Friday, May 25, 2018

Curtis Buchanan Sackback Day 5

I walk 10 minutes from the cottage i am staying to where i'll meet up with mark and rob on a new adventure in curtis' workshop. none of us really knows what's next; we're all kind of 110% engaged in just keeping up with the present, hanging onto a rail with our legs dangling out the side
Curtis is making the same sackback chair along with us and many of the lessons begin with him talking through what we'll be doing, and then demonstrating on his chair, with some elaboration carried out on a chalkboard if need be (his ingenious kiln cabinet houses racks for chair parts to dry out but its doors are chalkboards for sketching details on). He carries through a sequence and then we try to execute this sequence.

Well, today involved a lot of sketching, and a lot of doing. We're assembling the undercarriage of our chairs from carefully fitted parts, joining in a complex sequence made as simple as possible.

This involves taking care to mark your pieces in a way that leaves no doubt about how things go together when the clock is ticking. It also involves very practical ways to measure these odd angles using as simple of layout tools as is possible.

In a small class of 3 students, we acted as a team. The undercarriage assembly could be broken down into 3 major stanzas. First, layout and angle measurement. here we each measured our angles on all the joints, recorded them and marked them on our pieces as instructed. We then each checked each-other's work, and checked, and re-checked. I don't think we found any errors in our markings, but it was really confidence boosting to have someone else give a once-over after all the work put into the parts. It's like anything important in life, and it vests each of us in each other's work.

Secondly, we all drilled out our joints using the ingenious alignment system that Curtis had set up. There are many ways to skin this cat but with a small team of 3, one person could verify your angle bevel's setup while another helped you with getting your drill plumb.

Finally, glue up. any woodworker can relate to how anxious this can be. having 2 other comrades to see something you missed is invaluable. and i remember at least 2 instances where my team helped me with something i got reversed or a glue tenon i missed. I was so thankful having Mark and Rob there to watch over me and i was also invested in their pieces going together.

I have Essential Tremor (ET), which is an inherited neurological quirk where my brain's signals to my hands are scrambled just a bit, and it gets worse when i get tense, such as while doing unfamiliar work in front of people. Today I literally had to brace my right hand with my left while applying glue to a mortise in order to avert glue spattering all over the bench! Rob and Mark were particularly helpful while i struggled. Canadian woodworker Stumpy Nubs has the same deal, and recently shared a video regarding his challenges with the condition.

At the end of the afternoon, we all had successful undercarriages put together in a time-tested way. It was a hard day with a lot of uncomfortable learning to do and i think we each gained a lot from having our boundaries expanded.
Oh, and let there be no mistake, any moment of downtime you'd be damned sure we were out on our shaving horses taking these once ripe chunks of white oak down to a gossamer, athletic spindles to support the backs for years beyond our own time! Here I am simulating my future self's pubic hairs.
A particularly handsome planter i saw on our walk to pizza and beer after today's work.

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