Monday, March 21, 2016

If you weren't at this meeting, you missed a GREAT time!

Congratulations to all of us - we just celebrated our 7th year sharing great woodworking techniques and a love of all things wood related. We even started our yearly dues collection, and already have some new members! 

But - better yet, we enjoyed one of the best meetings in recent memory! Leave it to Beth Wheeler to host one of the most enjoyable, hands-on meetings of the year!

This month's SCWW meeting found us all pitching in to make not one, but TWO fabulous Windsor stools, thanks to Beth's preparation and array of tools she brought to share. 

We had a nice turnout - the weather has turned glorious, and there was a buzz in the air. 

Beth's stool, inspired by this Michale Dunbar article in Popular Woodworking Magazine, 

arrived in parts and pieces, and she explained her philosophy of stool making - everything from hand tool work using travishers, scorps and tenon rounders. 

Although Beth started some shaping on the seat during its glue-up phase, various members refined the shape with travisher work. She carefully drew the scoop outline, and we had a blast shaping it! 

She's a whiz with a drawknife!

But first - a bit of history about the stool - Windsor stools feature dramatic splays on the legs, and painted components, which force us to focus on the form of the chair. Because the chairs are usually hand worked, the seats are commonly made of softwoods, so they can be shaped easily. The legs are made from hardwoods for durability. 

Christine and John had some fun with the torch, charring the legs. 

After the legs  were finished, they were wire brushed to remove the soft charred tissue, revealing the harder rays of wood, which gives the legs texture and beauty. A final application of wax finished these off nicely, so they could be fitted into the leg holes. Rick  (with an assist from Aaron) tried his hand at the 7/8" rounder

which is a terrific tool for making perfect tenons. 

While some were working on the seat scooping and the leg charring, Beth headed to the drill press to drill the angled holes, and showed us a brilliant solution for accuracy. 

This simple angle vise (and her plywood jig) allowed her to set the leg angle, and then drill for the perfect splay of the legs.  

How perfect is that!? 

Using that same angled vise setup, Beth discussed stretcher holes in her larger stools, explaining that she often attaches the three stretchers into their H-shape, and then assembles them into the leg holes. (The smaller stools we were working on didn't have stretchers.) 

One constant frustration is leg leveling, and she showed us a favorite jig for handsawing the legs to their final height. 

Better yet - she gave us a mind blowing tip! Installing a hand plane in a vise, level with the tabletop allows you to carefully level an uneven stool leg with the other legs, by running the leg over the plane, thus carefully taking off small amount of wood. 

Randy's (and my!) mind was blown!

Finally, we were getting close to completion, and Beth shared some down and dirty tips for wedging her tenons. No more sawing, she just puts the leg tenon into the hole, which keeps the leg from splitting, and whacks it with a chisel to create the wedge slot. 

This wedge had to be touched up a bit, so it would fit into the angled hole.

Once the leg was slotted, she applied some hide glue, and installed each leg. 

And BAM!  A whack with the hammer to seat the wedges and we were in business!

Just like that, we had two stools! 

Of course, there was a bit of work left - the legs needed to be trimmed, and we made quick work of that with Beth's Lee Valley flush cut saw.

Almost everyone took a turn with the saw, remarking about its smooth cut with no perimeter scratching. 

What a terrific group project! Thanks to Beth for really upping her game on this presentation, and to all the members who contributed to make this one terrific group effort! 

We have some fabulous meetings planned for later this year, including a Malloof rocking chair and more hand tool demos - stay tuned!

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