Monday, May 12, 2014

'You Only Think You're Close' No Longer Applies -- Looking back on the last few weeks

So much has happened in the last few weeks around the shop and with my projects. It's hard to know where to start, since there was just no time to write about any of it as it was happening.

So I think I'll just touch on a few of the highlights and share some pictures since people seem to like that.

In a recent post I wrote about the challenge of joining the chair arms to the back legs, which come up to form the back of the chair. That was tricky, and I thought of it as what we would call the ‘crux’ in climbing – essentially the hardest part of the route.

Turns out I was wrong. After the arms were landed, it was time to move on to the backsplats a crest rail. I’ll post a pic to show what that looks like, but essentially there are six joints that all have to land at once. And they’re tricky joints, with angles and curves. And when you adjust one with a file or plane or chisel, it inevitably throws the others out of whack – even if they were perfect a moment ago.

That, it turns out, was the crux. But I got through it. I laughed a couple times, thinking back to two months ago when I was gluing up major components and feeling pretty proud of myself and David, one of our instructors, walked by. He must have detected a bit of a swagger as I stood back eyeballing my chairs. He said: “You only think you’re close.” And he was right, of course.

Anyhow. I landed the backsplats and the crest rails, and I moved on to the seemingly endless list of next steps. Finishing the shaping, steaming out dings and dents, applying finish.

And finally, when that was all done, and I could stand back and be satisfied, it was time to move onto something new – weaving the seats!

After debating back and forth for a while, I decided to stick with the tried and true standard, Danish cord. I figured out the weave pattern I wanted, researched the technique, and even mocked up a practice seat to work on before I started with the real thing.

Once I figured it out, it was a meditative, mellow process. And they tied the chairs together, Literally, haha. Really though, the before and after was amazing.

Since then it’s been a whirlwind of preparing for the open house, having half the town attend the event, then preparing for the Highlight Gallery show, launching that show with a formal reception on Saturday, and finally seeing all our work in one place being enjoyed by many. So cool.

There was one cool moment for me at the Highlight show, when Tina and Britta Krenov (James Krenov's widow), got excited when they saw my chairs, which as I've mentioned before were designed by Vidar Malmsten, a close friend of JK's. They've had a set in their house for years, and still do, just as strong and pretty as when they were build 40 or 50 years ago.

Ok, more later, but here are some pictures of all the stuff I just talked about!
Gluing up the backsplats, which lock into the lumbar rail and crest rail, which is dowelled into the top of the legs. Lots of things need to line up just right for this to work. But when you get it... so sweet.

I made a mock-up seat to practice weaving the Danish cord. Here it is.

One of the biggest challenges with the Danish cord was just figuring out how to start. Where to place the L-shaped nails, etc. I figured it out eventually but it took a while.

The real thing. These are the front-to-back 'warp' strands. Next, the side-to-side, over under, 'weavers' are installed. One thing I learned: Don't draw ever strand completely tight. Leave slack. It will tighten on it's own as you move along. Otherwise the tension builds and builds and the chair can actually implode. It's been known to happen.

Boom! Finished. And I think they look pretty darn good. I've been told the arm chair looks like an 'old man chair.' Does anyone else think that? I think it's crazy talk, personally.

At the Highlight Gallery, next to Jess Osserman's caned chair.

Hey! Vidar next to Al Martini's distinguished looking desk. Nice combination.


  1. Nice work, it turned out a sharp looking chair.

  2. ...did you go on to have your own gallery, store, Internet budiness? Great chairs .. and then.. nothing. No a word for over 2 yrs..