Arms for Vidar's Chair

Well, last time, I had just completed the glue-up of the crest rail and back splats. Now that they're out of the clamps, it's time to make some arms for Vidar's Chair. I started out by fitting a couple of extra-long tenons into the back legs. Then, after preparing the stock for the arms, I cut a compound miter at the rear end that approximated the tangent of the future coped joint. As you may recall, the front faces of the rear legs are curved up-and-down as well as side-to-side; thus the coped joint. To get the mortise location right, I clamped up the arm blanks to enable marking of the exact rear arm mortise location and angle. First, in the photo below, I marked the side by tracing the extra-long tenon.

Then, with a spacer on top of the front leg and under the arm, I once again traced the tenon to mark the bottom.

Where these two locations meet at the end marks the mortise location.

Using a small clamping jig, I was able to cut the mortise in each arm that was not parallel to any side and was not even perpendicular to the end.

Here's another shot of the mortising set-up.

The first test fit of the arms went well. Here, I'm checking to make sure the arms have a good relationship to the front leg location. If not, the stock may not be wide enough, or the grain lines that I had carefully extracted from the original plank would not follow the curve of the shaped arm. So, there's a lot at stake! Fortunately, both arms were within a very small fraction of an inch to where I'd intended. All will be well.

Before I can bore the dowel pin hole at the front end of the leg, I need to get a very close fit of the joint at the rear. This begins by scribing the curve of the leg onto the arm and carefully carving to make the shape in the end grain.

I used a false tenon to reinforce the walls of the mortise as I carved the compound coped shape with a gouge.

Here's another view as I work my way down to the line.

As I came closer to the correct shape, I then tapered the rear end of the arm to match the area of the joint after final shaping is competed. Let's see how it fits so far...

Good progress, but still have some distance to go.

Carefully identifying the "high" spots and carving them away eventually leads to a reasonable fit. The goal at this stage is to make the fit very close, knowing that there will be just one more chance to shave away the last few high spots at a later stage. Carving with a gouge is very enjoyable... that's good, since a day has already passed.

Having achieved a good fit, I then located and bored the dowel pin holes on the underside of the front end of the arms. Now the templates are pulled out and traced onto the arms.

A sanity check before committing to the cut!

I then used the band saw to remove everything that didn't look like arm.

Here are the rough-cut arms dry-fit onto the chair.

The first step in shaping the arms was to make the chamfered undersides parallel across the chair. Below is the set-up I used to scribe the location of the final surfaces.

And here's the hand-planed result.

I proceeded to shape the larger surfaces, beginning with the sides and bottom. I then drew a curve on the inside face of each arm that will be used as a guide for beveling the top surface.

Again using the spokeshave, I introduced the bevel.

A lot of planning goes into selecting the grain pattern in the wood. I used very straight-grained wood for the arms and selected the angle of the end grain to ensure that the shaping of the sloping top of the arm would result in the grain lines following the edges of the arm; all the way from the front to the back. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

I then laid out some chamfers for softening the edges.

And carved them away with spokeshaves and chisels.

After getting the shape I was looking for at the front end of the arm, I then made one final pass with a very sharp chisel and shaved the entire end grain area to give it it's final surface prep.

Last but not least, I fine-tuned the fit of the rear leg joint. When I located the hole for the front leg, I positioned it so that I could take off up to 1/32" of material. I honed-up my gouge and made the final passes.

For this critical glue-up, I called in my resident glue-up buddy who works in the loom room upstairs. Thanks for another uneventful glue-up, Carol. You're the best!

Now it's time to mix up the oil finish and prepare for the seat wrapping.

Hej då and happy shavings!

Craig