Irish Chair No. 3: By the Numbers

After building the green chair, I was compelled to build one more iteration. Instead of worrying about how easy the chair was to build, I wanted to make a chair that made me happy (technically speaking). 

That meant some significant changes.

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  1. The seat shape changed from a rectangle to a rectangle added to a 21-1/2”-radius arc at the back.
  2. The comb changed from a flat board to a sweeping 21-1/2” radius curve, positioned right at the shoulder blades.
  3. I added sticks to make the chair more durable.
  4. The arms are curved and have circular hands. But the hands are petite, and are difficult to wedge without cracking them.
  5. The seat is saddled, but I used a more contemporary saddle without a pommel.
  6. The legs are octagons but aren’t tapered. The joint between the leg and seat is a tapered mortise-and-tenon joint.
  7. Gorgeous unsteamed walnut.

The back is pitched at 25° (5° more lean than the green chair). The seat is pitched back 3/4” from front to back. And everything that touches the sitter is curved.

This chair is also cosmetically flawed (as I’ve mentioned before). The mortises in the arms are tight, but they don’t look the way I want them to. The problem is the drill bits I’ve been using. 

I’m still getting used to the Star-M bits from WoodOwl. They cut so clean. Their only downside is that the bits’ flutes are so sharp they can also do a lot of cutting. That means if you move off-angle, the bit’s flutes will cut the hole to an oval shape. This problem is exasperated when you use a bit extender. 

I’m getting better at holding still when I drill, but the arms have cosmetic gaps around the tenons in the arms.

In my heart, I know that vernacular chairs are supposed to have imperfections. In some cases, the imperfections are what make the chair special.

But I also know that I can do better.

When I finished construction (and the day of “make pretty”) I was ready to burn the chair. But I didn’t. I applied a coat of Allback (organic linseed oil and beeswax) and drank a beer.

And that was enough for me to make peace with the thing.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. This chair is the most difficult chair I’ve ever photographed. Too many curves and angles.


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