My first chair but, not my design. Built back in 2005.
As you’ll see in my Gallery, I’ve made more than my fair share of ‘square-framed-things’ since I first took up woodwork as a hobby in 2005. At college, I like to take the opportunities to almost push myself and try new things; which is why I have decided that, for my final year [six, if you include the three-years of Carpentry!], I will be tackling ‘The Chair‘. They say that, if you can make a chair then, you can make anything…
Current design of the chair at college.
This is something I’m designing for myself; my a*se, my dimensions for my comfort. I see this as a stand-alone item that I will be able to relax in. At a later date (if I can find the space, indoors…) I would like to build myself a writing desk. So, without making the chair too ‘comfortable’, I’d also like to be able to work from it.
The 'ladder chair' unfolds in to a short ladder!
One of the first pieces I made at home was actually a chair, way back in 2005; armed with little more than a pile of PAR southern yellow pine, a Makita jigsaw and a terrible, cheap 10in. table saw! Oh, and not forgetting the book from which the design was copied (The Essential Pine Book).
Notice how the back legs splay inward from the top.
So. After reading several books, scribbling away in my sketch book and spending another couple of weeks watching the hours pass on Google SketchUp, I was getting tired, needing to cut some wood and so, began the mock-up!
As you can probably tell from these photographs, I wanted to include a fair bit of shaping in to this project (some may say I have overdone it…). The seat will also be carved out to (hopefully!) suit my posterior and, in a nod to the late Sam Maloof, it will be housed directly in to the legs.
Stretchers have been given a very subtle curve.
Both rear legs 'kick out' at the bottom.
I’m generally quite satisfied with the design in its current state [apologies for not taking a side-on shot, without which you cannot fully appreciate the curves of the legs]. There’s still a decision to be made on the shape of the back splat [wide vertical rail] as I feel the one you can see (approximately 6in. wide) leaves too much of a gap either side. Gary (my tutor) thinks that two slats look better. I may leave this decision until I’ve bought all the wood, so that I can let ‘it’ do the talking – if I find a really nice length that can be book-matched then, I’ll look in to it […working ‘on the fly’ – wasn’t that Krenov? Now, all I need is a nod to Alan Peters and I’ll feel I’ve payed my respects for this year! :)].
Curving the back rail improves comfort.
Timber selection is giving me a bit of a headache at the moment. Really, it’s got to be British and I’d like to work in something I haven’t used before (which rules out oak, ash and the usual suspects). I have this idea to use walnut for the seat and possibly for part of the lamination in the back splat. Chestnut was the first species to come to mind. It looks quite like oak (if you can find it!) but, apparently, it’s not as strong as oak and may not lend itself as well to thinner components as other species’ would (thinking of the curved stretchers and short-grain issues). Gary also said it can be quite “carroty” to work (like kiln-dried timber), which may put off with all that shaping… Elm is another I may consider although, I do have concerns as to the stability of this wood. Well, if it’s easier than ash to shape with hand tools then, I think it’s worth considering! 😉 Again, I’ll also need to consider whether I’d be happy to build a desk in the same wood later.
I've found that two slats are less comfortable.
All comments and thoughts would be equally welcome and appreciated at this stage. If little else, you may want to think twice before embarking on a similar project in a hurry – in chair design, it seems as though most of your time is spent on developing your ideas in to a practical solution. The making time should be minimal, by comparison. Not only are you looking to create something that looks good but, it’s got to be functional; fit for intended purpose.
Chair with one central splat.
Now, if I can just get the hang of this HTML business… It may look okay right now but, it’s taken two-nights and I’m convinced these photos have a mind of their own!! 😡
Less images? More text?! I’m not sure what the answer but, as with woodwork, I’m sure I’ll pick it up somewhere along the way! 😉