Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair #21: Making the Arm Rests

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 01-08-2013 01:30 AM 3331 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 20: Pinning the Seat Tenons Part 21 of Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair series Part 22: Assembling the Arm Rests »

With the back assembled, I turned my attention to the arm rests. I turned six spindles with 1/2” diameter tenons and the length needed to support arm rests at a height of 9”.

Modeling the Arm Rest

The arm rest spindles are splayed and slanted back at different angles. The arm rest also terminates close to the outermost back spindles. That posed challenges for drilling the holes correctly so that the rest will insert over the spindles.

The overall strategy is to mark the holes from the top and then drill down through the arm rest. Cardboard makes a good modedling material. Begin by drilling the front hole of the arm rest. Insert the front spindle into the hole. Position the rest approximately where it needs to fall. Trace the middle spindle where it hits and drill the hole. Finally, cut away material that rubs the back spindles, trace the third spindle location, and drill it. Draw the curves and you’ll have a template like this.

Transfer the template info to the actual wood. Make notes that will ensure the holes are drilled at the correct angles. Position the chair with the arm spindles inserted to help visualize the correct direction to drill the compound angle spindle holes through the arm rests.

Shape the Arm Rests

The arm rests have a 1/4” lip cut into them. This is an intersting visual detail. This could be cut with a router if you built a template and used bushings to follow the template. I chose to use my Arbortech Turboplaner attachment in my angle grinder instead. Since the top of the spindles must be ground down after assembly, you might as well use the same cutter that was used to create the profile to trim the spindle protrusions. This cutter provides a great degree of control and worked well for this task. Click this link to watch a short video of me shaping the second arm rest.

Here’s a photo of the original shape that I thought I cut on the video.

Two issues pushed me to slightly modify the profile. First, I split out part of the cove profile when driving the wedge in the back spindle. The damage went pretty deep and the arm rest was already glued. I reground it after the glue dried.

The second reason was that the arm rest looked “clunky” after assembly. I took some of the material off the back of the curve and ground the lip over the top of the last spindle. I was able to grind out the damage and the shape looked better as well.

Next, I assemble the arm rests.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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