knocking them off one-by-one

I finally finished assembly of the walnut high chair, except for a footboard. Fitting the arms was a bit of trial & error; they have rectangular tenons where they enter the rear stiles, and a round mortise where the front stile fits. Because of the canted front stiles, this mortise was bored at an angle, and the mortises in the rear stiles are also angled. Some fun making this all work; but in the end I was reasonably satisfied. But no pictures of the process – it took long enough as it is.

final assembly

Then I carved an extra panel – to use for finish sampling. I applied linseed oil, turpentine and some beeswax. Being a child’s chair, the ability to wipe it clean is a concern. My kitchen table is carved, and has remnants of yogurt and oatmeal embedded in the carvings. I could clean them out if I had to, I guess – but where’s the time?

   finish sample

Next up is a joined chest that has lingered in the shop for a couple of years – I have been building it from odds & ends; many of the carvings were from public demos. Two were photographed for an article on carving that I did for Popular Woodworking sometime in the past few years.  Yesterday I started the assembly, in preparation for fitting the till. Here is the chest front, from the inside; with one side inserted, and the cuts for the till. Also you can see a carving-gone-bad, re-used as a muntin.

chest sub-assembly

I pinned the side frames to the front, and then test-fitted the rear section in place. This gives me a chance to scribe the till parts accurately. I’ll dig out some till stock next, cut & fit the till, and then finish pinning the chest. Afte that comes the floor, or bottom of the chest. but that’s getting ahead of things.

assembling the joined chest

7 thoughts on “knocking them off one-by-one

  1. Not so fast there Follansbee! With all the trials and tribulations you encountered with this funny Walnut stuff, you can’t simply dismiss the chair like that in half a blog post or less! I for one would be interested in your opinion on the wood now that you have completed the chair.

    I appreciate you can be quite rough with Oak (I’m not for one moment calling your work rough) when making furniture of this period, but Walnut demands a little more respect. What challenges did it present for you, how did you adapted to it, and would you consider working with it again?

  2. Fair enough Jack – the challenges I did discuss in the previous posts; and they stayed the same thru the project. I found the walnut fragile compared to oak. Yes, I would use it again, but I would like to try air-dried walnut versus this kiln-dried stuff. With some more practice, I’d like carving it, but I’d have to learn real carving to do so! the sample board I carved for the finish cracked in half when I struck the punch to put some final decoration in it – the board just was not flat enough on the back, had a litte wiggle room & SNAP. I glued it back together so I could see what it will look like.

    My favorite action with it was the turning. Burnishes like nobody’s business. takes detail nicely. I had one or two sections that were quartered surfaces, and naturally those were pretty nice.

    yes, I’d consider working with it again, especially if someone pays me to! I know it’s a premier wood for others, but I am glad to be back to oak. I know how it behaves.

  3. Great work on the chair. I want you to know that I always look forward to and enjoy your posts. Birds and furniture.

    Can I ask some questions about the finish? Is linseed oil a period finish? Are you using raw oil thinned with turpentine, or boiled oil thinned or not thinned? Will the finish that you use dry? Sorry for all the questions but this period finishing stuff seems such a mystery. Any insight you can offer will be much appreciated

    • Jeff
      glad you like the blog. Re: finish. I use either boiled linseed oil thinned w turprentine, or for small stuff flax oil from the health-food store. Inbetween is the refined linseed oil sold with artist’s paints; that’s a nice oil too. Yes, these will dry, eventually. I try to wipe down each coat as thoroughly as possible. Watch the rags/cloths you use – follow all precautions about disposal of them. I spread them outside, soak them in water, and then drape them to let them dry before chucking them. NEVER BALL THEM UP – THEY WILL COMBUST. Another great way to get rid of them is to burn them, if you can.

      we know little about 17th-century finishes, especially clear ones, if they were in fact used . The only studies I know of focus on painted finishes, and those studies are really in their infancy.

  4. Looks like it was a bear. Maybe Juglans regia has tighter, kinkier grain and can take the pounding better. Hard to ge somewhat moist walnut unless you got it from a log, I guess. The angles on this chair were horrendous.

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