Thursday, March 20, 2014

1/12 Scale Morris Chair

After the library table I had enough oak thicknessed to do something else, and decided to tackle a basic Morris Chair.  It will at one point require me to make some leather cushions, but I have both the skive of leather,  and beard trimmings enough to do a "horsehair" stuffing.

The wood is cut to size.  Next are the various mortises and tenons, both partial and through.

This should go pretty quickly, so stay tuned.

Tenoning is done.  On to the mortises, using the lessons learned earlier regarding the drill press and overhead router technique.

Mortising done, still need to equalize and clean up tenons, but it does go together relatively square.  The back still needs hinge pins, and I have to cut the offset square through tenon on the front legs for the arms and make the support brackets for the back.

More as it progresses.

7 April...   slow not due to difficulty but real life around me.   I have trimmed the tenons on the tops of the legs to go through yet to be cut mortises in the arms.  I measured per the drawings, but decided that it would be more sensible to glue the sides together first, then mark and cut the arm rest tenons after.

12 April...   Back and sides are glued, slightly oversized mortises cut in the arm rests which possibly will have to be done over to tighter tolerances.  Pictured below dry fit together with back hinge pins.

Final sanding to come, seat rail and slats still need to be placed after frame is sanded and glued.

The back rest brackets and bar still need to be constructed, and then comes the creation of leather cushions, something I have not done before.  

13 April...

Sanding done, frame glued, back hinged, slat supports attached, and new arms cut and mortised to much tighter tolerances.   I cut the seat slats, but based it on the front rail shoulder to shoulder without adding the slightly longer difference from side rail to side rail.  Now I have to thickness another piece of 0.166 (2" scale) oak for the new slats.

Back rest brackets and rod and cushions will complete it to the finishing stage.

New slats thicknessed, cut and glued.

14 April ...

Today was a typical stop in the middle to fix a tool kind of day.  I decided to tackle the cushions, and having never made one before it proved to be an interesting experience.  I got decent vertical stitched corners the height of the open cell foam I decided to use instead of beard trimmings.  I was told by many that the beard route was just too creepy.  The foam is lightweight and has good scale give to it.

I went to Tandy and got a bottle of dye that is supposed to be a dark mahogany, but to me looks like a dark rich chocolate brown.

After making a couple of brown paper patterns i took a piece of the white leather skive down to my trusty White's Family Rotary treadle sewing machine.  I set stitch length to 1, and tried a pass.  VERY tight stitching1

The corners puckered, and I chased the seam around them to no avail, as below.  

I did figure out how to do a vertical corner stitch.

At this point my trusty steed demanded a break, literally...  The bobbin snorked up a wad of thread and leather and had to be refilled. This required oiling the bobbin filler shaft and trying again...  followed by one end of the belt finally giving out and unwinding in a circle on the carpet.

I trimmed 1/2 inch off both ends, rebent the belt hook thing, awled some new holes in the leather belt, rejoined...  wait....  no.   Take it off and thread it through the big wheel first, then up through the table where it is THEN rejoined and the clip squeezed closed. I am here to say that if kept oiled a treadle sewing machine will still be sewing 200 years from now.  Not many things made today can claim that distinction.

I finished refilling the bobbin,  put the thing back together, rethreaded the machine... twice...  (thank heaven for wire needle threaders) and resumed with a fresh piece of leather.

I have yet to figure out how to close the back since scale zippers don't seem to be in my work box, and the leather lacing that I see on pix on the web is not feasible due to fragility.  I simply sewed across the back in order to test the image and dye.  

After a coat of paste wax it looks remarkably leather like!

That is enough for today.  I will revisit them tomorrow using the lessons learned today, get closer tolerances to size and try something my wife suggested or the back/bottom seam.  Instead of just running a stitch across, invert the edges and hand stitch top and bottom together with raw edges towards the inside.  I might also try folding the ends in (perhaps gluing?) and running them thru the machine close to the fold before doing the side stitching and verticals, and then hand stitching the edges.  With a stitch line above and below the seam it may emulate a zipper.

15 April...

Other things happened which stalled the cushions.  I did try some dilutions of the dye to try to get more of a reddish brown, cordovan kind of color.

The piece on the right is from a 2:1 mix with water, the one on left is a 3:1 mixture and is closer to what I want for the cushions.  I am going to try a couple more test pieces in a 4:1 and 5:1 mixture tomorrow and have blocked out the day to do cushions.  I have to figure out how to do the back vertical corners still.

17 April...

More lessons learned, first is that if I sew over grocery bag brown paper, the feed is more reliable and I can sew closer to the edges without it getting pulled down into the works.   The paper perforates nicely and is easily removed from the seam afterwards.

I decided to use brown thread because the white was not dying the same shade as the leather was.  Here is the hand whipped end of one cushion.  Unable to figure out how to do the nice vertical corner stitch here.

Completed cushions in the white.

While the dye (this time at a 50:1 mix) soaked in and then dried I went to the back support bracket additions.   I think I am going to add a brass or copper strap over the notched part to keep the bar in place and not falling all over the floor.   Still have to make the bar.

While that dried I took the now dry cushions

and applied a coat of wax which darkened them up considerably, darker than I wanted, but can live with.

That will dry for a while then get buffed.  In the meantime I have to take the arms off (press fit for now), and work on the pyramids showing above the mortises, and shape the backs of the arms to a gentle curve.  Still debating on whether to add support bracket wings under the outer arm rests.  That is a decision I must make before boiled linseed oil is applied.


Seat back brackets done and attached,  Rosewood knobs were turned on the micro lathe for the ends of the brass tube serving as the backrest adjustment support bar.

Only need to shape the rear of the outer arms and we are ready for oil.

After adding the cutoff parts of the arm tapers to the sides of the front legs bracing the armrests, and attaching some brass rod bar keepers I oiled it up with boiled linseed oil.  It may get a few more applications before I wax it, but it looks promising.  The pyramided armrest tenons came out nicely as well.

And the beat goes on...