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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
With them was a pine warbler (Setophaga pinus). Both a nice surprise.
14 thoughts on ““I thought you were supposed to be good at this…””
I’ve done it more than once. As a carpenter and woodworker I’ve had ample experiences with “That wasn’t supposed to happen” days.
Peter, try clamping the sides at the spot of the hole before drilling.
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.
Thanks for this post, Peter. Half of the chair I’m working on ended up in the woodstove yesterday. Tomorrow is another day!
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.
Haha Kids are great Im gonna have to remember that one. I hope alls well & family is happy and healthy. Happy new year
Re: “I thought you were supposed to be good at this”. Very nice little blogpost. Thanks.
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” >
It’s nice to see you screw up. Keep up the good work!!!
Reblogged this on b19y and commented:
“Today it was my turn, the joke was on me. Tomorrow it could be you. It comes to us all at some point.”
Maybe clamp the leg in a vise before starting to drill?
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.
Would centre bits work for this?
Every time I think I’m good at something, the fates humble me quick. Glad to hear it is with all of us.
Thanks for your posts on chair making. Birds look good, nice photos.
I am accessing the blog from India and Images are not loading. When i use VPN and login to any US location , images are loading after refreshing the page.