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Blog series by Loren updated 15 days ago 42 parts 47267 reads 164 comments total

Part 1: Replacing a cane chair seat

946 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

I am repairing a set of antique chairs. The chair shown here had holes for hand-weaving cane. I have done hand weaving before and it is tedious and time-consuming and not a specialty of mine. To save labor hours I’ve excavated a spline channel on top of the holes in order to allow the use of pre-woven cane. I cut the spline channel using a plunge router and an edge guide. The cutter I used is one sold for “undersized” plywood, so it is probably 7/32”. The g...

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Part 3: Vacuum jig for cutting tapered laminate on sliding table saw

573 days ago by Loren | 6 comments »

Here’s a jig I made to rip 40” long tapers that go from 3/16” at one end to 1/2” at the other. One could band saw these out and then do the finishing on a planer, but I wanted to see if I could get glue-able surfaces right from the table saw. It works well, and the surfaces are very smooth and consistent. I’m making a chair prototype with laminated curved back legs. The wood I used here is just construction lumber and it has too many flaws to really be ...

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Part 4: Bent laminated prototype chair legs

568 days ago by Loren | 0 comments »

Here are 2 pine blanks I glued up for my chair prototype. I used a vacuum tapering jig to rip the tapered laminates.

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Part 5: Dining chair prototype frame

564 days ago by Loren | 3 comments »

I haven’t made the back parts or the seat yet. My purpose here is towork out the jigs and layout rules to cut the critical joints. The back legs are laminated into a curve.

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Part 6: Dining chair prototype: making a curved laminated plywood seat

563 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

Here you’ll see a picture of the bottom form and the caul to fit on top. The caul is made from door-skin ply and the parts on the edges were glued on and then it was placed upside down on a flat surface and the other (more elaborate) part of the form placed upside down on top. The weight of the heavier part of the form pressed it down and I scribed the angles on the ends of the wood edge parts and then planed those with a #5 until I had even contact of the center of the caul and the...

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Part 7: Dining chair prototype pictures

561 days ago by Loren | 1 comment »

Here’s the chair with all the major joinery done and dry assembled. It’s a successful prototype which proves the design is sturdy and the labor required not so silly as to make sets of chairs unmarketable. I still have to make the curved back splat. I may deviate from my original plan. This chair frame is meant for upholstery on the seat and back splat. The seat is a curved plywood laminate I described the making of in another blog post. I made some mistakes but the...

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Part 8: Dining chair laminated curved backsplat prototype

557 days ago by Loren | 0 comments »

The seat had some springback, so I drafted the shape for the backsplat planning for more springback. I got less than I was anticipating but I think the shape that came out is still going to fall within an acceptable range for comfortable sitting. Making the form took several hours. First I made a 1/4” template of the curve, shaping it carefully with rasps and using my critical eye. Then I used the template to make a 2-part template in 1/4” material – by cutting the sha...

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Part 9: Dining chair prototype with all wood parts dry assembled

557 days ago by Loren | 1 comment »

The geometry of all parts is established. I need to cut slots for wedged in the through tenons and after that the frame will be ready for glue-up and the seat and back splat for upholstery. The back legs are laminated into the curve. The seat is curved too and obviously the back splat with its lumbar curve is laminated. There was a lot of time invested in making forms for gluing up laminations but other than that no one step was terribly tedious.

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Part 10: Drilling accurate holes for a steambending jig table

540 days ago by Loren | 1 comment »

Some years ago I cobbled together a 2.25” thick steambendingjig table of floor sheathing and drilled the hole pattern as suggested by Michael Fortune in his FWW article aboutsteambending jigs, using a pair of nested wood sleavesto plunge a hand drill at 90 degrees through the layers. That table was destroyed partially by exposure to rain andit’s demise finalized when a tree fell over on it. I was occupied with cabinetmaking at the time and notparticularly concerned. Now I&#...

