With the band sawing of the rear legs completed and the head rest holes drilled I set out to shape the rear legs and to band saw and shape the front legs.
Some of the shaping of the legs could be done with a round-over bit in a router table however, because of the irregular curves of the legs some round-overs required a unique fixture to be used with the router. This fixture is the donut-shaped piece that you can see in the picture. The donut allows for the tight curves near the leg joints to be rounded over reasonably well.
I first completed the round-overs on the flat faces of the rear-legs with a 5/8″ RO bit at the router table. Next I moved to the router fixture with the same bit and proceeded to round over the other edges (all except the inside long edge). This operation was a bit tricky and required a good deal of attention to stay safe and to achieve good results. Noting the direction of rotation of the router bit (as it related to the curves) was very important so that areas would not tear out during the routing operation. I needed to always make sure I was routing down-hill or I stopped short of the bit exiting the piece. I kept my hands a good bit away from the spinning bit and in some instances avoided routing all the way to the ends of the stock to avoid any chances of kickback or over cutting.
Because I did not route to the ends of the work pieces on all edges, there was some cleanup to do with a spokeshave , rasp and file. The ends of the legs will ultimately be shaped to final dimension when they are attached and faired to the rockers and arms at a later stage in the chair build. However, there were also other areas in which the round-over bit was not able to do a complete job and/or where areas needed to be blended to create a flowing curve. This hand shaping was actually quite enjoyable. There’s something very organic about shaping wood by hand with these kinds of tools – it establishes a real connection with the material and form that you are creating.
Once the shaping of the rear legs was completed I moved on to the front legs. The first step was to trim the bottoms of the legs at an angle (~8 degrees). Then, I was able to lay out the leg outlines from a template for band sawing. The front legs were band sawed to follow this outline and then a secondary curve was free-handed to define the final leg thickness. After the legs were marked, they were band sawed again being careful to maintain a square cut while accounting for the irregular surfaces of the legs.
I followed a similar process to shape the front legs, using the same router fixture and 5/8″ RO bit. However, due to the smaller size of the front legs I used a quick clamp (minus the soft rubber pad) to hold each leg from the center at the leg joint in addition to holding one end with my hand so that I could stay safely away from the router bit. A similar bit of hand shaping was required after the rough router work. With all of the initial shaping done on the legs I put them into position for a test fit. It is starting to look like a chair!
Next up: Creating and rough shaping the arms