One of the chairs I have started working on is a copy of this seventeenth-century original, now in a private collection. (Thanks to Gavin Ashworth of NYC for the excellent photo) the chair is made from ash, with an oak board seat. I have started with the spindles, there are 24 of them, in four different lengths. I turned a bunch of them today, but fell just short – got to 23. The shortest ones, below the seat, are only 5 1/4″ long…these are the toughest for me to turn…it’s hard to get the proportions correct. So naturally, I did them late in the day and the last couple were clunkers, so I’ll do a few tomorrow & have them done.
I have several turned chairs underway, all in ash. Two of them are the three-legged kind I wrote about earlier. The others have four legs, of these one has a board seat like the three-leggeds. The others will have either rush or hickory bark seats.
One ash log I have around the shop came to me from Rob Tarule. It is somewhat small in diameter, but has grown quite slowly, making for excellent turning stock. Shown in the photos is a billet that I have split into stock for turning the seat rails, or “lists” as they were called in the seventeenth century.
The stock for most of my work is riven, or split, from a freshly-cut, or “green” log, usually oak. To get wide panels used in joinery, a large diameter log is best – I like them at least 2 feet in diameter. Here, the split is begun by driving two steel wedges into the end of the log.
Once the split is open enough, a large wooden wedge is driven into the split – this really does much of the work of opening up the log.