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When I made this chair, when I designed this chair, I wanted a chair that would fracture and break and destroy any intimidation anybody had about chair making. So I designed it specifically to answer all the criteria to “what is a good chair” And I’m hoping that working through this, this will give you the confidence to start chair making. I’ve given you a design here that really works.
It’s a great design. It’s perfect, it’s a very safe chair, very solid chair and I’m going to work through some of the features here just to introduce it, because there are aspects to it that you must know about chair making that most, even very competent furniture makers, avoid making chairs because they are time consuming because they’re uncertain about their sales, because they have idiosyncrasies to them that other pieces of furniture don’t have. This chair is solid. Its designed to last, let’s say 150 – 200 years. I’d be perfectly happy. It answers all the ecology issues. It’s a lifetime chair. So let’s take a quick look at the features of this chair. The one is a prototype. I always make a prototype when I’m designing a new piece. This one came out of my head. All the sizes came out of my head. The angles came out of my head. After I’d done that, I made sure that the seat wasn’t too deep, that the width wasn’t too wide, that the angle on the back wasn’t too laid back. Things like that. I made sure that it wasn’t a chair that easily tipped up. Thos are the kind of things that I built into this chair. And then you can see parallel rails, things like that I want to talk through some of those things with you. But this is the prototype. These are my drawings in my notebook, so I have everything recorded. Every change I made in the design got recorded in here. Every alteration I made to make it fit right, look right, feel right, everything else. Thats my notebook. But here is the hub of where I’m going to. This is top quality, quarter-sawn oak. I’ve picked the very best of the best. I’ve matched every single piece so that they correspond with one-another. I’ve got the colour cain from the same tree, the same board, the same section of the tree so I took this from a single plank, and I made 2x4s out of it, I made 1x’s out of it, got all my rails, front posts, 2×2’s, so on, from the same piece of wood. So everything will look book-matched and perfect. when I make this one chair, because I want you to see the details that go into it. So set this aside. Let me just very quickly show you the chair a little bit closer and then you’ll understand what you’re looking for when you start to build your chair. Pick your wood, look for all of the different aspects that I’m going to try and point out either now or as we go, and lets take a look at these features that I just talked about. Look here: This rise on here. I wanted these on here You may not like that. You may want them lower, they may get in the way. You may have wider thighs than I’ve got, or something like that. You can always take this down half an inch and that would be fine.
I don’t have a problem with that. See the arching in here? This means the chair is lighter when you pick it up. This would be very typical of the Shakers or something like that. You’ve got narrow rails. It lightens the appearance. I’ve got arching here, but I’ve got the width of a nice wide tenon, which gives me the strength of a nice wide tenon. Then you can see a parallel rail to this. This effectively widens the width of just a 4 inch rail to something like a nine inch rail. So I have this incredible strength here. On the side I have the same. Here. Can you see how this rail slopes back? When I made the chair, I had it up this way, so it was level on the top, but I cut the back legs off just slightly, so it sloped backwards. See the rail here? This is very important. When you make a chair, you want this angle here, you don’t want it to be more than seven degrees on the back of a chair from the seat here. So you’ll figure that out, and then, you’ll make sure that what you have IS seven degrees, which I’ve eyeballed here with this, and I’ve got seven degrees on here, so I don’t want it eight degrees, neither do I want it 4 degrees. I don’t want it square, because when you sit up, you feel like your knees are under your chin. Thats a bad design. You don’t want that in a modern chair. See the back leg here, how this comes down here. When I first made it, this is parallel, but then I took half an inch off the bottom of this back leg. That kicked it back. Can you see how this leg flares back here? When a child kneels on a chair here, leans on this back rail, the tendency is for the chair to go over this way. Their fingers are on here, and my, it really hurts their fingers when they tip back. I’m not saying that this answers the question of parental control and parental responsibility. I’m just saying that this does reduce the risk of it falling back. So I’ve put this little kicker on the back of the leg. I’ve put a curve in here. We’ll show you how to lay this out now. This is the first step. I’m going to show you layout in the first part of this, and then we’ll get into the making of it. It’s got 26 mortice and tenon joints in it. They do vary. You can see this rail here, down here: This rail is quite complex on this back because it’s got a compound shoulder line, that non of which are square. There is nothing square on this back shoulder. I’ll show you how to tackle that. The rest of it is pretty straight forward. Can you see how the chair is narrower at the back than the front? This is the essence of a good chair. If it’s square, it’ll look like it was made for your local school or your local council office, your local doctors surgery, something like that. A good chair always tapers from wide at the front to narrow at the back. These are the features that make a good chair. Arching here, no backbone problems, issues like that. Slight curve on the back, to rest the shoulders, plenty of support, thats a good chair. So let’s get on with the layout, and I’ll show you where we’re going from there. [Guitar Music].