I love chairs. The very first things I ever attempted to make as a woodworker were chairs. Then I got wise and realized that you really need to build up to these things. That mostly means starting relatively small.
I think a good progression to think through is this:
Table: Learning to build a solid table is one of the most important things you can learn to do as a woodworker. It teaches you many fundamentals such as leg construction, apron joinery, and basic strength and structure of a piece.
Bench: A bench is basically a table but a bit lower. You can incorporate a back support to get the hang of the seated angle for comfort. You can get away with a lot when making a bench. Just make sure it's wide enough and won't fall over and you've pretty much got it.
Stool: This is where things start getting a bit more tricky. Stools need to be (normally) small enough to be called "stool" yet sturdy enough to handle the every day wear and tear of sitting, leaning,
I've worked my way through this progression with varying levels of success since I first fell in love with wood, and I am still progressing my way through. I want to one day have an in depth understanding of all types of chair construction and joinery, from Windsor to Chippendale, Esherick to Maloof.
My current venture is the building of the woven Shaker Chair. The chair itself is constructed of turned Sapele parts. The back rails are steam bent and it will have rockers attached on the bottoms.
Steam bending parts after turning is quite the challenge. This form looks a little bit of tweaking to get right but it all worked out in the end. The big trick is the form having a scooped surface to support the round parts.
The chair is now glued up in it's frame-form using Old Brown Glue. It took some figuring out to get the angles correct for drilling the mortises. I couldn't begin to explain how it ended up working out, but suffice to say that I used a drill press and I would not have been able to figure it out had I not taken a class on Windsor Chair making from Peter Galbert.
One interesting thing I noticed when making this chair is the number of distinct differences between making Post and Rung chairs and Windsor chairs. Chiefly among them is the entirely different process used when locating the angle for the side rungs. On a Windsor Chair, be it box or "H" stretchers, the angles are already mostly figured out for you during the reaming process of the seat. There are a lot of ways to drill mortises for Post and Rung chairs, many of them involving levels and such. I did no such thing, however.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the process but, well, I didn't.
One mistake I did make is that my plan for attaching the back supports didn't exactly work out after these photos were taken. I suppose there will be some dirty secrets to let out the next time I write one of these. Maybe the good will outweigh the bad. Maybe not, but who really cares. This is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, right? No sense stressing out about it and taking the piss out of the whole damn process.
Until next time.