Alpha Chair by Dunstone Design
Long-time supporter of the Guild, Evan Dunstone, decided he would like to expand the market for his range of fine furniture. His aim is to produce kits of a ‘family’ style chair for sale to folk who have some woodworking skills and basic equipment. The chair components are made from high quality Victorian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) with all the mortices cut, floating tenons and other hardware supplied.
Evan asked if six members of the Guild would be interested in doing a test run of a kit at a special Guild price. The places were readily filled and six assorted members assembled at the Shed on the 19th January 2014. We were each provided with a kit of components and a set of instructions with Evan to hand for guidance.
The first task was to glue-up the six pieces for the seat which were already cut to their basic shape. Aligning the seat components was simplified by ripple cuts that had been machined into the sides. While the seat was drying, we decided if the front legs required further shaping such as a taper or curve. The seat ‘support’ frame consisted of a front rail, two side rails and a centre rail. The frame was dry fitted to check everything was in order. It was then taken apart, the components sanded (down to 400 grit) and a first coat of oil applied (making sure to avoid the joinery). The oil was wiped off, the frame glued up and any glue ‘squeeze-out’ scrubbed off with water.
The front legs were then sanded and oiled as for the frame. If the frame was clamped upside down, the front legs could be glued into the frame while it was still setting. The legs were checked by eye to ensure they were parallel. While the frame and front legs were curing, the back legs were sanded and oiled. The back support was also shaped, sanded and oiled. The seat was also shaped, sanded and oiled. This sounds simple but involved quite a deal of hand work to ensure a good finish. Templates were supplied for shaping the seat and the back rest although some individual variation could be introduced.
The back legs were glued into place with the chair standing upright on a flat surface to ensure that it all sat flat and square. Curved glue blocks were required to fit the curve of the back legs at the join so that no nasty dents were made in the timber. Once the frame including the front and back legs was dry, the seat and back rest could be aligned and screw holes drilled. All components received a few more coats of oil (wipe on – wipe off) and the chair was completed by screwing on the seat and back rest!
We all enjoyed the day making up Evan’s Alpha Chair. While no-one completed a chair within the day, some got close and many have now completed at least one chair. If you have never made a chair before (and I had not), a kit seems to be a very good way to ‘break the ice’ and see if you wish to get more serious about chair making. You can see more of the ‘Chair Day’ by viewing Evan’s video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZwxFiu1veI