When I arrived at Rocking Chair U on the morning of Day 3 I was greeted by Hal’s four horses in the paddock beside the barn. Each afternoon around 2 o’clock they come walking by the shop and you can watch them go by from the large window facing the riding ring. You could pretty well set your clock by them.
Over the past couple of days I found that working with Hal was very similar. Each part of his chair building process was done methodically, step by step. Each day had a particular thing or number of things to be done that was paced very comfortably over the length of the project. There was no race. No rushing to the end. It was a very calm and dedicated approach with the project being enjoyed along the way. I quickly learned more appreciation for the journey and not just on the destination.
Today’s journey brought us to the fitting of the front legs to the seat. First, the legs were notched on the tablesaw:
This simple jig here allowed micro-adjustments for ‘creeping up’ on the fit and to ensure proper placement back on the tablesaw after sizing:
Here’s what they looked like when the notches were cut and had a bit of routing done:
And here they are dry fitted to the seat:
A ‘stack’ piece was added like the one that was added to the back legs and then it was glued and clamped:
And clamped, and clamped, and clamped:
While the fitting of the legs was interesting the real high-point of the day was when Hal showed me his first rocking chair! This was a chair that he made for his oldest daughter. Note the little ‘diamonds’ near the top, they actually spin!:
And just for comparison of how the style of his chairs have have changed over the years here’s a photo of one of his most recent chairs called the George Washington Chair. This chair was made from a 150 year old Walnut tree that grew in front of George Washington’s distillery in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Although the photo doesn’t do it justice here’s a close up of the back supports showing the beautiful grain pattern, with a patina of hand-rubbed leather:
For more about the George Washington chair click here.
Another great day came to a close. Tomorrow, it’ll start to look like a chair!
Back to the shop…
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