Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Bog Chair

Simple seating but not quite done
It's origin is up for debate and is construction is simple. Don't let that deter you from making one though as it challenged my assumptions on woodworking more than many other projects. It's an especially good hand tool project too as I didn't need many tools to make it and I really learned about what needs to be done to wood to make a project successful.

Some of what I'm going to say here may seem like I'm promoting low quality work or cutting corners but that's not really the case. I'm working with hand tools and like artisans of the past I gotta make decisions about what requires perfect and what requires good enough so things get done eventually. This project teaches that well, especially if you start with a piece or two of rough cut lumber.
  • Lesson 1- forget 4-squaring the lumber. On this piece the more critical work is the seat piece as it has to fit though a mortice in the back. On the seat I fore and try planed pretty critically on one face, squared an edge and jointed. From there I marked width and thickness, both of these just to the minimum dimension of the existing wood, and fore planed down to those marks. Nothing fancy. For the back section I just cleaned the cupped face up pretty flat, jointed an edge and made the opposite edge parallel. The rear facing side is still rough sawn and crowned. All I'm going to do there is fore plane until the saw marks are gone, maybe even exaggerate the crown a bit more to lighten the chair further for transport. More importantly I'm not going to obsess about making it perfectly flat and straight, it works and it looks good.
  • Lesson 2- remember to use your coarsest tools. When making the edges parallel on each of these pieces they were not straight cuts and were about an inch too wide at one end tapering down to nothing at the other. Takes some work to plane or saw that so I grabbed the draw knife and ripped off the excess wood quickly and took a few passes with the plane just to clean up. Check out a video to see Jim Tolpin demonstrate this technique. The jointed and parallel edges were necessary so the cuts would be square and the chair would sit properly.
  • Lesson 3- have a good time. I tend to take projects too seriously. This one helped me relax and have a good time. I gave it a little whimsey with the Carpenter Gothic point and I plan on doing a little gothic tracery carving. I've never carved before but it's a low risk project so I figure have  some fun and try something new. 
Other than that I'm going to smooth it up and give it a coat of linseed oil, then I'm going to sit on it and enjoy a beer. 

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