Chopping out Chair Legs


Fore Plane

Since my return from Maine I have been hard at work shaping back legs for 10 ladder back chairs. Deadlines are real!

I have started with a white oak log and split out all the parts, riving the wood down. You can see more pictures here, and just scroll down to the post on July 2.

It is easiest to think about this in three steps, course, medium and fine. The first step after riving the wood is to use a hatchet and rough square the timber. This process goes very fast and is very effective for removing a lot of material quickly.

Hewing wood

Hewing the legs

Then it’s off to the drawknife to remove the hewing marks. All of these processes require an accurate eye. I am constantly sighting down the timber ensuring that it is straight and removing the high spots. I find the shaving horse invaluable for clamping my stock.

Drawknife work

Smoothing legs with drawknife

Then I use my fore plane, which is a great plane for removing lots of wood quickly. I use it for flattening the 4 sides, squaring and straightening the material up. The shavings are beautiful that come from this plane!

Frank handplaning oak

Fore plane smoothing

I do have a couple wooden blocks that I use to size the stock. I then mark with a template, the bottom and top tapers on the leg. Next plane the tapers before going back to the drawknife to create an octagon, and then finishing up with the spokeshave, making a nice round.

In the next couple days I will be steam bending the subtle serpentine curve in the back legs. In the mean time I’m going to go get a drink: it’s only about 100 degrees outside!

Frank Strazza

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