Sunshine at last!!
After 4 days of dismal, damp weather, yesterday (Wednesday) we had a warm, sunny afternoon and I was able to take a few more photos of my chair-making. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I had assembled a chair each day.
Because they are made with very tight joints, it is a bit tricky squeezing the frames together single handed, having to hold the chair and the rung, while having to wind the handle on the sash clamp. On the courses we always have at least two people (if not three) working together on this operation. On the chairs that I make for sale, I like all the components to be as delicate as possible, so there is a likelihood of the rungs flexing while being squeezed into place, especially with the long slender front rungs. If they have a natural curve, then that just adds to the difficulty. For those of you who are planning to make chairs like these, I suggest making the front rungs no less than 18mm diameter in the centre, tapering down to the 16mm tenon at each end.
Nearly straight rungs
I had made some spare side rungs, some of which had quite distinct curves along their length but I selected the straightest ones in order to reduce their flexing during assembly. They still have enough inherent character to distinguish them quite clearly from lathe turned produce.
Having assembled all six back panels last week, I was intrigued by their appearance as they lay in the drying rack and realised that they reminded me of a rack of spare ribs. It is this lightness and flexibility combined with the elastic strength of good ash timber that makes these chairs far and away my favourite chair to produce. I spent a happy 15 minutes trying to capture this feeling by photographing them in sunshine on our trampoline.
These cross rails are too delicate to be squeezed in with the usual extra-large tenons, so by running the 9/16″ (14.3mm) tenon cutter over them before assembly, they just squeeze perfectly into their 14mm holes.
4 thoughts on “Spare ribs”
Lovely to see those ribs (I only get one set done at a time).
You’ll get used to working single-handed. But I have to admit, where I like just a little assistance, usually from my son or daughter, is when I am putting the steamed components into their formers: the laths are a bit of a ‘juggle’ to get them all lined up in the right position, and the legs once I’ve bent them down I’ve run out of hands to put the peg in to hold them.
Mike, it’s great that you’re doing this ‘diary’ of a chair-maker.
Beautiful. Are your ash forests in as much trouble over there as they are in the USA? I wonder if our ash will be around in another generation.
ash dieback is said to be heading our way but I haven’t encountered it yet in The Midlands.
Here the trees are being eaten by bugs. I think it’s beetles from Asia, but I forget exactly. Glad y’all are fairing better.