Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back in the Cauldron

I've just returned from 2 weeks at Kelly Mehler's School in Berea Kentucky, where I taught back to back fan back side chair classes with the help of Greg Pennington.  As usual, the classes proved to be fertile ground for innovating new techniques and streamlining the ones already in play.

We spent 6 days in each class making the side chair, which gave us ample time to go into depth on the fundamentals, plus address some peripheral chairmaking issues. I enjoyed the extra time and pacing of the class and I think it was also reflected in the high quality of the finished chairs. I am teaching the continuous arm in two classes this year, one at Highland Woodworking in the fall and one at North Bennet Street in the summer, and I scheduled them as 7 day classes to keep the same pace, with a slightly more complex chair.

Here is the chair that I brought as parts and assembled and painted during the course of the two classes. I know from experience, that demonstrating milk painting can save years of torment.

He is Greg demonstrating his stroke of genius with simple lasers. He uses them to help align during reaming and drilling. We gave them a try and I was very pleased with the results and possibilities.


There were some times where the set up seemed slower, and therefore I wouldn't say that they are always the best tool for the job, but it sure is nice when you need an easy to see reference.

This laser was self plumbing, which made set up for the vertical element super quick.

Another tool that Greg and I had time to think about was the grinding jig that I showed a while back. It's a simple notch that you cut out of a piece of hardwood and ride the back of the drawknife blade in while grinding. This is based on an idea sent to me by Steve Kinnane from North Bennet Street.

But we noticed that it would be advantageous to have a subtle adjuster for it. So Greg made this little jem with a bolt for adjusting the notch. The hardened steel pins form the notch and made the motion of the knife smoother. I am on my way to the hardware store to make my own version which I'll post in step by step detail. The students in the class used this, and the simple notch version to get near perfect results. 

I also have some ideas for making our tenon rounders easier to adjust, but more on that later.

And what would a class be without a photo of the conquering hero!

Here is Wallis from week one with his assembled chair. As usual, Kelly was a gracious host and the two weeks flew by, and now that I'm home, I have a list a mile long of moving tasks still to complete, so off I go to the DMV, ah, livin' the dream...


jaupnort said...

Welcome back, been missing your postings, so when you returned expected something extra special and did not get disappointed. Looking forward to your drawknife jig postings as well as anything else you want to share.
Nice looking chair.
Wished I could have been at Kelly's place with one of the classes. Cant't do it all I guess.
John A

John Scott said...

Thanks Pete for a great week and a beautifully designed chair. You and Greg are stellar teachers and Kelly's school is first-rate.

Harry said...

What John said.

Harry Miller

Peter Galbert said...

John and Harry,
thanks!! It was a real pleasure working with you guys. Sometimes I feel spoiled as a teacher because my students are so motivated and interested. Keep it up and paint those chairs!

Jim Crammond said...


I really enjoyed the week at Kelly Mehlers's. This was my third class with you and it is always a great learning experience. Your attention to detail, the thought that you have put into the process and even temper all contribute to a fun experience. I can't decide if you are a better teacher or chairmaker. Thanks to Greg, too, for the turnings and assistance. You guys make a great team. I hope your unpacking goes smoothly.


Anonymous said...

Hey Pete - wondering if when you post the jig for the sharpening of the drawknife you could provide a sketch of the jig used for holding the legs and stretchers for drilling. Your sharing of information is appreciated Thanks.

Peter Galbert said...

Sorry that you missed the class, but there is always next year!

Thanks! I spoke briefly with Kelly about plans for next year, and perhaps we can entice you back by going full out from log to chair, including turning. I think it would be fun!

I'll post the holding jig as well, no problem