Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adding a pretensioning member (lag bolt), and making the seat

Click Here for a Flickr slide show.  I added a bolt through a potential breaking point at the bottom of the back support.  Then, I completed a revision to the profile of the "elbos" which had been bothering me for a while.  I had to hand carve the rounded bottoms of the arms to match the machined round shape running up the outside of the arms.  It came out very clean.

Also, after a failed attempt to build the seat with angles measured from the mock up and used to cut 8 triangles on the table saw, I got a terrific suggestion from shopmate Andrew Isley; build a jig that holds the seat component off the saw table at the correct finished orientation, and let the saw cut straight and the geometry can take care of itself!  I built such a jig and it worked perfectly on some test wood.  I also tested rounding the edges of the pieces on the router table, and discovered that the unsupported ends had noticeable "tear out" when the router bit emerged from the piece.  I'll solve this too, and also try splining together some of the panels, before I make the final seat out of the very expensive Zebra wood I milled from 2" lumber yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the shop's finishing room, I have prepared several finish samples on scraps of Afromosia, combinations of sealers, pore fillers, stain, and polyurethane or Tung oil; I need to get a beautiful finish I am certain I can produce on the 20 parts of this first chair, and be sure it dries correctly and so forth.  I am pretty sure I have a good recipe, but before I proceed, I will check in with Sandy's brother, a professional antiques restorer.

I've ordered a variety of little brass components from which I can make the tie rods across the bottom of the chair legs.  If these are problematic, I can do something with bicycle spokes and some of their fastening components. We'll see.


  1. When the chair is done, some of this should be on instructables with a link to a portfolio site.

  2. Good idea, thanks. Promo will be yet another effort. I need to get access to a place to do some photos. Perhaps a theater stage, with a piano and a dancer in the background.