why is there so little chair making discussion?

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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Bertie » Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:57 pm

Ive allways been a little amazed at the interest in Bowls, but perhaps there are a few fundamental things about turning which may explain this to some extent.
First of all for most turners, if it dosent move, its not interesting, or non functional, the idea of taking a piece of work from the lathe to hand finish is abhorrent.
Secondly what to most turners make?
Thirdly, what is the most common turned item we see?
Partly its a spirit of competition - " i made one of over 30 inches diameter - have you seen the thickness of the walls of such and suches bowls."
Partly its a concept, an idea that has been carried mostly by the woodworking press, it is as if they believe most turners want nothing but bowls - perhaps this is evident in other things woodworkers see and do.
Another little thing is that bowls are fast to do - a chair - you have to think as well. There is a great deal to a chair, particurlarily a chair made with wet wood.
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby gavin » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:34 am

There is little chair making discussion here because chairs take a long time to make - even for the skilled, who will have a workshop set up for that purpose. For the hobbyist with small working space, chairs present a challenge.They require accurate measuring and (often) different species of timber. Bowls are much quicker to make, and even a beginner will get a bowl they can use that very day.

Jim Steele makes chairs and sells these for ( I think) £300 to £700 , Robin Wood sells bowls for ( I think) £20 to £70. Both are skilled professionals, and assuming they have a similar hourly rate, it seems bowls are about 10 times quicker to make than chairs.

Folk that teach powered turning tell me students are keener on getting on to bowls than learning spindle-turning. I guess that's cos we need to eat: bowls really help with getting food into us!
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Donald Todd » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:25 am

I used to be a member of the AWGB. Their magazine "Revolutions" routinely featured articles on bowl making, to the point where even the editor was fed up with it! Not that that criticisms applies here, as it's an active forum with expert response to specific questions.

It needs more of us who do make chairs, to show how it can be done without the need of a full blown workshop. I can do it, somewhat restricted by the weather; I have no workshop; just enough space to store things. Most jigs; for bending etc. can be made quite easily. My biggest piece if kit is a heavy wooden bench (actually a picnic table) which has to live outside, albeit under a tree. Next to that are the lathe and shave horse, both of which dismantle.
The challenge is to use our ingenuity to overcome the restrictions. Making the chair parts is quite easy; it's drilling the mortises and assembly that are more difficult.
Maybe if we composed an "essential" tool list it would show how little is actually needed. I admit it does take a lot more time and thought.
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Re: This BB to supersede or influence Bodgers' Gazette?

Postby Donald Todd » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:29 am

Nicola Wood wrote:Ahhh a punctuation love-in :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:



Who is the Heretic?
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby robin wood » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:34 am

How about showing us some pics of your chairs? I always enjoy seeing pics.
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Instant gratification

Postby Bob_Fleet » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:33 am

Bowls are much quicker to make, and even a beginner will get a bowl they can use that very day.

When doing a demonstration its much easier to make a single item than a chair.
Instant gratification and all that.

Trying to explain to people that you are making one of a set of three spars to go under the four legs and the half dozen spars which then need a steam bent back and a seat is much harder than just making a rounders bat or a spurtle.
Maybe its the attention span thing but its ready as soon as it comes off the lathe.

Bowls probably fit that category too.
People can see what it is as its made and its ready fairly soon after it comes off the lathe. Well apart from all the oiling etc.
Maybe its the instant gratification brigade at work.

I think we've all got loads of spindles which never quite got to the final chair stage. Imagine if they were all bowls how much more useful they'd be.
Now, what was I doing?
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby gavin » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:31 am

Donald Todd wrote:
It needs more of us who do make chairs, to show how it can be done without the need of a full blown workshop. I can do it, somewhat restricted by the weather; I have no workshop; just enough space to store things. Most jigs; for bending etc. can be made quite easily. My biggest piece if kit is a heavy wooden bench (actually a picnic table) which has to live outside, albeit under a tree. Next to that are the lathe and shave horse, both of which dismantle.
The challenge is to use our ingenuity to overcome the restrictions. Making the chair parts is quite easy; it's drilling the mortises and assembly that are more difficult.
Maybe if we composed an "essential" tool list it would show how little is actually needed. I admit it does take a lot more time and thought.


