The Chairmaker Part II
15. Lastly, the chairmaker planes the Spanish cane, with which he canes the seats and backs of the chairs, in the following manner with the cane plane (Rohrhobel), fig. XV. The Spanish cane, upon purchase, is approximately one-half inch thick and six to ten yards long. It has, by its nature, bumps and indentations here and there and these must be trimmed by the cabinetmaker with a small knife (Messer) fashioned from an old sharp straight razor (Barbirmesser). With this same knife the chairmaker splits the cane down its length in four equal parts. He roughly cuts off the inner core [Peddig] from each quarter with the knife. The cutoffs are used for caning chairs by unscrupulous chair merchants. Each quarter the cabinetmaker divides again into at least two equal parts, dividing the whole cane into at least eight equal parts. Therefore, he calls this split an "eight part." Should the chair be finely woven, he splits each cane into twelve and sixteen parts. Each eighth, twelfth, and sixteenth of the cane is called a "thread" in this workshop, and so it shall be called henceforth. Such a "thread" is now planed on its rough edge with a cane plane in the following manner. To a protruding wood block of the [cane] plane, a & b, fig. 15, is connected a horizontally fastened blade, d, by a bolt to the housing, b & c, so that its cutting edge is fixed somewhat at an angle off of the housing, c & b. Between the block, a & b, and the housing, b & c, lies a spring that raises the block, a & b, when one unscrews the wing nut, e. The protruding block, a & b, is placed on a screw spindle. From this it is evident that the blade, d, which is connected with a & b, is moved closer to, or away from, the housing when one screws the wing nut up or down. By this contrivance of the plane the chairmaker can plane the cane thread thick or thin according to the fineness or coarseness of the weave. He fastens the cane plane with the screws, g & h, into two holes of the [plane] bench. Then he pulls each cane thread between the housing, b & c, and the blade, d, in such a manner that the smooth side of the cane comes to lie on the housing, b & c, so that the blade, d, planes the rough side of the cane thread. The chairmaker sets the required width of the cane thread with the reducer (Schmaler) fig. XVe. Such a reducer consists of two vertical standing blades which are inclined at an acute angle opposite one another. They are fastened in the housing, b & c, with a wedge, f, yet so that the chairmaker can push them in the direction, f & e, that he wishes. He can thereby increase or decrease the distance between both blades according to whether the cane should be wide or narrow. Then the chairmaker pulls the cane thread through the space between both blades, thereby cutting it to width. There are all together four reducers on every cane plane, which are illustrated on the cover plate, because the chairmaker sometimes uses a coarse and fine weave and sometimes a coarse and fine cross stich (Kreutzstich) to cover the chair. The following brings this latter to light. The chairmaker is lastly in possession of a common turner's lathe, along with the necessary turning chisels. He turns on this lathe the required cross (stretchers) of some chairs, p. 185, which today are no longer fashionable. He also does the sculpted (carved) work on the chairs himself, except in the case when he wants the piece to be artistically and cleanly done, or when time fails him. In both of these cases he gives it over to the sculptor's (carver's) work, which we have already discussed.
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