Thursday, August 5, 2010

Barstool Joinery

     The TV lift cabinet went to the finisher today so now I have room in the shop to spread out and begin some serious work on the barstools.  Up to this point I've made the form to laminate the back, ordered and picked up the Bloodwood for the back and the lower grid, and roughed out the Maple for the legs.  One of the most difficult aspects of building a chair or a stool is the joinery.  Since my objective is to build heirloom quality pieces I stay with traditional methods.  In the world of woodworking certain things "say" quality.  One of the most obvious ones is using dovetails, they are a hallmark of fine furniture construction.  Among furniture, chairs are one of the most difficult items to make because of the angled joinery.  Other areas that are pretty complex are circular stairs and wooden boats -- haven't tackled those yet!
     As far as chairs go, a tried and true method to tackle the joinery is to make full size drawings and then use a bevel to establish your angles.  In this photo, I've done just that:

This is one area where "winging it" can get you into trouble!  What is drawn is half of the chair, the mortises are drawn in to locate them exactly.  Chairs take a lot of stress so the design and placement of the joinery need to take that into consideration.  Mortises have been cut for the stretchers and the bottom foot rest.  One of the design decisions I can make is choosing the wood and the surfaces that will show.  At the left are the front legs for one of the chairs and although it's pretty difficult to see from this photo they are cut from the same board and the bottom portion has that waterfall grain effect.  Those are the little things that separate a custom piece from a factory made project -- it's good to be able to take the time and care required.

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