The mock ups continue, presumably so I work out the process, uncover potential mistakes, and don’t make them again a second time. This week I’ve been working on the armrest/frame connection. I cut the mortises with the dado pack on the table saw (the joinery will be floating through-tenons on the frame). I put one piece facing one direction in the jig and the other piece facing the other direction, so the pieces don’t actually line up. I’ll try not to do this on the real thing. This is working proof of why mock-ups are important. Fool me once, shame on the dado blade, fool me twice…
Then I worked the mock seat by hand. I did one half with a smoother, less defined outline, and the other half with a more precise, gouged outline. I used the scraper, gouges, and did some sanding by hand.
It all worked well enough that I felt confident enough to begin the process of shaping the real seat. I got REALLY dusty. The grate behind the table there is an exhaust fan, and you can see it’s basically covered in mahogany dust, as were the inside of my ears, the inside of my socks and shoes, and, well, you get the point.
I began bringing the seat down closer to it’s final size. I cross-cut the extra length off the boards by putting the seat on the sled on the table saw, and then fit the seat inside the jig I made last week to cut the taper on the planer. It’s now a few pounds lighter–which is nice since I’ve been running around the shop with it an awful lot (not actually running. That wouldn’t be very safe)–and slightly easier to wield.
The seat is wedged in between the stops on the jig so the planer doesn’t move it around too much and the front end is actually propped up so the planer cuts only that portion of the seat, effectively creating a taper in the profile. You may recognize this effect from Nakashima’s conoid chair (or you do now). Mine still has a ways to go, but it’s getting there.
As I drifted off to sleep last night I suddenly went cold with fear. I had cut the seat too narrow! There’s no going back really. You can always make something smaller, but it’s a lot more difficult to make something big again. I wasn’t supposed to go to the shop today but I had to, just to see how badly I’d screwed myself and if there was any hope for redemption, and it turns out everything is fine and I didn’t cut the seat as narrow as I’d remembered. I am letting those hours of panic serve as a lesson though: measure twice, cut once. Or is it “don’t panic”?