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Hans Wegner's "Valet Chair" -- in over my head?

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Forum topic by livewire516 posted 10-22-2019 04:13 PM 668 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


10-22-2019 04:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: danish modern chair homage rasp mockup

I’m absolutely smitten with Hans Wegner’s classic “Valet Chair.” The problem is that they’re difficult to see in the flesh as they auction at around $10k. I’ve done a cursory search of art museums in the (Philadelphia) area but I haven’t yet had luck.

I’m reaching out for input about the seat back. Up until this point, I haven’t worked with complex curves. After laminating and sawing out a blank, am I right in thinking it would be best to do the majority of shaping with rasps? I haven’t needed to purchase rasps before considering this project – by the types of curves I’m guessing I need a cabinet rasp and modellers rasps but I’d appreciate guidance. It seems as though a fair amount can be achieved with drawknife and spokeshave, but there are other areas I doubt I could reach.

My plan is to make a full size mock-up of the chair in poplar, and similarly will attempt the back in poplar. For this mock-up, I will use fasteners so I can make multiple attempts at the seat back. I expect this to be an iterative process.

Below are two drawings of the design made available by the chair’s licensed manufacturer. I’m decent with vector graphics, so I will be able to trace these drawings on the computer, then enlarge the tracings to scale without any pixelation/blurring. I will then either have a copy shop run it as an engineer print, or I will use Matthias Wandel’s “Big Print” software to print it out on the inkjet at home. I appreciate these aren’t technical drawings, but until I can actually find an opportunity to see the chair in person, this seems to be the best next thing.


Ultimately, I have managed expectations that this will just be my attempt at an homage. I have no delusions to expect to make a perfect replica, especially without laying hands on an original. As mentioned earlier, I expect it will take multiple attempts to approach the chair back to my satisfaction, which is why I’m unconcerned with joinery on this mock-up for the time being.

If you think other tools or techniques would be more appropriate, please let me know! I’m open-minded as to how to approach this.


20 replies so far

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Rink

138 posts in 573 days


#1 posted 10-22-2019 07:21 PM

Although you haven’t talked about your skills, it sounds like you are most definitely NOT in over your head. Your passion for this project and your planning is going to make this a great learning experience for you and I’m sure that you’re going to end up with something you’re gong to be very proud of.

Post pictures of your progress!

David

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pottz

6639 posts in 1520 days


#2 posted 10-22-2019 07:30 PM

i recently did a maloof style rocker which has very similar joinery and shaping.it sounds like this will be quite doable for you as it was me,just take your time and have fun with it.i used wood rasps and spoke shaves for a lot of the shaping alone with angles grinders and die grinders for the heavy removal,and a lot of time consuming hand sanding in tight places.looks like a cool project,cant wait to see your posted.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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Phil32

687 posts in 439 days


#3 posted 10-22-2019 08:36 PM

It looks quite doable based on the drawings you have. The seat back/rear leg should start as a glue-up. Then shaped with hand tools (rasps, spokeshaves, carving tools) or power tools (die grinders, belt sanders). The front legs appear to be turnings, attached with standard leg brackets.There is a difference in the seat attachment between the photo illustration and the drawings.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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Lazyman

4080 posts in 1923 days


#4 posted 10-22-2019 10:17 PM

Half the fun of almost any project I undertake is seeing if I can figure out how to make it. Many of my projects are shameless imitations.

Go look at the chairs of your dining room table (unless you have Windsor chairs or something similar). If you look at the profile for the back, this one really isn’t that much different than the back legs & back for any chair. There is just one instead of two of them and it has wings and a coat hanger instead of back rungs and a top. Use MW’s big print program to print a paper template and then cut it out on a bandsaw. Then get your rasp, drawknife and spokeshave and go to town shaping it. I would do a prototype with a 2×4 or 2×6 for practice.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#5 posted 10-22-2019 11:13 PM


you haven t talked about your skills

- Rink


Dave, that’s a good point. I guess what’s most important point regarding skill is that this would not be my first chair. I came into the craft reading a lot of Chris Schwarz/Lost Art Press, so I’ve made staked benches, and ‘Safari Chairs’ in the style of Kaare Klint before.

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#6 posted 10-22-2019 11:35 PM

What rasps would anyone recommend?

Since is the only project on my horizon requiring rasps, I feel it might be extreme to go for Liogier/Auriou/Grammercy hand-stitched rasps (that being said, I’ve never regretted getting too high quality a tool, and I’ll admit I’ve definitely made bad buys trying to save some money on tools in the past).

I’ve read some encouraging reviews (Pop Wood | Fellow LJ Member ) of the Northern Italian rasp maker Corradi that, although not hand-stitched, has teeth following a wave pattern to avoid the streaks/ridges associated with machine made rasps. Their cabinet rasp and modeller’s rasp could be had around $130 shipped, which is around the price of just one Auriou/Liogier cabinet rasp.

