Friday, August 15, 2014

Leveling a Rocker

I leave off, for I seek to hold the wind in a net

Sir Thomas Wyatt

This is a bench I built awhile back, sold to a professor and Harvard Medical School. Really have to build another one...the next one will be Tavern Green. I think. Anyway, this post will be about leveling a rocker side to side.

Unlike regular chairs, in which you level it left to right then measure the seat front and seat back, then trim the legs, rockers are, or rather can be, much harder to level.  Because the slot is cut with a router, the only real way to level the rocker left to right is to chop the bottom of the slot deeper with a chisel. This I have found is a tedious process.

So the last rocker, or one rocker anyway, I had a great idea.  What if I measured the leg length relative to the seat AFTER the legs were reamed and set in the chair.  That way, the shortest one, the shortest leg would become the baseline leg and the other legs could then be trimmed to this length on the lathe, and then the slots cut with a router.  Let me back up. The legs are trimmed in pairs, front to front, back to back.

So here you can see the difference in leg lengths after reaming and placing the legs in the seat. By using dividers, my large ones, I simply find the length of the shorter leg and then mark the longer one.

Then I turn the leg to length on the lathe with a parting tool, and viola the legs are all the same length. Well, the front two match and the back two match.  This means that once the rockers are placed in the slots, the chair will automatically be level left to right.  Ez-pz.  Below you can see the difference on the length.  Not a huge difference but enough to be a pain leveling, especially with maple as in this chair.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Website Live

"And here we go"

Malcolm Colter

Totally random pics but as promised my website is live. It still needs a lot more pics put in and some cleaning and polishing, but the framework is done.   Link here

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Chair

"Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt the truth a liar;
But never doubt I love."

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Here is a look at a rocker I jsut recently completed. It has been in my head for along time now; and while it is similiar in many ways to my usual rocker, it does have some differences, namely the back posts have a different curve.

On my usual rocker, the Traditional rocker, the back post are steam bent to look like a section of a circle.  A large circle, but a circle. Comfort wise it's fine, as the back spindles really support your back and give it it's comfort.  But for a long time I wanted visual unity between the spindles and the posts, and I wanted a birds-beak false miter at the top of the posts as seen below.  I use a thru dowel that is wedged.   Also the turning are double bobbin.

And here she is.  I could not be happier.  I only got two quick shots before it was off to the gallery, a new gallery Georgetown Pottery  in Freeport, Maine, just down from LL Bean.

Another view

As an aside, this weekend I hope to be rolling out my new website so I am really excited about that and also hopefully my galleries start to pick up as summer arrives.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Measuring Stretchers

“I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you've bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch 'em carry it off, and you don't care. That's more like how it was.” 
― Jane SmileyA Thousand Acres

I cannot be the first chairmaker to think of this. Simply can't. But anyway. Stretchers. 

Like I was taught, a couple rubber bands, measure the distance, add a 1/4" and there ya go. Assuming you measured right. Assuming the stretchers bulbs are 1 3/4". assuming you drilled exactly 1" etc.  Any addition of assumption leads to mistake.   So I use a two step process.

I first get a rough ( but really pretty accurate idea ) of the length using rubber bands.  Say the measure is 17 1/4". I then turn the stretcher say 17 3/4". Or 18". Really a ballpark shot.

Then I use two dowels placed in the already drilled holes and mark where they intersect.  A quick measure and vi-o-la. The exact length that the stretcher needs to be. Like I said I can not be the first to think of this, but it does work for me.  I then cut the stretcher to length, and assemble.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you'd left open

John Barrymore

Well the holidays are done and now the business of winter is in full swing.  But much solace can be be taken from these two beautiful happy faces. It is a period of change so Elsa and Anna were happy to have a joyous Christmas.

And now to chairs. I love dividers. There I said it.  These two beauts are from Starrett...a 6" and 12" respectively. One thing I love about chair making is you are always learning something new. Sometimes it's something big, sometimes its a small tweak to a method that makes a small but nonetheless significant difference. And know that when I say a significant difference I really mean it made something easier.

And so today I came up with a wizz-banger. I've always loathed leveling a rocker. A non rocker is easy. Wedges, trace the difference, cut, done.  But rockers have routed slots and therefore the slots have to be traced and chopped which is a major pain. The problem lies in the inconsistency of reaming. Some legs simply get reamed too much despite my best efforts.

SO today I thought why not check the length of the legs AFTER they are reamed and seated. So I checked them with my handy dandy 12" divider and viola they were off as you can see below. Now admittedly it's not much but try chopping out end grain hard maple and you'll fast appreciate this small difference.

I marked out the difference and I was a simple matter to turn to the new length. I turn the legs to length anyway so a different mark is no big deal.

The pics above and below show the small difference. The one above ( these are both back legs. Do not compare front to back...only front to front, back to back ) the shortest leg is the base line and the longer one, below, is turned shorter.  I have yet to install the rockers but this does make a difference in the final balancing of the chair.