Friday, April 26, 2013
Dialing it In
I suppose that a quick word is in order about my reasons for going to the trouble of building this tool. While I enjoy doing many things with hands tools, because they give me lots of control, freedom and results that machines can't match, when it comes to rockers, I have a different priority.
Designing and building rockers is a process full of variables. To rock successfully, rockers must be oriented to each other and the chair correctly. Any variation in the process of cutting the slots and fitting the rockers can make it difficult to refine the design. Also, the references used to locate the slots can greatly affect the consistency from chair to chair.
What this fixture does, is create repeatable and consistent rocker slots based on references that allow me to focus on the other variables that go into making a rocker. For me, nailing down the relationship between the seat and the rockers is the next step towards a deeper understanding and freedom in rocking chair design.
I am going to show some photos here, and hopefully you can see that while it has some adjustable parts, the fixture is simple and does a simple job. The photo below shows one the primary advantages of the fixture, which is that the two platforms are automatically parallel to each other which insures that the slots are as well.
Another variable that the fixture addresses is the different splay of the legs. You can see this in the photo below if you look closely.
Most importantly, the slot is in the center of each leg at the deepest point, for strength. The jig does this automatically. I'll explain how it does this later, but for now, I just want to point out the variables.
First, I measure the splay of the front and rear legs, in this case 13 degrees for the front and 19 for the rear, which gives me an average of 16 degrees. I pivot the central panel to 16 degrees, push the chair up against the jig and position the two platforms. Then I route the slots.
Next, I swing the pivoting panel the opposite direction (16 degrees again), with the platforms still fixed, reposition the chair, and route the other legs.
Using the fixture was a breeze and so many of the troublesome layout and fitting issues that I've always encountered were either eliminated or greatly simplified.