Born Free

  • Advertise with us
Project by KnickKnack posted 07-07-2013 06:34 AM 3109 views 10 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I originally had the idea of the “impossible chain” – a chain hanging from a beam which it itself supports – about a year ago, but, until I’d managed to come up with a way of making decent thin strips of wood, I couldn’t really go anywhere with it.
Having got the drill press (thanks to whoever it was on here that said I should get one, even though I thought I didn’t need one – edit – it was, of course, vipond33 , to whom – gratitude), I can now “manufacture” fairly evenly thicknessed thin strips of wood.
Anyway – my previous effort was but a dress rehearsal for this chappie – a chain-based ”two cups of coffee and a packet of biscuits, please”.
I’ve spent a long time looking at it, and, frankly, I’m a bit disappointed – It’s OK, and it works, and it’s pretty well (although not perfectly by a long chalk) made – but it doesn’t really look like a chain hanging freely from a beam that it itself is supporting – I haven’t yet worked out quite why – and that was the aimpoint.
Still, should you be interested, this is how it came about…

My last chain was done by making a block with rounded sides, which I then sliced into links which were then thicknessed. I decided to take a different approach here, since the thicknessing was a dusty hassle, in that first I thicknessed strips, onto which I then put the end shape.

(You can see in this last picture the specially imported chinese bamboo dowels I’m going to use – since they were 3.2mm wide, but variable, it needed to be a special order)
or, of you don’t believe that, as well you might not…
(You can see in this last picture the bamboo barbecue sticks I’m going to use for dowels – I had occasion to use one a while back and was impressed with the speckled pattern)

Of course, this method presented some challenges…
I drilled the dowel holes in all the strips, and held them together for the round over bit…

Chop into links, drill holes, and repeat…

And we have a bit of chain…

(these are cocktail sticks – about half a millimetre slimmer, so loose in the holes)

For the base I’m going to use a bit of this scruffy old goodess-knows-what I found 3 years ago in the bins at the DIY store.

It’s a bout 6 mill thick, so I mount it on a bit of plywood and spend many happy hours trying to get it smooth.

Some oak for the cross pieces…

Now I have to do a through tenon thing. This will involve chiselling, so I spend 3 days trying to work out how I might avoid that, but fail, so I resign myself to it…

Now the fun begins.
How to make the chains the shape I want?
After some pondering, and more pondering, I came up with this…

...nails in a bit of flooring mdf in the right places.
And… works! Or at least it works before glue is added.
I cut some strips so I can clamp the links together once they’re in the right place. The cocktail sticks are just to keep things together, as soon as it’s clamped I’m going to remove them.
Note also that the whole chain isn’t glued – the links at each end can, and will be, removed.

First I attach 2 sets of 3 to the handle, using the bottom for positioning.

I’ve already glued the first links to the base (of which I forgot to take a picture)
Then glue it all together in 2 passes.
First at the bottom…

Then at the top…


I think I’m done with chains for now :-)

Fumed oak and ash and unknown wood.
Linseed oil on all but the base, which was polished up from Danish Oil.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

14 comments so far

View oldnovice's profile


7791 posts in 4827 days

#1 posted 07-07-2013 07:17 AM

That was a detailed description of te chain making process however I think I would have stayed with slicing off links from rounded over stock.

I did a similar process making false tenons only 3/16” think. The reason I did it that way was that I wanted to chamfer the exposed face and a piece 3/4” x 1-1/2” x 3/16” was just to small to even think about getting near a router. I sized my stock, rounded over the four edges,chamfered the four to be exposed edges, and sliced to thickness. I had to make 32 of these!

However, your results belie your process, everything worked out, and you have a beautiful project.

By the way, check out Woodworking for Mere Mortals as Steve has a beautiful process for making links.

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View mariva57's profile


666 posts in 3464 days

#2 posted 07-07-2013 08:05 AM

Original project compliments.

-- The common man thinks. The wise man is silent. The stupid man discusses.

View Hawaiilad's profile


3386 posts in 4480 days

#3 posted 07-07-2013 08:22 AM

I like the idea and the tray. I would love to see the super sized chain holding up a beam

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View captferd's profile


183 posts in 3853 days

#4 posted 07-07-2013 10:39 AM

good job

-- CaptFerd

View MasterSergeant's profile


1441 posts in 4148 days

#5 posted 07-07-2013 11:21 AM

Very interesting,thank you for sharing with us.

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30678 posts in 3797 days

#6 posted 07-07-2013 12:00 PM

Very cool

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4326 days

#7 posted 07-07-2013 12:02 PM

That’s a good idea and it makes a great project. Your blog about it was interesting.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4263 days

#8 posted 07-07-2013 01:25 PM

Wow! Very kool. Heck-of-a how-to also.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5512 days

#9 posted 07-07-2013 03:18 PM

Super COOL…

Out of the BOX design…


Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4302 days

#10 posted 07-07-2013 05:20 PM

Innovative, creative and instructions to boot! Nice Job. Looks like you are a very patient craftsman and artisan.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3283 days

#11 posted 07-07-2013 05:23 PM

Very cool little project…the wood chain links are great…nice work.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View CFrye's profile


11482 posts in 3299 days

#12 posted 07-07-2013 11:27 PM

That turned out really well! Thanks for the detailed instructions. One thought I had … if the tray is hanging from the beam by the chain then the chain would be taut (without slack) and an undersized piece on the bottom of the tray to give the illusion of floating (OK that’s two thoughts). Anyway, thanks for sharing!

-- God bless, Candy

View Jeffery Mullen's profile

Jeffery Mullen

355 posts in 4277 days

#13 posted 07-08-2013 01:41 AM

I like how your project turned out.

-- Jeffery Mullen

View vanzemaljac's profile


334 posts in 4960 days

#14 posted 08-19-2013 05:12 PM

good idea, nice design, well done …

-- Lathe and my imagination will do everything to realize my dreams...Vanzemaljac

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