Making chairs requires a lot of parts and pieces, for this client, I am making 8 side chairs and 2 arm chairs. Each piece has to be shaped, fitted, sanded/scraped prior to bending.
For the splats in the chair backs, like I said earlier, we have to shape and sand them before bending and then again after they are bent, then some finish sanding after the chairs are built. I use a turkey fryer turned wood steamer to bend my splats.
I made a mold that has a nice curve to it. Wearing heavy gloves, I take the hot chair splats and hold them over this mold to to stretch the fibers, find that I don’t have as much (if any, done it so many times) breakage when racking them. When I was in the design stage for my chairs I also designed a rack that holds the splines in the proper curve for the back of the chairs and I leave them there until they are dry and hold their bent shape.
I might of mentioned earlier that there are a lot of parts and pieces that go into these chairs.
We will get the chairs assembled and then tackle scooping out the seats which is always fun! Got something new I’m trying with these but I’ll show you when we get there!
Chair Seat Blanks
While no doubt the water helps, and steam is better, bubinga is semi-resinous yet hard and tough, it works very nice. Bubinga scrapes better than it sands. Resinous woods bend pretty well but it’s more the heat than the moisture as it softens the resins which allows it to bend then resets. It holds its shape extremely well, thin strips of bubinga will bend further than most any wood I know, including oak and hickory. It would seem, being so hard and dense that it wouldn’t bend well but it does.
In the near future we are going to be doing something (not sure video or article) on bending/steaming wood for chairs, shaker boxes, etc and will show you a neat steam box. Simple to make and a super way to get the team. Earlex, who makes the turbine spray system also makes a “wallpaper” steamer and man does it work, lots of steam and its super hot. Just what you want, along with some PVC pipe and your cookin’ but it will also allow you to spot steam, meaning you can direct the steam on what you are bending to maintain heat and moisture for tough bends.
I mentioned in the blog that Sam Richardson is a master Shaker Box Maker and Sam worked here in my shop for many years and between chairs and boxes, we learned how to bend wood that normally doesn’t bend. Woods such as birdseye maple, bubinga, high figured tiger maple, figured walnut, etc. We sure bent a lot of wood so we will take the opportunity to show some tricks.
Well, just finished folding the blankets and put them away, the splats are bent so its time to put the final shape on the posts.