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The Chairmaker, Part III, (continued)

The rear rail, d & l, and shoe rail, i & k, are usually straight and smooth pieces of wood the tenons of which are marked and cut with the "tenon saw" after the rails are planed. The chairmaker measures the thickness of the tenon with a pair of dividers (Handcirkel) from the measurement of the mortise. The crest rail, e & g, is more artistically made since it usually receives a curve on its upper edge, or is even also decorated with relief carving on the front. The chairmaker cuts out the curves according to the dimensions of the pattern with the turning saw after he has planed similar pieces on all four sides. In the process of cutting the curve with the saw there often remains rough surfaces that the chairmaker smooths along the curves with the draw knife. Because he cannot apply the plane to such a curve, he must therefore rasp the ridges of the curves with a rasp, scrape with the scraper, fig. XIII, and lastly rub with the fish skin to achieve complete smoothness. This latter skin has a sharp grain that initially reduces the roughness of the wood like a file and eventually, when dull, polishes. It's called in this workplace a shark skin because it is the skin of a shark. By this opportunity one observes once and for all that the chairmaker works and smooths all surfaces of the wood that he's not able to plane in the following manner: with the draw knife and with the rasp, the scraper and the draw blade (Ziehklinge)11, and the shark skin. Up till now the crest rail, e & g, was fastened on both back stiles somewhat differently. One cuts mainly the back stiles at e & g, or more clearly stated, one chiseled a mortise along the whole width, e & r, of the back stiles and at the same time gave the crest rail a tenon along its entire width. However, sometimes in this situation the top of both tenons of the crest rail is noticeable to the eye and sticks out awkwardly against the seam of the back stiles, and the joinery is, in part, not durable. Therefore, now both back stiles are tenoned into the crest rail. The splat, r & s, like the back of the stiles, e & d, is cut out in a curve and planed in the same manner, p. 198. It is mortised into the crest rail, e & g, and the shoe rail, i & k, and lastly is curved at the high edge of both sides, as was just previously described concerning the crest rail. As soon as the imagined pieces here described have been made, the chairmaker glues the tenons of the back(seat) rail, d & l, and the shoe rail, i & k, in both back legs, e & f and g & h, and clamps the latter on a jointer's bench between two bench dogs (Bankhaken), p. 145, by which the tenons of both back rails are exactly pressed into the back legs. After the former assembly has sufficiently dried, he then glues the splat, r & s, in the shoe rail, i & k, and the crest rail onto the tenons, e & g, of the back legs and the splat, r, and presses these pieces together with two bar clamps, fig. XIV. He places the foot, f & g, of these bar clamps under the shoe rail, fig. XVII, i, k, and positions the screw on the crest rail, fig, XVII, e, g. He always places blocks of wood between the foot, i & f, Fig. XIV, as well as the screw, e, and the assembled pieces so that the pieces aren't damaged by the screw.
 
From the assembly of the back legs and associated parts the chairmaker turns his attention to the lower chair (frame) to which belong the front rail, fig. XVIII, m, n, both side rails, o & n and m & d, and both front legs, m & p and n & q. The front legs make the beginning. The chairmaker cannot cut (saw) the front legs out of the board satisfactorily because the wood fibers are often damaged while the tree is being cut into boards causing the front legs to become weak when they carry weight, they stand the risk of splitting lengthwise. Therefore, the chairmaker splits each front leg to the required thickness with the froe, fig. II, from a block of serviceberry wood. Afterwards he hews the split piece of wood with the hatchet, fig. I, and planes it with the jointer plane. Hereafter, he traces the leg with a template, fig. III, on the square edge piece and marks the curve and the upper square post illustrated in m & n. The latter he then saws out and planes according to its drawn dimensions. Into these square posts of both front legs towards the front is mortised the front rail, m & n, and on each side of the lower chair frame a side rail, o & n and m & d. At the same time, the chairmaker immediately scribes the mortises on the leg posts and mortises them with the mortising chisel, fig. VII. He then first curves the front legs according to the design with the Schweifeisen, fig. IX. He cuts into the beginning and the end of each curve with the bow saw and thereby makes it easier to chisel out the curve with the Schweifeisen. The front legs have to be curved with this chisel because the size and form does not allow them to be curved with the saw. The front legs generally are round in cross section on the front side and therefore cannot be planed. Because of this, the chairmaker shapes them with the drawknife and smooths them with a rasp and a scraping iron, fig. XI, p. 200, and the shark skin. Generally, the upper heavier part receives a chamfer on the outside, m & n, or is decorated with sculpted or carved work. The front rail, m & n, and both side rails, n & o and m & d, fig. XVIII, in this type of chair are carved, according to the current fashion, not only along their length, but also in height along the lower edge. Like the back legs, p. 197, the chairmaker, with the help of a template, cuts them from a board with the turning saw, planes them just as the back legs, marks their tenons and saws them, and finally curves the rail along its lower edge. All this so far has been explained before. It might be worthwhile to mention that generally the front rail, m & n, is to also receive a chamfer along its lower edge, as indicated on the copperplate. Often, it is decorated with relief carving. Lastly, the chairmaker glues the tenons of the front rail, m & n, in the mortises of the front legs, m & p and n & q, and at the same time the side rails, o & n and m & d, into these (the front legs) and into the back legs, e & f and g & h, with the help of bar clamps.

 

11 This is the same tool as the scraping blade (Shabklinge), fig. XI.

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