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Forum topic by siavosh posted 10-02-2014 09:44 PM 823 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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siavosh

674 posts in 1334 days


10-02-2014 09:44 PM

First time hack chair builder here: I don’t have a lathe, so I was wondering if dowel rods have any fundamental limitations that they can’t be used as spindles in something like a Nakashima style chair? I imagine having a straight grain somewhat soft wood is ideal? (poplar, cherry, pine)?

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4 replies so far

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Loren

8302 posts in 3111 days


#1 posted 10-02-2014 09:57 PM

You’ll do best riving your spindles. Riven and shaped
spindles can look really nice actually. Because
the wood is split it can be shaped well using
drawknifes and spokeshaves and the grain
direction doesn’t tend to be a problem. It’s
also structurally superior.

You’ll have to track down some freshly cut firewood
logs or something like that to get riving stock.
It shouldn’t be too difficult.

Dowel rods will tend to have excessive grain
runout which means at a give thickness they’ll
be more prone to breakage in use than a given
riven spindle. This is why you’ll see such fine
spindles in handmade chairs while mass produced
windsor chairs tend to have thicker spindles
in order to compensate for ignoring grain
runout in manufacturing them.

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siavosh

674 posts in 1334 days


#2 posted 10-02-2014 10:12 PM

Hi Loren, thanks for the detailed suggestion. I actually would love to get into green woodworking, and windsor style chairs. For my first foray though, I want to avoid buying a tools (spokeshave/axe wedges/drawknives) if possible (I work in my kitchen and mostly have tools for casework). Would you say that dowels will definitely not work (snap easily) or just not ideal?

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Loren

8302 posts in 3111 days


#3 posted 10-02-2014 10:53 PM

No, you can use them. If you’re doing something
like a conoid chair I suppose the spindles aren’t
holding it together the way the are on a
Nakashima bench.

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RussellAP

3059 posts in 1749 days


#4 posted 10-02-2014 11:25 PM

An interesting alternative would be to cut some thin strips of hardwood such as oak, walnut, cherry, and steam them to a pleasing contour, then glue them up. 5-7 1/32 strips should do it. They are incredibly strong once glued up. They can be run through a router to make them round, or leave them square. If you need more thickness in the leg use thicker strips, I’d steam bend them individually using a mold. Let them dry in the mold then glue them up and clamp them every two inches. You won’t believe how strong they are, even if you use soft wood like cedar and pine.

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