Its been a while since I've had a chance to participate in forum threads and post any progress on my woodworking projects, life has kept me pretty busy.. but I've finally found away to ensure some woodworking is scheduled each week in my life.. I signed up for a class at an area community college.. something about paying tuition and that mandatory weekly attendance thing, and to top it off peer pressure to motivate a guy to stay with the class.
Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, CO has a pretty impressive woodworking program. I attended open houses over the past two years and finally took the plunge with another woodworking buddy. To be honest he talked me into the Maloof Rocker class.. a pretty intimidating project to say the least.. but I couldn't imagine a better project to push my bounds and keep me moving forward with the progressive growth of my overall woodworking skill set. This project incorporates organic joinery, chair oriented ergonomics, sculpted surfaces and a serious emphasis on wood selection and orientation of grain and materials.. the latter being something I really love.
The first decision was the choice of lumber to use for this chair.. there are 7 people taking the class and student #1 through #6 were using Walnut.. all but one using Black Walnut, the lone Walnut decenter decided to go with some amazing Claro Walnut stock from nwtimber.com. Primo stock to say the least. Now it was my turn, I had to decide, the class was given a week to get our stock after the first class. Luckily the timing was a bit serendipitous, I had been probing a lead on some 8/4 Birdseye Maple for a long time and that had just worked out. The gentleman from Wisconsin that runs a first class hardwood business contacted me, he had come into 6 pieces of nice 8/4 birdseye.
File comment: A-Side of the 8/4 boards
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File comment: B-Side of the 8/4 boards
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After reviewing a few pictures.. going from left #1 to right #6 ..I chose #3 - 8 1/4" x 105" and #5 - 9 1/4" x 106" long.. gorgeous stock, no heartwood on either..
Now the hard part.. given my cutlist for the chairs.. and the rarity of this 8/4 stock.. I had one chance to cut it right and try to minimize shipping costs as much as possible. The seller agreed to take some pictures of both sides of the boards and forward them to me. After an hour in photoshop stitching them together.. I had some accurate pictures to lay out my cut-list of parts to see how they would fit on the board.. and get them in the mail ASAP.
File comment: Board #3 pictures stitched together, showing both sides
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File comment: Board #5 pictures stitched together, showing both sides
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The boards provided enough stock for the seat boards, arms, front and back legs given the few visible defects such as wane, bark inclusions and two small knots. All those parts required 8/4 stock which I now have. Next, to find the last two pieces of lumber for the chair, a chunk of 10/4 stock 8"-7" x 25" for the crest rail and some 6/4 stock 6"-8" x 60" for the spindles.
The seller cut the two boards as to instructions and shipped them to me UPS. Very pleased all the way around with the 8/4 material.
Subsequently I looked and looked for four weeks trying to find the thicker crest rail piece. I swear it must be easier to find an honest politician than trying to locate a thick piece of BEM. As luck will have it after following some random articles located while goggling BEM I contacted a wood turner in New Brunswick, Canada that just so happened to have a nice piece of BEM with a medium density of eyes that is 4" x 8 1/4" x 36" behind his workshop door air drying for 10 yrs.
File comment: The crest rail piece in front of one of the artisans recent 16" wide BEM bowls
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I can happily say that that chunk of BEM is en route to me from Canada via Airmail.
My search for the 6/4 spindle material will have to continue as the build progresses.
I'm heading to Boston tomorrow to hang out with Tommy and the rest of the 207 gang at the N.E. Home Show.. and will be postings some pictures of my progress once I return. Hope you enjoy this project.. it will be challenging and totally new for me. My goal with this post is to provide enough details for any average woodworker to build one of these chairs or at least get you moving in the right direction. Thanks for reading.