Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SSBO Wrap Up

Last weekend was a great experience. First off, I want to thank Chris Wong for initiating this event; without doing so, undoubtedly I would have trudged on with my meh shop stool for many more years. Having participated, there were many positives.

  • I have gained clarity on what makes a mo' betta' task seat by really looking at the various functional features of even the "simple" backless stool.
  • I gained confidence and practice cutting odd chair angles. Chairs are pretty close to the top of the woodworking pyramid and can now see having one or more chairs in my normal project list (vs. a bucket list)
  • In seeing how successful others were in going the eyeballing angles, round/octagon legs route, I feel like giving that a shot too.
  • Having a deadline forced me to press on. Often on a project, I get stuck either daydreaming about what it will look like, or over analyzing what is next when really the next step is inevitable and I'm just stalling. Prior to the build, I wrote up a coarse process map, that helped eliminate "what's next?" hang ups.
  • Be careful what you consider scrap. The walnut I had was short, narrow, punky and had other defects. I could not have made a chest with it, but a chair or stool doesn't take much material, and I could work around the defects with some effort. I ended up with nice air dried material with consistent coloring for a great price, nothing. At the same time I used a piece of wood that several people had hung on to for a number of years. That feels good to put something to rest, once and for all.
  • It's OK to make scrap. I had to work hard to highlight great figure in the seat. In the middle of this log was a small amount of burl grain, it took quite a bit of finagling to get it into a place that would put it on display. My juvenile sense of humor also enjoys the word play of "crotch".
  • "All time greatest tool of all time this week" (FWW STL) Hands-down my plastic handled Veritas striking knife. This thing really punched above its weight. I've had it for a while and have used it a bit, but this was my first major layout project replacing an old reground kitchen knife. This little guy was inexpensive, yet it fit everywhere and never failed to leave a perfect line. 
  • Subtle differences make a big difference with chairs. This has been fit to my bum like a custom saw tote, and I like it that way since it is purpose built. However, my petite wife didn't think it very comfortable due to the width at the top relative to the cutaways. While it was only 2-3" taller (prior to final height adjustment) I thought it felt a bit odd too.
The obligatory things I'd consider doing differently... I probably shouldn't, but it is compulsive, so here goes. Also, if you are a judge, please skip along, nothing to see here.

  • Don't forget about vector clamping. With weird angles, it can be near impossible to  pull surfaces together. I found this out about midnight Saturday when I needed to glue the saddles to the top. Ideally, I should have hide glued on some blocks to allow the joint to be clamped normal to the joint. I hadn't time or lucidity required at that point and glued it together with tape (yellow glue) Because of this, I have some gaps that I will need to fill next time I get a chance. Not a huge deal but... it happened.
  • The "wings" on the seat come forward a bit much aesthetically IMO, but it "sits" perfectly for my tastes. My prototype seat was shorter, and I found it caused a minor pressure point on the thigh. I will give this a fair chance,  but I may end up altering this shape in the future and feather the lower edge,
  • I think I could have simplified the structure with joinery akin to a Morovian stool and combined with hexagon legs and had a faster constructed stool.
All in all this was a great experience. Based on the response this year, Chris will surely organize another, and can't wait to sign up sight unseen, hmmm that's an idea... Sealed orders build-off.


  1. Nice After Action Report (AAR).

    I'm curious what your thoughts of how useful and comfortable this chair will be over the long term. My guess is you will be just as impressed by it's comfort in a year as you are today.

    I saw in your posts that the lap joints gave you some trouble getting just right. Lap joints are great practice, but, in my opinion, getting them perfect is much more difficult than M&Ts. What do you think?

    Also, I find the irony in using grain from the crotch of the tree on the top of your seat brilliant!

  2. Awesome. My plan this summer is to build out my mill/workbench area in the garage and really get things set up nicely. This kind of think would really flesh the area out. Will either have to look at making something myself...or talking to a family member with this kind of expertise....