Begin this chair as the bodgers would, splitting the wood, roughing it down, and turning it on the lathe. This is not just a random sequence. By making the legs first, you ensure that they are completely dry and that they will not shrink and come loose from the seat. You can use hickory, beech, birch, ash, maple, or white oak for the legs and spindles, but hickory is the wood of choice for me. If you work from green, wet wood, don't hesitate to turn it to a rough, oversized cylinder while it is still fresh. Let it dry about a month, however, before you do the final turning. Working overly green wood in the lathe will result in a rough surface, and the piece may shrink excessively, giving you an ovoid cross section.
The arm rail on this version of the chair is also split, not just because it is faster to split a piece but also because the grain must be absolutely continuous for the Vs-by-Vi-inch arm to bend evenly and retain sufficient strength. Shave it down on the shaving horse and reject it if the shaving reveals any knots or excessive waves in the grain. Because this piece must bend in the same plane as its thicker dimension, it will have a tendency to flop over and take the path of least resistance when you bend it. To prevent this you can either make it 7/s inch square and then shave it down after bending or make a bending jig with a groove around its perimeter to hold it in the proper plane. In either case, steam the strip for about an hour and bend it around a mandrel 22 inches in diameter. Leave the ends sticking out straight and let it set up for a few days. Both the heat and the moisture make the wood easy to bend, so it must be reasonably dry in order to hold the shape. When it dries, give it a final planing for smoothness and glue on extra pieces of oak for the hands. Once the extra pieces have dried, cut them to their final shape with a coping saw.
"The Woodwright's Apprentice: 20 Twenty Favorite Projects from the Wodwright's "
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