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Blog entry by schroeder posted 2676 days ago 964 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch


The dining room chair portion of the project was challenging for me. As I had never built chairs before, I did the research and decided on a plan from “In the Craftsman Style”, by Rex Alexander. The chair is daunting and me being a little slow, I ended up building 9 prototypes (and then cutting into scrap) from ash before gathering a “technique” for completing the joinery that would reflect the craftsmanship I wanted.

I ended up with the chair above, I made the first two sets for my wife, (seems she always ends up with the prototype). I made these from Black Walnut. I used square pegs at most of the joints (fitted proud), and I just wasn’t happy with how they turned out. They just didn’t seem fit the design, I later went with dowels (flush cut) on the oak set, I like it much better. I may go back and flush cut and refinish the ones on my set.


These have a high back true to the style, I think 54 inches. The oak set has been re-fitted to 48” for practicality purposes. The family I built them for has two young boys and I knew they would need to be able to stand up to a lot of use, so I built them extra stout, pinned all the joints and oversized the dimensions.

At this point, I was ready to start matching grain and cutting parts from quarter sawn white oak. I needed to build six side chairs and two end chairs. I cut the parts, mortised and cut the tenons to finished length (except for the square stiles, I don’t cut the finals on these until sanding is complete so that the fit is the best possible).



The end chairs had to be designed essentially from scratch. I wanted them to be stout, they had to fit under the table height and look “regal”. They ended up looking a little more like thrones rather than end chairs, but I was pleased in the end, and they fit the table and the overall style well. I fumed for 30 hours with ammonia and finished with 2 coats Seal a Cell, 4 coats satin Arm R Seal.

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End chairs complete – I moved on to the side chairs. The same process of cutting and fitting and finally gluing, it actually got to be a little too repetitive after a while.

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Glued up ready for finish –

Finished and delivered for storage until the home is complete (I know the photos are bad, and the chairs are covered with dust, but I’m working on my “tak’e pix” skills, ultimately I will post as a project when it is in its final spot and I can get some good photography)
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Feeling kinda pleased the project is complete!

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe



17 comments so far

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2759 days


#1 posted 2676 days ago

Schroeder,
One suggestion I took from my recent David Marks class that I will definitely incorporate into my work is to always use the Gloss Armor-Seal for every coat to help bring out the depth and character of the wood. If you want a matte or Satin finish, then either switch to that finish for the last coat, or rub out the final coat with 0000 steel wool to knock down the sheen.

He says the character can get a little muddled if you use the satin finish for every coat.

Now I don’t know if it is really that noticeable, but if he is suggesting it, then I’m at least willing to give it a try. Just thought I’d pass on the suggestion in case you wanted to give it a try, as well.

The chairs look awesome, by the way! You’re looking at one jealous merganser!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18614 posts in 2745 days


#2 posted 2676 days ago

it’s beautiful!!!!(the set).
And.. I kinda like the “not so good photos” for the process. To me, it sets the mood of the process. When they finally get to their place of glory then we want to see the grand photo!.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

664 posts in 2710 days


#3 posted 2676 days ago

Thanks Ethan – I have tried that finish process before, but will give it another look (haven’t tried it on oak yet)

Thanks Debbie – especially since I know my photo’s suck!, But I’m working on it…

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18614 posts in 2745 days


#4 posted 2676 days ago

I don’t think they suck—I can see what they are; they aren’t blurred; they aren’t off-centre; they aren’t over exposed and washed out.
They are good pictures! And don’t let anyone tell you any different.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Karson's profile

Karson

34845 posts in 2985 days


#5 posted 2676 days ago

Those chairs are a great accompament to the table. What are they going to use for the seat covering?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

664 posts in 2710 days


#6 posted 2676 days ago

Thanks Karson – They opted for a cloth covering that is durable and easily replaced (for when the boys are gone!)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View SteveV's profile

SteveV

78 posts in 2684 days


#7 posted 2676 days ago

Outstanding work!! This is the type of wood working that truly inspires me. What method did you use to curve the back rails??

