As you all know, I’m building a Chippendale chair in a series of articles for Popular Woodworking Magazine and I’ve been having some troubles with it. In the first article, I undercut the back legs, and while I tried to salvage the large pieces of Honduras Mahogany, the damage was done. I had trouble mortising the rear legs. The angled mortises were difficult to cut accurately and the result was a poor fit up. Squaring the bottoms of the legs resulted in yet another problem at the rear joints. I poorly planned the size of the back splat and had to cobble pieces on to make up the width. The crest rail to splat joint was also less than perfect.
But the worst was yet to come. Last night, while carving the back splat, I made my worst mistake of all. I guess my gouge was not quite as sharp as it should have been. I was pushing a bit too hard and this, combined with the irregular shape of the chair, created “perfect storm”-like conditions. I slipped, cracking the back splat, and sent the gouge into my left palm. I’m proud of my brutally honest and open approach to writing and sharing with you my mistakes in hopes that you can avoid them in your shop. But I’m not proud to say that with my hand bleeding, I lost my temper and smashed the chair back on the shop’s concrete floor. I had worked very long and hard on that chair, and despite the many set backs, I always kept my cool. I guess this mishap was just the last straw.
My hand suffered sever tendon damage. While I was in the emergency room late last night, waiting my turn while the more “serious” injuries, gun shot wounds, car accidents, “heart attacks” etc were taken first, I had some time to cool off and think about my next project. With my next article due in two weeks, I’ve decided to switch gears a bit and start that Mission style bookcase my wife has been wanting. And again, honesty being the best policy, I feel it’s time to start discussing my back shop with PW readers. I’ve always tried to do as much as possible with hand tools, but like you, I enjoy using machines for rough stock prep. I’ve made some tweaks to my Grizzly G1023S that I’d like to share with PW readers. So while the chair series is officially over, I’m looking forward to this new series even more. While the focus of my column has always been period woodwork, I’m looking at this accident with the chair as an opportunity to explore the more practical side of woodworking. I’ll be back to work just as soon as my hand stops throbbing.