Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Week at Camp

I built this chair with my two grandsons in mind. 
It is intentionally "wee and whimsical"- Dr. Seuss-like. 
I'm looking forward to next month when AJ and his new brother Wee come for a visit. 
I'll be ready for story time.

The Commander plays music as a hobby. A serious hobby. Every few years, he goes to music camp for a week in the summer. This year, the camp he chose to attend - Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia - also offered craft classes. I signed up for the Rustic Twig Furniture course, and expected to make a stool. But, after five days of class from 8:30 - 5:00, I left West Virginia with a small chair, a nearly finished footstool, and six new friends. The process was very interesting and a lot of fun. We started with the front of the chair, using maple branches that our instructor (Tom Lynch of West Virginia - a fantastic teacher) had cut and started drying six months ago. We did not use nails or screws, construction was mortise and tenon. The mortises (holes) were cut a bit smaller than the tenons (posts), the tenons were chamfered (beveled) and then coated with a thin layer of glue before being inserted in the mortise. (This could only be done once; to test it would have stretched the mortise and a tight fit could not be guaranteed.) It was not always easy to get the tenons or mortises done at the proper angle, so we always had a classmate "spot" us with the tools. We used a "tenoner" which fits on the end of a drill; for the mortises, we used a spade bit that had been ground down enough to make the mortises smaller than the tenon. The next step was to make the back, then add seat and side rungs and "whack" the whole thing together. Once. Again, no testing to make sure everything lined up. We then lightly sanded the wood and rubbed it with tung oil.
On Day Four we wove the seats using hickory bark that our instructor had previously removed from hickory trees in long strips. The bark was soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes, and it felt like leather to work with. The final step was to complete the back. We went to nearby woods and gathered green wood to use. I choose dogwood, feeling a bit like a rebel as it is illegal to destroy the state tree in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Day One - the front is done!
Aligning the tenons and mortises.
It went together! Just needs a seat and a back.

hickory bark for the seat

An example of the maple.