Déjà Vu All Over Again

Last week saw the crest rail for Vidar's Chair come and go. This was due to some checking in the material that emerged well after the part was cut from the plank and final shaping had just begun. This time, you'll see the new crest rail. So far, so good. Of course, I'm watching it very closely as you might expect. I found a new plank with good moisture content, excellent grain orientation and a nice color match. After cutting the blank out of the plank, I milled it flat and square, and glued it between two pieces of cedar that I had laying around from an old fence that had come down.

As before, I chose a plank that is flatsawn, allowing me to orient the grain properly. I laid out a 3" square at each end with a pencil.

Then, I milled it into shape for transferring the template profiles to the blank.

With the templates traced, I then located and bored the two 5/16" diameter dowel holes that allow the crest rail to be joined to the top of the legs.

The test fit looks good.

Then, using the bandsaw, I cut the part out of the blank staying as close to the lines as I could.

Below is a photo showing the grain graphics that emerged. It's great to be able to start out with a plank that has straight grain and, by orienting the grain correctly, get the grain lines to follow the sculpted shape of the part. There will be some variation from this "grain graphic" in the final piece due to the rounding of the profile, but the effect achieved will still be well worth the effort!

I continued work by shaping all four main surfaces of the crest rail in preparation for cutting the slot mortises that will receive the backsplats. I then laid out the mortises with a pencil.

Then, I set up a simple jig that allowed me to hold the part with one hand and maneuver the crest rail and jig with the other cross the cutter. This is sometimes referred to as the "sport of freehand mortising". With a small diameter cutter, it is possible to hold the work steady a get a very nice mortise.

Finally, I began laying out the chamfers needed to accurately shape the transition of the crest rail profile as it changes from end, to center, to end.

It was disappointing to have to obsolesce the first crest rail, but it feels great to be back on track. I'll be keeping a close eye on this new check rail for potential checking, but for now, all is looking good.

Hej då and happy shavings!

Craig