“I thought you were supposed to be good at this…”

I decided today to assemble the undercarriage of the next Windsor chair in my pile of projects. My goal was (is?) to go through the process a number of times without great spans of time between efforts. We’ll see. Today turned bad even sooner than I thought. This was the 2nd mortise I bored:

a re-creation of the moment of doom

I’ve made lots and lots of chair joints; ladderbacks & Windsors. As I have mentioned here, this recent re-introduction to Windsor chairs is after a hiatus of over 26 years. So I’ve been rusty at it. That’s what I suspected was behind me splitting the legs. The first 2 I made last year had splits in several of the joints, though none as bad as this. But today I decided I’m not that clumsy or “un-crafty”. It’s the auger bit – that’s what’s different.

thick lead screw

I never used an auger bit for chair work before, and I was following Curtis’ recommendation. But I think this one’s not well-suited to this application. I switched to a bit I’ve used for ladderback chairs, and didn’t split a thing.

Forstner-like bit

I got the bit above from Drew Langsner, I forget what it’s called. Maybe it’s a Stern bit, the ones JA switched to after the old Stanley Power-bore bits were discontinued. I’d have to sift through the pile to see, but instead I moved on and successfully bored my mortises, made 2 news legs – yes, 2. And got the thing together.

why is one front leg white oak?

So someday, someone might look at this chair & wonder why one front leg is white oak, and all the others red. Because I blew up two legs and needed to make 2 new ones. Had only one piece of red oak that would work, and one piece of white oak. That’s why.

The title of this blog post is a quote I have kept with me for years. I used to work in a museum setting, demonstrating woodworking. In the same exhibit were potters, fiber artisans, sometimes a basketmaker, etc. One day a high school kid was watching one of the potters struggling with a new form. After a long quiet period, the kid looked at her & said “I thought you were supposed to be good at this…” – I just about fell over laughing.

Today it was my turn, the joke was on me. Tomorrow it could be you. It comes to us all at some point.

Well, I’ll end on a good note – today there was a flock of about 8 eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) here for 15 minutes.

bluebirds, female on left, male on right

With them was a pine warbler (Setophaga pinus). Both a nice surprise.

pine warbler, male

13 thoughts on ““I thought you were supposed to be good at this…”

  1. Yes, they are Stern’s bits. I acquired some years ago based on JA’s recommendation. Made in Austria but available through a couple of places in the US.

  2. re: birds, I’m reading a new Brazilian book about dinos, and found out that there was a teeny-tiny feathered dino as small as the smallest modern hummingbird. As you know, cladistics finds that a tiny hummingbird and T. rex are more closely related than T. rex is to Sauropods. Don’t know if you out up hummingbird stations, but we have Jurassic Park Hummie fights over ours, like WWII dogfights.

  3. Haha Kids are great Im gonna have to remember that one. I hope alls well & family is happy and healthy. Happy new year

  4. Re: “I thought you were supposed to be good at this”. Very nice little blogpost. Thanks.

    John Bakke

    On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 3:05 PM Peter Follansbee, joiner’s notes wrote:

    > pfollansbee posted: ” I decided today to assemble the undercarriage of the > next Windsor chair in my pile of projects. My goal was (is?) to go through > the process a number of times without great spans of time between efforts. > We’ll see. Today turned bad even sooner than I thou” >

  5. well this is a holy cow blog piece. Yes your famous saying which I once was the victim of. But to the points, nice recovery from the split and wow: a bluebird flock and a pine warbler–nice.

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