Holy Cramp, Batman!

Just in time for the half-term break, I got my arm chair all glued up at college. It’s quite a relief to finally reach this stage of this build in particular! Even though, I still have a bit of sanding and tidying up to do. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have had enough cramps, had I decided to do this one in my own workshop…

Do you think there are enough sash cramps?!

Don’t worry; there’s nothing wrong with your monitor or your screen resolution – you really are seeing eight sash cramps and four 12in G-cramps!!!

Assembly was fairly smooth, considering all that had to go together at the same time. That’s essentially everything apart from the back rail and slats, which were only fitted dry – the seat, four curved legs, one stretcher rail assembly and two arms. If I’d really to strain myself then, yes, I could probably have glued the back components in at the same time…! 😕 Thanks to some double-sided tape (used to hold all the cramping blocks in position), I was just about able to manage this one on my own and I don’t think it took any longer than ten-minutes – by which time (rather disappointingly), I could see that Titebond’sExtend” wood glue was already starting to go off… Then again, they say that standard PVA has an open time of five-minutes in the college workshops so, I guess it’s still some improvement… Cascamite (urea formaldehyde) would’ve given me an advantage here but, at the same time, I’ve always been led to believe it’s quite ‘brittle‘ once dry and shouldn’t be used in chair assemblies as it can quite easily ‘crack‘ and fail under stress.

That was Thursday…

On Friday morning, I began by reinforcing the front corner seat joints (notches, basically) with one walnut Miller Dowel in each:

In my opinion, it’s a shame we don’t see Miller Dowels being used by woodworkers more often… Perhaps the recognition isn’t there? They’re much easier to use than standard dowels and, assuming you can live with or make a contrasting feature of the exposed end-grain, they’re a much cheaper alternative to buying a Festool Domino jointer for one-off jobs!! 😉

After lunch (and much sanding and final shaping around the arms, while I still had good accessibility), it was time to glue the back rest in place:

Again, I used the Titebond Extend and, yet again, it was already beginning to to “rubbery” as I tightened up the final cramp. Only four sash cramps, this time! 😉 The two smaller F-cramps are only they to hold the bridle joint together – I’m not sure but, the timber may have moved where I’ve removed material for these mortises, which could’ve released inherent stresses within the wood… Or, my sawing and chiselling just wasn’t as accurate as I thought! 🙂 After half-term (and, also, the practical exam), I’ll reinforce these joints with a pair of (probably 8mm) walnut dowels. I could’ve risked this late last night but, as most glues need a good twenty-four hours to fully cure, I thought I would err on the side of caution – plus, I needed some time to get all my spare wood in the back of my car…

Yep, this is all for the side table I intend to exhibit alongside this chair at the Inspire exhibition in July. I’ll be documenting the progress as it happens (no rush!) over on the UKworkshop forum. But, of course, I’ll also be keeping you up to date with information, right here, as well. The design remains pretty similar to how it was before. Except, I’ve chopped 100mm off the legs and the top will now be walnut-veneered MDF with ash lippings (curved on two opposing sides). I still need to re-arrange the proportions on the rails and slats but, otherwise, I’m very happy with the design:

Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “Holy Cramp, Batman!

  1. Lovely chair Olly……..and I like the look of the table you’ve started. I knew you would eventually come around to my way of thinking re. belt sanders!!!


    1. Hi Mike!

      Really good to hear from you. Nice to know you’re still lurking.

      Thanks, glad you like both the chair and the table.

      What can I say about belt sanders… I honestly don’t know how I managed without one for so long!! Now, I don’t have to waste ten-minutes sanding with 60g orbital discs to remove machining marks – a belt sander fitted with a 120g belt will do that in seconds! Also, the finish is “better” where random orbitals tend to ‘ease over’ the edge of a table top and can create dips in a flat surface, if you’re not careful (I’ll still use my ROS for fine sanding, though).

      A lot of people perceive them to be “dangerous” but, that’s only while in the possession of a careless woodworker. With this, I sometimes wonder even whether I would really “need” a drum sander…! 😉

      Hope all is well, Mike.


  2. I’m really liking the contrasting back slats of the chair – I’ve always avoided thinking about making chairs, but I now have a pressing need for an office chair, and may well blatantly steal your contrasting slat design feature.

    The design for the small table is looking good. The only thing that catches my eye is the position of the low rail/stretcher arrangement, it seems a little low and takes a little of the effect away from the curves of the leg, but i’m certainly no expert on these matters.

    1. Hi Colin,

      Thanks, yes, I’ve had a lot of good feedback on the slats even though, I did have my doubts when I was doing it… It was almost intuitive; I looked at the timber I had available and was hoping they would all come from the darker heartwood. But, that would’ve meant cutting in to some of the larger boards I was hoping to save for future projects… With the contrasting stretcher rails and also the difference between the ash frame and walnut seat, it’s become a continuation of a theme.

      I agree with your thoughts on the table. It was looking okay until I shortened it by 100mm… 🙄 To me, the stretchers are necessary as there’s nothing else down low to brace the leg frame. It’s currently about 120mm high and I intend to raise it to about 150mm (which is where it was before and also, where it is on the chair).

      I forgot to add that, during a quick test yesterday, the chair was feeling surprisingly comfortable (to me, at least)! 8)

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