stevenbunn Sun, 03/06/2016 - 11:28
Lay out the hand-rest's pattern on the bow
Set the hand-rest template on the glued up bow. Adjust the template so that the locating mark for the arm-post mortise, on the template, aligns with the mark made earlier, on the bow, for the position of the arm-post. Mark out the shape of the template on the wood. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 03/06/2016 - 11:06
Adding a block of wood to the bow to increase it's width
The arm-bow is 15/16 inch wide and 5/8 inch thick, Add a 2-1/2 inch wide block to allow enough width the fit the shape of the hand-rest template. Use the template to locate the position of the filler block in relation to the mark made earlier for the position of the arm-post mortises. The filler block itself is 5/8" thick, 2-1/2" wide, and 6-1/2" to 7" long. I am using filler pieces made using scrap mahagony, because the wood carves easily, and the color shows up well in the photographs. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 03/06/2016 - 10:50
Gluing filler blocks to the bow for added width
A Tracy hand-rest is carved from a block of wood laminated from three pieces of wood; the bow itself, an added piece for width, and a final piece gluded to the underside of the rest to add thickness for carving the knuckles. This photo gives an over view of the bow and blocks glued on to increase the width of the bow.
Start first of all by locating the position of the round mortise holes in the arm bow that fit onto the arm-posts of the chair. Locating these mortises is a complete article in and of itself. I will just say that I know that for this chair pattern, the location of the mortises falls between 22 inches and 22-1/2 inches, measured from the center of the back of the bow. The variance is determined by the vagaries of the bow. All bows start to move after they are removed from the bending jig. The curve of the bow frequently oooches, or shifts, left or right. I always make my bow stock over length, which allows me to adjust the bow as it sits loosly in position, to find the best looking curve. When I am satisfied with the sweep of curve, I re-mark the center point on the bow blank, and lay out the arm-post mortises while allowing for the overhang of the bow past the back edge of the seat.


stevenbunn Sun, 03/06/2016 - 10:05
An Ebeneezer Tracy pattern carved knuckle hand-rest
Currently in the shop, I am working on three chairs. I am in the process of turning spindles, carving combs for two fan-back side chairs, and carving knuckle hand-rests for a large sack-back. The knuckle pattern I have come to use on any of my chairs requiring knuckle hand-rests, is a pattern I traced off a Ebeneezer Tracy sack-back. A photo of one of my Tracy style hand-rests is pictured above. In spite of having to much to do already, I thought that I would take the opportunity to photo-document creating a knuckle hand-rest. Over the next few weeks I will post a series of pictures showing how I make my knuckle hand-rests. One of the unfortunate features of the blog form is that everything will presented backwards in time. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. I think someone said that already. Please bear with me. Thanks. STB
stevenbunn Mon, 02/29/2016 - 07:55
Stock for a fan-back comb steamed and clamped in a bending jig

 When I posted this photo the other day, I did not have time to attach a note of explaination. I am doing so now.

When I started making Windsor chairs twenty-one years ago, Michael Dunbar's book, and another by Jim Rendi, were my source of how-to information. When steam-bending a chair comb, both books demonstrated the use of a two sided, clam shell jig, between whose two jaws the heated comb stock was placed after being pulled from the steam-box. The bending jig was tightened by placing a number of bar clamps across the jig jaw comb sandwich, on both the top and bottom faces. Then tightening each clamp in turn until the hot comb bent until it met both the front and back curves on the two jaw faces. The only problem was that I neeoded to be an eight armed octopus to tighten all five or six clamps evenly as I closed the jig. In a classroom situation with several students working together this can work. By your lonesome, tightening one clamp at a time as you work from clamp to clamp trying to close the faces of the clam shell together releases tension on the other clamps, causing the jaws to spring openlike an enraged jack-in-the-box. Everything blows apart. Clamps fall on your toes. And the comb stock ruined. There had to be a better solution.

Sometime later I watched a demonstration of comb bending by Curtis Buchanan, on Roy Underhill's TV show. Curtis used a flat panel, (plywood? No explaination was given) on which the curved front jaw was securely screwed. At the far end of the panel a windlass was secured. A newly steamed length of ash could be placed up against the curved  rear face of the jig, ropes, or a flexible back plate with ropes attached to the plate ends, quickly feed thru the windlass, and the windlass cranked until the steamed stock was bent in place against the curved jig. Quick. No exploding clamps falling on the floor. And enough bending force to pull both ends of the hot comb stock tightly against the jig. Resulting in a sweeter curve.

Sometime later, later, Roy and Curtis demonstrated bending a bow on a bending jig screwed to one of the wooden posts on the show's set. Again an inspiration. Downward force on the stock in a jig fastened to the building. Even heavy work-benches start to move when you are forcing hot bow stock around the a jig, when you pull the wood horizontally.

I have a large number of bending jigs, so I wanted to rationalize how I mounted them. I  ended up building a 2x12  into the shop, with space behind the 2x so I could drive 1/2 inch carriage bolts thru the vertical post. All of my bending jigs have either two, or four, matching holes drilled through them from front to back. A jig can be removed, and another quickly installed by simply loosening, and removing two/four nuts, putting the new jig in place on the exposed bolts, and re-tightening the nuts. In lieu of a sail-boat style ratcheting windlass, I bolted a standard come-along to the bottom of the vertical post. This gives me a system that allows me to choose between two forms of bending. Lighter, springier, bow stock can be bent by hand around one of the jigs, or the stiffer harder to bend combs can be bent using the come-along and flexible backer plate, as shown above. To keep even pressure on the backing plate, and prevent it from developing kinks, I bend all my comb-stock in 35 to 36 inch lengths, so the board supports the plate evenly across it's length, as the plate, in turn, applies even pressure against the wood being bent.

