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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Glastonbury Chairs - Thoughts

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  • conradh@efn.org
    ... I don t have such a chair, but I do have a portable workbench that goes together with two keyed mortices and two bridle joints, and I know it takes me a
    Message 1 of 75 , Jun 2, 2010
      On Wed, June 2, 2010 9:15 am, Tim Bray wrote:

      > Properly constructed, they are not that difficult to assemble, though
      > there is a certain amount of fussiness, and it takes a few tries to get
      > the hang of it - in particular, getting the legs oriented correctly.
      > Still, with
      > experience it shouldn't take 15 minutes per chair, more like 5. And
      > frankly, that's the price you pay for authenticity.

      I don't have such a chair, but I do have a portable workbench that goes
      together with two keyed mortices and two bridle joints, and I know it
      takes me a lot less time to assemble than it did at first. Partly
      practice, but mostly it's the way I got smart and marked all the matching
      joints. The marks were needed at first because the bench isn't perfectly
      symmetrical, and in fact many period pieces of joinery show such marks,
      either because they were takedown or because the joiner built them in his
      shop and only assembled the parts at a jobsite. What I found helpful was
      to accent the marks, from light scratches to dark and very visible, but
      put them on mating faces that are hidden when the joint is assembled.
      Enough of those and confusion is no longer an issue, and most joints have
      somewhere such marks can be hidden.
      > On materials, I strongly recommend against Fir, or any other softwood
      > prone to splitting (especially Fir!). A guy down in Caid made one of
      > these in 2X fir and when I last saw it, there were more 3" drywall screws
      > than mortises. Short-grain at the ends of the seat rails will split, even
      > in oak sometimes. (Elm would probably be best, if you can find it in 1X.)
      > Fir
      > isn't really that much lighter than Ash and in fact often ends up being
      > heavier, because you have to use thicker stuff to get enough strength.

      Ash is wonderful stuff, though I mostly use it for tool handles. However,
      I find it splits very readily. Great when working with a froe and green
      wood, not so good for a piece with a mortice near the end! Which is why
      wheelwrights used oak spokes and elm hubs, I suppose.
      > Cheers,
      > Tim
      > trying to avoid another rant about the SCA insistence that everything has
      > to be cheap, AND lightweight, AND breakdown, AND easy, AND cheap...
      > whoops, gotta go!

      Why avoid it? It's a real issue we face all the time. I mostly have gone
      for the authentic direction, but then when you take a working blacksmith
      shop to events, "lightweight" is already a lost cause, so you just deal
      with it. A cheap, lightweight, breakdown anvil would probably be quite
      popular, except that it wouldn't work....

      It has a lot to do with why you're doing the event in the first place. If
      you're there to see all your friends, hit them with sticks, or sleep with
      them (and all of these are perfectly fine reasons!) then authenticity is
      pretty much irrelevant to you. Personally, besides the above reasons,
      I've always been most interested in _what was it like back then_? I'm not
      a purist, but a lot of effort people put in seems weirdly misdirected to
      me. My pet example is all the work people go to camouflage ice chests.
      Why? It's _far_ less work to simply learn how to live without
      refrigeration for a few days. Salted or dried meats, dried and the more
      lasting fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, wine, bread--people have lived on
      that for weeks, and lived well. I got a simple food dryer, and find I can
      dry all kinds of ingredients and cook fancy soups, stews and main dishes
      in camp. The time I'm not spending trekking clear across camp, or clear
      back to town, for ice for the damned cooler is there to enjoy--cooking or
      craftwork or just enjoying. _And_ my food setup is less in both weight
      and space than it used to be. Even if you don't like to cook in camp,
      what's wrong with bread, cheese, apples, sausage and beer? I can live
      quite happily on that for longer than most events last--just like
      thousands of my ancestors did.

      One of the reasons I haven't made period chairs for camping yet (though I
      might someday) is that I enjoy making chests, and I make most of them at a
      comfortable sitting height. Cushions are easy to stow because you can use
      them to pad fragile items. Set the chest near enough to a tree, post,
      bench or whatever, and I can usually have a good backrest that I didn't
      have to build, assemble or carry.

      Another set of thoughts--for almost any outdoor situation, I'm beginning
      to prefer three legs to four. Three legs sit solidly on even rough, lumpy
      ground. The stress of having one leg down but poorly supported seems to
      have been the commonest reason so many of my four-legged camp chairs have
      racked apart or broken. You can dig a bit and get such a chair to sit
      firmly, but then you can't move it without redigging.

      I made a knee-high bench this winter, from a piece of 8x8 and three 2x4
      legs. I chose the height for sawing support, high enough to keep the saw
      tip from hitting the ground but low enough to easily use my knee to pin
      down the work. It works well for sawing and also for hewing, and I plan
      to rig it for a block knife as well when I finish one. More than all
      these put together, though, I find people like to sit on it! It's a
      comfortable height, and comforting as well, because it feels so much more
      secure than the usual camp furniture. As soon as you sit down, you just
      know you aren't going to tip it over, you aren't going to break it no
      matter how much you weigh, and you can move it around as much as you like
      without having to jigger it into a solid stance.

      I've used a number of three-legged stools, and seen some pictures of
      three-legged chairs with back support. They are beginning to tempt me.
      But the multi-use advantages of benches and chests are very hard to beat.

      For takedown purposes, a bench or table with a wide, keyed-tenon stretcher
      is impressively strong and stable, and very quick to put together, but
      it's important to not skimp on the width of that stretcher.

      Meseems that too many of my countrymen visit another century the same way
      they visit another country--they won't consider it unless there are no
      differences at all from their life at home, and no possible risk of
      discomfort. Holiday Inn tourism. I've always wondered, what's the point?

      End of rant, for now...

    • O B Livion
      Of all the possible purposes I co sidered - that wasn t one of them. You learn something new every day (if not, what s the point of getting out of bed). Sent
      Message 75 of 75 , Jun 5, 2010
        Of all the possible purposes I co sidered - that wasn't one of them.

        You learn something new every day (if not, what's the point of getting out of bed).

        Sent from my iPhone
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