List A Mile Long…

As of my last post, I was feeling like the finish line was somewhat in sight, so I decided to make a “to-do” list in order to hone in on my end goal.  After sitting down and making the list, I couldn’t help but to feel an overwhelming sense of discouragement, due to the unexpected length of said list.  After the shock wore off, I decided to get to work and started knocking items off the list.

I could no longer put off the task of carving the seat slab, so I figured it would be a good idea to start out by doing some test grinding on a scrap piece of wood.  I have three different carbide grinding wheels for my angle grinder; coarse, medium, and fine.  I’m glad that I took the time to do some testing on a scrap wood, because the coarse and medium grinding wheels really hogged off a LOT of material very quickly and were somewhat difficult to control.  I decided to take the conservative approach and would skip the coarse and medium discs altogether.  Instead of working from coarse, to medium, to fine, I’d start right with the fine grinding disc (the gold colored one).

In order to be able to check progress once the carving is started, I drew lines across the seat slab at 2” increments.  Once the center portion is carved, the lines would disappear, so the lines needed to extend all the way to the edges of the seat slab and beyond the carving area.  These marks will give me consistent reference points to gauge and measure my carving progress.  I’ll use a straightedge to span from edge to edge and then use a ruler to measure down from the bottom edge of the straightedge, to measure the depth of the carving at any given point on the seat.  This lets me know what areas need to be carved deeper and control the consistency from side to side and taper from front to back.

Credit to Katie for taking this video of me using the fine grinding wheel to carve the initial outline of the seat depression.  No turning back now!

Defining the edge of the seat carving.

Here’s what it looked like when I was done with the first round of rough grinding.  Due to the aggressive nature of the carbide grinding wheel, I left the pommel area near the front edge untouched for now.  That area will get smoothed out later with a finer grit.

More rough grinding to get things consistent and even.  Towards the back of the seat, I carved down about 1” and tapered the to about ¾” at the front of the seat.  After a couple of hours and a LOT of dust, I was happy with how things were shaping up.

Next I switched to a 50 grit sanding disc to smooth out all of the rough grinding marks.

After getting everything smoothed out, it was time to use to the random orbit sander with some 80 grit sandpaper to get things smoothed out even more.  At this point, I could also use the bandsaw to cut the edges of the seat.

I no longer needed the reference lines, so I sanded all sides, top, and bottom of the seat.  The pommel at the front edge of the seat might look somewhat extreme, but after a few “test sits”, it’s actually quite comfortable!

After aligning the six seat splats to get the lumbar curves even, I drew a line across the bottom end of all the splats to mark where then needed to be cut

Trimming those splats!

After trimming the bottoms of the splats, I did yet another dry clamp-up to see how they’d look with the carved seat.

The legs get attached to the runners with dowels and epoxy, so I needed to bore some ½” holes in the bottom of each leg.  The front legs also need ½” holes bored in the top ends to accept dowels for connecting the arms to the front legs.

After cutting some 10 degree angles on the tops of the front legs, I was ready to glue and clamp the legs to the seat.  I cut a temporary spacer block to hold the tops of the rear legs at the correct spacing and clamped it in place.  After applying the glue and clamping them in place, I checked each leg with a square to make sure that they were set at 90 degrees to the seat.  The legs were a little out of square, so I added a few clamps, set at an angle, to true up the legs.

After letting the glue set up overnight, I removed the clamps and the leg joints are solid as a rock!  Here’s a closeup view of the carved seat and glued leg joints.

So I’ve knocked some items off my list, but still much to do!  I’m hoping to get the arms fit and attached to the chair, and possibly start working on the headrest, this weekend.  The good news is that I now have my list as a road-map to know exactly what I need to do next!  If "Baby-E" holds out until November 2nd, I think I still have a slight chance at getting this done in time.