I’ve read people bring up the Japanese Iwasaki Files, although I myself don’t know anything about them, and I’m unsure if they have the right size/shape/cut combinations for this application.

As mentioned earlier, I’m willing to pay for the right tool for the job, but if I’m a sucker for believing the chatter that contemporary Nicholsons made in Brazil are garbage, I’d be happy to be convinced and save the money. Can the imperfect surface left behind by machine-stitched rasps be overcome with just a little more sanding/scraping?

And thanks for everyone’s encouraging responses.

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Phil32

687 posts in 439 days


#7 posted 10-23-2019 12:12 AM

Please note in the photo illustration that the seat is shaped with a recess that will be hard to do with a flat rasp. Perhaps bowl carving tools would help. Some of the shaping tasks could be made easier by how you cut the parts to be glued-up. Did you notice that that back piece has five (or more) parts?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1343 posts in 1030 days


#8 posted 10-23-2019 12:44 AM

I agree with Potts, you are going to need some spokeshaves and rasps to shape that back. I used the Boggs shaves on my recent chair project along with Auriou rasps. Very happy with my choices there, they produced beautiful results. The rasps especially were well worth the money.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#9 posted 10-23-2019 01:35 AM


Please note in the photo illustration that the seat is shaped with a recess that will be hard to do with a flat rasp. Perhaps bowl carving tools would help. Some of the shaping tasks could be made easier by how you cut the parts to be glued-up. Did you notice that that back piece has five (or more) parts?

- Phil32

Yes, my plan was to shape the seat recess with a scorp. At least with something as soft as poplar for the mock-up, I figure that won’t take too long. If I enjoy the valet chair enough to follow through on making one in Ash/Walnut/Cherry, I’ll probably reach for a smaller adze to initially remove the waste. Truthfully, I haven’t given the seat recess too much thought yet, as it will probably serve me much more as a Valet than an actual chair, like in this image below:

And I agree – I see at least four subcomponents in the seat back alone. Here’s an image from an old auction archive of NOS components. Unfortunately it’s small, but it’s the only image I’ve found with components separated.

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#10 posted 10-23-2019 01:36 AM



I agree with Potts, you are going to need some spokeshaves and rasps to shape that back. I used the Boggs shaves on my recent chair project along with Auriou rasps. Very happy with my choices there, they produced beautiful results. The rasps especially were well worth the money.

- TungOil

Which size/grain rasps did you get from Auriou if you don’t mind me asking?

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TungOil

1343 posts in 1030 days


#11 posted 10-23-2019 01:52 AM

10” Cabinet Maker’s Rasp, 11g
8” Cabinet Rasp, 13g
6” Modeller’s Rasp, 15g

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2365 posts in 3173 days


#12 posted 10-23-2019 03:39 AM

I would get some raspy things and just play around for awhile to get the feel of them. Start low-medium price. Best inexpensive raspy thing I have is the Shinto saw rasp. The iwasaki files are a bit pricier and often backordered. I have a few. They cut very smoothly, but slowly. I’m not a rasp guy but that’s what I’d do to build skill.

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pottz

6639 posts in 1520 days


#13 posted 10-23-2019 05:04 PM



10” Cabinet Maker s Rasp, 11g
8” Cabinet Rasp, 13g
6” Modeller s Rasp, 15g

- TungOil


+1 on the auriou not cheap but well worth the price,makes a tedious task much easier,for spoke shaves i use the veritas,also not cheap either but well worth the money especially if you plan on doing more hand tool work in the future.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#14 posted 10-23-2019 10:13 PM


+1 on the auriou not cheap but well worth the price,makes a tedious task much easier,for spoke shaves i use the veritas,also not cheap either but well worth the money especially if you plan on doing more hand tool work in the future.

- pottz

Haha I’m feeling myself becoming convinced about getting an Auriou…

I currently use an old Stanley № 52 spokeshave that is tuned and fitted with a 1/4 thick brass chip breaker I made, following an old FWW article written by Boggs (I do think I may pick up a PMV-11 for it though). I have an 8” Witherby DK. I’m a predominantly hand tool WW – I move a lot for work so I’m unwilling to invest in any significant power tools.

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livewire516

59 posts in 395 days


#15 posted 10-23-2019 10:16 PM



I would get some raspy things and just play around for awhile to get the feel of them. Start low-medium price. Best inexpensive raspy thing I have is the Shinto saw rasp. The iwasaki files are a bit pricier and often backordered. I have a few. They cut very smoothly, but slowly. I m not a rasp guy but that s what I d do to build skill.

- Ocelot

This sounds like a promising strategy. I know Derek Cohen, an Australian hand tool woodworkers used a Shinto rasp to some degree when making another chair in the style of Wegner, that features similar curves

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