Woodworking hobby

low joined stool

Some of you have heard some of this before. But it keeps rattling around in my head. So here goes. My main occupation is making carved oak furniture. I’ve been doing it since about 1989. But back then I had a few woodworking hats I wore, including chairmaker and basketmaker. By 1994 I specialized in the oak, and for the next 20 years it was all oak, all the time just about. A lot happened after 2014 and I built my shop here at home in 2016. Somewhere along the line, a friend of mine bought this settee at an estate sale. I made it in the early 1990s, probably 1992 or before. As soon as I saw it, the first thing that came to mind was “I couldn’t make that today…”

Ever since then, I’ve had an itch to re-learn how to make Windsor chairs. So I consider those and the board chairs/brettstuhls/Alpine chairs my hobby. (In my mind the JA ladderbacks are part of my main gig again – that’s another story.) Like many of you, I hardly ever have time for my woodworking hobby. But last week I got a nice 8/4 white pine plank, 16″ x 10′ – clear.

PF Windsor early 1990s

The chair above – another of my early 1990s-Windsors – lost a fight way back when. It wasn’t me fighting it – and at the time I did a hasty repair to it. I’ve never been happy with the result and set out today to make a new copy of it. One thing I can do now that I couldn’t do then is sharpen carving gouges. So right away I was off to a good start, carving the gutter. You’ll see I bored all the spindle and leg mortises before hollowing the seat. I know the Windsor chairmakers have changed things since I knew what was what, but this method still works.

carving the gutter

I thought about stopping there, it was so perfect it could only go downhill.

afraid to touch it now

But I slogged on. Used an adze for the initial hollowing, then onto an inshave.

hollowing the seat

Some drawknife work

starting to shape the front

Then a little scraper work and I quit for the day. I had pushed my luck far enough. As the afternoon light was fading I ran my hands across the seat here & there & highlighted with a pencil those areas where I want to refine it some.

OK so far

I have the arm & comb all bent and waiting. And the legs rough-turned. So those will be next, I’ll finish them & ream their mortises. And on & on. Lots of chances for disaster still. But in the meantime I have a new oak log I’m riving for the cupboard. So that’s tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Woodworking hobby

  1. I may have said this before but the vision, artistry, skill, and execution never cease to amaze me. I envy you your talent.

    • The bent gouge I used only because it was the only tool out of dozens & dozens that was the right shape & size for the seat’s gutter. It’s not a V-tool, but a deeply curved tight gouge. Bent or straight doesn’t affect things much really.

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