Today (Friday) was another half day (one of the perks of running your own business), so with the rungs and rails nicely dried out it was time to start assembling the side panels for the chairs. Over the years, I’ve experimented with all kinds of drills, both powered and manual. My current approach may sound time consuming and cumbersome but once in the rhythm, it doesn’t take long and it enables me to drill good deep 25mm holes into 35-38mm legs without having to worry about the drill popping out the far side. Having measured the distances up the legs (today I used 11, 29 & 47cm, which allows a bit extra for trimming the bottom of the legs after assembly) I drill a pilot hole with a 4mm bit in a cordless drill. I then do the bulk of the drilling with a 14mm auger bit in a hand brace. I stick a yellow tape at 26mm but this isn’t really needed because I actually count the rotations and stop after about 16.
I then finish each hole using a 14mm Forster bit in a mains drill with a lump of wood fixed to the drill to act as a depth stop – quick and reliable without any danger of bursting out the far side. Why don’t I do all the drilling with this? Too fast and scary. By using the brace and bit I can take care to judge the drilling angle by looking in a couple of large mirrors and using a wooden angle guide. Here’s a picture of the bench (taken when sharpening my chainsaw) with two large mirrors to judge the angle, when I’m using it for drilling. My grandfather is keeping a watchful eye on things. The picture beneath him is one of Philip Clissett in his workshop. I’d love to know how he did his drilling! I do know he used a brace with a spoon bit but there’s no sign of any mirrors – and certainly no chainsaw!
Having drilled 3 pairs of front legs, I then set up the back legs fixed to their bending jig on the bench. these holes are drilled at 30 degrees to the vertical, which gives the back of the chair a good splay.
I then gave the dry rungs and seat-rails a good clean and some sanding and squeezed together two pairs of side panels – after 10 years of using this approach it still requires some courage to see it through. Here’s a couple of minutes of film works taken during a course in 2011.