People need food and stick chairs need wedges. They say that there are as many recipes for Spaghetti alla Carbonara as there are Italian housewives. I say there are at least three good ways to make wedges. None of them unfortunately include either pancetta nor Pecorino Romano, but you can’t really expect that from wood. In a mini series of three blogposts, we (Chris, Rudy and me) will share each our way of making them.
To make wedges with a band saw, you need the following:
A randomly sized scrap block of wood (in this case some 24mm Birch ply). Another scrap block of wood with the grain going more or less perpendicular to the long sides. The latter is important, as a wedge with cross grain will be hammered into mush by the first whack from the lump hammer. You also need a knife. And a pencil. And, of course, a band saw. Duh.
The largest block of wood is for the jig. Start by drilling a hole in it. You’ll use it to push and pull the block when you’re sawing out the wedges. It’s not necessary, but unless you’ve got sticky fingers (I don’t wanna know why!) by default, it makes things both easier and safer.
With the hole drilled, it’s time to mark out the size of a wedge onto the jig. But first, make sure that the scrap wood you’re using for the wedges is the size that you want it to be. Its thickness needs to be slightly more (1/16″ is enough) than the diameter of the mortise. So if your mortise is 5/8″, I’d aim for a wedge that is just a tiny bit wider. That way the wedge won’t leave a gap. Second, the block needs to be as wide as you want the length of your wedges to be. When wedging chair legs, I keep the wedges at around 1-1/4″. When I’m wedging short sticks for the arm, I usually end up at around 1″ length. You’ll figure it out.
Use the wedge block itself to mark out a wedge on the jig, by skewing it a bit in over the edge and drawing along its edges.
I usually make my wedges around 1/4″ thick at the top.
With the wedge shape drawn up, cut the notch out. Be accurate. If you make a wonky notch, you will have wonky wedges.
Use the fence to position the jig block toward the band saw blade. You’ll slide the jig back and forth between the fence and the blade so it needs to runs freely, but as close to the blade as you get it. Set the blade guide as low as possible to ensure precise cutting.
Start the band saw. Push the wedge block into the notch as shown above and push forward toward the blade. Push all the way through and pull back. You’ll soon find out that if you do this carefully, the wedge will be neatly pushed out to the right side of the blade when you pull the jig back – getting you ready for the next cut. Flip the wedge block over and you will square it off when cutting the next wedge. Pull back, flip again and on you go. You are now a Human Wedge Making Factory™. Be sure to make a bunch while you’re at it!
Finally, before using the wedges, I like to sort out the best ones. Which are the ones with the straightest grain and the most consistent shape. This is also where the knife comes in. To make it easier to hammer the wedges in, I taper them a bit with my knife. That way the wedges won’t bruise the edges of the mortise and they’ll enter the kerf easier.
This time we’re having an Irish themed Chair Chat. Chris talks about his DNA test that confirmed his part-Irish heritage. It also said he’s part Neanderthal. [Insert cheeky comment]. Like Chris, today’s chair victim is presumably Irish and vernacular. As always, we’re not sure of anything here. Not even our own sexual identities. We do however conclude that the chair has undergone a traditional Irish Beer Fart Finish™. As always, this chat is rated PG-13 and contains bearded men talking about finishing hard wood. If that offends you, please stop reading and call our Very Hot Line ™ for advice.
Editor’s note: Where does the king keep his armies? Up his sleevies.
The maker of this chair had his own ideas about arm orientation. Read on if you want to find out more about this peculiar chair that was undoubtedly inspired by the works of well known Dutch author Charles Dikkens.
Please note: If you are scared of mentions of feces, fornication jokes or rectal tenons, please close your computer now and wait around for the next blog post about Bean the Shop Cat sleeping on a sheepskin after a good meal.
If you are reading this via email, click the headline to read the rest.
Editor’s note: This time we discuss an antique chair with a finish that is “a wet antiquarian’s wet dream.” Or “Torched Feces” as Rudy would call it. The chair in total is maybe too perfect to be true, and sometimes Wales stretches all the way to China. We still love it. And as always, we don’t expect anyone to take any of our theories seriously. Chris also wishes for a blacksmith screw and regrets it immediately. As always, the language here is a bit on the salty side and we do mention words like “joint” and “shaved” several times. For those who only have Sting records in their collection, please stop reading now and click this link instead.
Chris: How ’bout we drag out the comb back?
Klaus: Let’s do it! Here it is:
Rudy: Here’s the info from the antiques dealer: “Original late 18th Century painted Welsh comb back chair. Mixed woods elm & ash.
Dimensions: 95.3 cms High (37.5 inches) 55.9 cms Wide (22 inches) 78.7 cms Deep (31 inches)”
Editor’s note: This week, we discuss a vernacular low chair where function has exceeded form. As with chairs, so also with humans – when a large chunk is added to your seat, you’ll end up looking out of proportion. Oh, and we also play a round of the classic game “Rock Paper Turd.”
And don’t forget: We don’t authenticate chairs – we just talk about what we like and don’t like.
As usual, we don’t know much about the chair. Its age, if the chairmaker had a big-bottomed wife or if he had a dog that could whistle. What we do know is that the seller says this: “This is a 19th century primitive Welsh ash low back chair. The measurements are: 59 cm wide, 40 cm deep, 29 cm seat height.”
Rudy: 29 cm seat height! That’s only about 11,417322834645 inches.
Klaus: Ah, the metric system. What’s not to like. You know what they say: The Americans go metric, inch by inch!
Chris: Ya, 11,417322834645″ is not a lot when it comes to seat height..