As a hobbyist woodworker, I love having the complete freedom to pursue my interests. Spoon-carving? Cheap, easy and portable. Bowl turning? Wet, ribbony shavings of bliss. Kitchen table? Nice to have a big project every now and then. Side tables? I can knock one out in a weekend! Windsor chairs? The decathlon of woodworking skills, bring it on.
The problem with having this much freedom – and so many disparate interests – is that I end up with more than enough rope to hang myself. I take on too much at once, and with no looming deadlines to focus my attention, I flit from one project to the next while nothing much gets accomplished at all.
Such was the situation that I found myself in about a month ago. I had a side table close to completion (Inspiration Doesn’t Strike…), a continuous-arm high chair with all of the parts made (some assembly required) and a billet of thick curly maple that’s been kicking around my shop since this spring as my friend patiently waits for me to turn it into a gunstock (hunting season, the ostensible deadline, seems perpetually distant). Not to mention a half dozen other projects too piddly to mention.
When I find myself stumbling over half-finished projects every time I enter my shop, I know it’s time to buckle down and get something out the door.
I decided that the high chair would be the first project to cross off of my list. There really wasn’t that much left to do, and I’ve done it all before.
Evening 1: Turn the oven-dried tenons to fit, bore holes for the stretchers, and assemble the the undercarriage.
Evening 2: Bore holes into the spindle deck and the arm rail, shave the spindles to size, and dry fit.
Evening 3: Assembly time! Shave a buttload of oak wedges, warm the hide glue, and cross my fingers.
And just like that, a project is out of my shop ready for a finish.
This chair will be black-over-red, like all the others. To be honest, I’m getting tired of this paint scheme (this will be my fourth Windsor chair of the same complexion), but since all of these chairs sit around our dining room table, my wife has reasonably requested that they match.
I will eschew the milk paint on this chair, which has given me grief and mixed results in the past. I plan on mixing up some red oil paint for the base coat and some black tinted shellac for the topcoat. Aside from its ease of use, the biggest benefit to starting with red oil paint is that it will require several days to cure…which means that I will have an excuse to put this chair aside while I turn my attention to other projects…