Saturday, May 26, 2018

Curtis Buchanan Sackback Day 7

It's May in Jonesborough, TN, USA. Big downpours of rain can last for 5 minutes or 5 hours, depending. We woke today to the latter amount of rain and Rob was kind enuough to swing by my cottage and pick me up to get to curtis' shop without running through old town with a garbage sack raincoat improvisation.

Luckily we started the day with more spindle work to get these things in their final tune. I needed some mule work to warm up with. For the sack back chair, we have 3 intersections to nail with the spindles where they hit the seat, the armrail, and the crest rail. you get real close using test offcuts that have been drilled using the bits you used for the attaching pieces. There's a system for this that Curtis uses and it's really helpful. I don't want to do anything but make spindles for the rest of my life. I'll wear a monk's habit and take a vow.

here we're using a rat's tail file to define the taper of the bores of the hand rail that the spindles have been tuned for using an offcut
Next up was to get the crest rail joined to the hand rail. yep, more hot angular drilling action was in play using sightlines in two directions, and two comrades to spot your angle of approach.
because the crest rail is perfectly tapered from the tapering system that we applied on tuesday, we use reamers used for cello tuning knobs (i think) to orient the hoop in the right direction. you are considering a multitude of factors when doing this involving forwared/reverse/twist. These reamers are amazing in their effect. just a few shavings will give a measurable impact.
Here's a mistake i made. I was trying to bandsaw off the waste of the handles, and managed to bump the opposite side while pulling out of the cut to relieve it from another angle and it cut into that very important outer radius. well. i had to shake that one off. Mark had the right idea to just scab on a piece and redo the cut. I'll do that, but i wont be doing any more bandsawing today.
There's a systematic way of "winging it" in this workshop. you reduce your problem to a few known sight lines and then set forth with your drill. it worked well for me here. Curtis emphasizes all the marginal things you can do to arrive on time with a piece. Get your angles as well as possible from the start and you don't have to oversteer when you get close. I love this approach because it makes sense to me and how i live my small life.
Rob lives in Nevada, me in Californication. We're not doing the full glue up of our chairs, but we watch and take notes from a "live" glue up. I noticed this during the undercarriage assembly exercise that curtis understands the anxiety of anticipation and somehow is able to subdue it with a warming drape of reassurance. You're good here. You wont encounter something that can't be fixed.

we won't test this observation today, since Mark's chair went together so beautifully. Curtis coached us through the glue up and it works. we just paused to take in what had occurred. A bunch of wet, wild wood was dimensioned to make a beautiful, refined piece. These chairs are "built like a tank" as curtis says. but they are so damned gossamer and light. My phrase? TITANIUM GRANDMA HUG.

arm rests from maple are pre-kerfed, but the lower spindles are cut insitu with a chisel

I finally got the outermost upper spindle holes drilled after a bit of courage (you aim in a way that makes sense but requires a bit of controlled 'winging it'. i'm happy. this chair will welcome sarah and me to the desk in our guest bedroom/library. it's a gossamer hug from TITANIUM GRANDMA. this chair is stronger than you'd think because it's derived from straight grained white oak and maple. it's the chair to use as a shield for getting out of a bar browl. it is a chair to hide under in an earthquake. it's a chair that i hope to die in if it's not the bed i made. (presuming there will be any remains when i die).
Rob and I went to a U-Haul outlet to get some packing material for return to our homes. We got a small wardrobe style box and cut it down and used some bubble wrap and extra cardboard to hopefully provide safe passage for assembly on our return. I'm just fitting my chair here, it will be layered in oak shavings and bubble wrap and a few prayers.

I hope to post a final assembly when i get home.


  1. This is one of the most enjoyable blogs on attending a workshop that I have followed.

  2. Thank you too, that means a lot to me!

  3. Same here - really been enjoying this one. I can't imagine all the wisdom that was imparted from Curtis. Now you just have to hope you remember a reasonable percentage of it (ha).