chairs, furniture

Welsh Stick Chair – Part Two

Part Two

Please click here for part one of my Welsh Stick Chair build

Let’s make some sticks

With the undercarriage done, I moved to the second level of the chair – the sticks and armbow/comb.

IMG_20190219_204334.jpg

All sticks pentagonalized

Shaping the sticks took a lot of time. I don’t have a straight tenon cutter so everything had to be done by hand. Experimenting with a dowel plate to make the tenons made it a bit easier but the bulk of the 26 tenons in this chair was made with my Slöjd knife. It worked fine but was a lot of work.

IMG_20190227_205137.jpg

Short sticks done

Test-fitting the tenons is best done in a separate piece of wood and not directly in the armbow, as I found out when my armbow snapped, right at the tenon. I glued the armbow together again and made a tenon-testing-block with a 15mm hole in it.

Drilling into the seat

Drilling the mortises for the sticks in the seat has to be done at the correct angle. How do you find the correct angle? By using a long spade bit that fits through the mortise in the armbow and extends all the way to the seat. You basically pretend that the drill bit is a stick. I started with the four long sticks in the back, after those were in drilling the six short sticks was easy.

IMG_20190226_204722.jpg

The four longs sticks in place

For drilling the four long sticks I held the armbow in place with a jig that keeps the armbow 8” above the seat (jig is not in this picture).

IMG_20190228_203444.jpg

Long sticks done, starting on the short ones

The comb

With the chair now mostly done, the last thing to make was the comb.

IMG_20190226_210211.jpg

Here is the piece of wood I used for the comb before I carved it

I made the comb out of a piece of firewood (pine). First I marked the mortises using the long sticks and drilled them using a 15mm bit. Then I shaped the comb using a single bevel hatchet for the convex area and an adze for the concave part, followed by a draw knife and spokeshave.

IMG_20190301_200958.jpg

Making the comb

Testing if all pieces fit together

With all the pieces done, it was time for a dry test-fit

IMG_20190302_114912.jpg

Test-fit of the chair, everything fits tightly

Glue-up time

With the chair complete, I glued up the undercarriage and let it dry overnight. When hide glue is too cold, it reduces the opening time a lot. I found this out the hard way.

When I glued in one stretcher, the glue dried before I could adjust it. Trying to turn it anyway made the tenon snap. So I made a new stretcher and went ahead with the glue up. A stretcher is easy to make but the next time I will make sure my glue is hot enough.

IMG_20190310_122645.jpg

Undercarriage all glued up and wedged

The next day, I leveled the chair, trimmed the wedges, and glued up the sticks / armbow / comb.

IMG_20190313_234724.jpg

All glued up – Chair finished

Painting the chair

I decided to paint my chair with milk paint. Though I am a big fan of natural wood finishes, I wanted to paint this chair black over green. With time, the black paint will wear off and expose the green paint, making a nice contrast.

IMG_20190314_130901.jpg

First layer of green milk paint

After the green paint was dry, I painted the chair black.

IMG_20190315_211530.jpg

Finished Welsh Stick Chair

IMG_20190315_211433.jpg

Finished Welsh Stick Chair

The next day, I sealed the chair with linseed oil, followed by some awesome wax I got from Brian Eve, who says he will start selling it soon (and he should).

The chair is very comfortable to sit in and I like the shiny glossy black finish a lot.

I hope you enjoyed my build, please feel free to leave I comment, I would love to hear from you.

-Rudy Everts

Standard
chairs, furniture

Welsh Stick Chair – Part One

The inspiration for a Stick Chair

When visiting San Diego last January, there was a chair that spoke to me in a special way. The back legs were splayed outward in a particular, almost determined way, as if the chair wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to take the measurements of it to replicate this inspiration at home.

 

Though I didn’t have a sliding bevel with me and there was no tape measure in sight, paper and cardboard were available in abundance, as were pencils. I decided to “use what I got” and measure away.

With the help of a piece of cardboard and a pair of scissors I was able to eyeball the angles of the legs and sticks.

 

I used a piece of card board from a Corona beer box – but I’m sure any other beer brand would have done fine too.

I put the chair upside down and turned the chair around until a leg appeared at 90 degrees toward me. This gave me the sightlines. I put a piece of paper square to the seat and used a straight piece of cardboard where the sightline was, drawing it onto the paper with a pencil.

