Where has BNut been?

Bonsai Nut

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I haven't been very busy on the site lately. Dog days of summer - my bonsai are just hanging out looking pretty - and I've been busy making a chair for my dad. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Before. 40 board feet of quarter sawn sapele (suh pee lee) - a close relative of mahogany.



After. Lot of hand work to get the curves fair. Natural oil finish.









 

garywood

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Nut, excellent craftsmanship! Art in it's own right is only half an equation and it is truly wonderful to see the equation balance!!!
Wood
 

greerhw

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That is beautiful, I bet there are a ton of hours in that piece.

keep it green,
Harry
 

Smoke

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Awesome! Destined to become a family heirloom.
 

irene_b

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OK I have a zillion questions....
How long have you been doing this kind of woodwork?
How many man hours to do this?
Please explain how you got the seat that way?
Do you do this for a living?
Where do you find this kind of hardwood lumber?
What special tools were needed?
OK I will stop there till you answer those :D
 

Bonsai Nut

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OK I have a zillion questions....
How long have you been doing this kind of woodwork?
How many man hours to do this?
Please explain how you got the seat that way?
Do you do this for a living?
Where do you find this kind of hardwood lumber?
What special tools were needed?
OK I will stop there till you answer those :D
(1) Hmmmm well let's just say I'm handy and like working with tools. I started woodworking a long time ago - I don't even know when. My mom still has a cutting board that I made for her back in 7th grade :)

(2) I didn't keep track of the man hours because: a) I went slower than normal because the project was unfamiliar to me b) I had to build a TON of forms and jigs to make the chair - things that I can reuse but which took a lot of time to build the first time. The jig to cut the headrest took a day to build - as did the jig to do the diagonal table saw cut to scoop out the arms.

(3) The seat was hand carved. I used a grinder and sander - but you COULD use hand tools the "old school" way. I don't use that many hand tools, though I use hand planes and sand a lot by hand because I don't know a better way to get perfect results. Some of the joints I had to trim with a shoulder plane for example - not sure how you could do it with a power tool.

(4) No, I don't do this for a living - because I probably wouldn't make any money :) My mentor sells these chairs for about $8,000, but he builds them for NBA basketball players and other VIPs and ships them all over the world. There isn't a very big market of people who can afford spending that kind of money for custom furniture - though I like to think that a chair like this will last generations, versus most furniture you buy nowadays which goes bad within a few years.

(5) There are sources for exotic hardwoods all over the place if you know where to look. In Southern California there is a good one down in San Diego, and one about 15 miles from me in Santa Ana. These places tend to be lumber mills and not hardware-type stores. I prefer to use domestic hardwoods when I can - and am particular towards walnut. However the lumber mill just happened to get in the most amazing sapele from Africa. You can't imagine what it looked like - one board, 13 feet long, almost 15" wide and 2" thick without a flaw - without a knot, or a burr, or a twist. And this was a quarter-sawn board, which means the tree it came from had to be huge to yield 15" fully dimensioned lumber. Sometimes I see lumber and decide on the project afterwards. I was actually planning on building a bonsai stand when I saw the board. I had been thinking about a rocker for a while and bought the lumber because it called to me :)

(6) You can build some amazing things with only a few tools and a lot of patience and accuracy. Accuracy is the key - you need to have good measuring devices (digital calipers), good marking knives, and perfectly accurate squares and angle gauges. I did most of the work on a jointer, table saw, band saw, drill press, router table, drum sander, and oscillating spindle sander (for the floor standing tools). Your floor tools have to be set up perfectly - your table saw needs to be dead square, etc. Even fractions of a degree can throw things off - the headrest billets I had to cut at exactly 4 degrees to get the right curve and even a small error would have made the curve too large or small to meet the back legs in a perfect arch. Then there were some forms and jigs that needed to be built that were kinda tools in their own right - forms to make the curved rockers or the bent back braces for example. Tools to build tools :)

It takes a long time to make the first one. The second I could build in less than half the time, and it would be nicer. I would be adding accent and detail work that I left out because I didn't want to deal with it the first time. The coolest thing about this chair is the feel of sitting in it (which you can't see in photos). The back braces are flexible and bend to fit your back (the center strips on the braces are ash - just like longbows - and give them a nice spring). The back braces are not actually attached to the chair; they are floating braces that are in slots so they can move and give as you rock back and forth. It is a very cool feeling.

I have a couple of other wood projects I have to knock out first before I tackle the next chair - a few more gifts for people, something my wife asked for, etc. I have a bonsai table in mind that Harry initially gave me the idea for... not directly but indirectly.
 

Si Nguyen

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(1) Hmmmm well let's just say I'm handy and like working with tools. I started woodworking a long time ago - I don't even know when. My mom still has a cutting board that I made for her back in 7th grade :)
.
Either she didn't cook much or you made one hell of a board. :D
Man, I can't stop looking at that rocker. It's like...rocker porn.
Greg, you had better built this thing with your own hands. If we ever find out you cheated, we will come over and beat you to a pulp. :D:D
 

Bonsai Nut

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Either she didn't cook much or you made one hell of a board. :D
Man, I can't stop looking at that rocker. It's like...rocker porn.
Greg, you had better built this thing with your own hands. If we ever find out you cheated, we will come over and beat you to a pulp. :D:D
If you saw my hands, you wouldn't doubt it :) On Saturday I spent 10 hours sanding it by hand, gradually working up in grit count. I wish I could wear gloves, but only bare fingers can feel slight imperfections that are invisible to the eye. Today I get to clean the residual sawdust out of the garage - my wife was upset because she left her car in the garage on Saturday and it had a fine sheen of dust all over it. I always leave my car on the driveway when I'm working :)

Here's a photo of what it looked like right before I applied the Danish oil (which is a wipe-on, wipe-off finish):

 

irene_b

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I ever win the lottery I will be having you build me a rocker just like this one!!!
The clean lines is what draws me to it! Adding anything else to it would be a crime!!
I love the smell of fresh cut lumber and Leather. And love to see and touch a well made piece of either! I also can't wear any gloves it removes the feeling of the wood :D
So can I add a rocker like this from you on my bucket list??:D
Please do show other items you have crafted...I am loving it!!!
I had to look real close to see most of the joinery.........
Almost looks like it was carved from a huge stump!!! All in 1 piece!!!
 
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donkey

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i used to have friends who built wooden furniture but not to such a high quality. The chair is magnificent and i hope your dad apreciates the love, effort and craftmansship that has obviously went into this piece.
 

rockm

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Beautiful work. And not a single blood stain on it...:D I always manage to do some sort of damage to myself whenever I pick up a hand tool.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Amazing! What great lines. Thanks for sharing Greg!
 
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