I am considering making my chair backs out of laminated wood, rather than
steaming them or cutting them on the band saw.
My chair book says to buy 1/16" veneer. I can't find 1/16" veneer, but
judging by the prices on 1/25" veneer, it would be cheaper to buy the chairs
than the veneer.
Is it available at a reasonable price somewhere?
I cut a few pieces of 3/32" (after sanding) and glued them up to see how it
would go. It works, but I would have to cut about 80 pieces of it for the
project. Its doable, but would take a while.
How severe is the curve you're after? If you start with wide enough
stock, you can probably nest a few legs per board. Then bandsaw them.
If you make a cardboard template, you can transfer the shape onto a
board, using up a lot of wood and making sure the waste is big enough
to use for stretchers etc. You get to 'work' the grain for maximum
Think of the time, sawdust, adhesive, sandpaper, hassle in finishing,
the 'look' of laminations.... and unless you have a bezillion clamps,
the task will be immense.
The curve is not large; I am talking about the back rails.
The book says to laminate them, but I did think about cutting them on the
band saw. I am not sure my bandsaw skill are up to producing 8 identical
pieces, all of constant thickness.
But, I guess it is a chance to improve my bandsaw skills, isn't it?
I did some research on laminating before I started this rocking chair;
I was considering laminating both the backs and the rockers. From what
I've read, 1/8 or even 1/4" thick strips should be able to bend to a
~30" radius. Depends on the wood, moisture content, etc. I know
Rockler etc. sell 1/4" pieces of "craft wood", but it seems like it'd
be much cheaper to use a bandsaw and planer.
My chair backs came out to something like 30-32" radius, but I ended up
cutting them on the bandsaw instead of laminating. Of course, I only
needed 2. Laminating would still take a while, unless you made up
several forms and have a bunch of clamps. I really liked the grain
patterns that came out on my bandsawn backs (cherry). Also, how are
you planning to attach the backs to the uprights? I was able to cut
the tenons on my square stock before bandsawing the curve, which was
much easier than cutting angled mortises or trying to figure out the
tenon angles after the fact. Something to consider.
Another thing I was considering but didn't try was to use a bandsaw
circle jig to cut the outer curve on my chair backs. I would have
needed to attach a few strips of wood to my stock to serve as radii,
but then the bandsaw cut for the outer curves should be very
consistent. Then you can reference the outer curve against the bandsaw
fence to cut the inner curve. Let me know if you want me to try to
clarify that further.
Hope this helps,
What kind of wood are you using, and what is your design and radius for the
chair back rails?
Having recently cut curved back rails for seven chairs (2/chair), perhaps I
can give you a few ideas if I had a better idea of what you're shooting for.
Except that I am using red rather then white oak, mine will be pretty much
identical to yours.
The book said that laminating avoided the odd grain you can get from
cutting, but yours look fine.
Any tips would be appreciated. I am sure that between the band saw and the
oscillating sander I can make one, but getting 8 that are all constant
thickness; that is intimidating.
That may even be better, because QSWO over 8/4 is non-existent and,
depending upon your radius, you may need a finished thickness of greater
than 2" for your starting blank (red oak should be readily available up
I had to glue up two pieces to get QSWO blanks in excess of the 2" thickness
necessary to cut a curve with a radius of 20", over a 12 1/2"
I used loose tenon joinery, so if you're using integral tenons you need to
take their length into account when dimensioning your blank.
Actually, it's _much_ easier than you think, as only the two per chair
really need to be _identical_ , and this is the easy part, particularly if
you have access to a CAD program and a printer.
Just for talking purposes, the dimensions for the two curved rails for each
chair I built were:
Crest rail: 2" tall x 12 1/2" wide x 1" thick; and Intermediate rail: 1"
tall x 12 1/2" wide x 1" thick.
For each chair I started with ONE blank, roughly 4 1/2" tall x 13" wide x 2
1/2" thick, and with a centerline penciled into the top of the blank
Out of this one blank you will end up with two _identically_ curved rails
for one chair.
I used a CAD program to print out the TOP view of a 1":1" scaled template of
the curve on a legal size sheet of paper, thusly:
Using the center line on the template lined up with the centerline AND a
flat edge of the blank (use scissors to cut away portions of the paper
template to make this easy), then pasted on top of the blank with Elmer's
spray-on glue, it becomes your cutting guide for bandsawing your curves;
your tenons if you're not using loose tenon joinery; and to locate your slat
Regarding the latter, be sure to carry ALL the lines completely around your
blank with a saddle square AFTER you cut and sand the front and back curves
so that you can locate the mortises after ripping the blanks into the two
The sequence in which you do the operations is dependent upon whether you
are using integral or loose tenons. Just give it some thought and the
sequence should become apparent.
IOW, do those cuts which are easiest/more accurately done with a flat face
against a fence before you cut your curves ... you don't need to being
making extra jigs to do angled cuts.
On the bandsaw, I used a 1/2" blade to cut the curves.
I slowly, and carefully, cut right to the line, but left the line, then
sanded using a ROS just until I got rid of the bandsaw marks on both sides.
Go slow on the bandsaw ... you're saving a good deal of time by doing it
this way, so take all the time you need to make your cuts as close to the
line as you can.
(Might want to make up an extra practice blank or two out of some cheaper
wood till you get the hang of the bandsawing)
Once satisfied with the smoothness after sanding, go to the table saw and,
with the back curved side up, rip the completed blank into two parts of the
correct dimension ... you should now have the two _identically_ curved parts
for one chair (the only two that really need to be _identical_).
All the above notwithstanding, I had also made provisions for using a router
table, with a flush trim pattern bit and a template to do the above, but by
being extra careful with the cuts on the bandsaw, it was not remotely
necessary as the ROS worked like a charm to "fair" the curves.
NOTE: You may want to wait until after you glue up a chair to do the final
'fairing" and smoothing of the front curves, but you can't do that with the
back curves for obvious reasons, so make sure you have the back side smooth
to your satisfaction before you cut the blank in two.
Let me know if you have any questions.
FWIW, there is a jig on my website for using a plunge router to cut the
mortises in the curved parts if you're interested in seeing one method of
Scroll down to "jigs for jigs".
Good luck ... and don't hesitate to ask if something is not clear.
I really appreciate all the help. I will probably have some questions later
on, but the first thing to do is to practice some cutting. The plan calls
for 3.5" and 2" rails, but I am probably going to make them narrower; more
The wood is no problem. 2 years ago I bought 150bf of 10/4 and 12/4 oak on
ebay for $1, and have been looking for a use for it. I am using some for a
bowl turning course I am taking, but you can only turn so much...
I was also planning loose tenons; the kind with the drill fixture.
IIRC you're in Western NY. Depending on what species you're looking for
"Certainly Wood" in East Aurora may have 1/16" veneer. See:
Note: 1/16" would be considered a "special" thickness so you'd have to
call them for availability and pricing.
Certainly Wood Inc.
13000 Route 78
East Aurora, NY 14052-9515
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.