I’ve said it before, ‘ll say it again. I have great friends. Rick gave me an ash log last week – 8’ long. Straight & clear. One of my favorite woods, especially for chairmaking. I’ve spent parts of the last few days beginning to work up the sections into chair parts. Splitting and shaving, then more splitting and shaving. Here’s some sections waiting their turn. They don’t look it here, but the ash bolts are more than 5 feet long. (on the left side of this photo)
I split and shaved and then bent three sets of rear posts for ladderback chairs (two in this photo). There’s more of that to come.
I also roughed out a set of turnings for a Windsor chair – 4 legs, 3 stretchers and 2 arm posts. Those I rived, shaved, then turned just in a general way to get them drying a bit. Then I picked through the remnants from those two jobs – to shave what’s left into ladderback rungs and Windsor spindles.
These were all essentially leftovers – after I split out the other chair parts – so today I shaved them into 3/4″ square-sections. Random lengths. The longer stuff will be Windsor spindles. Any that already taper along their length – ditto. The stuff between 14 1/2″- 18″ will mostly be ladderback rungs. Some will be spindles. The shortest stuff there is 11″ – each Windsor arm chair has 4 short spindles. There’s more than a year’s worth for me! And the top of that heap are roughed-out stretchers for one of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic side chairs. I have the seat & legs made – but needed the stretchers. Now – big problem is where to put all this (& more right behind it). Today I committed a hideous sin – stuck them in a temporary place. On the lathe bed.
There was very little waste – a few handfuls of firewood so far. These two pieces (below) I rejected because they grew so slowly – there must be more like them, but I haven’t run into it yet. The green arrows show how the most recent growth was slower still. Weak as a kitten – if that’s really an expression.
At the end of the afternoon, I went outside and found one more off-cut. Stupidly, I cut whatever I needed & left this piece at 14″ – 14 1/4″. If it was even 1/2″ longer it would have been perfect for ladderback rungs. As it is, some will make it, but half will be too short. But it split like a dream. I got 14 blanks from it – didn’t lose one. One piece of firewood.
The picture below shows me splitting off the pointed inner bit. But I got one blank from that pointed side – the wood was so straight it split perfectly. (that’s how I ended up with 14, even though only 13 were marked out.)
I’ll shave those next time. Some will make it for ladderbacks – others will be good for something.
My next ladderback is going to have ash posts & hickory rungs. These posts were made long ago – the rungs are in the kiln. But I have to sort out the shop & clean it up before I can make this chair…
Ash – what a wonderful wood, but using it always makes me sad – millions of the trees have been killed off by the invasive Emerald ash borer – (this tree I’m working was dying from other causes if I remember correctly what Rick told me) – I don’t keep on top of that situation – but just now I found some encouraging efforts about identifying resistant ash trees – let’s hope they make it – https://www.monitoringash.org/lingering-ash-surveys/