Beech ladder back

Beech ladder back

I had a lot of different ideas that I wanted to try out but didn’t want to build four or five similar chairs so I’ve put them all in one. As a coherent design it might not work very well…

I haven’t steam bent much beech and I don’t think I’ve ever tried bending kiln-dried beech so this was a worthwhile test. Steam bending is trial and error and I broke a number of legs before I worked out the limits of the timber. Definitely workable but not ideal. That said I like the ray fleck in the quarter sawn slats so much that I’ll probably use beech again in future.

I’m using graduated straight slats for this chair. I rarely use straight slats and I wanted to play with the graduation and spacing. It’s just about what I was looking for. Maybe a touch too much space between them?

The stretchers are unusual. Few ladder back chairs have two stretchers at the back and most people space them further apart. I wanted to see how it looked and I’m pretty happy with it. Time will tell if putting them close together significantly weakens the legs. I’m optimistic.

My favourite detail is the carved design at the top of the posts which I’ve shamelessly stolen from Joseph La Macchia’s cocktails muddlers. I’ll definitely be using this again.

The biggest experiment was in using a prototype boring jig I’ve been working on. I’m calling it the Bodger’s Mate. It’s a delight and I’m working on mark II. More to follow later in the summer.