I have had many distractions this past while, all of which have kept me out of the workshop – but my thoughts turn to it daily. If my mind does not wander there of it’s own accord, it is forced to every time I pass, or look at, the Beech Lady’s Chair sitting by the small stove
I knew when I first started this chair that it was going to be a work in progress, that it would need many changes and iterations before it began to resemble something I would be happy with. Indeed, no sooner had I put the tools away and I had finished writing about it, than I was already developing a deepening dissatisfaction with the results and the need to recommence work on it.
So, what seems like an age ago, I did. I took it apart, knowing that this was merely the next step in what is going to be a long and winding journey, but one travelled in small, discrete stages – so there was no regret or sadness at my destructgion of what was already created.
I spent hours with the spokeshave removing wafer thin shavings as I rounded the sharp edges of the seat and created gentle, tactile curves, pleasing to the eye and finger tips. Well, at the least, I made rough approximations.
I walked in the woods looking for a half forgotten log of spalted Ash, finally returning victorious with my spoils. Using the froe and a large Black Thorne mallet I split the log into quarters and then set to work on the shavehorse. It was very relaxing using the drawknife to shave down and shape the legs of the chair, watching the patterns emerge and following the natural twists in the wood, rather than imposing straight lines. I switched between knives often, depending on the amount of stock I wanted to remove, or the gentle twist I wanted to follow and maybe gently accentuate.
When reasonably happy with the results I used Yew wedges to secure the legs to the seat, fixing them firmly and evenly in place, ensuring the wedge was at right angles to the grain in the seat. They worked quite well, becoming a feature within a feature.
I waxed and polished the seat, even though I knew I would be discarding this chair when it comes time to start again, making more changes and refinements – and so the process will go, I know.
So, there it has sat for the last month or more, and each time I look at, or touch, it, I think it may be the last time I do either – soon, very soon, it is destined for the fire.
When I am free to return to my tools I will sit with them and smoke an old pipe while pondering the day ahead. Then I will start the Lady’s chair again, from the very beginning, re-treading this journey, but with surer steps, firmer of purpose and, hopefully, I will get a little closer to my goal.