sawn walnut; high chair

marking out crook for rear stiles

Sometimes I use sawn timber in addition to the riven stock I mostly favor. This year I have a few projects that call for sawn stock; first is this walnut high chair I started recently. This stock was supplied by the customer; cut to oversized blanks, surfaced & dried. (well, not in that order…). I still have planed all the stock again, so it has the right feel to it.

Yesterday I sawed out the rear stiles; in this case these pieces are canted both above &  below the seat. In the above photo, I am marking the shape from a template I cut out of white pine. I prick some marks with an awl, then strike chalklines from there.

sawing the stiles

I fasten the blank to the bench with a holdfast, trying to align my sawcuts so they are mostly plumb. I just eyeball this, but don’t want to be tilted over. Then, start sawing. I had just filed this ripsaw before this task – so it cut pretty well. I am no great sawyer, but can manage in a pinch.

I try to maintain a steady broad stance when sawing. It helps stabilize things, making the cutting easier and less tiring. I made two cuts to outline the front and rear of the stile, then flipped the piece end-for-end to finish it off.

finishing the cut

Cutting these leaves me with some weird-shaped off-cuts; but I will be able to cut some stretcher material from them, and who knows what else.

rough-sawn stiles

Here’s the template and the rough-sawn stiles. Next up I will plane them to finished shape and dimensions, then cut some mortises. These stiles are crooked every which way – the shape of the chair from the front view is canted, and the front face of the rear stiles below the seat is canted towards the back in addition to sideways. Here’ s the front frame, showing the “rake” or cant.

front frame test fitted

I have been only working on this intermittently; but this project will pick up speed next week. I have never really studied any surviving high chairs in detail; so I am making a bit of this up. Also, this chair will be used at a modern table, so I have to fit it to the customer’s dimensions. There’s some goofy geometry involved; and although I drew some of it on paper, I left a bunch of it to be worked out in the wood. Sometimes it’s easier that way…


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