Re: INSPIRATION - STICKLEY FOOTSTOOL

Several of my dining room chairs are sticky.
"T." wrote:

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Gerald Ross
Cochran, GA
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (T.) wrote in message

Says it's "quarter-sawn oak." Seems to me that if quartersawn is a particular orientation of a board to the grain of the wood then a square piece would always be (or almost always be) quarter-sawn on two sides. Am I correct?
-Chris
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On 18 Nov 2003 09:56:50 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@mybluelight.com (Chris) wrote:

Correct, but there are two other points also worth remembering.
"Quarter sawing" is a _method_ of sawing up timber (actually two ways) so as to produce these boards. You still won't produce entirely radial boards by it, just more and closer approximations.
The log is quartered, then boards are sawn from each quarter. One way is to flatsaw the quarters at 45 into a flitch of parallel boards (easy to do, but not efficient on small logs). The other way is to saw face-by-face, turning the log each time. This is more efficient, but more work, especially with a heavy log..
The appearance of the board depends on its orientation, not the method by which the whole log was sawn. The orientation of a board across the trunk is what controls the ray flake pattern. As you point out, even flat sawn timber will produce a board or two from the centre that are radial and almost "quarter sawn".
To make truly radial boards you can rive them (split them with a froe). This produces tapered boards and also (especially for oak) shows almost no ray flake at all. Rays are a structural part of the timber and good riving passes between these, not through them. Although such boards aren't much seen today, a radial oak board with no flake figure, (even with the taper) is characteristic of medieval work and important for reproductions.
With Craftsman work, radial figure was a key feature. It was such a feature that some major components, like chair or table legs, showed it on all four sides. Gustav Stickley, originator of the "Craftsman" line did this by veneering the tangential surfaces with a thick radial veneer. His brothers at L & J G Stickley did it instead by assembling four radial faces with mitred edges. Today's Stickley company still uses a similar technique.
Personally I don't veneer. For tables I generally show the best surface to the outside and ignore the others. There are no customers who even recognise the radial face, let alone demand it on all faces. If you do find a collector who understands, then they're either hunting originals, or making their own. Maybe someone out there is making repro and has an appreciative audience, but here in the UK Stickley is unheard of anyway.
I do sometimes use the mitring technique on prominent chair legs, for which I use a large Jesada lock mitre cutter. It's a good technique for making large section legs from thin stock, and they're nicely stable afterwards. However this does leave a central hole, so making something like a Morris chair with a protruding tenon through the arm needs some trickery. Either fake up an end grain stub to shape the pyramid, or (as I do) use a blind tenon and leave the arm upper surface flat, to make a better teacup rest.
For this footstool, I'd just use plain stock and ignore two faces. It's not my favourite Craftsman piece, but it's interesting for being one of very few original pieces to show the flared "Krenov style" legs.
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Excellent post!
I always thought Stickley's practice with the quadralinear post was rather ironic considering one of the driving forces behind the Craftsman movement was simplicity, and form more or less following function.
Leave it to the 'murricans to put a heavier emphasis on appearance, unnatural or otherwise.
I personally detest the practice and find that it looks "wrong" to my eye. There is absolutely nothing unpleasing to me about seeing two distinct grain patterns on a QSWO post as you walk around a piece.
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Last update: 9/21/03
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Swingman writes:

I feel like the mitering/veneering technique looks odd...I know that a piece of wood is not natural that way, so finding more than 2 sides with prominnent rays looks weird.
And on the stubby footstool shown, it would really be a waste of wood! Only the outside edges are visible, until you stand on your head or pick the piece up.
Charlie Self "Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance." Ambrose Bierce
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