I’ve been wanting to blog about this project since starting it several months ago but since the challenge was judged by the members of the Sin City Woodworkers group anonymously had to hold back on that. We had our annual Christmas party last night so now I can share this project.
Towards the end of the summer, Jamie Yocono; who is the founder of the club and runs a successful woodworking school here in Las Vegas; issued this challenge. What can we make with one construction grade 2×4 purchased from our local big box store? There were 14 entries brought in and mine came in 3rd. based on the judging of the 40+ members in attendance at the party. The winning entry received a $100.00 gift card to Lee Valley and I’ll be blogging about that when I do the Sin City Newsletter. My entry was this stool I designed to practice playing my dulcimer on, since I’m so tall I needed a taller than average stool to hold that instrument level across my legs.
I certainly don’t need to go into lots of detail on this but will hit the highlights. The types of projects I enjoy doing are those that challenge me and throw something new into my skill set. First off, all of these pictures were taken with my iPhone which is a totally new trick for this old dog! When we were in Kentucky, one of the Appalachian arts that caught my attention was this style of woven seat so this seemed like the perfect time to attempt it and face the challenge!
Selecting a “choice” piece of material from the pile of crappy 2×4’s available at Home Depot was the first hurdle to overcome. I did my best to visualize where the knots and defects would fall and still have decent material left to work with.
Since hand planed surfaces is what I prefer, that’s how the roughed out tapers and every other piece of this project was smoothed out. Quite a difference planing construction grade lumber compared to a nice piece of Walnut or Cherry!
Mortises were cut with the hollow chisel mortiser. Tenons on the tablesaw but left slightly oversized so they can be fitted using a rabbet block plane. All mortises are pegged with dowels made from some Chakte Kok which really isn’t all that straight grained and easy to form.
Assembly was pretty straight forward. The upper stretchers were easy enough to label and keep track of. I usually mark them with machinists stamps on the tenon and face of the mortise. Once assembled, these marks disappear. The bottom stretchers though were too small so were marked with painters tape. Once pegged, the clamps could be removed. The Douglas Fir is pretty soft so draw boring wasn’t a real difficult option. In any case though, clamps were left in place until completely dry.
After finishing with Watco and my three part top coat it was time to begin the weaving. I buy caning and weaving supplies from Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply in Huntington Beach, CA. Always a pleasure doing business with him and he’s quick to answer any questions either on the phone or via email. The material used is Hong Kong sea grass and a book purchased from Frank’s gave me the guidance I needed. The title of the book is Making Chair Seats by Ruth B. Comstock. It gives a fairly good explanation of how to go about weaving chairs with different materials. It’s one of those things you just have to get in and try!
This is a time consuming process but being someone who enjoys the process of the work as much or more than the end result I enjoyed it — for the most part! It was a great learning experience and makes you appreciate a woven seat and the work that goes into creating it. Very comfortable surface to sit on with just the right amount of give and support. The pattern is determined by trying to separate the warp strands into even groupings. The question came up several times as to how long it took to complete but since I didn’t keep close track of time my best answer is about 3 days of on and off work on it.