Donald,
As a very lapsed chair-maker, I encourage you to kick off the chair-making section on this BB.
Just some pix of your particular set-up with picnic table etc may inspire others. I hope you'll find many interested chair-contributors. And if you don't, find them immediately, you will find them in time. Robin Wood's was a very lone voice on this forum for quite a while, then I started to post, and it gradually grew. You don't have to be a book-writing expert to offer suggestions others can really use. e.g. your idea about windscreen-wiper metal inserts as a tool-rest slide really works for me!
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Bertie » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:00 pm

Trouble is that too many think within the box.
For example how many of you who make chairs use their own designs?
My point being that if you want to appeal and generate interest you have to reach those to whom innovation and design is of interest - i dont suppose many of you have seen Owen Hughes work - further, why does a chair made with traditional methods have to look like a chair made with traditional methods - the techniques are extraordinary and extremly valuable but seem to go only so far.
Going back to bowls, over the last 5 years so many "bowl" turners have given up because the public isnt buying - could this be because so many turners believe that a "good bowl" is one without any features, if so where has this idea come from?
We need innovation and change - the question is are you capable of it?
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Donald Todd » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:18 pm

Bertie wrote:Trouble is that too many think within the box.
For example how many of you who make chairs use their own designs?
My point being that if you want to appeal and generate interest you have to reach those to whom innovation and design is of interest - i dont suppose many of you have seen Owen Hughes work - further, why does a chair made with traditional methods have to look like a chair made with traditional methods - the techniques are extraordinary and extremly valuable but seem to go only so far.

I doubt that lack of innovation is the problem. People like the traditional designs, which have been arrived at over a long period of time and are still evolving. The shape of people hasn't changed much over the last 200 years. The only chairs I've sold was on the basis that they were conventional, comfortable and "made to measure". I am sometimes compelled to redesign because of the material, sometimes I'll exploit an unusual piece of wood.
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Re: Instant gratification

Postby Donald Todd » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:30 pm

fleetpeople wrote:When doing a demonstration its much easier to make a single item than a chair.
Instant gratification and all that.

I think we've all got loads of spindles which never quite got to the final chair stage. Imagine if they were all bowls how much more useful they'd be.
Now, what was I doing?


I spend too much time talking and have too many interruptions to make chair parts at a demo. You're right people want something recognisable and quickly.

I've got lots of partial sets of chair parts, more from a lack of sufficient material than anything. I'm not a Bodger; I don't make parts without the final seat planned. At worst I'll make a set of legs + stretchers with a view to completing the chair later.
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby RichardLaw » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:49 pm

It is possible to demo bodging. I had a weekend at Castle Howard's Wild About Wood recently and I was making nothing but chair rungs for a six chair order. I had a decent amount of interest as it was easy to demo the complete process, log to rung, in a short time. Having the first pitch as people entered the arboretum helped as well. Some of the feed back I heard was that many of the stands weren't actually doing anything, and I was! The chap supposedly extracting timber with a horse seemed to be a mini petting zoo etc. I must say it was pretty tiring just turning rungs all day long, and chatting away about bodgers etc. It helped having finished stools on site so I could point out what the rungs' function was. There was increased public interest because of the recent media coverage of bodging. I think you can probably make anything interesting if you show some enthusiasm. I didn't get any comments like when are you going to make the chair then? But I think I may make a stool in and among at next year's event. Here's the output currently drying: Image
60 of 'em!
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Donald Todd » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:02 pm

I'm not just turning and talking as I do it! I am describing and demonstrating all aspects of pole lathe turning and chair making. I even take the lathe to bits sometimes. I am making things more complex than simple rungs, such as captive rings, and I am also letting people, including children, "have a go". I often have prolonged discussions with people who are skilled in some related craft, so knowledge is going both ways. I spend far more time talking than turning; it seems just as tiring!

Here's my set of Gean rungs (one chair - kid's size) minus two in the bending former. The bent one at front has split and I had to redo the other two as one had rolled. Now I have to replace the split one. I've just shaved two back posts from the inside half of the bent log that gave the Rockers, but I intend to turn all four posts for the first chair; I might get two chairs out of this wood if I'm lucky!
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby NorfolkNige » Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:22 pm

We have been asked to "do some bodgeing" at the 'green open day' at the woodland and watergardens I am a volunteer at. The request came from an organiser who doesn't understand what bodgeing may entail but basically they want us to turn up and demonstrate some sort of country craft activity!

Having made windsor chairs we know there are several parts, seat, spindles, legs and stretchers to be made and only the legs and stretchers need a lathe. The process's involved in making spindles and seat are easily demonstrated in the open and having an example of a chair on hand will put each piece into context. So we wont have to be turning legs and stretchers all the time as the only activity. Demonstrating the use of adze, travisher and spoke shave in making the seat will be interspersed with demonstrating the use of a draw knife and spoke shave in producing spindles.

I guess it will help that there will be two of us so we could have two processes going at the same time.

A set up and demonstration like this ought to provide plenty of variety and interest and people walking past several times are likely to see something different each time and of course see a chair taking shape throughout the day.

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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby Donald Todd » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:01 pm

I found it useful to have a prefabricated chair that you can use to show the assembly of the various components. It doesn't have to be full size.
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Re: why is there so little chair making discussion?

Postby NorfolkNige » Sun May 01, 2011 9:05 pm

Prefabricated chair! What a cracking idea Donald, thanks for that :)

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