Rocking Chair University Week – Day 4

Filed under: Out And About,Woodworking |

The English Walnut that we were using for the chair had a very distinct coloring, ranging from mostly the creamy white of the sapwood to what would be considered the more traditional dark brown of the heartwood. Since it hadn’t been ‘steamed’ as most commercial Walnut is it retained it’s natural color throughout. It’s sweet smell had a tang that peaked your senses as soon as you walked into the shop, immediately setting the mind’s perspective of the work, or journey, ahead.

It was Day 4 here at Hal’s and since the smell of the Walnut has set my mood I’m ready and raring to go!

We started today with coopering the backrest. As I said in the first post this chair is a small rocker so the ‘headrest’ of a traditional rocker is the backrest on this one. Here are the four pieces that we will be using:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

The joining edges were cut to a 4-5 degree angle, which will give a comfortable sweep. The edges were then planed, glued together and clamped with pinch dogs:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Once the glue was dry it was time to cut the radius on the bandsaw. This was done using a vacuum jig of Hal’s design to make the cut at the correct arc. Here is the jig being used to cut the outside curve:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

And here it is almost finished with the inside curve:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Once the backrest was cut we went back to working on the front legs. The first thing to do was to split the legs that were ‘stacked’ yesterday:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Here it the finished cut where you can see the additional piece that was added:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Shaping of the legs was done on the router:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

The back legs were then glued to seat:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

After the back legs were stable the front legs were prepared for gluing to seat:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

And then they were glued:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Next the backrest was fitted:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

And as the day closed here was the chair’s completion thus far:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 4

Lately I have noticed that I spend too much time worrying about ‘exactness’ when I’m ‘cyphering and figuring’ a project in my shop. While it is obvious that pieces have to fit perfectly it was not obvious how much mind time I wasted fretting over trying to get it this way. I recently read, and was intrigued, by a chapter called ‘Accuracy’ in James Krenov’s book, “The Impractical Cabinet Maker” and these thoughts were compounded after a recent viewing of Doug Stowe’s latest video, “Basic Box Making”. Both of these woodworkers approach this important aspect of woodworking with a more natural and relaxed style. Through the understanding of their medium, their skills and experience they are confident in achieving their goal. And in the rare case they miss their mark they make changes, do it over or adapt. No worry, no fret, it’s just part of the process.

This concept was really driven home this week when I questioned Hal on a particular measuring issue. He summarized it this way, “We’re building rocking chairs, not rockets.” :)

Back to the shop…

<-- Return to Day 3 Continue reading Day 5 –>

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