next is arms & seat

The walnut high chair is finally settling down. The pieces I carved yesterday were quartered stock, so behaved better than the rest.

The faces of the stiles got shaped first, a sort of double-ogee, then gouge-cut decoration in this face. To cut the shape, I first cut a centerline with the V-tool (and mallet, its only appearance pretty much).

then I put the mallet down

Then using a nearly flat gouge upside down, shaped the convex portions down to the V-tool cut.


Next I took a deeply curved gouge and started nibbling away at shaping the outer limits of this pattern. This stuff cut very nicely at this point. Then it was just a matter of cutting straight into the faces with a shallow gouge, and relieving back to that incision.

shavings of the day

As I found out the other day, hand pressure is perfectly adequate to carve this wood, and mallet work is probably overkill.

here’s a detail of the chair’s back:

chair back

I fnally cut the rear stretcher, and this photo is for Alexander. It’s a sawn tenon, a rare thing in my shop. Fit right in the mortise as is.

sawn tenon


During this project I have discovered something about the workbenches in my shop. For a variety of reasons, (mostly fear) I have resorted to using my old Ulmia workbench for a lot of this project. I bought this bench back in the early 1980s, and for more than 15 years it was my everyday workbench. It got a lot of use, and about twice a year I would scrape its surface and treat it with linseed oil.

10 years ago I built my “joiners” bench, using a piece of white pine 4” thick by 17” wide x 8′ long as the main section of the bench top. The pine was chosen principally because it would dry in just a few years versus an oak top that size; and the stock was nice & clear. I built the frame from oak, and added a board along the top to increase the working depth of the top to about 24”.

joiner's bench

Using the joiner’s bench took some getting used to, but within a short time it became quite simple to work at. One un-planned benefit of this bench was the softwood top doesn’t get slick like a hardwood one. A few years ago I used a maple bench here in the shop for something or other and found it to be like a bowling alley – the boards kept sliding around on me. Never used to happen until I got used to the pine top.

But this walnut chair has shown me another feature – the Ulmia now is quite dark with its years of grungy finish, and after using the (bare) pine bench for so long, I found it was sometimes hard to see the tools on the bench – a matter of what you get used to I guess. I never had a hard time before. I think later this winter, I’ll scrape the Ulmia and not oil it. Just in case I use it again for something.

Further readings about the workbench here

There’s lots more, you can search from the main page of this blog for “workbench” and you’ll get inundated.

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