A Bit Of A Stretch

Recently I have been challenged to create a chair design of mine in walnut. Since most of my chairs rely on technics that exploit the characteristics of the wood itself to make them then changing the wood can be a challenge or impossible all together.

Here is the chair that I usually make in white oak. This is a perfect wood for so many reasons and works really well for making this back support. The back support is made from a steam bent blank that is  1-1/4″ thick, 3-1/2″ high, and 27-1/2″ long. This takes a tremendous amount of force to bend and a precise setup.

So, when a client wanted this in walnut I wondered if it was possible and just had to see how far I could stretch the possibilities. Before I go into explaining how I got the setup just right to achieve this bend here is a video to show that it is possible.

I will follow up with some photos of the part after the bending.

10 thoughts on “A Bit Of A Stretch

  1. It's an attractive simple chair, but when looking at the side view, it appears an odd proportional balance between the weight of the back, and the small diameter of the rear legs where they enter it.

  2. The heart of the design came from Hans Wegner's midcentury designs. If you take a look at the ch20 and ch36 chairs you can see the strong influences from his work. Most of all my early motivations to produce chairs came form his work. I love utilitarian pieces and the democracy of design that influenced that period of design work for most furniture makers. As far as the proportion, the height of the backrest arm section where the rear leg enters the back rest makes it possible to have good depth but the width only allows for 3/4" ø for the tenon. It has proven to be plenty strong.

  3. Thanks for the reply.You appear to be still rather young in your career, so relying on inspirations from the past is a good thing, but at some point you may want to develop your own new solutions to design problems, instead of relying on other justifications. Strength is one thing, good design proportion may be another. Points of transition where one member connects to another, are very important in creating an overall harmony of balance. If your eye gets drawn to a specific area due to a tension there, it may not be the best way to do it. As Wegner said himself, "The good chair is a task one is never completely done with."

  4. The truth is that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". What one person thinks is beautiful another thinks is ugly and what another thinks is ugly then someone else will think is beautiful. You like red socks, I like blue socks, and he likes green socks. What I say is build what you think is beautiful and you are sure to fine someone that thinks it is too. The trick is to find enough of those people who do so that you can keep on making what you love.

  5. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is a cliche that doesn't hold much water when seeking answers to design solutions. There are far more people out there in the market that have no training or concept in what is good proportion, merely go by their whims, than those that do. Sure, you might make a living fulfilling their needs, but it becomes questionable to what degree it truly advances your own abilities and career. I have been building furniture for a living many times longer than you have, in various cultures, and you haven't once expressed any thanks for my looking at your work and registering an opinion, yes an uncalled for one, but the way you have set up your blog allows for it. Perhaps I am off base in the way I look at things compared to yourself and what you want to accomplish in your shop, still, showing appreciation in such matters is a good sign of the potential for advancement. Good luck to you young man, I will refrain from further comment, it seems to be your preference.

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