So, this entry is from Friend Jeff who first sent me this photo of a chair he had built when taking Jeff Lefkowitz's chair making class.
right in the beginning of the Shenandoah Valley with Jeff Lefkowitz as
the instructor. My good friend, Greg Faber from Pittstown, NJ and I
were his only students. Jeff only teaches two students at a time and he
is teaching how to make a chair designed by Brian Boggs. First day on
Monday begins with a shop tour and a very thorough explanation of chair
design criteria with a special emphasis on grain orientation in order to
get maximum support in the chair legs and slats. We went out to his
drying shed (only air dried wood is used) and went thru several pieces
of 10 & 12/4 rough cut lumber finally selecting a large piece to mill
some blanks from. We went thru the layout and milling process to get
some straight pieces while the steam bending box was heating up. These
leg blanks were placed in the box for 2 hrs of steam. Then we began the
shaping process of our chair legs which were steam bent by the class two
weeks prior. After bending they have to dry in special jigs for a
couple of days so the ones we had cut and steamed on Monday were for a
class two weeks after ours. The bending of the legs is really fun
because you feel like you are shaping a very stiff large noodle. You
have to be quick as well. Jeff had as rehearse each leg of the process
prior to bending. Legs are over-bent for one minute then into another
form for the two day drying cycle.
Each day begins at 0800 and is supposed to end at 5pm but we
usually ran long. We learned how to use the shave horse and drawknife
and spokeshave the primary tools in shaping the legs front and back.
Jeff turns the rungs on the lathe well ahead of time because they must
be BONE DRY for glue up and there is not enough time to teach one how to
turn and do all of the other activities required. My chair is made of
Cherry except for the seat rungs which must be made of a good hardwood
such as white Oak, Hickory, or Hard Maple. Mine are of white Oak. They
must be stronger because of the tension that is place on them after you
weave the Hickory Bark seat. The afternoon of the last day of class
(six days long) is spent weaving the seat. The instructor can do one in
2-3 hrs because its second nature to him. It took me 6.5 hrs and was
exhausting work but oh so rewarding. My hands were just shaking when I
finished and I have strong hands.
I brought my chair home and have been letting it acclimate to
this area. I sanded with 150 and 22 grit and picked off all
of the hickory strings that come from the bark as it dries. When you
weave the seat you must press the warfs together consistently and you
must pretrim them so that they have a natural flow front to back.
Tricky. All of the bark gets sanded as well so nothing snags on
clothing; it’s now as smooth as a baby’s butt.
I will finish this chair this week with an equal parts mixture of Tung
Oil, Spar Varnish, and Mineral Spirits. That is what Jeff recommends.
It will get five coats with 4x steel wool between each coat. I will send
you another picture of that when done.