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Part 11: resaw push block

455 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

I made this push block for resawing on my Hitachi – whichtakes a 3” blade with 1.3 tpi, so it’s very aggressive whenit cuts. The pushing cleats are tacked on with a couple of wire nails – they are meant to get wrecked and replaced. The handle is angled up and I can hold onto it in a varietyof ways. The benefit is it lets me concentrate pressurelow down without bumping my knuckles. The handleis attached with an angled through tenon. I think I cut the cheeks on ...

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Part 12: Glue-ups with plano glue press

437 days ago by Loren | 3 comments »

The Plano is not a minor investment (I got mine used), but itdoes stay at the ready and it has a way of flattening boardsthat makes otherwise stubborn glue-ups easier. As you can see, I use bar clamps for added pressure,just to be thorough. It the ends are not lining up,I put deep-throat clamps on them. I am gluingtension into the glue-up. When I was younger I thought I would try to tune every board as flat aspossible, but in doing work for clients it’s often just not feasible wi...

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Part 13: Edgebanding with a hot press

422 days ago by Loren | 0 comments »

I edgeband sheet goods with this hot press. It heats the woodvery hot and the special glue reacts and cures fast with theheat. I use Titebond 2 Extend, which is rated for hot pressesand radio frequency gluing. Other than that, it’s a decent general purpose white shop glue. The late Terry Cain described the method of hot press edgebanding in this article: I have a big trimmer too, but owing to the nearly full-sheetsize of th...

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Part 14: Steam bending furniture parts

356 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

BEFORE: Steam bending rig for bending hardwoods. I’ve invested a lot of time in the last few months setting this up. Wood can be compressed, a lot, but it fractures easily in stretching. The purpose of a tool like this is to back the bend up with a steel strap to shift the breakage of the lignin fibers in the wood to the inside of the bend. Today the wood is in the steamer. Though I have my hopes up, I fully expect the shit to hit the fan as I’ve never done this form of heavy b...

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Part 15: Steam bent horseshoe chair back rail

354 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

Previous blog post has a couple of pictures of the steambending table and jig setup, plus the bent part inside jig. Here’s the bent part. White oak, kiln dried, 2”wide x 3/4” thick. Bending was way easier and more successful than I was expecting. The lever I used is about 5’ long and I just sort of walked it around pushing with my hip. I used a lot less muscle than expected.

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Part 16: another steam bending setup

350 days ago by Loren | 7 comments »

Mild curve in 1 1/8” kiln dried white oak. You can see here how I dropped a pin in the table and some plastic installer’s shims to push the end tight to the form.

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Part 17: Horizontal router mount, quick and dirty

345 days ago by Loren | 0 comments »

I scratched my head over this so you don’t have to. Makingit doesn’t take much time. Take a short length of 2×4 and using the router base or acompass draw the shape on the 2×4. Then band saw outthe half-circle. I had to make a notch for the rack (as inrack and pinion) on the side of my router. I ripped the 2×4 piece down to about 2.75” wide to getrid of roughness on the edges and the rounded corners. Since the router is 3.5” diameter you donR...

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Part 18: Chair prototype #2 - steam bent dining chair

343 days ago by Loren | 7 comments »

A couple of previous blog entries showed the steam bending setups I used to bend the rail and legs. Mortises were cut with a slot mortiser and tenons were doneon a Wirth Machine (Matchmaker).

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Part 19: Chair prototype #2 - all the tricky stuff is done.

335 days ago by Loren | 3 comments »

The curved parts are steam bent.

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Part 20: Chair mockup seat/front leg unit

324 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

In working on this bentwood chair design I didn’t want to glue the frame and front legs together but I wanted to experiment with some different shapes for the back legs. I glued up a 2” thick chair seat out of 1/4”’ ply on the outside with2×4 scrap inside. I just made one plywood side accurate to theshape and used that as a pattern after the other layers wereglued up. I used an overarm router but a flush trim bit or patternbit would work nearly as well. I ...

