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Water-based stain and shellac.

Back again with the second to last installment of the Autodidact’s Chair.

With the wood work complete, it’s time to stain.

I’m really not a fan of staining wood and this project re-affirmed that again in me. But, that said- I knew going into this design I needed a ‘working prototype’ and this serves the purpose for me just fine. I’m already planing a hardwood version with a few subtle changes but that will have to wait until summer time. (at least )

At any rate, the stain I’m using is water based and has very little odor. I don’t like using products that have heavy smells or damaging chemicals, etc…

This is from the Lee Valley website- “Yielding results comparable to solvent-based stains, these high-quality water-based stains are low in harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and clean up easily with soap and water.”

As you’ll see I just brushed it on and let it dry.

From there I drilled a few holes through the top concave stretchers for fastening the seat to the lower chair frame. I used a brad point bit and my egg beater drill.  I’m sourcing out/making?? some hardware that will give a more permanent solution for this hardware but for now, I’m using four #8 wood screws. They work fine as the chair frame almost doesn’t need any fasteners- it just sits in the ‘cradle’ of the form. Of course, a mechanical fastener is always better suited to a house with a 6 and 8 year old!

I considered wrapping a few leather buckles and may still…it’s a ‘working model’ what can I say?

So the point is, a removable seat frame is required because if in 10 years the leather for some reason is ripped, soiled, chewed-on ( future beagle? ) then we’ll be able to easily remove the seat frame and replace/repair the leather work.

Speaking of leather- I’m using 1/8-in. ( 8-9 oz.) leather for the weave and needed to rip 2-in. strips off of the side. I should have made myself a ‘leather-ripping jig’ but my Beebe knife works so well at this job and I love using it that the leather jig can wait until the next one.

After the leather strips are cut, the edges are sanded and burnished.

The chair gets a series of top coats of shellac. I mixed up a batch with some flakes of de-waxed shellac I’ve had for a year now. It’s a dark garnet and went over the dry stain without any surprises.

I can still see the ghost of wood grains and hand planes under the ebony stain.

It’ll work for this one but imagine, quarter sawn white oak and a beautiful harness leather? hmmmm…..any takers/buyers out there? I’ll make one some day for my self but you know what they say about the cobblers kids?





Here are some links to a few of the products used in this video:

General Water-Based Stains

Beebe Carving Knives