I start each piece by cutting parts out of boards, or some times one board. It’s a stressful time in the process of making furniture. I have a limited amount of material and have to make the best decisions regarding grain and figure. I’ll be working on these parts for a while and when it’s finished the parts will be that way forever.
Then there is a point where the parts start to take shape. The goal is to make each part like it was made of the same piece of wood. The grain should do the same thing in the same place on every leg, post or crest rail. It’s hard to do. You have to be sure the growth rings are facing the same way when cutting out the shapes. Things start to happen quickly at this stage.
This is my favorite time at the shop. Joints have already been cut and can be assembled. The board starts to come back together again and look as if it is completely natural. I’m no longer making smaller boards, I’m making arms, legs, feet!
I wanted to make my Dad a chair for his 70th birthday, and was inspired by a few things to make what you see here. The general form is from a group of Queen Anne chairs made in New york City circa 1740. And from a chair made by Henry Hardcastle in Charleston, South Carolina. Henry Hardcastle had moved there from New York around 1755.
So this chair is a “what if”, that is , what if Hardcastle made one of these earlier chairs with the more Rococo carving. That seemed like a fun idea to me so I made it. The chair is made of Black Walnut and has bird head armrests, carved knees with c scrolls, vines and hairy paw feet. My Dad, a retired Teamster, was not the kind of guy to go looking for a Rococo chair but I think he liked it. He never got to sit in the finished chair though, because I was too fussy about the upholstery.
He wanted the fabric to be red, so I picked this one. The seat looks a bit overstuffed, so it just goes to show sometimes it doesn’t make sense to be so focused on the way it’ll look. Just get it done and have a seat.