If you don’t mind me asking, how do you price out such a large project?

Again, great work!!

View scottb's profile

scottb

3647 posts in 2912 days


#8 posted 2676 days ago

Great chairs! Very nice. The walnut ones are particularly striking. I love how that wood works in the craftman style… My new favorite!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2762 days


#9 posted 2675 days ago

Schroeder – these are stunning. Thanks for the great photo journal.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Paul's profile

Paul

649 posts in 2677 days


#10 posted 2675 days ago

Thanks for sharing! Great looking set!

-- Paul, Texas

View Duane Kohles's profile

Duane Kohles

38 posts in 2885 days


#11 posted 2675 days ago

Wow pretty much sums it up. How did you make the curved upper back horizontal member?

-- Duane Kohles

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

664 posts in 2710 days


#12 posted 2675 days ago

Thanks all – it was a long process and it feels good to have it behind me. Steve & Duane – the curved back rails are cut from 8/4 stock. A template is used on a 33” radius (just a short piece of ply cut on a 33” radius). Take the 8/4 blank and cut to size allowing for tenons. Mark out your center line, tenons and also the final thickness of the curved back on each end (in this case 7/8”). Then lay the curved template on the thickness lines on each end of your blank , trace and bandsaw – (important that you cut the tenons and any mortises in the rail before the curve) – cleaned up with a spokeshave, micro plane and sanding.

Hope this helps – I can post some pics iff you want -

Schroeder

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

664 posts in 2710 days


#13 posted 2675 days ago

Steve – Pricing on this project – hmmm, well, I’m not quitting my day job! For the area where I’m at, current wages etc., and a “perfect world” I would “like” to figure $35/hour. At this rate I could absorb insular shop costs. The lumber for the project(s) cost about $3,000 and the upholstery was ~$200 per chair. So the long and the short of it is,… I doubt anyone would pay what I would charge in my “perfect world”. These were friends, I gave the projects to them as a house warming gift – and their home will be a showcase of my work and hopefully, some future commissioned work. But to build this project again, I would quote around $22-$24,000 and if you saw the Morris chair blog, I would quote $2,500 for those. Like I say – I’m not quitting my day job!, (I’m basically a hobbyist with visions of grandeur, or at least would like to sell enough to offset shop costs) Those that make a living from this line of work have my highest respect. Search the blogs, Mark DeCou started a thread on this subject and there was some great input.

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2759 days


#14 posted 2675 days ago

That reminds me of the Jack-in-the-Box commercial where Jack is at the convention and he sees the guy in the lawn chair, offering the tasting opinion for $48,000. Jack asks if he’s had any offers, and the guy responds, “No, but I only need one!”

Schroeder, your work is outstanding. I think you just need to find the right clients! Believe me, they’re out there. And then if you just do four of these dining sets and a few sets of the Morris chairs, you’d have the main of your income figured out.

A friend of mine has some clients that have him “on retainer” for about one project a year or so. The woman lives in a hoity-toity part of St. Louis, but is originally from New York where she used to go to the high-end antique auctions all the time. She still gets their auction catalogs, but what she does now is bring him the pictures of a piece and have him just reproduce it for her. He uses all the traditional joinery methods, so she knows she’s getting a good, solid piece, and he gets to make some pretty neat things he wouldn’t normally attempt.

I believe he’s also received several commissions from some of her friends…

He said the BEST thing he ever did with that client was deliver a piece a little later than she’d wanted. She was having a social gathering that evening, and wanted it in place before the guests arrived. But he had trouble getting it back from the photographer (he has a professional shoot all of his pieces – must be nice!), so he didn’t get there until after the party started.

So he got to bring her finished piece into the house in the middle of the party with all of the guests watching. I think he said he passed out 10 business cards that night and the owner of the new piece kept fending her friends off, saying he was HER woodworker.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18614 posts in 2745 days


#15 posted 2675 days ago

yah.. it’s all about the right clientele.
It’s like a relationship—you don’t change who you are to find the right partner.. you find the partner who is right for who you are.
The trick, I guess, is to know who you are and believe in that.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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