Friday, January 25, 2013

Susan's Chairs

Last Spring I started to work with designer Ian Kirby on a chair design for a private dining room. Ian drew up the initial sketches of the chair and then I made a full size model in Poplar. Ian then took the chair to his studio and made a few adjustments to get it just right.

The next step was for Ian to made the drive to his client's house to review the design with his client and get her approval. I and one other maker gave the client bids on fabricating 16 of the chairs in Maple. The time frame from model to approval of the bid took up the summer and the better part of the fall. Just prior to Thanksgiving the price was approved and we received  the go ahead.
The first part of the process was to find a good supply of quarter sawn Maple. I dealt with Peter at Horizon Wood Products in Northern Pennsylvania and one other supplier here in Connecticut in sourcing the material. Peter had a large quantity of nice hard Quarter Sawn Hard Maple for a good price and the proper thickness. The material arrived in my shop in mid December, it was a large stack of material. Seeing it next to the model and on the fork lift was a little intimidating when you look at the stack and realize that you have to mill it all down to little parts and then put the little parts together to make the chair.

Chair Model in Front of rough Maple for Finished Chairs
I let the wood sit in the shop for a few weeks so that it would acclimatize to my shop. I had other  work in house that needed to be completed and I had to bring in other materials for the fabrication.

After creating the bill of materials or parts list the next step in the process was to make up the seat blanks. In order to bend the seats I needed two bending forms, I was happy to have the CNC router in the shop as it made short work of cutting the curved form parts. Prior to having the CNC router I would have had to make up a master blank with the seat curvature and then make copies from that blank using a hand held router and a rub collar.  For 10 days I started things out by gluing up 2 seat blanks in this press. I am cutting parts for 20 chairs, making 18 and delivering the 16 best.

Clamping up Seat Blanks

The past two weeks have been spent on sorting the wood and milling the parts for the chairs. When you look at the cut list and think about what you have to do the job is not bad. But when you consider the lineal footage of edging that you have to run on the router it makes you stop. From the time I went back to the tools after lunch and quitting time I had to run 5600 lineal feet of 1/8" quarter round on the chair parts, and that is only a fraction of it. Prior to today we have generated 5 large bags of maple chips while milling the parts to size, Dan filled up two more bags today. I am lucky to have a relationship with a local barn that uses our solid wood grindings for her horses.   

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