That's it for today. Thank you for stopping by. STB

stevenbunn Tue, 02/23/2016 - 19:55
A Sack-back arm-chair in the works
The third chair I am working on right now is one of my Sack-back arm-chairs. It is a large dramatic chair, and one of my favorites.
stevenbunn Tue, 02/23/2016 - 19:49
Fan-back side chairs in progress
With the new lathe up and running, I spent the early part of February turning parts for three chairs, and carving the seats. A photo showing a pile of parts isn't very exciting, so I waited to post photos until I had the chair's under-carriages glued up and wedged. The orb floating in the picture is either a dust mote, the shop has plenty of these, or one of the family ghosts. I have heard both explainations as the cause of the floating orb in photos. I tend to prefer the ghost theory.
stevenbunn Sat, 01/30/2016 - 08:16

I happened to read a reprint of one of James Kernov's articles in the latest FWW issue. In his article, Kernov discribed the first wooden hand plane he built as a teenager, and the effect of that experience on the rest of his career as a woodworker. I was especially drawn to his comments about sharpening his plane blades. Kernov admitted that long periods of time pass between sharpenings, and he is/was not very fussy about touching up the blade. Everything he says about sharpening reflects my experience and practice. The small chair-makers plane I built and use may get sharpened once a year if it's lucky. My lathe turning tools get an occasional touch up on my belt-sander. Why waste valuable time at the lathe getting an over perfect edge on the tool when there is work to do. Years ago, I got a call from my then current editor at FWW, Zack Galken, asking about my sharpening techniques. The conversation was abruptly concluded when I discribed my frequent use of the belt sander. That technique did not make into the how-to article. I should found a school of heritical woodworking. Any way, it was facsinating that James Kernov mirrored my thoughts on sharpening. Vindication at last.

stevenbunn Sat, 01/23/2016 - 08:30
IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!
Now I know how Dr Frankenstein felt when he powered up his monster. The lathe works! There is always a little trepedation when I switch from an old faithful tool that I've been very comfortable using, to a new one that I just bought. The queeziness is heightened when I've built a lathe based on someone else's plans, and hope, but don't absolutely know for a fact, that it will work to my expectations. Holding on to the tried and true means that I still find myself heading for the old Sears band-saw and ignoring the new Laguna band-saw sitting right next to the old one. A habit I am trying to break.
Anyway, I put the new lathe through a full day of turning yesterday and was very pleased with the lathe's performance. As I did on the Sears lathe set up, I used a pair of bungee cords to tension the drive belt and overcome the motor's tendency to kick back when I start the lathe.After turning the first leg, I noticed that the bungee cords weren't pulling the drive belt tight enough. So, I added a couple of old window sash wieghts on the outboard side of the motor to tighten up the belt tension and that fixed that problem. I also noted an unfamiliar thrumming noise coming from somewhere on the lathe. After sticking my deaf ears next to all the moving parts I discovered that the noise was caused by the wooden on/off bar that, loosely slotted and screwed to the front lathe bed rail, vibrated and created the unfamiliar noise. The on/off bar works better than I expected. I was wondering whether I might need to add some wooden knobs along it's length to get a good grip on the bar. When turning chair parts, I am always turning the lathe on and off so I can check the turning with my calipers. Thanks for dropping by. Have a good day. STB
stevenbunn Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:36
The completed steady-rest mounted on the lathe bed

 The problem with fixing one problem in the shop, is that the solution to the perceived problem leads to the discovery of another unrecognized problem. The completion of the Carlisle Lynch long-bed lathe solved one problem, my long time reliance on an old Sears lathe. The Sears lathe did yeoman work for me, cranking out turned parts for over thirty years. I have used that lathe to make something over 500 chairs. And, the old lathe still has years of life left. The problem was/is an internal head-space one. Sears just says 'hobbiest'  to me, not 'professional.'  The other eye-sore was the original steve-built 2x4 bench holding the lathe. Again, that bench was the best I could build thirty-four years ago, but hasn't been something I would want to show off for a long time. Now that the new long-bed lathe is holding pride of place along the front wall of the shop, I am confronted by my jury-rigged lathe tool storage system, with the tools set on one of the window ledges behind the lathe. That has suddenly come into focus as both unsightly, and unsafe. Leaning over a long turning spinning in the lathe to grab another tool.....Hmmmmm!  I could make another wall-hung tool box and place it behind the lathe. But that runs into the safety concern I just voiced in the previous sentence, and since I have over a hundred sample turnings already hanging on the wall behind the lathe, no space to hang a new tool box without having to find another home for a lot of turnings.

So now I am working up drawings for a simple, rolling tool cabinet that I can set either to my left or right, but will stand in front of the lathe as I work. Then there is that stupid word again, simple. I have a history of over complicating things. As always the fun stuff has a way of intruding on the paying work. The box I have in mind will look a lot like the saw-box I built last year. It will sit on a base similiar to the one I made for the out-feed table for the jointer. Pictures of both can be found by scrolling back through this blog. Thanks for stopping by. STB