Begin by making a seat blank that is a few inches larger than the seat frame by edge-gluing pieces of 1-to 1 ^-inch-thick solid stock; for a typical chair, a 20-inch – squarc blank should be sufficient. Arrange the boards so that the grain of the scat will run from front to back.

A sculpted seat blank is test-fitted against the rear legs of the frame chair shown at left. The first step in sizing the blank involves positioning it on the seat rails and outlining the notches that must be cut out for the rear legs. For the width of the notches, add Vu. inch of clearance between the blank and the legs to allow for wood movement. For the depth, measure from the front of the leg to about % inch beyond the back seat rail and add the overhang for the front. Once you have marked the cutting lines on the top of the blank, use a try square to extend them to the underside.



Seat rail outline

Cutting the seat blank to size

Outline the notches for the rear legs on the blank (photo, above) and cut them on your band saw. Then position the blank on the seat frame and outline the outside of the frame and the front legs on the underside of the blank. Turn the blank over and mark a second set of lines parallel to and /г inch outside

the first set of lines. These will be your cutting lines; the seat will overhang the frame by /2 inch. Round the corner between the rear legs and the sides, then saw along the cutting lines, starting with one side, continuing to the front and finishing with the second side (above).

2 Jointing the edges of the seat

Use your jointer to remove the saw marks left on the edges on both sides of the seat. Adjust the machine for a shal­low cut and make a pass on each edge, keeping the edge flat on the jointer tables and the face flush against the fence (right). To ensure smooth results, feed the seat so that the knives will cut with the wood grain—in this case, with the front of the seat leading and the back trailing. Do not try to smooth the front and back ends of the seat on the jointer; the knives will tear at the end grain. Instead, use a sander.


Rounding over the edges of the seat

For the sake of comfort and appearance, round over the side edges and the front end of the seat. Install a Ув-inch round- over bit in a router and mount the tool in a table. Fashion a guard for the bit and a fence for the workpiece to ride against on the infeed side of the table, as shown above. Screw the guard and fence together and clamp them to the table. Hold
the seat flat on the table and flush against the fence as you feed each edge into the bit (above). Then turn the seat over and round over the edges on the other side the same way. Do not shape the back end of the seat; it should remain square. Smooth the end and edges with sandpaper, working with pro­gressively finer grits.

4 Outlining the shape of the seat’s top

SCULPTED SEATSMark the outline of the shape of the seat’s top surface on a hardboard or plywood scrap and cut it out as a template. The outline should typically be rounded at the back and taper toward the front, as shown at left. Place the template on the seat and transfer the outline to its top surface.



Shaping the seat top

Secure the seat on a workbench with its top surface up, using clamps and bench dogs to hold it steady and wood pads to pro­tect the stock. You can cut the recess by hand with an adze, or with an angle grinder equipped with a special woodcarving blade, as shown above. The chainsaw-like blade is well suited to remov­ing waste wood quickly and in a controlled fashion from a broad surface. Holding the grinder with a firm two-handed grip, sweep it from side to side within the outline to excavate the recess in
a series of shallow cuts. At the back of the outline, work across the grain (above, left); move the grinder along the grain at the front of the seat (above, right). The recess should be a little deeper at the back and at the front than in the middle. Periodically test the comfort of the seat by sitting on it and check the depth of the recess by placing a straightedge across the seat and measuring the gap between the edge and the seat. As a rule of thumb, do not cut deeper than halfway through the seat’s thickness.


7 Smoothing the seat

To sand the surface of the seat quick­ly, use a random-orbit sander with a foam pad installed between the sanding disk and the Sander’s platen. Start with a rough-grit sanding disk, trying to reach all areas of the recess (right). Before moving on to finer-grit disks, inspect the recess for any uneven spots and smooth them with the inshave. Sand the seat until the surface is uniformly smooth.


Completing the recess

To remove any ridges or uneven spots left in the recess by the adze or angle grinder, use a carving gouge or an inshave, as shown at left. Holding the inshave with both handles, pull the tool towards you to slice away thin shavings of waste wood (left). Try to work the inshave with the grain as much as possi­ble. Should you need to pull it across the grain, be careful to avoid cutting into the edges of the recess.

