Steam-bending Oak in the Kitchen
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.
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.
p.s. I have been sitting at the computer far too much as of late; I have some impressive blisters from my drawknife.