Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Devil

The photos above are of a chair devil that my friend and fellow chairmaker Rich Pallaria recently gave to me. Rich is going to assist me this year at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina as we teach a combination class with the blacksmiths about toolmaking (The class is fully enrolled). I was excited to see what Rich had done with the chair devil, which is really just a housed scraper that functions much like a spokeshave. He went against conventional design, which is to use a block of wood of a specific size and to have the handles and blade housing remain similar. This leaves you with either small handles (tiresome to hold and lacking in leverage) or a bulky housing (which obscures the view of the workpiece). As you can see, Rich started with a larger block, to accomodate the handle size, and then reduced the housing area! With the increased leverage and clearer vision, this tool is a pleasure to use. The rosewood sole plate should last a long time. I don't use chair devils much, preferring the finish cut offered by a spokeshave, but there are areas where the wood simply won't shave cleanly (the compression side of bent pieces can be difficult) and the chair devil can really fit the bill. I highly recommend making your own. Drew Langsner has some great instructions on the process and scraper blades can be made from any soft steel or ordered from the catalogues. Once you've made a flat soled chair devil, I assure you, you'll want to make curved ones of all sorts! There are few pleasures in woodworking like seeing a shaving spill from a tool that you made yourself, unless, of course, you have the good fortune of having a friend kind enough to make it for you.

1 comment:

greg said...

Chairmakers' devils are some of my favorite tools. In addition to making your own (which is easy using the directions in Drew Langsner's book), Harris Tools makes a 7/8" one.

William Ralston sells a 1" one and a straight scraper.

Lee Valley makes three sizes: ½”, 7/8” and 1 ¼”.

I own one of each of the above, except the Ralston straight scraper version. They’re all great tools, and I only feel guilty about the duplicate 7/8” size because it keeps me from saying I "need" them all.