Подпись: І 1 * І і і * * і * і і і 1 і і 1 і * і * * 1 INSTALLING THE SEAT

1 Drilling pilot holes in the rails

Since a solid chair seat for a frame chair is typically fastened to the top of the seat rails, you must drill the screw holes in the rails before assembling the chair. Mark three drilling points along the bottom edge of each rail, one in the middle and near each end. Bore the holes in two steps, start­ing with a brad-point bit slightly larger than the shank of the screws you will be using.


Подпись: 2 Fastening the seat to the rails Once the chair has been glued up, set it on a work surface and clamp the seat in position on the seat rails. The clamps shown at left have plastic pads on the jaws to protect the stock. Holding the the seat and rails together snugly, drive the screws from underneath through the clearance holes and into the seat.

If you are using your drill press, hold the rail on the table and drill a hole through the workpiece at each marked point (right). Once all the clearance holes are drilled, install a bit slightly larger than the screw heads and bore holes that overlap the clear­ance holes, drilling only deep enough to recess the screw heads.


1 Preparing the seat base

Make a plywood or hardboard template of the top surface of the chair’s seat rails. If the seat will rest within the rails make the template 7l inch smaller than the seat frame to allow for the recess; if the seat will lie on top of the rails size the template the same as you would a solid sculpted seat (page 73). Trace the outline from the template onto a piece of lA – or #-inch ply­wood and cut it out on your band saw.

SCULPTED SEATSПодпись: ft * e E


The plywood will be the seat base. Then insert a large-diameter bit in your drill press and bore several holes through the base (right). The holes will allow air to escape from the foam padding when the seat is sat on and compressed.

SCULPTED SEATS2 Gluing the foam padding to the seat base

SCULPTED SEATSBuy a piece of lVS-inch-thick foam padding from a craft supply or hardware store and cut it using a sharp knife to fit over the seat base. A utility knife with a retractable blade will work well for slicing through thick padding. To install the padding, coat the top of the seat base and the under­side of the padding with contact cement, let the adhesive dry according to the man­ufacturer’s directions and press the two pieces together (right).

Подпись: V-groove

SCULPTED SEATS4 Gluing down the edges of the padding

Once all the grooves have been cut into the padding, the edges are ready to be folded down. Apply contact cement to the top and bottom of the grooves, let the adhesive dry, and fold the two parts togeth­er (left). Apply hand pressure all around the edges of the padding to ensure uniform and complete contact, then use the knife to trim away any padding overhanging the seat base.




Подпись: 6 Attaching the fabric covering Cut a piece of fabric to cover the seat and install it as you would the underlay (page 80). Since the fabric is the only visible layer of the upholstered seat, take special care to fold and staple the fabric neatly at the corners (right). Once the fabric is attached to the base, fasten the seat to the corner blocks in the seat frame, driving the screws from underneath. If the seat will be recessed in the frame, remember to prepare the seat rails (step below) before proceeding with the final assembly of the chair.

Rabbeting the seat rails

Install a dado blade on your table saw, adjusting it slightly wider than the thick­ness of the seat base. Set the cutting height to about one-half of the rail thick­ness. (The rail shown has a decorative bead cut into its outside face.) Next, install a wooden auxiliary fence on the rip fence and notch it with the dado head. To sup­port the rails, use three featherboards, clamping one to the fence on each side of the blades and a third to the table in line with the dado head. Feed the rails inside – face down, running the top edge along the fence (left). Complete each pass with a push stick. Once all the rabbets are sawn, you can glue up the chair.



2 Preparing the legs for the seat

Once the chair is assembled, you need to cut a notch out of the front legs to accept the seat. Install a straight bit in a router and adjust the cutting depth to match the depth of the rabbets in the seat rails. Holding the tool with a firm two-handed grip, plunge the bit into one leg and rout the notch with small clock­wise cuts (left). Avoid routing beyond the cheeks of the rabbets in the rails. Repeat to notch the other front leg.



