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Wegner inspired dining chair #1: Getting inspired & first test

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Blog entry by kaerlighedsbamsen posted 07-10-2014 08:26 PM 915 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Wegner inspired dining chair series Part 2: More testing and narrowing in + some toolmaking »

I have always admired wegners furniture. Especially his chairs. They are so “final” designs. Nothing to improve, nothing to remove. Just right.

For a long time a have known that one day i wanted to build something in his style. But as simple they look his furniture is nothing but simple to make. And i felt that i needed a certain level of skill to give it a try. The past two years i have built a lot of projects and tried to raise the difficult level a little each time.


Last week i went to see this exhibion on Wegners designs and his chairs especially. Wow. A must-see if you like mid-century Danish!

Walked away filled by inspiration and decided that now was the time to go to work. Need two side chais for my small apartment and thought that would be a good place to start.


First some research: What have others built like that? Found Derek Cohen´s site where he desciribes in great detail (scroll down, 19 posts so far) his attempts to build a copy of “The Chair” with handtools only. A huge undertaking. And a bit strange considering that this chair is specifically designed to make heavy use of shapers to do both the complex roundings and the special finger joints that hold the back together. Well worth a read none the less!

Now, in my opinion, just copying a design is cheating a little bit. And as much i like Wegner his things are 40-70 years old. So i am looking for a design that is in his style and also looks forward to our time. And i want it to be some of MY design as well.


During a sarch i stumbled on South African designer John Vogel who did this chair:




Now that is something! Classic, Wegner’esque and yet new. There are some parts that does not work so well but overall i like it a lot. That will do as a guideline.

On to the drawing table and do some sketches:



One part that ill change is the seat. The thin strings is too busy for my taste and i have long wanted to experiment with using those flat plastic strips that come wrapped around pallets and crates for mailing. Dont know the name but fund it locally and bought the smallest amount possible, 1km(!):



The Vogel chair has legs that splay out about 5 degrees. I like that feature but find this it is perhaps a littel too much.
It is time to do a first mockup/test. Decided to go quick’n dirty and do a stool with splayed legs at 4 degrees and a test on the seat with the plastic strips.


Went to the lumber yard and bought their best qality pine and milled up some boards. The final chair will have round legs- this is just to test the angles:



Lacking a drill press, in order to get the angles right, i devised this contraption out of scraps, a drawer guide and strips. Looks like a new type of Nerf Gun but works like a charm:



Think i need to make a depth stop. Other than that is fine:



And late yesterday evening it wast time for a glue up:



And suddenly the sky looked like this. Love having an outside shop in the summer!



This morning i spent a lot of time experimenting on the seat. Forgot to take pictures – sorry. Ended up with a simle weaved pattern that is weaved on the underside as well:



The plastic straps come withe these clips that i think suits perfect. Industrial, simple – and if the seat get loose you just thighten it up:



I was a bit worried that placing the two dowels that hold the seat at different levels would create a weak spot in the corners where the straps meet. So far it looks fine but time will tell:



Overall i am quite satisfied. 4 degrees is perhaps i little bit too much angle on the legs:





Thought this would be just a throw-away but ended up liking it and took the time to sand it down and apply a soap finish that i tested in this blog and used on my shop stool #2.




Next will be another test with round legs and trying to find the shape for the back rest.

Let me know what you guys think so far- comments on style, method etc are more that welcome!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda



6 comments so far

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

4808 posts in 2535 days


#1 posted 07-10-2014 09:16 PM

Neat.
I love to watch someone play. Prototypes are where it’s at. I would personally prefer something natural like cane for the seat, but this is kind of fun.

I think less angle is a good change for the legs.

Steve.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

498 posts in 366 days


#2 posted 07-10-2014 09:46 PM

Thank you steve!
Prototypes are always fun. Want to share some of yours?

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View japie's profile

japie

11 posts in 64 days


#3 posted 07-16-2014 12:08 AM

I absolutely love mid-century Danish. I think people like Wegner and Vodder showed definitively that simple and functional is not necessarily the opposite of homely and warm. It’s a pity that teak is so expensive, but then again, the essence of the style is not any particular species of wood so much as not letting the design get in the way of the material’s natural beauty.

The pallet strapping for the seat is an interesting idea. It certainly looks nice. How stretchy is it? Does it turn out comfortable to sit on? I just checked, and here in the US, McMaster-Carr (a big industrial supplier) has this stuff in a whole bunch of varieties, and they sell it in smaller quantities (“mini coils” on the right of the linked page). I know that in Europe, industrial suppliers like that tend to be a little bit harder to approach for an outsider…

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

498 posts in 366 days


#4 posted 07-16-2014 07:32 AM

Yearh that was a great time! Teak would be nice but if you look thorugh this site for instance: http://www.pp.dk/ you’ll see that there are lots of beech, ash, oak, some birch and other light colored woods that looks great as well.

The strapping i used is not much stretchy. Only a slight bit and not nearly as much as paper yarn or sisal or any if the more common materials. McMaster-Carr looks like the perfect place to pick up stuff. Ill recommend giving it a try!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View mafe's profile

mafe

9509 posts in 1742 days


#5 posted 08-20-2014 01:53 PM

You have to change your avatar text now: “Do or Do not, but try first.” – Youda…
I love the idea of the plastic wrap seat, is it fine to sit at? Have you tried naked? Laughs.
Your drill gun are nothing less than really cool.
The four degrees a little too much agree.
Lovely blog I feel inspired.
Best thoughts my friend,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

498 posts in 366 days


#6 posted 08-20-2014 07:24 PM

The plastic wrap seat works realy well and i think i am going to use that solution on the final chairs. It is firm and has only a slight, comfortable ‘give’ when you sit on ot (and yes, i have tested naked – the things you do for art…)
My only concern is that i have no idear how it will age. Time will tell.

Only glad if it can be inspiring!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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