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Part 21: Steam bending recurve - FAIL

318 days ago by Loren | 17 comments »

Steam bending setup for chair leg. The part fractured so it was a fail, but I learned from it. Doing a recurve bend where the direction of the bend changes is trickier than a regular, U-shaped bend. I’ll try some different approaches but at least I got the spring-back allowance (overbending to compensate) right on the nose with this one.

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Part 22: chair spindle repair without disassembly

307 days ago by Loren | 1 comment »

Chairs like this have a weak spot where they break. I’ve done thissort of repair a couple of times, excavating a mortise using a plungerouter and filling it with a loose tenon and carving the tenon downto fit. I think I glued the broken ends together before routing.

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Part 23: Steam bending recurve - Success

306 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

I failed with my first attempt at a recurve bend. was prepared for that failure since I used a strap on onlyone side. This time I’ve added another backing strap anda fixture to make the transition. While the backing strap wasn’t directly “backing-up” thewood (which helps with grain blowout) nearest thetransition, the part came out cleanly bent with neitherexpansion failure nor compression crumpling.

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Part 24: Steam bent dining chair comfort prototype

301 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

54 days into the prototyping process, this is the latest iteration of my ergonomic bentwood dining chair design. The process has shown the chair is buildable without a lot of bending failure issues and the back design is very comfortable, at least in terms of what one can expect of a solid wood dining chair.

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Part 25: Dining chair prototype in walnut.

289 days ago by Loren | 4 comments »

A back splat isn’t needed but if you slump into back you notice it’snot there and that’s a little unsettling, so I think I’ll add one. I wasgoing to do spindles and a lower rail but decided on testing theopen frame for comfort not to do that this time. I have a formfor laminating a back splat I used on another chair, and I think I might veneer the face with something fancy. I don’t haveappropriate veneer on hand so I’ll have to go find some or maybecut s...

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Part 26: Dining chair steam bent back splats

282 days ago by Loren | 4 comments »

“Composing” back splats on my chair design. Rather than cut them out of a thick board or laminating layers to make the subtle recurve, I cut a piece in half so the two are bookmatched. Then I used a technique I read about but never tried. I steamed the parts and then bent them one way, then the other way, breaking the lignin fibers on both faces. The result is the wood becomes plastic enough to be bent into the double curve by hand. I clamp them to the chair itself so they dry...

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Part 27: Dining chair design - trying out front legs for the armchair

271 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

Before committing to walnut, I made a pair of legs from scrap alder to figure out how to get a sufficient spread between the arms. Theseat frame is about 2.5” wider than the side chair and requiredanother bending form to steam bend the back rail.

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Part 28: Armchair armrest design

255 days ago by Loren | 6 comments »

Finalizing the geometry of the armrests. This was real tricky to figure out which way to go and I spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach it aesthetically. I didn’t think an arm that was a slab sitting on top of the front leg would agree with the rest of the chair at all. Finally I had to give up on the arm being very wide at the front. The slight bulging upwards of the arm is an optical illusion. They are on a flat plane but curved outwards. The arms are alder. I stained...

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Part 29: Fitted tool tray made with the overarm router

239 days ago by Loren | 8 comments »

There’s not much I’ve seen written about how to operate anoverarm router, so I try to make an excuse now and thento learn more about use of the machine from doing non-critical projects on it. My layout tools had been rattling about in a drawer. I wentthough them and decided that these 5 are ones I usemost and could fit together in a little tray I could put inthe tool well at the back of my bench. I also have thistheory that having a nice little fitted tray back there will enc...

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Part 30: Steam bending a wide board

80 days ago by Loren | 11 comments »

My heaviest steam bend yet… an oak board about 7” wide and 1.25” thickand tapered to 7/8” at the other. It took several days of setup before I hit on attaching the form to a 1000lb boat anchor of a vintage case clamp. I tried doing it on the work bench with the form on its back but thatwas hopeless due to the awkwardness and weight of the bendingapparatus that has to be loaded with a steamed part and quickly clampedto the form. I’ll need to improve this and m...

