This is the seat drawing from Mike Dunbar's book.
Scale measurements added.
My graph paper, at 17 squares, was exactly 3-13/32", and the depth of the seat at 2-19/32" was exactly 13 squares.
So, I made a 17 x 13 square grid on the copy with the scale measurements.
I laid this drawing onto a piece of aluminum flashing and transferred the shape and drilling points. It is important to mark the center line as it will be used for aligning this template correctly on the wood when marking out.
And finally I drilled a small hole where spindles and legs will go. I used a #60 drill bit.
Last week I started on my next miniature chair, which is to be the sack-back, or double bow, Windsor. I have six books, plus a web download, of sack-back working drawings, some with just the scaled drawings and some with text that describes to a greater or lesser extent the process of making full size chairs using traditional tools and methods.
Which should I use?
Spreading out the seven variations I see that they are all very similar except that each of the authors, all of whom are/were themselves chair makers, made their chairs based on models from different times and places in the USA. One difference stood out, however : some of the chairs had baluster turnings (the leftmost of the two shapes), and some had later, 1780s, bamboo style turnings (the other one), which is what I went for. I decided to use Mike Dunbar's book Make a Windsor Chair. Mike, who I only know through his writing, is a long time teacher and maker of Windsor chairs
Sources of Sack-back Windsor Chair Working Drawings
-Make a Windsor Chair - Mike Dunbar - Popular Woodworking Books,2013
-Windsor Chairmaking - James Mursell - The Crowood Press, 2015
-Classic American Furniture - Time Life,
-Measured Drawings of 18th Century American Furniture - Ejner Handberg - Countryman Press,1993
-The Chairmaker's Workshop - Drew Langsner - Lark Books,2001
-Chairmaking Simplified - Kerry Pierce - Popular Woodworking Books,2008
-The Book of American Windsor Furniture - University of Massachusetts Press,1998
-A Classic Windsor Chair - Woodarchivist.com
Below are two pictures of your beautiful chairs in my doll house. I am so happy with how they finish the parlor. Thank you. I wanted to tell you that the new chair arrived about 30 minutes before my friend Christopher Gurshin came to photograph the doll house. Christopher is the artist who painted the picture above the mantel in the picture. Christopher is a prolific artist originally from Newburyport, MA, who now lives in Glastonbury, and I have filled the walls of my doll houses with his work. He also writes an article for Primitive Place magazine quarterly, and his next article due out this fall is about my village. I am hoping the editor chooses the picture of the parlor to be included in the article. I will let you know.
Now about the beautiful wooden bowl you included with the chair. Thank you so much, it is really incredible. It is so delicate. It will have a special place in my real house. I will be checking your website often to see you new Windsor chair. I just might have the perfect spot for one.
Thanks again, Sharon.
Here are two pictures of the new chair in the parlor of my dollhouse! It looks even better than I had hoped. I think I am about to buy another one so there will be a pair by the fireplace! I am so happy that I found you, your work is beautiful. I will be looking forward to the Windsor chair coming out in June! Thanks so much!
The top, or yoke, of the fan-back Windsor chair that I am STILL working on is made from 1/8" thick ash, which is steam bent and has twelve 1/16" diameter holes drilled in the lower edge to receive the tops of the back spindles.
After bending them I realized that it would be easier to drill the holes before I bent them. After flattening them and drilling the holes I began to re-bend them, only to find that the ash crimped at each hole because the wood there was only 1/32" thick. Curious. They are in the process of being totally remade.
The back of the chair, in relation to the seat, leans back 5 degrees from the vertical, so I carefully set the table on my drill press to 18 degrees off the vertical and drilled all 12 holes in each of 36 seats. You are probably wondering why 18 and not 5 degrees. I wish that I had a rational explanation but can only put it down to a senior moment. I'm in the process of remaking the seats while the otherwise completed seats were used for kindling for my wood stove.
After a 10 month hiatus from miniature chairs, I am once again doing what I love. I am in the final stretch of completing the Fan-Back Windsor chairs that I started a year ago. They will be ready for shipping by the end of February.
In December I went to Concord, NH to the headquarters of The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. There I displayed my miniature chairs to a 3 person jury of woodworking members of the League to see if they thought that my work was of a sufficiently high standard for me to also become a juried member of the League. It was! Thanks to jury members Ted Blachley, Jeffrey Cooper, and David Lamb, and, also, thank you Catherine Green, Standards and Gallery Manager. Two jury comments included with my acceptance letter - "Every aspect of your work is well thought out and successful. The detail is exceptional: incredibly finely scaled work". "The presentation is very professional". `If you are visiting New Hampshire and would like to check out these miniatures they are currently on display at four of the leagues stores - Concord, Hookset, Meridith, and Nashua. More outlets to follow.
Its been eleven months since my last blog and I'm only now about ready to publish this website. The delay has been very little to do with building the site, much more to do with life in general. It has however taken me many, many hours to get this far. Having said that, I also have to say that when the frustration level rose too high, then a quick phone call or email to the Weebly team, aka the Weebly Customer Success Advocates, always sorted me out, sometimes with great patience at my lack of understanding. Thanks, guys and gals.
I'm starting this blog well in advance of having this website going live, in fact before I even have a website. The reason is to illustrate some of what it takes, for me at least, to get everything ready.
Making the chairs has been comparatively simple compared to preparing to sell them from my own web site. The new stuff that I've needed to learn includes photography : how to use a digital camera, setting up lights, etc; manipulating the images on my computer using Gimp (similar to Photoshop); How to make labels using Glabels; and what to say about each chair, which sent me back to the books to refresh my memory about the background of these chairs.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about any of the frustratingly slow learning curves. I've found that I'm enjoying learning about so many new areas but I should have realized that it would all take much longer than originally expected.
All of these are now behind me, except that I will struggle again when I return to them. The next decision is which host site to use.
Meanwhile, I am working on a miniature Windsor side chair. The plans I am using are from Make a Windsor Chair by Michael Dunbar in American Woodworker #24, January/February 1992. The bow of the back was bent several months ago and now I am working on the seat. In his 2003 book, Dunbar lists and illustrates the following traditional tools/processes used for hollowing a seat : roughing out the top surface with a gutter adze, followed by a scorp to clean up the adze marks and to improve the contours. He then finishes the surface with a compass plane, travisher and small spokeshave, and, finally, scraper and sandpaper.
I do have miniature spokeshaves but I need more than just these. My choices seem to be carving gouges, or make miniature whatevers to get the job done. Since I have a few carving gouges these are my first choice.
Now, I've been an architectural woodworker for thirty years and during that time I sharpened my planes, chisels and a few gouges using a medium grit oil stone and never had a problem, But now I'm working on a small scale with pine, everything has to be much sharper.