Welcome again to another edition of Hal Taylor Rocking Chair building…
After attaching the arms and shaping their joints I flip the chair over and sand out the leg-seat joints on the bottom. This way even when the customer flips the chair over or is laying on the floor looking up at the bottom of their chair, everything looks spectacular.
During the week I cut all the back braces to line up the bottoms. Essentially you line them up, clamp them together and run them through the band saw to make all the bottoms even. Then adder pieces are glued to the back side of all the bottoms:
Hal included a CNC’d wood template for both the bottom and top of the back braces. You trace the template to the back brace band saw the shape and then use the oscillating spindle sander to both feather in the adder piece so there is a smooth transition to the rest of the back brace, and you round over the end of the back brace so it fits in the seat holes.
For the tops, again use the template provided, then use the spindle sander to shape and round over the ends. I have a block of wood drilled the same way the head rest holes get drilled so I can sit it next to the sander and trial fit the tops as I go.
Then I sand all 7 back braces with 60-grit. They then go through the router to round over the sides of the braces and then I finish sanding all 7 through to 500-grit. Both ends of the back braces are then dipped in paraffin wax so the finish does not make then stick to the chair. The back braces are free-floating and allowed to rotate a little bit in the finished chair.
The ends are then cut on the table saw using an angle jig. This matches the ends of the head rest to the back legs of the chair. I cut the head rest within 1” of its final length and then start taking 1/8” to 1/4” strips off each end, adjusting the angle each time to ensure I get the perfect fit:
Once the perfect fit is achieved, the 3 screw holes per side are drilled and the head rest is screwed to the legs. This way when we mark it, we know it will go back in the same location.
The 7 back brace hole locations are then marked on the bottom of the head rest. Then with the head rest set between the legs a marking guide is used to mark the head rest for how the back braces will align to it. This way when we drill the back brace holes we know what angle to make them. I have a bench top Grizzly drill press and this 7” head rest barely fits. Hal tells you to use a 10mm bit, I was using a 5/8” bit until I got the 10mm because I was turning pens and this worked out just fine.
The holes are drilled both straight into the back brace and then at an angle so the than back braces can flex and the tops can move back and forth in the hole. This may sound complicated and difficult. Personally after drilling each straight hole I just hold the head rest, slip it onto the drill bit (while it is turning in the press) and rotate the head rest and mill out the hole. If you are not comfortable doing this, Hal shows you a jig to make.
Now that the head rest holes are drilled, the back braces are shaped, sanded and waxed, we can assemble the top of the chair. The headrest is glued to the back legs, the six 4” screws are driven in and plugs are glued into the screw holes:
Since the head rest is screwed into place I sanded and final shaped the headrest to back leg joints. Tomorrow I will round over the top of the head rest and final sand the head rest and tops of the back legs.
Tomorrow will also see the rockers final shaped and attached to the chair, essentially completing the chair except for final sanding and finishing.
-- Rich, WNY, www.nyrockingchairs.com