The Crest Rail

I've been calling this the crest rail, but it's basically the entire back of the chair in one part. With final machining of the part completed, I traced the front and top templates onto the stock. The mortise locations needed to be accurate, so I was very careful with the layout. The two mortises were the first cuts made.

Next, I established the surfaces where the crest rail would bear on the tops of the back legs. For this I made multiple passes with a router.

Then, I went to the band saw and cut to the template lines,

revealing the curves.

I then fitted the floating tenons and I got my first look at the crest rail in place.

All of these steps went very quickly, but things slowed down a bit as the shaping began.

Here I've created a small step in the back of the crest rail that extends the vertical line of the leg below.

The center portion of the crest rail will be wrapped with Danish cord and will be set in a shallow recess making it nearly flush with the adjacent wood surface. To define the contours, I sketched the curved surface of the front and created this shape on the part by chamfering the edges, systematically increasing the number of chamfers until it eventually became a smooth curve.

With the entire shape completed, I then laid out the wrap area and bored a number of holes to set the depth of the recess. Then to form the recess, I just shaved away material until the holes disappeared. There was an area at the center of the front where I didn't want to remove any material at all, so I sketched a series of contours and bored holes at progressively shallower depths as I got closer to the center.

Then it was time for spokeshaving and chiseling, etc., etc., until the entire recess was shaped.

I then softened the edges to allow the Danish cord to wrap smoothly around the top and bottom. 

After a bit of final surface preparation and edge softening, the crest rail is now all glued up!

Just two more glue-ups to go. The chair making journey continues as I set out to make some arms!

Hej då and happy shavings!



Craig Johnson is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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