finished my Curtis Buchanan chair

The two joined stools I’m making are mostly all cut, a little more carving to add to the small end aprons. Then I need to wait a few days before pegging them. So I took some time to continue my “finishing-leftover stuff” campaign. This time I went into the loft and dragged down my version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. (Well, it was a little beyond this point – the stretchers were in too.)

I had the seat, legs & stretchers all assembled. So what I had left was boring the posts for the crest rail, then test-fitting that,

and boring it for the spindles. Then just shaving the spindles and assembling. I say “just” – lots can go wrong in those few sentences. But as it happened, I made it through. Here I have the crest bored for the center spindle, and I shaved that & installed it. That stiffened things for boring the other holes in the crest. I set the other spindles in just to check their alignment, then moved them back out & bored it. 

I didn’t shoot any step-by-step photos, but I did set up the camera to shoot a sequence of the assembly. I set it for once a minute and just took what I got. Here I’ve marked the depth on the spindles’ bottom tenons, and I’m knocking them in place. Unlike Curtis’ video series, I glued this chair. 

After some alignment gymnastics, I am knocking down the crest onto the five spindles, then the posts come down into their tapered mortises in the seat. A lot has to happen. Hide glue next time, slower setting than the yellow glue. I got away with it…

Using a zig-zag ruler to check from seat to under the crest at both posts & center spindle.

Then splitting & wedging the joints.

Done. My first real chair of this construction since 1993. My lack of practice shows, but it will work fine for the shop. The ash legs split a bit as I drove the stretchers in. A few angles are off down under the seat. But I keep hearing Jennie Alexander’s voice back when I was making chairs with her – “The eye is very forgiving.” And when you sit in the chair, you can’t see it. 

You can make your own – Curtis posted step by step videos showing the whole thing. I think this link will take you to the whole set.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DoQl6xBAUI&list=PLL_KlogKd1xf9GYjSfBVLKTp8KngC8q7j 

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Woodworking has taken me to some wonderful places, and I’ve met people who in very short order become great friends. And I’ve been thinking  recently of those I met down in Australia, particularly my friends in New South Wales. I was lucky enough to go there in the fall (their spring) of 2018. What a fabulous place, and such a terror to hear about these past few weeks & months. A benefit of social media is that it makes it easy to keep people posted about folks’ safety/situation, etc. It’s good to hear that so far they’re safe, but some have left their homes. Whether the houses will be there when they get back no one knows. Wish I could send all you folks some rain.

9 thoughts on “finished my Curtis Buchanan chair

  1. This seems almost as tough as assembling a turned triangular stool with board seat. Maybe not that much, I see bamboo Windsors of similar concept all over the place. This weekend we were in South Jersey and I saw about ten Ware chairs with two-slat bent backs and checked rush seats, like the one in your loft. Also saw two of the so-called Greenwich [NJ] type four slat straight turned post Ware chairs with rockers lapped on the outsides of the feet, they would be nurse height without stretchers.

  2. Thanks Peter. My plan is to make six of these democratic chairs for our kitchen. Even though these would be my first chairs, I have to believe they would be better made by me than the mass manufactured stuff we currently have. Planning to make out of cherry with the spindles out of maple.

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