Subject Stage 2 of Making

Next I needed to make the wood panels that would fit over the metal frame. The first thing was to get the wood cut to size and to begin cutting the shapes and angles out of the wood so they would fit onto the base, which is where the most tricky angles were. I didnt start very well and messed up my first cut, getting the measurements wrong so the peice ended up not fitting and being too small at the top and too big at the bottom.
I started again this time making sure I measured very carefully allowing for the 45 degree and 30 degree angles that I would need to cut later on. This took me a long time but after after about 3 hours I had a single panel that fitted onto the base with the correct angles. I used the sander to create the angles and a jigsaw to cut out the central shape. However, once I had one piece that fitted well, I could use it as a template and the following three panels went really quickly, each taking around 20-30 mins.
Next I need to cut and shape the wood for the chair. I have decided to only do one chair due the time that I have on my hands, and due to the fact its only a 1/2 scale version there isn’t really a need for two chairs, it would be only for show. Cutting the wood for the chairs was quite straightforward apart from one piece which come off at an angle from the base of the chair. I needed to cut an angle at the top and two angles at the bottom which meet in the middle of the wood, which was tricky due to how thin the wood is. I managed it by using  Tenon saw to cut the two angles and to get them to meet. I was very satisfied when the the piece fitted neatly into the metal frame.
Once the table and chair was roughly complete it was time to create the shape of the seat for the chair. This was something I had been dreading due to the awkward shape that I was trying to achieve. I had had a few ideas on how to achieve the curve. One being to CNC the shape out of a solid bit of wood, but I realized it would be too big to CNC at uni, and also would be expensive to get the wood block that I would cut from. In the end I went back to my old idea of using flexi-ply. This method required a mold. Fortunately this wasn’t the first time I had created a chair shape out of flexi-ply so I knew a bit what I was doing. I used blue modelling foam for the mold which is excellent under compression over a large surface area. I cut the block and drew on the shape that I wanted and then carefully cut the shape on the Bandsaw making sure I followed the line exactly as I needed the both halves so I could sandwich the flexi-ply in between. In my previous experience with flexi-ply to make chairs I had used a vacuum press so I only needed one half of the mold, and the let the vacuum bag pull the flex-ply over the mold. But I needed a two-part mold as the uni did not have a vacuum press. I found that the curves for the seat were too tight to achieve in a four ply thickness, so I decided to use two ply and then layer it with another two plys one the first two had dried. The back of the seat was easy to achieve with the curves being relatively shallow, it was just a case of bringing the two halves of the mold together using clamps. However the seat was much harder to achieve and I couldn’t get the two halves of the mold to fit together properly. So, once again, I made a jig which forced the bottom half of the mold to stay in place. I then screwed the bottom of the flexi-ply onto the jig so it would stay there and then from here all that was need was the top half of the mold to be clamped ontop of the flexi-ply. I was pleased with this as a solution. However, when it came out of the mold the curves were a bit warped and there were some air bubbles in between the plys where they hadn’t quite glues together. This was mixture of the glue not quite fully setting and the mold not quite being right. So I adjusted the jig so there was even more of a curve on the bottom end of the curve which would join onto the front of the chair and then added the second two plys. I added extra glue and also poured glue into some of the gaps on the first two plyes and clamped the mold back together with twice as many clamps, and left it for as twice as long. When this came out I was very please with the result. There were not gaps and the shape had come out really well.

From here I trimmed the edges so it fitted with the rest of the chair sizing and sanded the required angles so the two pieces, seat and back, fitted together nicely. I was really very pleased with the outcome of the chair and was surprised at how well the flexi-ply had held it shape and how well the mold had managed to achieve the curves I was looking for. It was probably one of the most rewarding stage of the process so far.

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