Friday, September 9, 2016


There are chapters in life that are never talked about, and certainly not aloud

Carol Shields, The Orange Fish

So long hiatus. Maybe someday I'll read that chapter aloud.  Just a few random pics of seat carving. It took me along time to learn how to turn, for some reason, then one day I realized I was. But for whatever reason carving seats came very quickly and easily. Some things in life come easily, some are hard. Usually the hard is worth it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


He sat for a long time. When he climbed back up the ridge to the cedars to where he'd left the horses the captain was sitting on the ground and he looked badly used up. 
Let's go, he said
The captain looked up. I can go no further, he said.
Let's go, he said. Podemos descansar un poco mas adelente. Vamonos.

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Making spindles. Lots and lots of spindles for a bench going to Alaska. The bench is is going to be a clear finish so I have to be extra careful about picking only sap wood ash and nice strait grain.  Luckily the ash log is absolutely beautiful (pics soon).

I did take a minute to replace the maple wear strip on my spoke shave. You can see how much wear it was gotten over the years ( this is number 6 I believe). I could use a brass plate easily enough but I actually like the groove that develops. I centers the spoke shave and allows for shallower cuts to the left or right.

Here you can see clearly the arrises of the octagonals that form the spindle. When I'm at this step I kill the overhead lights and use a single incandescent bulb in a stand. This casts a raking light that allows me to easily see the eight facets of the spindle. Only 28 more to go.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fan back

With destruction comes renovation

Wally Lamb

Here are some professional pics I had done a while back.  I am slowly building my website back up from these pics and others.  The link is at the bottom.  And two pics down is the side view of a rocker that went to Rockland, Maine.  The color is black and Lexington green mixed together over mustard yellow.  I also have a similar chair at a gallery in Portland, Maine.

This seat is for a Nantucket fan back that I recently sold.  I don't build a lot of fanbacks and I can't remember the last oval seat I did.  The oval seat are typically seen on fan backs, sack backs and some comb backs.  They are easier to carve as the grain runs (typically) left to right and the seat lacks the coves on the side.  This one has a tail piece that will house two additional spindles. I'm not a huge fan of tail spindles.  Structurally they do little if anything for the chair and visually I don't like how they break up the back.  But some customers like them and it's an order so I'm more than willing to do it.

Here you can see the side view.  I'll get better pics as the chair progresses but I was thinking when I first started building I would by all my turnings.  Over the years I have gotten to the point where I can now do all my own turnings. Point is these are very complicated turnings so it reminds me how far I have come over the years.

Monday, September 14, 2015

C-Arm Jig

A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them, they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship

Rainer Maria Rilke

Here you can see the C-arm chair and it's corresponding bent arm.  The arm rail is tricky to bend as the plane rotates as it approaches the hands.  It is thinned down ( I use a drawknife and clean it up with a spoke shave ) from 7/8 to 1/2 inch at the elbows but still it is a tricky bend.  I tends to fail at the elbows...roughly where the 1st and 2nd spindle are located above, on the right. 

I used to bend it around the top of the jig and then bring it down and clamp one end then I would move to the other end and usually by that time the other had cooled too much and either the piece would have some compression failure or it would out right break.  Now what I do is I bend the top and wedge it and bring both ends down simultaneously and simply hold them in place for a time, maybe a minute.  Then I release them and clamp them.  I find that once they are bent they can be re bent so long as they are bent hot.  If  you allow them to cool they will sometimes fail.

 I've also started just using the PVC pipe to heat most of my bends.  It is wrapped in an old moving blanket which keeps the chamber temp around 208 which is pretty hot for a non pressurized system.  I use grippy gloves too, which allow me to handle the pieces faster.

And because the arms fail sometimes, I always prep more pieces than I need.  With the last chairs I prepped 4 pieces for 2 chairs.  The pieces bent beautifully and so I had four bent pieces whcih is good. The problem is if I leave them laying around the arms will eventually relax and flatten out rendering the pieces useless so I came up with this little holding device that will hold the arms at the correct angle and also hold the hands at the correct distance apart.  It's just a couple pieces of scraps and a couple angled pieces.
I used to spend an obscene amount and at the risk of editorializing, my advice is beware of fancy jigs. I only use about four jigs in my day to day chair building business.  Most sre pretty simple affairs assembled on the fly like this one.  The siren song of the magic jig can be alluring.  I know.  But usually it is born out of frustration at lack of skills

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dry Bones

When you are old, I want you to recall these few hours. I want your 
dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them

Gustave Flaubert 

Above are a few shots of a pair of rockers that recently went to Boston. Pretty happy with the way they turned out. Next up are two C-arms and of course their bends.

On most all bends I make extras, in case one breaks I can just keep going,  And for all my bends I have at least two forms so I make doubles even if I'm only making a single chair. The extra time to prep extra pieces is minimal and it really pays off in less down time.

Usually this isn't a big deal with bends that go in one plane. After the bend has cooled a bit I clamp a board across where the hands are going to be and bend the next piece. However, with a C-arm, the bend is multi plane so I have to keep the hands from spreading AND keep the bend a the elbow at the correct angle.

So I came up with this super simple fixture to hold the hands and back at the correct distance and also it holds the back from opening,  So like in these two chairs, all four pieces bent beautifully so I have two arms drying on the fixtures and I'll leave two on the forms.  I have to say I've never had C-arms bend as easily as these did. I now wear grippy gloves which helps and I also just bend the piece around and down without clamping or pegging, I hold it in place for maybe a minute and then release it and clamp and peg it in place, This really does seem to make a difference.

And here is a book I picked up for a dear friend at a used book store in Rockland, Maine that smelled like heaven.