Back to the Grind

Thank God this isn’t a post about coffee. As it is I can barely stand the mawkish inanity. If you come up with a better title, please comment.

I’ve totally been neglecting the backrest and it was time to get to it. First, I bent a thin piece of wood over the board to create a shallow arc. I traced the arc and then made relief cuts up to the line of the arc with the bandsaw. I did this because the depth of the board might cause the blade to bind up otherwise. The relief cuts provide–you guessed it–relief to the tension on the blade. I then cut along the arc. I did this to both boards and then glued them up.

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When the glue was dry I started grinding down the backrest, just like I did to the seat, which I worked on a little more too. I alternated between grinding, sanding, and scraping, and the curve of the backrest officially began to take shape.

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The grinder is pretty intense and creates swirl-shaped scratches, and the sander and scraper started smoothing them down. While this is all work I need to do, I did it this week and not later on because I’ve been avoiding final-checking the frame so I can start cutting the joinery. Something was off measurement-wise and I couldn’t figure out what. Eventually I had to bite the bullet…aaaaaaand I figured it out…aaaaaaand it was pretty bad. Somehow my full-scale drawing from which I made my frame template pieces had the armrest about four inches shorter than on my mock-up! Seriously! I’ll give you a second. It’s a lot to process. Mind you, the mock-up is pretty comfortable and this is the information I need to follow most closely.

What this meant was that the seat wasn’t fitting in the frame as I’d planned and the armrest/seat relationship wasn’t as I’d planned. AND, it meant that if I adjusted anything to fix this, it either changed the length of the armrest or the angle of the backrest, you know, no big deal.

71I took apart my mock-up, thinking perhaps that changing the angle of the backrest might be the lesser of the two evils, but it wasn’t. It was very evil and I was totally freaking out. At this point, everything I did went terribly. The drill battery died, I stripped out a few screws, I made a small tear in my pants bigger, a board banged my knee really hard. I would have left the shop but I was waiting to talk to Mark and so I stayed on the crazy train until he came and talked me off the ledge. 72He is a calm presence and I’ve been grateful for this many times. After I explained the issue, which I’d been mulling over for over three hours, in about thirty seconds he suggested putting the mock-up back to how it was supposed to be, and then trying shortening the armrests. I did, and it wasn’t so bad. So, this is what I did next. I shortened the armrests an inch and a half. I recut the mortises and thinned the armrests down, and it really didn’t affect much at all, but it did solve my problem. The frame still isn’t exactly as I planned, but it’s much, much better. I am now finally able to move forward finishing up the armrest joints.

The rest of the week will be spent cutting the mortises and tenons on the other ends of the armrests and cutting the lap and dado joints that will hold the seat in place. I may lose sleep over this, so bear with me.

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