recent settin’ chairs

Slow moving over the past few months. At least it feels that way. Making during the early mornings and weekends feels slow as it is, add in a few mistakes and detours and a project has the appearance of a truck stuck in the mud and the wheels spinning, not going anywhere.

I swapped out the slats on these chairs. That’s what slowed them down. I bent the first sets, had them dry in a rack for a couple of weeks before shaping and putting them it. They were too ugly to keep around. I am harsh on my work, so I like to live with things for a week or so before doing anything drastic. So I waited. Put the chairs out of sight then came back to them. I disliked the slats even more when I returned. The world doesn’t need ugly chairs, so I cut them out.

Adding slats as the last step isn’t a problem…..it’s the approach taken by a group of makers within the chairmaking community. So there’s little issue with quality or approach, it only cost some time to work back to the finished point. The lesson from bending last is that the slats should be as thin as possible. It’s only the chair frame holding the bend in place and thin slats bend easier than thick.

Both have hickory seats. One ebonized with iron and tannins. The other finished with a natural walnut hull stain. I love that one…the walnut stain and garnet shellac gives the oak a nice mellow look.

I needed patience with these two – sometimes it works that way. It’ll never be confused with the works of the Mace family of North Carolina, but the walnut-stained chair took a few design characteristics from their distinctive sitten’ chairs. The front facets on the slats, for example, along with the three slats and the upper bent post. Those Mace chairs are the real deal. They feel right in every way.

The proportions are another change with these two. The posts were bulked up to 1 5/8″ and the rung tenons to 3/4″. The chairs feel much more substantial previous builds with 5/8″ tenons. I know Alexander pushed everything as thin as possible, along with the best practices for the joinery, but sometimes thicker materials just makes for a stouter chair. Then again Alexander used white oak for everything…maybe there’s a substantial difference between the black oak I’m using and her material.

Onward. Next build is a contemporary chair. Part benchwork and part green wood with this one. Crest rails are already in the bending forms. I’ve had a design in my head for a while now and I want to get too it before it fades. I’m excited….it always excites me when ‘monstrosity’ is one potential outcome.

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