Rocker Back Almost Complete

Wednesday, July 24, 2013: I skipped writing yesterday because it was a very long day. We didn’t leave class until 8:30 PM, and I was just too tired.

??????????As I looked through my pictures, I found two that I had not posted. This one shows the turn buttons used to hold the coffee table top in place. They are fastened with 1 screw each, allowing the table and apron to expand and contract independently of one another, while keeping them solidly joined.

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The other shows a cabinet scraper being used to prepare the table top for finishing. Many people say a scraper (cabinet or card) will not produce a surface suitable for finishing. My suggestion is they take a scraper sharpening class with Paul, because this red oak table top needs to be sanded to roughen the surface to accept a finish; that’s how smooth I was able to get it.

Yesterdays work was entirely on the back legs. There is a lot of complicated layout to get all of the pieces lined up and meeting where they need to meet. I chopped mortises all day, then gave the legs a final scraping and sanding.

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Yesterday may have been a long day, but today was a hard day, in part, because I woke up so early. New neighbors moved in, and they were not paying attention to the time of day.

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I started by making my lower apron and stretcher, which need the tenons to be cut and fit to yesterday’s mortises, and then shaped to match the front. Next came the hard part.

Because the back is curved, the upper lower seat back rails need to be curved. This means starting with a pretty thick piece and shaping them to match. But, before all this shaping takes place, it is important to test fit all of the joinery as a sub assembly.

??????????With everything fitting properly, the rail curves need to be laid out and mortises marked for the back slats. The mortises are then done, and finally the rails are shaped. This is hard work with a chisel, spokeshave, and scraper. But, when they are done, there is a huge sense of accomplishment. I was smiling from ear to ear with the finished rails.

In addition to all of the joinery going on with these projects, it is also necessary to have a constant awareness of grain patterns. I was able to use the grain pattern in my rails to my advantage, working with the overall pattern of the chair. I am very happy with it so far.

I had to some time to speak with Paul today about the class. I admitted to him that, at first, I was very apprehensive about being able to complete 3 major projects, but especially the rocker. The lessons are broken onto very manageable parts, and every lesson builds on a previous one. Now, the rocking chair seems like just some simple joinery.

It has been a long journey so far, one with ups and downs. There have been some extraordinary accomplishments on my part, for which I am very proud. I’ve been away from home for 3 weeks so far, and have another 1 ½ weeks of class to go. I miss my children so very much. I would trade almost anything right now for just a hug from them. In case any of you are reading this, I love you and miss you, and I’ll see you soon.

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