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The Chairmaker, Part III (continued)

We want to first pause at a side chair without a caned back and cross on the underframe. From this, the making of the rest of the chairs is self evident. Similar parts in all of the chairs in this workshop have one and the same name, and in the main are manufactured with the same techniques. It is necessary, however, to know in advance the names of every part of the chair in the chairmaker's workshop, because these are not known in everyday life. They seem to come from the low German and low Saxony languages because the local chairmakers were transplanted from these regions to Berlin. By an elaboration of the letters of each illustration the reader can determine every part in fig. XVII, XVIII, and XVIX, because as already mentioned the similar parts have one and the same names for all of the chairs. Each hind foot, d & f and i & h, makes one single piece with the outer part of the back, e & d and g & l, and these are called the rear stiles (Hinter Stapfen) e & f and g & h. Both rear stiles are joined together by three nails, namely through the crest rail (Kopfstück -- "head piece"), e & g, the shoe rail (Unterkrunpf), i & k, and the rear rail (Hinter-riegel) d & l. Into the crest rail and shoe rail the back splat (Stahnstück) is mortised. The "underchair" is understood by the chairmaker as all the parts below the seat of the chair. In earlier times it had cross stretchers a few inches above the ends of the feet, p, f, h, and q, that were either turned on latin S-shaped wooden pieces. In contrast, the feet of chairs in the current fashion are free and only fastened under the seat. Three rails are involved in this manner of construction, namely the front rail, m & n, and both side rails, n & o, and m & d. These rails are mortised into the front feet or front legs, m & p and n & q. These, and also the front rail, the chairmaker calls the front frame (Vorderfach). Lastly, the seat is likewise composed of four rails, namely the front rail, m & n, the rear rail, d & l, and the two siderails, d & m and l & n.

Now we turn again to the side chair, fig. XVII. In its construction the chairmaker starts with the back stiles, e & f and g & h, which are approximately 1½ inches thick and 2 inches wide. Every back stile is curved along its length, e & d, always in its width, e & r, and often also in thickness at e. For every type of chair the chairmaker has patterns made from thin boards that he uses to [trace] on the wood the curved parts of chairs as well as the back stiles. For the back stiles he selects a board of serviceberry that is at the most two inches thick and traces according to the pattern, fig. IX, as many back stiles one next to another as the width of the board allows and cuts it with a turning saw, p. 182. The thickness of the boards gives the width, e and t, of the back stiles, and this applies to all curved parts of the chairs. Generally, one half or a full dozen chairs are made at a time, and therefore the chairmaker saws as many back stiles at the same time as the number of chairs calls for. This also applies to all the other parts. The chairmaker, therefore, pairs the cut out back stiles and chooses two back stiles that best match one another for one chair. He then planes the one thick side of every back stile with the jointer plane, p. 183, marks according to dimension the true breadth, e & t, of the back stiles on its planed side with the marking gouge, fig. VI, and then planes the second thick side of the back stiles with the jointer plane. In the same manner he planes first the broad side, e & t, of the back stiles, marks the true thickness of the stile with the marking gauge, and then planes the second width. Both wide sides are in part curved. He can, therefore, plane only the straight parts with the jointer plane.

The beginning of the curve he must plane with the smoothing plane, and the deepest curve is smoothed with the compass plane, fig. V. In the case where the back stile is curved on the thick side and also on the outer edge, he has to glue a piece of wood at e according to the thickness of the stile [because] he would have to choose too thick a board were he to achieve that curve from the rough stock. After that he curves the side with the saw and planes the broad side, e & t, as before. The planed back stiles are then marked, or more clearly expressed, the spot indicated where the mortises of the rear rail, d & l, and the mortises of the shoe rail, i & k, and the side rails, d & m, are to be chiseled, and at the same time where the tenons are to be cut on which the crest rail, e & g, is to be fastened. This tenon naturally comes to stand on the top of the back stile. The mortise for the back rail, d & l, is 17 inches above the lower end, f, of the leg and the mortise for the shoe rail, i & k, is 3 inches higher. These mortises and tenons are marked at the same time using a striking knife with the square and marking gauge, fig. VI. The chairmaker cuts the mortises with a mortising chisel, fig. VII, and smooths them with the firmer chisel (Stechbeutel). He cuts the tenons at their end with the "tenon saw" (Pinensäge), p. 183, cutting them to thickness with this type saw. This is the order with all mortises and tenons.

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