Front, Rear, and Side Rails
Note: When I talk about the many parts of this chair, I name them as if I were sitting in the chair.
I would have to say that the front, rear, and side rails were probably the second easiest set of parts to make…second only to the front legs. And that still might be a toss up. You just might find them to be the simplest “major” part of the chair to build.
Before I get into the creation of the rails, I have to admit something right up front. For some strange and forgotten reason, I decided to change these parts up just a bit.
Kevin’s plans call for fixed tenons on both ends of the front and rear rails. I guess I was thinking that it might be easier and quicker to have floating tenons for all four rails…front, rear, and both sides.
To be honest, I believe it not only created more work for me (I’ll cover why I think this in my “Floating Tenons” chapter.), but it also introduced a possibly weaker joint. Granted, I highly doubt these chairs are going to fall apart in my lifetime. But just the same, I don’t think I’d do it my way if I were to do it all over again.
So you’ll notice that all four of my rails have mortises in each end, and then floating tenons were used at all four corners. Again…I would not recommend this at all!!
So here is what my 36 rails looked like once they were done.
As mentioned earlier, these parts aren’t very difficult to whip out. Eventually all four rails will have a curved cut made on their underside…similar to the cut on the top side of the upper crest rail.
In my particular case, the front and rear rails were easily cut to final length seeing that I did not choose to have fixed tenons.
The left and right side rails are mirror images of each other. Each end gets an 85.5 degree cut. (This is what gives you a wider chair at the front compared to the narrower width at the back of the chair.)
Once cut to rough length, I stacked both of my left and right side rails into separate piles. Then I marked each end with pencil marks showing me which angle goes onto each end.
Here’s another step I took that helped while thinking about the curved cuts on each rail. I’d inspect each piece, and then place an “X” on the worst edge. This is the edge that I would eventually cut away with the curve cut.
After all parts are cut to final dimensions, I’d stack and label them just to keep them straight.
To get my mortises dead center, I marked each end with a “corner to corner” pencil mark.
One very nice tool (Or should I say toy?) that I use a lot in my wood shop is my digital angle gauge. The two mortises made in both side rails were cut at an 85.5 (or 4.5) degree angle. By “zeroing” out my Leigh Mortise and Tenon Jig, I can then move the front plate of the jig to the desired 85.5 degree angle with ease.
This photo shows my front and rear rails nearly done.
The final step was to make a simple template for drawing out the curves on the four side rails. Once done, I traced the outlines, and moved on to the band saw.
It sure is nice to see the boxes of parts filling up. :)
See you at the next chapter…
Dale “Gramps” Peterson.
-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.