This section of the chapter will show you how to cane a chair seat by hand. Although the process is labori­ous—it can take up to 12 hours to weave a seat for a typical chair—the result is both sturdy and elegant. As shown below, the first step involves making a frame and fastening it to the seat rails. The cane is anchored to this frame.

Cane is usually sold in bundles called hanks, made of 10- to 20-foot lengths totaling 1000 feet. This is usually enough for about four chair seats. The chart on page 84 shows the various widths of cane available and the diameter of the holes you need to drill through the frame to accept the strands. The only other sup­plies required are special wooden pegs to hold the strands of cane in the holes as you weave them, but golf tees will do.

There are a few rules you should fol­low as you cane a seat. To keep the strands flexible, keep two or three in a bucket of warm water for 15 to 20 min­utes, replacing each one as it is used. Some people add glycerine to make the cane easier to thread. Should a length dry and become brittle as you weave it, you can sponge a bit of water on it. Always keep the cane’s glossy-side up. Do not allow the cane to twist, especial­ly under the seat frame or in the holes. Also, the cane can only be woven in one direction; otherwise, it will catch and break. Run a fingernail along the glossy side and you will notice a bump every foot or so. Each bump is a leaf node. Your nail will catch on the nodes in one direction, but not in the other. Weave the cane in the direction that allows you to pull the leaf nodes through the holes without catching. WTien a length of cane comes to an end, peg it in a hole, trim it to leave an excess of about 5 inches, and start a new length up through the adjacent hole.






1 Making the frame

Use your seat template (page 26) to determine the dimensions of the caning frame. Each of the four pieces should be about З/г inches wide and can overhang the front and side rails of the seat rails by approximately /2 inch, if you wish. Cut notches for the rear legs in the back frame piece, then glue the pieces together, using a mortise-and-tenon or biscuit joint at each corner. When clamping, protect your stock with wood pads (above).








Super Fine

1_________ 1

2 mm

Fine Fine

1___ □

2.25 mm


1 1

2.5 mm

Narrow Medium

1—————– 1

2.75 mm


1_________ 1

3 mm


1 1

3.5 mm

















Preparing the frame for caning

Once the glue has cured, cut the frame to final size, then

mark a line all around the frame A inch from the inside edges. Add a mark along the line in the middle of the front and back rails. Then refer to the chart above to find the spacing and diameter of the holes required for the width of cane you are using. Mark the holes along the line, adjusting the spacing, if necessary, to ensure that the holes will be equidistant. Then install a brad-point bit of the correct diameter in your drill press. Set the frame on the table, align a corner mark under the bit, and clamp a board to the table flush against the edge of the frame as a guide. Bore a hole through the frame at each mark, holding the stock against the edge guide (right). Once all the holes are drilled, twist a piece of sandpaper into a cone and smooth the holes so that there will be no sharp edges that might tear the cane.




1 Weaving the first vertical rows

Clamp the caning frame to a workbench so that the holes are unobstructed. Then take a length of cane from your bucket and feed it from above into the center hole in the back frame piece. Leave about 5 inches hanging below the frame and insert a peg into the hole to secure the strand. Now bring the strand across the frame and through the top of the center hole in the front piece; pull it fairly taut and peg it. (You should be able to deflect the strand an inch or so.) Pass the strand up through the adja­cent hole on the front piece and bring it across to the back piece, feeding it down from the top into the hole next to where you started. Continue in this fashion (left), mov­ing one hole sideways and up and then across the frame, always transferring the peg from the last hole. Leave the first peg in place as well as any peg securing the end or start of a strand.


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2 Keeping the rows parallel

SCULPTED SEATSIf your caning frame is trapezoidal rather than square, as in the example shown here, you will have to peg the strands in a hole in the side piece, rather than the front or back, as you reach the side of the frame. This will keep the last row parallel to the preceding ones. When you get to the side piece, choose the appro­priate hole and feed the caning into it as described in the step 1 (left). Once this is done, return to the hole adjacent to where you started and weave the cane toward the opposite side. Remember to peg the cane at the beginning and end of each strand, leaving about 5 inches hang­ing below the frame.



