Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Porch Test

I have steered many clients away from the idea of keeping their chairs outside. The type of joinery and the thickness of the wood in a Windsor chair doesn't lend itself to weathering. But I have so many kicking around that I keep a few on the porch year round. They get hours of direct sunlight, snow, rain and constant use (wet swimsuits and all). It has been a great testing ground for the weak points of the construction. The chair you see in the images has been outside for about 5 years. As you can see, the knuckle is cracked ( I no longer glue on hands, preferring to make them integral to the arm), the legs are split and the bow has suffered a catastrophic break.

The amazing thing about it is that we use this chair, cracks and all, and it doesn't even creak. I take it as a tribute to the brilliant technology in the Windsor chair. Each piece is a part of a web and the minor failures shown don't affect the whole. Of course, at some point in the future, I expect the chair to break, I'll be curious to see where. But it does give me confidence in the longevity of the pieces that are kept indoors.

This will be my last post for a while, I am heading down to teach at Penland until early July. I could have my house sitters post about my dogs misbehavior (Lily has learned to rip through screens, 4 and counting), but I'm sure you have better things to do. I am looking forward to posting images of the projects and ideas the come from the class. Going to Penland always seems like a vacation, until I get there and work harder than I do all year!


Anonymous said...

I too have set a chair(c-arm) on the front porch. After one year the arms have split(I no longer glue up arms either). The seat is splitting at the glue line and many small checks forming around the end grain coming through the arm rail and seat. But like you said, the chair is solid and doesn't creak. Not bad since water pools in the seat and the tapered leg joints soak under water. I'd say it passes the test so far.

Mike Billeci said...

That chair reminds me of "The Wonderful One-Hoss-Shay"...

OK... I don't know much about poetry, but this poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes is about a Deacon that decides to build a carriage that won't break down.

"HAVE you heard of the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah, but stay..."


Peter Galbert said...

thanks for the literary comparison!