carpentry, homesteading, tools, wood working

Rainy Days Are Not Just For Movies

We have all been there.  The forecast calls for rain all weekend, and there are a million things that need to be done outside.  You just feel like throwing up your hands and sitting in the house all day, but thing are a little different around here.  A rainy day is an opportunity to have a little fun and get things accomplished at the same time!  Maybe straighten up the garage a little, or even get a little shop time in with no time limit.  It is not very often that you can turn on the music and take all day to do a project.  Especially not in the spring, summer, and fall.  So we took on a little woodworking project you can build on a rainy day and on a budget.  The Adirondack chair, iconic the symbol of country living, and camp fires.  We built this one for around $50, which is about 1/3 of what you can buy one for.

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This project was built out of 6 pieces of 5/4″ x 6″ x 8′ decking.  We also used 2″ and 2.5″ decking screws.  We used a few basic wood working tools that most of us have in the shop like a table saw, jig saw, router, and screw gun.  We have developed a cut sheet to maximize our lumber, so Pandora radio was turned on and all of the boards were cut to length.

 

We prefer our Adirondack chairs built at an 80 degree angle this is a little different than the traditional 75 degrees.  It allows you to sit back in the chair a little more comfortably.  Because of this we also have to cut the bottom of our legs at a 5 degree angle.  We also like a contoured seat which requires an arch to be cut in the stringers.  The stringers and arm rests also have rounded ends that can all be cut with a jig saw.

 

Once we have all of the jig saw work done we round over the rough edges with a 3/8″ round over bit on our router table. This gives the stringers and arms a finished look.  As you can see in the picture on the right, the arms get one end that is rounded and the other is only half rounded.  We also round over all of the edges that were ripped on the table saw, it is time consuming, but worth the extra effort.  We then move on to  assemble the stringers, front brace, and legs.  After that, the back is assembled.  To make the arched top, we mock up the back and make an arc with a radius of 19 inches.  Again we round over the cut edges. After the back is assembled it is connected to the stringers at the rear of the arches we cut earlier.  It is placed at a 100 degree angle.  This is crucial to the chairs comfort, using a protractor to get this angle.

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Now that the back is attached it is a good time to secure the seat slats, and because they are only 1.5 inches wide it is best to pre-drill your holes or they will split.

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Then add the middle back brace, locating it by placing the arm on the chair temporarily, and marking where they meet the back.  These braces are cut on an angle to accept the arms.

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After this, the arms can be secured along with the arm braces.

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We also add our own signature feature, a wine glass holder.  We have broken so many glasses throughout the years that it only made sense to find a way to secure them.  We accomplished this by drilling a 1″ hole in the arm and then use the jig saw to connect it to the outer edge, again route the edges.  Once everything is secure, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This project took us just a little over 3 hrs, but I am sure it could be done quicker if we were in a hurry.  This chair will actually be raffled off to raise money for a fund in memory of my Aunt.  It was a great way to spend a rainy morning, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  A rainy day can be so productive weather it’s in the wood shop or making that great meal that you never quite have the time to make.  So next time it rains, don’t curse the heavens, just change up your game plan.  And don’t forget rain makes corn.

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firewood, homemade, homesteading, wood working

A Lesson in Wood Shavings

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On a cold February day,  my son Luke and I set out to make an ax handle. In the process, we received an unexpected lesson.  In a world with Home Depot and Amazon, we give little thought to buying the things we need.  The things we need are always at our fingertips, or at most a short drive or two days shipping away.  However, there are still a few things out there that you can’t get by just clicking a button and a handle for an old ax is one of them.  So we took a page out of our ancestors book, and when we needed something we made it from what was available.  The ax was special to us, as it had belonged to an older gentleman that had lived near us.  When he would walk by our house he would sometimes stop and talk and we always listened.  One time while we were splitting wood he stopped and told us all about how he used to split wood just like we were doing. As sad as we were about his passing, we happily purchased the ax at his estate sale along with a few other of his prized items.  The ax was small with a short handle. It split well, and was easy to carry along in the woods.  The day it broke, we were crushed,  so on this cold February day, we set out to make something truly homemade.  In the garage, we found a scrap piece of black walnut that was the right size.  We began by tracing the shape of the old handle onto the walnut.  We also added a center line for reference.  We clamped the wood in the vise, and went to work with our old draw knife,  also acquired at an estate sale.  It became apparent that this was not going to be a quick job, and as the work went on, I began to think of how much more careful our ancestors must have been with their tools.  When an errant swing could cost you a half a day of work, I bet you focus a whole lot harder on your task.  We also knew that the next time we used this ax we would have the same type of focus.

As the wood peeled off with each stroke of the draw knife, and the shavings piled up on the floor, the handle slowly took shape.  We often paused to hold the handle, because how it felt in our hands was important, and how it felt became just as important as how it looked.  We could imagine our ancestors doing the same, since this was a custom piece made to fit only our hands.  It was now our tool, not some generic thing from Lowe’s.

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The more we worked, the slower we went. We put so much time and effort into getting the handle to take shape that we wanted it to come out perfect.  This was another lesson in craftsmanship that has been lost today.  As we painstakingly carved the handle to fit the ax head,  my son Luke came up with a great idea to put a spent casing from our rifle in the handle, now the ax would most certainly be one of a kind.

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In the end, we hand-crafted a beautiful ax handle, that we will never forget making.  We also found that we had a greater appreciation for our forefathers, and how hard they worked for simple things.  It was nice to take a break from today’s world, escape the “screens” for a few hours, and do something that felt worthy of our effort.

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