Another Double Bow Windsor Chair – Part Two

The legs and stretchers of this chair are turned from English Walnut in a style common to the Thames Valley region from the early eighteenth-century.

The seat is a single piece of elm with the grain running east-west, into which I bored the holes for the legs and the back and arm spindles. The leg tenons were kerfed before gluing the undercarriage together and then wedges were hammered into the kerfs to expand the tenons thereby locking the legs into the seat.

The undercarriage assembled and glued.

The seat shaping, by the way, wasn’t accidentally overlooked: on occasions I find it easier to saddle the seat with the undercarriage assembled because I then have a choice of three heights at which to work on it at the bench (standing on it’s feet; resting on its stretchers on a plank cramped to the bench, or with said plank supporting the underside of the seat). The uninterrupted upper plane of the seat is an altogether more accommodating surface to work off while constructing the back and arm.

Sometimes I’m impatient and I shave the seat first to watch the elm’s swirling figure unfold (as was the case with the seat of my recent Double Bow Windsor). I will also shape the seat beforehand if I have concerns about knots or bark inclusions within the wood – I don’t want to make half a chair only to find a fault in the seat when I begin carving it away. There was a reasonably sized bark inclusion in this seat, but I have already poked it out to ascertain its extent.

The arm bow is made from English Ash (as will be the back bow) and the spindles and arm posts are again, of walnut.

Bored ash arm bow and (as yet unseparated) walnut arm post(s).

Jack Plane

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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9 Responses to Another Double Bow Windsor Chair – Part Two

  1. joe says:

    How was bending the ash bow this time? any fracturing or splits? Was it one of these two bend of was it the larger back bow that was giving a problem?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Bending this arm bow presented no problems. At 1-1/8″ x 1-1/8″ it is the same section as the arm bows that failed repeatedly on the recent double bow chair (with the cabriole legs).

      However, being a smaller chair (and thereby a shorter arm) I was able to cut this bending stock from a different piece of ash to that used for the previous attempts.

      JP

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  2. burbidge says:

    Is the seat thinner than the past few chairs (or do I require new glasses)? Regardless, it appears to be a nicely figured piece of Elm.

    cheers,
    Burbidge.

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  3. Adam says:

    Do you have some sort of plan for the hole angles? A jig of some sort? I’m just starting to read about Windsor chairs and I haven’t done any research yet on the process of building one. Getting all the angles right seems like quite a task.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to plans and jigs. If I falter, I’ll sometimes lay a stick across the seat for guidance, but on the whole I simply point and shoot.

      Using woodworking jigs is akin to learning to drive a car from the comfort of the back seat with reins attached to the steering wheel and blocks stuck on the pedals; it’s actually much easier just to get in the driver’s seat.

      JP

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  4. Robert says:

    Point and shoot. That is what I`ve always done, didn`t know any better. I extended my drill bit tho`.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      If I were making North American style chairs, then a bit extension would likely be in my arsenal too, but as the top spindle holes in English Windsors are predominantly blind, a bit extension isn’t of much use.

      Sometimes I wish through-tennons were the English tradition so I could adopt it, but that’s me just being indolent.

      JP

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  5. Robert says:

    I use tape to control my depth, no through-tennons–yet.

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