Chippendale Chair Set – Collaboration to completion
Seven years ago, my friend Les received devastating news that he had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The medical team told him to “get his affairs in order”, indicating that they were not very hopeful about the outcome. Well, after surgical procedures, chemotherapy and massive radiation, Les has been cancer-free for several years. Fortunately, he proved the medical team wrong.
At the time of his diagnosis Les had been working on a set of Chippendale chairs, two arm chairs, two side chairs. When I asked what it would take to complete them, Les pointed out that “all of the tough stuff was done”, meaning that all of the compound mortise and tenon work was complete. So Les, Scott and I pulled them out of the pile, identified all of the components and agreed that this should be one of our next projects to complete, during our weekly get-togethers.
Above are the four chairs, dry fit. The little Spanish footed table has been sitting around the shop for quite some time and will doubtless be the subject of future posts. Structurally, the chairs need center stretchers and the arm chairs will require the manufacture and installation of stumps and arms. But Les was right, most of the tough stuff is done. The splats are pierced and carved and the crest rails will be terminated with a simple, graceful knuckle. The material is birds-eye maple (get out the kerosene for carving).
Future posts on this project will feature carving, fitting, assembly, finishing (staining, glazing, lacquering) and upholstery.
Knowing that the three of us working together are “as slow as molasses in January” (due to being side tracked by discussions on materials, methods and funny stories), I suggested that we should establish a goal for completion. Certainly Christmas would come much too soon to get all of this work done, so I proposed that we use St. Patrick’s Day as our date. Les looked at me and simply said, “what year?”
It’s good to remember that this is an endurance race, not a sprint. Much more to come.