I got less time in the workshop than I would have liked today—trivial life things like putting up the Christmas tree and watching Kansas City annihilate the Redskins (sob!) kept interfering. Still I got time in to work on a few things. I got the second set of slats steamed and bent. The first set came out of the steamer with some mysterious stains. I’m not sure why, but I read somewhere on the Internets that the minerals in tap water can sometimes stain. So for this set I used distilled water; I still got stains. This time I carefully placed the show face down in the steamer, and the stain is on the rear face. So apparently it is caused by water dripping off the top of the steamer. I finished the inside of the steamer with spar varnish, so maybe something is leaching off and causing the stains. I’ll wrap the next set in cling wrap before steaming. That should keep the water off, and I’ll be curious to see if the bending performance is the same or if the wrap interferes with the heat transfer.
I also got a shipment of dyes and made some test pieces. With the wife’s input, we settled on a shade we liked and then I made up a full size piece and varnished it to get a good sense of the final color:
It’s slightly too red for my taste, but I’m assuming that the mahogany will darken in the sunlight and the end result will be a little less red and a little darker and richer. We’ll see. I’m also experimenting with Crystal Lac clear wood filler, which I’ve never used before but have heard good things about. So far it seems like it will take at least two applications to get a really smooth surface, but I’m still experimenting.
I also cut out, shaped, chamfered and rough-sanded the legs:
I had to lay this out a little oddly to avoid a flaw in the source board, so the grain doesn’t match very well. But the legs are visually separated on the chair, so it isn’t a big deal.
I’ve been going back forth about some sort of decoration or flair for the chair. Initially I was intending to do some decorative (non-representational) carving similar to this box:
but in the end I felt that wasn’t in keeping with the style of the chair. My next thought was to do a reverse field cut-out at the top of the middle two back slats to create the silhouette of an island that is of special significance to my father-in-law (the recipient of the chair). However, because the slats splay towards the top there’s going to be about a 1/2” gap or so between those slats, so the visual effect may not work. It’s still a possibility, but in the end I’ve decided to make an inlay compass rose for each of the arms. I’ve never done any sort of inlay before, but it seems like a fun skill and reading up on how to make a compass rose I found the process very mathematically appealing. Sort of like the Drunken Cutting Boards, where it’s really hard to intuit the process from the end result.
So I started working on a practice compass rose. First I made a 22.5 degree template, by bisecting a 45 degree angle. My high school math teacher would be proud that I remembered how to bisect an angle with just a compass and a straightedge! Then I tried to figure out how to cut the 16 triangles I needed. I wanted to cut them by hand, and played around with various approaches but couldn’t come up with anything that was accurate enough and repeatable. So I relented and cut them on my chop saw, which took about 5 minutes :-)
A test layout showed that the template is very, very close to 22.5. A half rose is just slightly proud of 180 degrees, which is just what you want. I started glueing up the rose—these are just rub joints, which I’m hoping will be good enough.
This test rose will be walnut and some light poplar I had handy. These aren’t quite the same thickness, which makes that photo look a little odd.
Assuming I can get the rose built, I’m starting to think about how to make the recess for the inlay. My carving tools might come in handy here! This would all be much easier working in veneer, that’s for sure.