Making a Handcrafted Chair Part 1 – Template Design and Layout
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Making a Handcrafted Chair Part 1 – Template Design and Layout


In woodworking there’s many different
ways to approach a project, both in mindset and technique. I believe it’s
important for everybody to find the method that works best for them. So one of my
favorite things that I’ve learned over the years is templating. Templating has
allowed me to do things without a CNC. It’s allowed me to be very precise and
perfect about what I want to build before I actually move forward and build
it. It’s great to have when you’re doing a chair or stool such as this. When you
really need both those sides to be exact. That template’s going to be exactly how
that end result is going to be. And when we have that template that is exactly
what we want, then we can start the build. So this is what I like to call the mother.
This is the main template. This is the template that we’re going to want to
get exact. Because whatever we start with here we’re gonna end up with a finished
piece of furniture. We’re also gonna make a second one of these. The second one
we’re going to break down into, in this case three pieces, and when you put
these three pieces together it’s obviously going to make the same shape as a mother.
For obvious reasons we cannot find a piece of lumber that is big enough for
this. Not only that is it won’t be strong in the joints. So this allows us to find
these angles on the joints and then we’re able to join them with a
correct grain going the right way. So for starting out I typically begin
with a sheet of MDF. And for me I have a very vivid imagination and I have it in
my head what I to do. For others they might want to first sketch it out
on a piece of paper and then to transfer that. Now I’m going to start with the
pencil because I know that I’m gonna be erasing certain lines. So as you can see
I’m getting a real vague kind of ambiguous shape going on here. And it’s
going to give me something to work off of. I know I’m gonna look at it I’m gonna see things immediately that I don’t like
about it but it’s a point of reference more than
anything. Sometimes I’ll do a little bit of freehand work as well and then come
back and then I’ll straighten out those those lines. In order to get those
radiuses a little bit more consistent I typically just use stuff like paint cans and
spray-paint and washers, kind of whatever you have laying around the shop that
gives you a real consistent curve. So now that I’m done sketching out about what I
think I want. I’m pretty happy with it I’m happy with the legs the thickness of
it, the proportions. I’m gonna take this and stand it up. This is one of the great
things about templates. When you build to scale, you’re really able to put it
up take a step back and look at it and make sure it’s what you really want. And
always keep in mind that once you start with this is basically going to be
the exact same thing that you’re going to end up with. Now comes the
time of breaking this down. What I’ve found that works the best for
me is the track saw and a track. This allows us to get these lines perfectly
straight. Now if you don’t have one that’s ok. You can use a jigsaw. You can
use a skill saw. But just keep in mind that it’s really important to keep these
lines perfectly straight. Because once again this is exactly what you’re going
to end up with. So if there’s a little divot in this, it’s a little squirrel-ly. That’s
going to transfer to your finished piece. And when I cut this I’m going to drop
the blade at the beginning point, and the end point, of these radiuses. You don’t
want to go past this, because any kind of little variation or defect on that
template is going to show up in the end piece. So I’m going to cut it short and
I’m going to connect them with a jigsaw. We now have our somewhat cleaned up
version of the template. What I want to do before I make our duplicate is, I want
to clean up all these radiuses. I have a spindle sander which I’ll go ahead and
use. Ok we have our completely finished. Hopefully we’re happy with it. 100% this
is the finished template. Now like I mentioned before this is a mother. Now we
have to duplicate it. Nothing helps you grow more than just getting out there
and building something.

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