April Comes Between Thanksgiving and New Years
on a magazine has some elements of science fiction, particularly in
relation to the space/time continuum. Even though it’s late November,
I’ve been working on a project for the April 2011 issue of Popular
Woodworking Magazine. Here is a “sausage factory tour” of how we select,
design and build projects that appear in the magazine. Every year we
have a planning meeting to select projects for the coming year. You
might imagine a large group of people sitting around a conference table
with stacks of data from reader surveys and focus groups. Instead of
that, Glen and I grab a couple seats in Chris’s cube. He asks “what do
you want to make next year?” and we tell him. If it lasts 10 minutes it’s a long meeting. It only goes that long if two of us want to build the same project and we have to leg wrestle. One of my picks for the
coming year is a Gustav Stickley No. 369 Morris Chair.
took the photo of an original chair at an auction a couple years
ago. I wasn’t able to measure the original, but this (and several other
photos) will aid in creating a working plan. One of the things I like
most about this chair is that it visually invites you to sit down and
relax. Several aspects of the design make this happen, and the downward
slant and bend off horizontal in the arm is one of those. There are
others, some overt and some more subtle. Stare at the photo for a minute and see if you can find a subtle visual cue.
shot is from the SketchUp model. I imported the photos and scaled them
to dimensions I knew to develop an accurate model. I’ve been doing this
sort of thing for years; many of the drawings for my books on Craftsman
Furniture were developed this way in AutoCAD. The process is a
combination of art, science, research and experience. We have a project
in the works to teach using this process using SketchUp, but first this
chair needs built.
in the shop I drew a full-size layout of the side assembly. Even though
I have an accurate SketchUp model to work from, I consider this an
essential step. The side assembly looks simple when it’s finished, but
there are a lot of parts that need to come together precisely. The time I
spend on the layout pays off throughout the project. When it is
finished, I use it to mark the locations of all the joints by laying the
parts directly on it. If you’ve been looking closely you will see that
the lower rail in the side slopes down from front to back. That’s a cool
detail but it raises the degree of difficulty. The five vertical slats
have an angled tenon on the bottom end, and are all different lengths.
Don’t ask me what the angle is, or what the length of each slat is. I
don’t know; I just marked them from the full-size drawing.
the first side in a rough assembly. The angled tenons didn’t take that
much more time to cut, but they did need to be laid out individually.
You can also see a sample of the bent arm joint in the foreground. This
is a fun project to make, and the best part is that the end result will
be my reward. I’m planning on a significant improvement to my after-dinner naps in the coming year. This project is scheduled for our April 2011 issue, and if you’re not a subscriber, there’s time to sign up to receive that issue as part of a new subscription.
Hey! Somebody figured out how to make the search function in our bookstore actually function. Click here to see what happens if you search on my name. There’s all kinds of stuff.