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Part 31: Steam bending a leg off the corner.

75 days ago by Loren | 2 comments »

Adaptation of the Veritas strap to bending a leg on the corner. The form has a v-groove and the wood end stop is chiseled out to make a 1/4” deep cradle to position the leg.

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Part 32: "Composing" a bent wood dining chair

74 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

“Composing” a bent wood dining chair. The back board is filthy from tannins in the wood reacting to the steam used to bend it. It can be scraped off. The front legs are bent slightly off the corner so there’s a little flair both outwards and forward at the bottom. The chair is too tall and deep for a normal person right now because the front legs need to be cut down a bit (I leave parts overlong for bending because sometimes a crack or other distortion forms the ends have to...

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Part 33: Through tenons for a dining chair

71 days ago by Loren | 5 comments »

Chair dry assembled. Through tenons (instead of blind tenons) are kind of a hassle but they are the right choice for this chair for structural reasons. On the legs they are not needed but I figured why not go all and do them anyway. The seat is from another chair prototype and I think not the right shape for this chair. I’ll make another one tapered in at the back and see how that works.

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Part 34: 2 curvy dining chair prototypes

68 days ago by Loren | 14 comments »

Here’s the recent chair prototype on the right shown in relation an older prototype where I used laminations rather than steam bending to form the curves.

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Part 35: Wedging through tenons

66 days ago by Loren | 0 comments »

Wedges are cut on a band saw jig which is simply a piece of plywood with a notch cut out which runs against the rip fence. The slots I cut on the band saw too, making each slot the widthof two band saw blade kerfs, so about 3/32”. I use glue too, just as normal with a mortise and tenon joint, brushing it on the cheeks and sides of the tenons. I didn’tuse glue on the wedges. Once cut off flush the chancethat they would somehow wiggle loose is remote, imo.

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Part 36: Ebonizing an oak/ash chair

64 days ago by Loren | 4 comments »

Ebonizing the chair. There were some surface checks in the back and flaws in the materials I used for the legs. I filled the grain and checks with water putty mixed with black dye. After sanding that dried filler back, I dye it several times with the same black. The grain fill job isn’t perfect, so it won’t look like a piano (they wouldn’t ebonize an open grained wood for a piano anyway), but if I keep laying on the black dye eventually I’ll win and get something close...

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Part 37: Modernist chair - riffing on a vocabulary of shapes

60 days ago by Loren | 1 comment »

This is turning out as an interesting design. I am personally not that modernist leaning in my tastes, but I like to play with combining shapes and doing technical things for the heck of it. It occurred to me I could use the bent u-shape I used on other chairs to do this one, since it does actually work for parking one’s posterior and I know how to make it already. I was gonna do something trapezoidal, but really this is easier to make for me and introduces a whole new level to the geom...

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Part 38: Another test of steambending

57 days ago by Loren | 8 comments »

Testing limits. This 1” thick by 4” wide board was really difficult for me to pull around. Due to figure this board is probably a less than ideal candidate for steam bending but now I know I can bend this part, so it’s good enough for a prototype I think. I’m going to make a horizontal back crest for a stool design I had an idea for. The part actually cracked a bit at one end, due to the wild figure perhaps or maybe just because I split the end block at the same ...

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Part 39: Chinese influenced chair mockup

53 days ago by Loren | 3 comments »

Something I am playing around with.

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Part 40: More Chinese chair mockups

50 days ago by Loren | 4 comments »

The end grain of the crest rail had to be carefully marked and carved/planed to fit the squared boards the armpieces are cut from. This is one of those things thatmakes chairs kind of funny where there are curvedparts intersecting. All it takes is patience and sharptools. I used a low angle jack plane some, sliding the plane sideways as I pushed to sheer off endgrain shavings, not something I had done before. before that I got close using chisels and rasps to getit close.

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