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Material Preparation

Now that my Thorsen inspired dining table is complete (you can see the BLOG here), it is time to turn my attention to a set of chairs. Since I have never built a chair, I decided to enroll in the Gamble House Side Chair class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indiana. Many will know the instructor, Bob Lang, who is not only a Lumber Jocks member but has authored several books and was editor of Popular Woodworking magazine for many years. The chair design is based on the side chairs in the living room of the Gamble house in Pasadena.

The school mailed out a cut list a few weeks ago so students could prepare the required stock prior to class. I had enough sapele left over from making the dining table, so there was no need for a trip to the hardwood dealer. Since Indiana is about a 10 hour drive from Eastern Pennsylvania, I decided to cut up enough material to make two complete chairs to be sure I had sufficient material to cover any mistakes.

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With my stock cut, I gathered up the required tools for class. This includes square chisels, a Dozuki saw, a plastic head hammer for inserting ebony plugs and a dental pick for cleaning out square plug holes. I also packed a cordless drill and a ROS along with my PPE.

I am looking forward to learning some new woodworking skills and hopefully coming away from the week with a nice chair. After that, I will be into chair production.
Is the Gamble House chair the style you plan to make to go around your table, or are you just learning the chair-making process with this class?
 

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Marc Adams School, Day 4

Today I finished up the second tenon for the lower stretcher, then cut mortises with the Domino 500. This was my first time using the Domino. Once set up it's a fool-proof method for cutting the mortises.

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I did another quick dry assembly to be sure the lower stretcher parts fit together nicely.

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With the lower stretcher out of the way, I start working on the curved back slats. The back slats will be assembled with dominos, have angled ends where they meet the apron and crest rail (compound angles in the case of the two smaller ones), are curved and have a profile cut.

I start with the center back slat. To get the angles for the ends correct and cut to the proper length, Bob Lang worked out a clever solution using what is basically an MDF story stick. I use a scrap of MDF and carefully transfer the angle from the dry assembled chair to the MDF and cut on the miter saw. I carefully trim away the MDF until the part matches my layout lines. Once I have the proper length worked out on the MDF scrap, I cut the angled ends into the real part in sapele.

Next I layout and bandsaw the curved faces. When the curves are complete, I temporarily tape the cutoff back in place and bandsaw the profile.

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I originally thought the crest rail was going to be the most work on this chair, but I was wrong. Clearly the back slats are going to be the most difficult part of this project.

Next step- cut the dominos for the center slat then make the side slats.
Tung,
are the dominoes supposed to fit that loose on the sides? (first pic) I've never used dominoes… it looks pretty slick if I ever got a bunch of extra money to spend on one of those things… The chair is looking awesome!
 

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CAD Templates and Pattern Sanding Test

With the new bandsaw tuned up and cutting nicely I got to work designing the templates needed to make the chairs. I worked through the steps to make each part, designing pattern routing/sanding templates to aid each step. Each part has several templates to be used to route the shape, mortises, etc.

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I ended up with 46 templates overall, a lot more than I expected. I sent the files off to the local CNC shop for quoting.

While waiting for my templates I decided to test out my pattern sanding rub collar using a template for the back seat rail.

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Starting with a sapele scrap, I traced a portion of the full size pattern and headed to the bandsaw.

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After rough cutting just outside the line, I attached the template to the part with double sided tape. The rub collar requires an offset of 1/4", which I designed into each CNC template. For this test, I just used the full size template and set it back about 1/4". After a little time at the sander, I had a finished part that matched the template exactly.

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Satisfied that my pattern sanding technique will work, I placed an order for a load of quarter sawn Sapele. Working in AutoCAD, I determined that I could get all of the components for a chair from a single 8/4 board as long as it is at least 9" wide and 10' long. This required a special order from my hardwood supplier, who agreed to bring in some wood for me to pick through.

Next Steps: Pick up the sapele when it arrives and get my CNC templates on order.
I like watching your processes!
I've got a table (perhaps TWO) and set of dining room chairs in my future… so this is really fun to watch and learn.
 

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Side Rails and Front Legs-Part 1

Rather than dive into all of the hand work to shape the crest rails now, I decide to finish up cutting the side rails. I rough cut my side rail stock a few weeks ago. Now that it has had time to acclimate to the shop, I resaw the 8/4 stock then edge joint and plane everything to 13/16" thick. Since the length of the lower side stretchers is the same as the side rails, I prepare stock for those parts so I can miter and cut them all to length with a single setup of the saw. With the ends mitered, I mortise both ends with the Leigh FMT.

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Once the mortises are complete on the side rails and lower stretchers, I transfer the locations to the back legs and set up the Leigh FMT to cut the mortises.

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After cutting all of the leg mortises for the side rails, I do a quick dry fit to check that everything looks good.

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Since the Leigh FMT is set up to cut the leg mortises, I go ahead and cut the mortises in the front legs at this time. It's critical to keep the left and right legs marked to prevent mixing them up. Since the mortise is slightly offset from center, they are not interchangeable.

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Once the front leg mortises are cut, I do another dry fit to check progress and alignment.

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Starting to look like a chair now!

Next steps: Cut parts and mortise for the front seat rail and lower stretcher parts, then pattern route the cloud lifts in those parts.
Everything so crisp and clean!
 

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