Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Chair making or tool making?

Phew; I'm all tuckered out.

First I wrestled with scanner, Photoshop and printer to turn a 1:4 scale seat and arm plan from Drew Langsner's The Chairmaker's Workshop into a full scale template or two. It almost lines up, but not quite - the printer's a bit flaky. No matter, it'll give me something tangible to work from and gives the impression I know what I'm doing. Hey, I need even more reassurance of that than you do... Hopefully my attempts to glue the printouts to some thin board will work and I can cut them to size tomorrow.

Nothing daunted, I took the seat blank (sounds good, eh?) out of the clamps and, as promised, whacked it against the bench to check the glue lines were sound. No problem.

Already I
like February a lot more than the end of January.

One board had slipped in the clamps more than was helpful, so I snatched up a handy scrub plane and had at it to level everything off and remove the excess foam. I regret to say the handy scrub was the Veritas that's now on offer as a competition prize, so really I shouldn't be using it. But it did the job very nicely and now I'm wondering why I came over all noble and offered it up. Heigh ho. I was on the verge of digging out the jack and tidying up the bottom a bit more when I thought "why?". It's flat enough I think, and the undulations from the scrub give a pleasing rustic flavour to things; so I'll probably leave it as is. Oh, and a tip for workbench builders: if you reckon you'll be using a scrub at all, don't have a tool well. Go on. ask me why I say that...

Couldn't do any more to the blank until my templates are ready, so turned to getting some seat hollowing tools ready. I've hummed and hahed over whether to take a chance and buy a inshave - but what if I don't like making chairs? I don't want to load myself down with specialist tools I may never use again. So I decided to hunt out the biggest gouge I have and try that. I may be deluded that it'll be any use at all, but it's worth a try before I lay out 30 or so quid. The biggest gouge I have isn't very big, and it's not a carving gouge. But it's a Ward & Payne, and they're usually pretty good; the t
ang is long and stout; the bolster is wide; and it needs a handle. Blast. Although, actually, that could be a blessing in disguise. I found a likely piece of ash and trundled up to the lathe to turn up a handle that I thought might fit the occasion.

A good deal of swearing and effort later, and I have a handle that's a cross between the one on my favourite chisel (which cost me 16 pence - it was all I had on me at the time) and a turning tool handle. The theory being it'll be graspable low down if I want to mallet it, but also long enough to use two hands if pushing it turns out to be best. We shall see.

Not content with this, I set to to clean up and then destroy the #51 spokeshave. In honour of the occasion I broke out the Power Devil bench grinder with the coarsest wheel in Christendom and started to ruin a perfectly good working tool. I got this far before the batteries in the camera packed up. Tune in tomorrow to see how much worse it can get...


  1. Well, it is getting interesting!
    Making your own tools-we are all very proud of you ;)
    Keep it up,

  2. Glad to see you are getting stuck. Those plans look complicated (from someone who has never worked from a plan but wishes he had one now)

    Go on I'll bite. Wot's with the well & the scraper?


  3. Ooops Oh dear I meant stuck in.


  4. Dunno Andy, you might be right the first time... ;~) I'm not much of a plan person either, and they do worry me a bit, but they're just a guide. Doubt I'd be able to stick rigidly to them if I tried!

    Ah yes, scrubs and tool wells. The chips tend to fly just a bit when scrubbing, and without fail they all head for the tool well like Swallows going south for the winter. Spent 10 minutes picking (and shovelling) them all out again. Sigh.


Owing to vast quantities of spam this blog is getting, I'm afraid only registered users can post. All comments are moderated before publication, so there may be some delay. My apologies.