Last week while my class of 7th graders was in the school library, one of the library chairs broke. All by itself - "I swear!"
Later, I spotted the chair pitched in the dumpster behind the loading dock. As if it wasn't enough that the chair was a middle school casualty, now the wood it was made of was going to be wasted. Finding this unacceptable I did what any good scrounge/woodworker would do - I climbed into the dumpster after school and shoved the carcass into the back of my truck.
Here's what was left of the chair when it arrived at the shop:
Now Robin, our school librarian, is amazing. She is always doing great things for our kids and school, so I wanted to use this salvaged wood to make some kind of thank you gift for her.
I took the chair apart to see exactly what I had to work with.
After picking two pieces with interesting grain, I cut of the ends to remove the dowels left over from the original joints.
I had been thinking about making some kind of box, but at this point I changed plans. The long, relatively slender pieces just didn't lend themselves to the kind of box I had in mind, so I decide to make a picture frame instead. I sketched up a rough plan for what I call an Oxford frame. I have no idea where I came up with that name, or why it is (maybe) called that.
Next I resawed the two pieces into four, and ganged them together for thicknessing with a scub (just for the few odd high spots) followed by a fore plane with a cambered iron and then a jack with an uncambered iron. (One of the screw hole cross-sections seen in the second picture is still visible on the back of the finished frame - a neat clue to the salvaged nature of this wood.)
After deciding which faces would show, I used a square, a marking gauge, and a marking knife to lay out the half-lap joints. I used a chisel, held by the blade (sort of an icepick grip) to cut vee shaped grooves for the saw to follow. The outside of each groove is the vertical knife cut, while the inside (waste) is the angled cut from the chisel. This really helps me make clean, square crosscuts by hand.
After that, it was just a matter of cross cutting (done with a LN dovetail saw filed for ripping...hey, it works!) and then using a mallet and chisel to pop out the waste, followed by paring it clean. I haven't gotten around to making a bench hook yet, so I am always just using two dogs to cut against. It has been working so well that I may never get around to making that hook.
A quick test fit, then it is off to the stopped rabbets for the glass, mat, picture and backer.
On the shorter pieces, rails in this case, the half-laps are cut in the back the same as the rabbets. This gave me enough room to drop a router plane into the gap created by the lap and then it was easy enough to plane the rabbet using the fence on the plane and lowering the blade after each pass.
On the stiles however, the laps are in the face so this technique wouldn't work. There may well be a way to cut stopped rabbets with a router plane, but I couldn't figure it out. So I reverted to the craftmanship of risk and did it with a chisel freehand. So much easier! Next time I am leaving the 71 on the shelf and just doing it with the chisel and marking gauge.
About this time I needed a break, and Teague came to my rescue!
Here's what the bench looked like at the end of the day. Times like this I am always glad I made the bench as big as I did.
A quick coat of Tried and True and it's done! I hope Robin enjoys it - and I'll try to keep my 7th graders away from it!