Mark ( on February 5th, 2010

Well, now that the legs have all been attached it was time to start the shaping of the leg to seat joints.  If you’ve been following along, you know that there was a good amount of material that at each joint location that needed to be removed and sculpted into the seat to be more graceful and aesthetically pleasing. Especially on the front legs, where the glued-up leg blanks offered a built-in clamping block for attaching the legs, there was quite a bit of material to take away.

Fitting Arm to Rear LegArm Joint FItted to Rear LegBefore diving in to the sculpting efforts I performed one more operation on the arms.  This was to prepare the arm to rear-leg joint.  To do this, I first cleaned up each of the rear legs at the arm joint location.  These were still rough from the original band sawing.  I just did this with a few swipes of a sharp block plane.  Next, I clamped each arm at the front leg transition area and adjusted it so that it was fairly tight against the rear leg at the joint location.  Because the angles were no perfectly matched, these joints needed to be trued to one-another.  This was done with some strips of 100-grit sand paper between the two pieces at the joint.  I pulled the sand paper through the joint, pulling away from the side that the grit was on so that I did not round over the edges of the pieces.  This took a while with the grit alternating from the arm-side to the rear leg side.  After a bit of work I had good tight joints.  After I had done this and ripped several strips of sand paper in the process, I thought about putting some strapping/packing tape on the back side of the sand paper to strengthen it – I’ll file that idea away for the next time I have to do this which will be when I fit the rockers to the chair.

With all of the possibilities of stalling exhausted, I arrived at the point where I needed to again take the angle grinder to the chair.  After all of the work so far, I was both excited to start the sculpting as well as a bit concerned over this step.  This work was done with the angle grinder and a 36-grit disk so material was going to be removed very quickly.

Original Rear Leg JointGround Rear Leg Joint 1Ground Rear Leg Joint 2I started with the relatively simple task of leveling the joints between the rear legs and the seat.  This got me again used to the motions necessary to smoothly move the grinder and the aggressiveness of the stock removal. Next I moved to the front legs for the more complex of the sculpting tasks.  The difficulty here was two-fold: first, sculpt the leg to reveal a smooth curve between the leg and the seat and leaving a continuous line of the front leg; second in doing so, work to move the transition of the joint between the leg and the seat away from the corner.  The second point was necessary in order to achieve a smooth curve between the legs and seat without having an abrupt 90-degree corner.  Surprisingly, this was accomplished by grinding further into the side of the leg – effectively moving the joint line away from the corner!

Original Front Leg JointFront Leg Joint Grinding 1Front Leg Joint Grinding 2Front Leg Joint Grinding 3Front Leg Joint Grinding 4Front Leg Joint Grinding 5Front Leg Joint Grinding 6

In the pictures you can see the progression of the sculpting on the front legs.  The first picture shows the original joint.  Each subsequent picture shows the steps of removing material to sculpt the leg into the seat.  Note how the joint line moves from the corner outward.  This was helped on the front side of the leg by relieving the front corner of the seat to allow better access for the grinder.

Seat Round Over 1Seat Round Over 2The last thing to do before putting the grinder on the shelf for a while was to form a round-over along the top and bottom of the seat sides in between the legs.  To do this I first marked a line along the edge about ½” in from the corner.  I then chamfered between these lines with the grinder trying to keep a smooth line.  After that I made smaller chamfers along each edge to create the round-over.

Grinding CompleteOf course, all of this sculpting will still require more work with the rasp, files and sand paper to complete the job.  But, for now the chair is starting to look more sculpted.

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2 Responses to “Sculpted Rocking Chair: Sculpting the Leg Joints”

  1. You are getting to the fun part of the chair. The sculpting is daunting at first if it is something you’ve never done. After a while, you begin to get the feel of the angle grinder and it is fairly easy to control.

    I finished my chair in December. Looking back, it is a good idea to spend some time fairing the curves of the transition between the legs and the seat. As I am sitting in my chair, I am discovering that the details during the sculpting are important, but really quite forgiving as you move from the rough shaping to the finer work.

    I look forward to your articles — especially the chair as it was the same project I was making. Keep up the good work,


  2. Great tutorial… I can tell you have some experience doing this! I had a chance to peruse your blog for a while, looks awesome and I’ll be back again!

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