I decided the shape of the seat and armbow could be figured out from pictures afterwards.

The rake and splay on this chair is interesting. The sightlines of the front and back legs are nearly identical and almost form a perfect ”X” when drawn on the seat. But the angle (splay) of the back legs is much more pronounced than the front ones. All four legs are parallel sideways, whereas on most stick chairs the back legs are closer to each other. This gives the chair on the one hand a balanced look but also makes it look funky and almost a little wrong – exactly what I was looking for.

IMG_20190101_075207.jpg

The chair from the back

 

The build – starting with the undercarriage

Funnily enough, this type of chair is often called a ‘captain’s chair’ in America, which, as written in Welsh Stick Chairs by John Brown, has its origins in Wales. Taking the inspiration from this captain’s chair to build a Welsh Stick Chair makes the circle complete.

Coming home to Munich with the valuable analysis of a comfortable chair in my pocket I was determined to start building right away.

IMG_20190223_182109.jpg

Wood at the home center

I went to the home center, which only carries a limited amount of wood and nothing fancy but in absence of something better I got a 58mm x 78mm x 3m spruce plank for 6,26€.

I figured if I would mess this up at least I wasn’t out too much money.

I cut it up into seven pieces and glued it up.

Seat blank before glue up

The shape of the seat is a simple D shape. After the seat was glued up I cut the shape of the seat and outlined the spindle deck 2″ from the edge. I clamped the legs at their approximate angles and took a couple of pictures upside down to make sure I was happy with the rake and splay.

IMG_20190206_202032.jpg

Making sure the rake and splay look good – the Australian way

When I was happy with what I saw, I took the angle of the legs using my sliding bevel and drilled and reamed the leg mortises.

IMG_20190206_203559.jpg

Drilling the leg mortises

With the leg mortises drilled and reamed, I added a bevel to the bottom of the seat to make for a lighter appearance. For this, I chopped the bulk away with my single bevel hatchet and cleaned it up with my jack plane.

 

The Legs

I made the legs out of the same material as the seat. The grain was remarkably straight in these pieces of wood. I first tapered the square stock and then planed the legs into octagons. The tenons were made with a draw knife followed by my Veritas tapered tenon cutter.

 

 

Saddling the seat

I saddled the seat with several tools, starting with an adze for the rough work, followed by an inshave, pullshave and lastly a curved scraper.

 

 

IMG_20190208_202237.jpg

Seat done, armbow started

 

Stretchers for added strength

Since I glued up the seat from 7 pieces, I decided it was a good idea to add stretchers to the undercarriage. I marked the rough location of the stretchers and clamped them to the legs to see if they had to go any higher or lower.

 

I raised the stretchers a bit more than in the above pictures, to around 7” from the ground and parallel with the seat.

 

Where to go with all these sticks

With the undercarriage done, now came the process of determining where the sticks would have to go. Finding their rough positions and marking them on the seat, I used dividers to mark their final placements.

 

Almost starting to look like a chair

 

The Armbow

The armbow was the most difficult thing about this chair. I initially wanted to use a natural crook, as historically this was the way it was often done and it seemed a fun challenge.

However it proved to be not as easy as I thought. The two pieces were shaped irregularly and eventually proved to be unsuitable. After wasting valuable time but learning valuable lessons, I used a flat board instead.

First attempt with a natural crook

Second attempt using a flat board

Shaping the armbows with a drawknife, rasps and a spokeshave was easy enough and fun. My only worry was that the armbows would be too thin, being 18mm thick (which fortunately proved not to be the case).

 

The doubler was made from a scrap piece of pine I had lying around.

 

 

Now for some funny business

I had decided that I wanted to make the sticks pentagonal. I made a bench with pentagonal legs and wanted to explore pentagons further.

Then I had the brilliant idea (…) to also make the mortises for the long sticks pentagonal.

This proved to be much harder than I assumed.

Nevertheless I am glad I did it, because I got it out of my system to ever do it again.

IMG_20190224_185545.jpg

Pentagonal mortises. Warning – don’t try this at home!

Since the mortises that go through the armbow and the doubler are drilled at an angle, chopping these mortises pentagonal all the way down and keeping the correct angle proved to be a difficult task. I managed it in the end with no visible gaps but I am looking forward to making a chair with round mortises, and making this part easier.

 

Next up: making the sticks.

 

The build of my chair is continued in part two.

 

 

 

 

Standard