Let’s Take a Seat

After another early Friday finish at work, I’ve spent the afternoon lazing around at home, feeling the after effects of an unexpected, hard-hitting cold. My nose may have stopped and my throat is beginning to clear at last but, I’m still feeling quite dizzy in my head and a little weak elsewhere. Almost flu-like symptoms.

I’m also moving home on Monday and heading back to live in mum’s house, which is also very close to my workshop… I’ve already shifted a load of boxes to save a bit of time and, with all the floor space now available (at home, not in the workshop!!), I’ve found my attention drawn towards the arm chair I made at college, two-years ago now…

Long-term readers may recall that this piece was on display at two furniture exhibitions in Bristol, around this time in 2010. I received a lot of praise for all of my work in generally but, perhaps most notably, for what I’d achieved in creating a comfortable wooden seat (I sit in it now, as I write this and as I check my e-mails and browse the internet each and every night). If not for a few ‘imperfections’ around the back of the seat, one curator even exclaimed that I could well have sold this chair, perhaps also the side table I made to go with it…

That’s why I’m here, writing this post now!

It’s those ‘tenon’ joints, where the back corners of the seat slot in to ‘housings’ cut deep in to the section of each of the rear legs. It was very ‘experimental’ at the time and my tutor wasn’t too satisfied once he understood my intentions (after cutting the wood!) and seeing just how much ash I was prepared to remove from each leg! If I was to go back again, I’d just use a shallow housing, as I did with the front legs (see photo at top of this post).

If I can, I’d still like to go back to this and look at ‘tidying it up’ a bit… If I’m as diligent as I seem to remember then, somewhere in my workshop, I still have the two tapered offcuts from cutting the seat blank to its diminishing width. I could cut and fit them in to at least try and conceal the gaps; maybe even mask over it with a ‘fake’ joint… Using those offcuts, I might be able to get a reasonable grain match with the walnut.

My main thought so far is to try and splice in a thin, carefully selected strip of walnut with a large ‘dovetail’ on the end; that might allow me to hide the gap-laden tenon joint you see above, if I can finish the walnut flush with the ash, this time.

I think it would be far more challenging to try to find an identical piece of ash to scribe in to the legs. Plus, it would give the impression that the seat is simply ‘butted’ to the edge of each leg. If the ‘repair’ was good enough then, one might even assume that the joint was simply dowelled together, like cheap, ‘disposable’ furniture. I can’t have that!! 😛

Any other thoughts or suggestions? Should I leave it as it is?

I don’t intend to sell this piece and I’m now quite glad that I still have it. It’s just one of those little things that really bothers me. I can live with the imperfections beneath the shoulders of the back slats but, for a chair I’m otherwise greatly satisfied with in what I’ve achieved, I feel it lets it down a little.

I must also remember to empty my back pockets before sitting in it, as I’ve already created two large scratches in the walnut!

It’s been two years and I’m of the opinion that the lighter ash used for the back slats has already darkened quite considerably. Maybe it’s the lighting but, I’m sure that three of them were very pale when I first made this, even after oiling. I wonder how long it will be before they blend in with the two darker slats? I really should take a photo of the coffee table I made for mum in 2008 – the white legs almost perfectly match the rest of the table (…Which also reminds me that I should wear shorts more often, now that the sun is with us again! :-D).

Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Take a Seat

  1. Hi Olly,
    In my opinion, leave it as it is.
    Every single project I have done could be done better with added skills and knowledge gained over time.

    This chair is not just functional/aesthetic, it is a snapshot of what you were capable of making at the time. Look back at it with pride of what you were able to make then, without the skills you have gained since. And accept that we are the harshest critics of our own creations. We know and notice every imperfection in our own work.

    The recipients are fortunate in that they do not. They may notice an error here, a chip there, but they do not stand out for them as issues, only a sign that the object is HANDMADE! To us, it stands out like (insert favourite saying here), to them, they see it as it should be seen, in the context of the whole work.

    Have pride in the work, leave it as it is, and if you really want to ‘fix’ it, make a sister chair for it and see for yourself just how far you have come. I guarantee though, if you cannot look at your works without focussing on the imperfections, that in a few years time this new chair will have imperfections that will continue to bother you as your skills continue to expand, and you’ll want to fix those as well.

    Just my 2 cents (pence!) 🙂

  2. By the way- love the chair, especially the contrasting timbers. Also, the deep tenons at the back look good- the tutor might not have liked them from a chair-strength perspective, but it has been 2 years, and the chair hasn’t broken!

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