Wegner inspired dining chair #2: More testing and narrowing in + some toolmaking

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by kaerlighedsbamsen posted 07-13-2014 11:03 AM 2418 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Getting inspired & first test Part 2 of Wegner inspired dining chair series Part 3: Shaping the back seat »

This summer i have succeeded in having a whole week with only me, my summer house and woodwork. No work, no children, no nothing. Oh bliss!

This week i intend to get as far as possible on my wegner project and also share the progress here on LJ in order to pay back a little on all the great inspiration i get here.

It is now time to do a full scale prototype with turned legs and hopefully get some uncertainties cleared away and narrow the difficult parts down to a few. Lets rock:

Pulled out my UCCL (Ultra Cheap Chinese Lathe) and sharpened the chisels (are they called that..?) Despite being of questionable quality it works fine for turning between centers. Did most of the work with a skew chisel in order to cut the pine reasonable clean. For some reason i find pine really difficult to turn nicely.

Inspired by several others here i tried my hand at making story sticks for the measurements. Worked well and gave a pleasant relief from all the measuring and numbers often involved in prototyping. Will certainly be using more story sticks in the future.

Then on to drilling. The drill-nerf-gun described in my last post worked ok but was a bit rackety so souped it up with doubble drawer guides and a steady base:

Made a center jig for the round legs and drilled away. Just eyeballed the center of the legs and that worked fine. But had trouble determining the not-quite-90-degrees angle to the other holes. For the final chairs i need to devise a manner to control that angle perfectly. Any ideas are welcome!

For the first prototype i just used dowels from the lumber yard and they are nice and just the right size (22mm). But I want to make this project out of elm and it is not possible to buy elm dowels and also i want to make them myself! So time to make a dowel making machine. For this project i made a woodgears inspired dowelmaker. But things are a lot different at 22mm and i had to do a lot of fiddling to get it right. In order to get a perfect cone shaped hole there was, as so often before, help to find at our own MaFe:

Tried at first to use the lathe to turn the wood and hold the cutter by hand. But this did not work so well and the cutter had a tendency to wobble and cut to rough (notice how worn down the plane blade is):

Much better luck holding the cutter in the vise and use the drill to turn the wood. Used a socket wrench as a driver:

This produced lovely pencil shavings by the bucketfull:

The result is much better but not super fine. After a sanding in the lathe they looked ok. Hope that elm cuts nicer than pine!

Then a testfit and a glueup. Looking good so far:

And weaving another seat. Getting considerably faster at it:

Status and lessons learned so far:
- Use story sticks!
- Got the angles of the legs right
- Think the legs need to be about 2 cm longer. And the back rest 3 cm lower than anticipated
- Still like the seat and material. But are uncertain if 22mm dowels are strong enough. Might need to go for 24mm and make yet another dowelmaker. Perhaps only thicker dowels in the top rails..?
- Prototyping is fun!

Think i’ll end this part here. Next part is about getting the most difficult part right; the back rest.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

8 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27685 posts in 4558 days

#1 posted 07-13-2014 12:19 PM

Very nice description of the process.Tthanks Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4786 days

#2 posted 07-13-2014 01:36 PM

Very nice blog and I like your clever improvised drill press. Progress on your prototype looks very good.

After retiring I bought a lathe just like yours for kr. 1900. It sat on my bench unused for a week or so before I went back to the place where I bought it and asked them if they would take it back if I bought a better lathe from them. They said yes and I bought Record lathe. Still not one of the best, but good enough. I still have it after 18 years. I’m not making fun of your lathe and it seems to work ok. I never even tried mine before exchanging it.

I think your problem with the pine is that the growth rings are far apart with a lot of soft wood in between and thin long pieces like you chair legs flex caused by the centrifugal force while spinning and that makes your chisel bounce a little resulting in uneven surfaces. You could build a steady rest to solve that problem and it would help with hardwood legs too.. here is a link to steady rests in case you are interested.

I’m looking forward to see this chair finished. I’m sure it will be a nice one.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1392 posts in 3165 days

#3 posted 07-13-2014 02:02 PM

Thanks for the kind words!
@Mike: You are totally right- that lathe is way too lousy. But it cost 300 dkr (aprox 55$) including 3 Luna turning chisels and a Record chuck. And i only use it about twice a year. Question is, of course, would i not turn more if it was nicer to use..?
If I’m going to make a series of these chairs ill certainly need a steadyrest. Newer thought about making one myself. Thank you so much for the link!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4786 days

#4 posted 07-13-2014 02:13 PM

That’s the trouble with not so great tools, they can be discouraging instead of inspiring. Still, many good turnings have been done on a lot worse lathes than yours and for that price it’s hard to beat.

I made my own steady rest from some roller blade wheels and plywood. Works great.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5334 days

#5 posted 07-13-2014 03:24 PM

Looking good.
I really like the turnbuckle hold-down while weaving the chair. I need to remember that one.

I too have been struggling with turned stretchers and have been thinking about a dowel jig such as yours. But I think a steady rest will be better and more useful in the long run.

I used a cheap lathe for many many years. It sure is nice having a better one now. Makes the whole process a lot more fun. I did make some stuff on the cheap lathe, but it required a lot of swearing.

This is fun to watch, thanks for the ride.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4309 days

#6 posted 07-13-2014 10:15 PM

Great explanation on the process
Dont give up on that lathe we got some good results with them
in Africa, a firm oil and sand ballast box helps greatly.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1392 posts in 3165 days

#7 posted 07-14-2014 10:17 AM

Thank you guys
@Steve & Mike: You are right- need a steadyrest. Also think that straight dowels is a bit to “straight” for my taste. Slightly double tapered stretchers would look nicer.
@Jamie: Good point. It is not the tools you own- it is what you make wit them that counts!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4541 days

#8 posted 08-20-2014 01:46 PM

Simply love to be on tour with you.
Really like being there!
I am a fan of you ‘no nonsense’ go ahead and do it approach.
Since I go backwards here, I will hurry to part one.
Best thoughts my friend,
UCCL made me laugh big time, thanks.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics