Ray Iles from UK.
    Keegan, Mike has summarised it well here.

    It sounds as though you prefer hand tools. My on tools include a shop made adze (which is quite new and I have yet to use it on a seat), Ray Iles scorp, Pfeil #7 gouge, Veritas pull shave, a couple of modified heel shaves (different curves), and a two travishers I made based on the design by Peter Galbert (different curves).

    I thought to make a radius plane, such as the HNT Gordon, but realised that these are for smoothing, and the travishers + scrapers do the job well. If you want cheaper than the HNT Gordon (Terry makes beautiful planes), Lee Valley sell a squirrel-tail radius block plane.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    201
    Thanks for the responses! I hollowed a few QS white oak seats with a curved router sled but am looking to do the last smoothing step by hand. Perhaps leaving some texture behind as opposed to sanding it smooth. Sounds like a radius plane or travisher would be the best.

  9. #9
    When I made the ďtractor seatĒ for my shave horse I used the Harbor Freight carbide grinder disc. It is cheap, controllable and fast. However, it is best used outside in a favorable wind as it throws a LOT of dust. The surface is what one would expect, but easily cleaned up.

    For the Windsors I build I use traditional hand tools.
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