Archive for March, 2015

The chair that may launch a furniture business! Though I continue to enjoy the teaching I do with the boat school, there are often gaps between those classes or times when there are simply fewer classes running. Those gaps must be filled! After finishing the Shearwater, furniture became the focus of my personal woodworking and it’s been a productive couple of months. Among other pieces, I finished a Tage Frid designed Three-Legged Stool, a chair inspired by a Wharton Esherick, and I designed and built a chair which drew much of its inspiration from several of the greats in danish modern design including Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl.

With the completion of a prototype for my most recent chair design, I have decided to start a small furniture business. My plan is to design and build small runs of furniture. I am starting with a light-weight side chair. The next design I have in the works is a lower lounge chair in a similar style. I will start work on a website dedicated to this side of my woodworking soon, but I’d like to introduce my first design here now.

The design brief that I set for myself was fairly simple: a light weight side chair for use in a living room. After finishing my Tage Frid three-legged stool, I was struck by how much my housemates moved it around. I would find it in a different part of the living room every few days after it was finished. Its light weight allowed for a much more flexible use of the space in the living room, which also led to the space being used more. This design was conceived as a way to continue what began as an inadvertent experiment exploring how people use communal spaces. I wanted to design the sort of chair that friends could pull up to a coffee table for playing games, or which could be used as additional seating in the dining room. At the end of the day it can be quickly returned to wherever it typically lives. Throughout these uses, the chair had to be comfortable. I began collaborating with my upholsterer early in the process to ensure that the final stages of the project went smoothly. In addition, I wanted to design a chair that was elegant, distinctive and fun.

You can see the result below. I finished it a little over a week ago and so far the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone comments on how comfortable it is. One part of the chair that continues to elicit positive feedback is the backrest which people find to to be at just the right height and angle to support their lumbar without being large.

I am gearing up to produce a small run of these chairs. I have worked to better organize my shop for chair making, and after getting feedback from a wide range of people, I will be making a range of minor adjustments to improve the aesthetics and the comfort of this initial design. Last week I visited Zena Forest Products and purchased enough Oregon White Oak to produce 5 more of these chairs. I expect the price to come in at between $600 and $800 dollars upholstered. I will be able to offer a more solid price as I near completion of this initial run.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these chairs, please let me know.


Even cats find it comfortable.

IMG_1417The set of rolling cubbies I built earlier this week to keep chair parts, jigs, and patterns organized. Organization is one of the keys to an efficient shop.IMG_1434 


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Before starting to share my newest endeavors involving chairs, I thought it would be good to share the end of the process building my Joel White designed Shearwater that I finished up at the end of the summer. Where I left off in early July the deck beams were fitted but not yet glued in. With those pieces glued in I decided to coat the interiors of the compartments in epoxy before painting. These were the only parts of the boat that I epoxy coated.IMG_0935 IMG_0933 With the deck beams glued in and trimmed flush with each other I started fitting the decks, thwarts and other interior details.IMG_0931With the boat upright, hardware in hand, and shaping on the oars proceeding well I had to mock things up. Keeps the imagination alive and motivation up!IMG_0929First primer on the boat! I used Interlux Pre-Kote for the priming and painted the interior with Interlux’s Brightside in Bristol Beige.
IMG_0936I managed to coax my twin brother into helping me assemble the trailer one weekend while he was down from Seattle. It went together easily, is light weight, and highly adjustable though I still need to trouble shoot why some of the less important lights don’t work.
IMG_0938 Paint inside the compartment.IMG_0939Here you can see the middle thwart sitting on the thwart supports and straddling the center frame. I took inspiration from Iain Oughtred’s designs and his book on lapstrake boat construction in many of the alterations I made to the design, and the tapering shape of the thwart supports are one example of this.IMG_0940 The finished trailer! Waiting for a boat.IMG_0942The slots for the mast and hatch cut out. I cut them out roughtly by drilling and using a jigsaw, but used a router with a flush trim bit to finish the job precisely.
IMG_0946 IMG_0947Here you can see the accent pieces I added to the inboard ends of the compartments which are rabbeted to sit down over the joint between the deck and the bulkhead. Their inboard edges are curved to follow the curve the thwarts which taper towards their outboard ends.
IMG_0953IMG_0956Ah, the mast partner. I built this fun little assembly out of Oregon White Oak to tie things together and reinforce the spot where the mast passes through the deck. It pleases me.IMG_0960Time to mask before painting! I tried to keep varnishing down to a reasonable level, and think I struck a reasonable ballance.
IMG_0963Whoa! That first coat of primer is always kind of exciting and shocking as the boat transforms.IMG_0964IMG_0965Here the interior paint is on and the initial coats of varnish are on the exterior. I couldn’t help myself on the stem and stern-post; all that lovely clear tight-grained fir! Varnish down to the waterline! Oh yea, and the shear strake. That got it too.
IMG_0968IMG_0969Flipped over again for final filling. fairing and sanding.IMG_0973With primer on the outside the varnish really started to pop.
IMG_0978-0Painted and ready for hardware. Here you can also see the brass half oval applied to the stem and most of the way down the keel.IMG_0981IMG_0984IMG_0985With painting complete it was time to invite friends over for a bbq for a defenestration/ oot-the-windae party! I would have more pictures of it going out the window, but it happened too damned fast! I could have built a boat which was at least an inch wider and deeper! Its always interesting to see how different a boat looks outside and sitting lower. I was struck by how shallow a boat it is!IMG_0990-0IMG_0989-0

IMG_0987IMG_0988-0After a weekend which included rowing the new boat several dozen miles, it was time to get down to work on the sailing rig. I couldn’t find any gudgeons which were relatively inexpensive or which wouldn’t have to be shipped from overseas, so I bought some brass ( I know, but realistically the boat will not be spending all that much time in salt water), and I got some help machining my own. Many thanks to David at Veteran Bicycle! Here they are partially shaped.IMG_0995Tapering and 8 siding the mast and spars was done initially with a power planer. So much noise and so many shavings in a short period of time! Final shaping to the lines was done with hand planes.
IMG_0994Gotta love 16 siding.IMG_0997Here the rudder with push-pull tiller is most of the way complete.IMG_0999With the sailing rig done it was time to head north for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend!IMG_1001

Parting shots! Maybe I should have taken more time to get to know my boat first, but it performed admirably on a its initial shake down trip starting in Cathlamet Washington and sailing back to Portland. I met up with Bruce and Kim on their respective Arctic Terns my first morning out, and we had a wonderful time, with following winds almost the entire trip.
IMG_1018 Sometimes you need to get a sense of scale for how large your boat really is. Thanks to Bruce for taking this shot!IMG_1028 A quiet and peaceful evening sail this past fall.IMG_1207 IMG_1204Having completed the boat, I couldn’t be happier. It is fun to row and sail. Its quick to rig and to put away. That being said it is a small boat. On several occasions when the wind and waves have started to build I’ve dropped sail and switched to oars. Every time I’ve done so I have been struck by how much things quiet down and by how well it rows even in fairly rough water. At some point I would like to build a larger sail and oar boat for adventures further afield in more open water, but for the time being I’m happy to get this boat out and to enjoy it as much as I can. Its also hard not to smile every time I pull the tarp back.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the nerdy details of the build. I’d be happy to answer!

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