Dugout Chair Part 8, The Inner Bark

Today I got smart and worked on this dugout chair before I took a shower – genius. Also, I found an easier way to remove the inner bark – with a chisel. Last night after dinner I went out to look at what one blog commenter has called “about the ugliest thing in woodworking history” and decided to see how easy it would be to chisel the inner bark away […]

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Dugout Chair Part 7, The Bark Flies

Before I could strip the bark off the dugout chair, I needed to shape the chair’s back. The bark had all my layout marks indicating the final shape of the chair. Armed with the TurboPlane, I smoothed out the steps I had cut into the stump earlier with my chainsaw. When I shaped the chair with a chainsaw, I sawed kerfs up and down the back of the chair that […]

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Dugout Chair Part 6, Remove the Rot

My progress on the dugout chair has been stymied by rains from two hurricanes, building two Campaign bookshelves and laying out a forthcoming book on carving by Mary May. But today I fired up my angle grinder to remove the rotted interior of this silver maple. I don’t have a ton of experience with an angle grinder. But if you’ve used an electric router, then you’ll quickly get comfortable with […]

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Sketch Your Way to Better Designs

One of my best woodworking tools is one I don’t write about much: my sketchbook. It’s an inexpensive spiral-bound thing I get at the grocery store, right by the romance novels. It’s always in my bag when I travel, and it’s on my lap when I’m “encouraged” to watch “Project Runway” with my lovely wife. I keep a mechanical pencil clipped to its metal spirals and use it to solve […]

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The Workbench X-Files

During the last decade I’ve amassed hundreds of images of early workbenches as part of my research into pre-industrial woodworking. Inevitably, some of the images don’t make a lot of sense and now populate a folder named: X-Files. These workbenches are from paintings and their features might be the result of a painter who doesn’t know much about woodworking. Or they could be a clue to a simple and neglected […]

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All Hail the Versatile Doe’s Foot

The doe’s foot – a block of wood with a “V” cut into it – is one of the most versatile and cheap appliances for your workbench. I have an article about this little gizmo coming up in the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine (look for it in the November 2017 issue, or perhaps subscribe). I work with a lot of odd-shaped parts, especially when I build chairs. These […]

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Dugout Chair Part 5, Ready for Sculpting

After sculpting the backrest of this dugout chair with a chainsaw, I noticed two things. One, the chair is about half the weight when I started. I can move this thing around by myself with some grunting. Two: It’s now a rocking stump. Yup, after removing a lot of waste from the front of the chair, the stump began to tip backward on its own, rocking nicely on the meat […]

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Dugout Chair Part 4, Cut the Arms

I laid out the shape of my my dugout chair in chalk. Then it rained. The next day I laid out the shape of my dugout chair in lumber crayon. Referring to my CAD drawing (below), I drew in the seat at 17” from the ground. Then decided to put the arms 8” above the seat and have them slope back about 1/2” or so. The depth of the seat […]

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Perfect Jigs (Which are Handcuffs)

After I learned to make stick chairs in a class, I returned home and set about to build jigs that would let me reproduce every aspect of the chair we built in class. I spent an entire week planning and building the jig shown in the photo above. Though it looks like a platform for holding Roman candles, it actually allowed me to drill four legs in a seat blank […]

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Dugout Chair Step 3: Draw a Chair

After removing the big chunk of wood that was to become the front of the chair, the next steps on the dugout chair are the tricky parts that require more thinking than straining. I needed to chainsaw the bottom of the stump level to get the thing so it had the stance of a chair. This is tricky because the stump is an irregular cone with no right angles. So […]

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