Rounding Third and Headed for Home

So I’m no baseball enthusiast (go Mets!), and neither is my husband, but he’s really really good at baseball. That’s neither here nor there, but it helps explain my near non sequitur of a title. I’m mostly trying to bring some excitement to what has actually been a very tedious week in the shop. I’ve been hand-sanding for most of it.

Remarkably, or maybe not, my hands are the most torn up they’ve been all semester. I’ll get back to that, but here’s some more excitement: TaDAAAAA! Here’s a real person sitting in my chair!

166Once I unclamped the whole thing, I set to work on final touches. I cut the extra material off of the rockers, which was a fair amount in the front and almost nothing in the back. I used the Japanese saw to do this by hand and then hand sanded the ends down to the final size. I used the angle of the armrest/leg connection as the angle at which to cut the ends of the rockers.167





After that, this was my view for the most part for the rest of the week. I’ve been filling tiny gaps with a mixture of superglue and sawdust, orbital sanding any connections that still didn’t feel flush, and hand sanding the whole thing.

170 I’ve left the chair sitting on top of the table as it is less likely to get knocked into or moved around, and it has actually been easier for me to just get on and off of the table rather than lifting the chair up and down. I figure the less it gets moved around before review the better.

I did have one gap on one of the backrest joints that was visually just a hair larger than I was comfortable with, so I angled the table saw to cut a really thin, tapered piece of mahogany to wedge in there (don’t worry. I chiseled the excess material out).
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Amidst my sanding marathon, I have also begun a few finish tests. I plan to use Danish oil or wipe-on poly, since they’re both easy to apply. I sanded down some samples and will do three coats of each before I decide which one to go with. I like the idea of using wipe-on poly, since I think it will look slick and crisp, but I would lose some of that woody feel, so I may stick with the Danish oil. I’ll let you know what happens.



The Amazing Disappearance of Time

This week was one of those weeks where if you asked me what I worked on, I would have a hard time actually figuring out an answer. I’ll be able to explain because I took photos, but if I didn’t have them as a record, I would probably feel like I spent the whole week just staring at boards. Mind you I did spend a lot of time just staring at boards, which of course feels unproductive, but it’s a necessary part of the process: getting your head in the game. While all this means I’ve made progress this week, nothing actually looks different. Most of the boards are still sitting on my desk. Let’s figure out where all my time went.13 12






I cut up my full-scale drawing and stuck it on the model to get a better sense of what the chair will actually look like. I made a new mock-armrest that actually connects a mock-leg, which gives me a much better sense of how the real armrest will feel compared to the previous ones I made that weren’t attached to a leg. I made another mock-seat, this time out of poplar, to test my method for sculpting the seat. I tried to use the method Gary Weeks uses, with results that were OK but not even close to his level of perfection (for Weeks’ example, see the “My Rocking Visit to Gary Weeks and Co.” entry).


I spent about an hour and a half trying to find someone that would sell me a couple of 60-grit, conical, 4 1/2″, threaded flap discs for an angle grinder.16

Not as easy as you might think. I wound up having to call the manufacturer and they told me who carries it here in the area (Fastenal). I need these discs because I’m going to use them to sculpt the seat. I did a test-run on the poplar seat mock-up and it worked well. I got saw-dusty in the process.











The next step was to test the process of tapering the underside of the seat. I cut it approximately to size using a sled on the table saw and then built a jig to hold the seat in place and prop it up at a slight angle while I ran in through the jointer to shave off thickness on one end. It’s not pretty but it did the job.














Given this all went OK, I began the exact same process on the actual mahogany: band saw, glue up.


Once the discs arrive (they had to order them for me), I’ll grind the seat and trim it down. Until then, I started laying out the frame pieces on the boards I milled and drawing full-scale joinery details.

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