4 Adding the second vertical rows

Weave the second vertical row as you did the first, passing the cane over all the strands in place. However, instead of start­ing at the middle of the back rail, begin with the last hole you pegged in the first vertical row in the lefthand side of the seat frame. Then, weave the cane from this point (right) toward the opposite side, aligning the strands slightly to the right of the first set of vertical strands.

Подпись: Second horizontal rowПодпись: First vertical rowПодпись: Second vertical rowSCULPTED SEATS


Weaving the second horizontal rows

Now the weaving begins with the sec­ond horizontal row. Start with the same hole in which you started the first horizon­tal row and peg the strand in place. Then, weave the cane under the first vertical row and over the second one, positioning the cane beside the first horizontal row (left). Continue weaving in this way until you reach the seat front, and peg the last strand in place.


6 Weaving the first diagonal rows


Подпись: 7 Weaving the second diagonal rows Start the second diagonal weave in the left- hand corner hole in the front of the chair frame. This time, feed the cane over the vertical rows and under the horizontal one (left). Complete the rows as in step 6.

Peg a length of cane in one of the corner holes at the back of the frame. Pass the cane over the horizontal strands and under the vertical strands to the immediate right (above). Continue until you reach the oppo­site corner hole. Then pass the strand up through the hole in the front frame piece next to the corner hole and work your way toward the back of the seat, weaving the cane under the vertical rows and over the horizontal ones (right). Continue weaving diagonal rows this way until you reach the other corner hole in the front of the seat, making sure that all the rows are parallel. Now, return to the hole in the back of the chair frame next to where you started the diagonal rows and repeat the process, working in the opposite direction.




Tying off the loose ends of cane

Once the second diagonal row is done, it is time to secure the loose strands hanging under the frame. Turn the seat frame over and use the double-loop knot shown in the inset to secure each strand. To tie this knot, slip a loose strand under an adjacent strap of cane. Then feed it through the loop you just created (left), pass it under the strap again and cinch it tight. Trim the remaining portion, leaving a /г-inch-long tip.


SCULPTED SEATSAppplying the binder cane

Once the weaving is done and all the ends have been tied-off, apply a strip of binder cane around the perimeter of the seat to give it a neat and finished appearance. Binder cane is usually one or two sizes larger than the cane used for the weave. Pass the end of the binder cane down through the left-back corner hole and peg it in place. Lay the binder cane across the row of holes in the back frame piece, then use a length of weaving cane smaller than the one you used for the seat to anchor the binder cane. Tie loops over the binder cane by passing the weaving strand up through the first hole adjacent to the cor­ner, over the binder cane, and back down through the same hole (right). Move on to tlpe next hole in the back of the seat frame and repeat, continuing until you reach the corner hole at the end of the piece. Trim off the excess length of binder cane and use new lengths along the remaining frame pieces.

Ю Pegging the corners

SCULPTED SEATSOnce all the binder cane is installed, tie off the ends of the weav­ing cane you used to anchor it. At each corner, pull the binder cane taut and temporarily tap a peg into the corner hole. Mark the peg at the point where it meets the top of the frame piece, remove the peg and trim it at the mark. Spread a little glue on the sides of the peg and tap it in place with a hammer (left). Then trim the peg flush with a chisel.



A simple rush seat can give a charming old chair, like the one shown above, a new lease on life.


1 Bridging the front rail

If the seat rails do not form a square, you will need to use rush to create a square frame. Measure the difference in length between the longer and shorter rails—in this case, the front and back rails—and divide your measurement in half. Measure your result along the front rail from each of the front legs and make a mark on the rail. Tack a length of dampened rushing that is about twice the length of the front rail to the inside of a side rail about 2 inch­es from the front leg. Now loop the rush around the front rail from underneath, then around the side rail from underneath. Bring the rush across the front rail and loop it around the other side rail and the front rail in the same manner (right). Holding the rush taut, tack it to the side rail opposite the first tack.

Updated: March 12, 2016 — 10:34 pm