The Furniture Society Conference a couple of weeks ago turned out to be quite a success. My caliper was well received and the curved settee sold quickly. I am almost sorry to the settee go, after years of thinking about it, I only got a couple of weeks to live with it, but of course there is a mortgage to consider!
It was exciting to be around so many of the folks who've inspired and instructed me (mostly through publications) over the years. It was a veritable "who's who" in the woodworking world. A real treat.
Since my return I have hardly gotten to step foot in the shop. After staring into space for a couple of days as promised, I went full bore back into chop saw and drywall screw heaven, finishing my planting boxes for the garden (seasons don't wait), erecting a steel and tarp building for my firewood(seasons don't wait)and working on my book.
Luckily I had some students come by yesterday to pull me away from the computer and back into the shop. It was the perfect opportunity to create a photo essay of the new process that I have for measuring and drilling the stretchers in chair legs.
Above is a block with an angle cut across one end. This is the angle that is used for drilling into all the legs in the chair.
First, it may be worth answering the question, Why a new method? What are the benefits? My old way, and probably yours, worked for a lot of chairs, so what's the point. Well, my old method involved simply measuring the angle between the axis of each leg and the axis of the stretchers, then using this measurement to drill the leg. Sounds simple enough until you think about the number of places for things to go awry.
The potential inaccuracy of the measurement and the confusion of different angles for different legs (in a classroom environment multiply by 10) begs for simplification. I've found that the new method not only simplifies the process, but dials in the accuracy greater than my other method. I hope that is teaser enough.
So what is the angle cut into the block. Well, it depends on the chair, bear with me here. Most chairs have range of angles that get drilled into the legs that don't vary but a few degrees. The block that I used for the bar stool recently is cut at 79 degrees. I know from most of my chair work that this is a good average for most chairs, perhaps I'll find that some chairs will like an average of 76 degrees etc... but for now, my block is working fine and there is a huge room for play here.
In my next post, I'll start at the beginning and run through the whole process, so you can see how a chair with a variety of angles between the legs and stretchers can be drilled using just one angle.