Bayview Escarpment

English Windsor Side Chair

Hand Made Side Chair

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It's Coming Together

The English Windsor side chairs are progressing and I hope to have them assembled by the end of next week. With six side chairs in addition to the two arm chairs, everything takes time. Right now I am chopping out the mortises in the seat and back bows to house the back splats. These splats are a non-traditional design but are patterned on other chairs already in the client’s possession.

The crinoline (curved) stretchers under the seat are reminiscent of the Regency period (first quarter 19th century). After the riven ash is rounded with a spoke shave it is steam bent and put into a kiln at about 140 degrees F. After three days it is brought out, removed from the bending form, the ends are trimmed to length, and then tenons are hand shaped at the two ends, to fit into the leg holes. Because I slightly oversize the length of the chair stretchers, the final chair undercarriage is pre-stressed, meaning that as a person sits on the chair, the legs force the stretchers into place rather than allowing them to pull out of place, as often happens.

Final shaping the crinoline stretcher tenon with a rounding plane

Final shaping the crinoline stretcher tenon with a rounding plane

This means that the wood, and not the glue, is what really holds the chair together.

All of this takes a good amount of time and careful measurements, but quality and speed rarely go hand in hand.

Once the back bow and splat are carefully fitted together the six rounded spindles will be added to create a delicately balanced and visually pleasing chair.

Dry fitting the splat into the seat and bow mortises

Dry fitting the splat into the seat and bow mortises

shaping of the spindles

Final shaping of the spindles is done with a trapping plane

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Designer and Craftsman

I create custom handcrafted furniture design to fit your style and life.