Steam-bending Oak in the Kitchen - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Steam-bending Oak in the Kitchen

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

I now want a kitchen island with a cooktop.

As Christopher Schwarz posted on his blog, Brendan Gaffney and I are in Maryland for a chair class with Larry Barrett (along with Chris, Narayan Nayar and Sean Thomas); Larry is teaching us to make chairs a la Jennie Alexander’s in “Make a Chair from a Tree” (with some minor variations).

Today, we split out the back posts from red oak (and some punishing black oak…with which I ended up) and rough-shaped them. We had an hour to go for the day (and Larry’s wife, Pong, graciously ceded us the kitchen), so we got two sets into the steam box tonight, let them cook at 200° for one hour, then their makers got them onto the forms.

Above, Sean has slipped the ends into the restraining strip, and is getting ready to apply pressure. It takes surprisingly little with hot, wet wood.

Almost home…

And…done (but for a clamp to pull things tight near the transition).

The posts will stay on the forms for a week before they’re ready for final shaping and mortising. So, the posts we’re making will go home with us for chair no. 2. (Or, in the case of at least one of mine, to serve as an illustration of NO. I probably should have split out another piece and started over. I still might.)

Larry has two posts done for each of us, so we can get each get one chair done this week.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll get the rest of the round-two posts bent, and start on the rungs.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. I have been sitting at the computer far too much as of late; I have some impressive blisters from my drawknife.


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Showing 5 comments
  • Just_Iain

    Looks good and best of luck with your misbehaving child of a post!

  • C. Stanley Plane

    Its interesting to see the simularities between this chair build and the Boggs rocker. The “chair from a tree” has some roots in the Bogg, thats for sure!

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      Other way around. Brian made his first chair, he says, after reader Alexander’s book.

      • C. Stanley Plane

        Ya, thats what I meant.
        Tried to get fancy with the Bogg pun and screwed up the comment.

        • Megan Fitzpatrick
          Megan Fitzpatrick

          ah – sorry!

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