Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Is Everyone Standing Around?

On Wednesday, July 1, that was the question? The Water Gap Woodturners welcomed back Peter Galbert, as our guest presenter for the evening. The meeting was attended by our usual quorum of 12 or so members, as many folks had scheduled vacations for the long holiday weekend. Steve Butler was sidelined with a bad case of Lyme's, reminding us all to check for ticks after you get back home. We wish for his speedy recovery.

The business portion of the meeting was quick with one major announcement. Wil invited members to a "cutting party" in Hamburg, NJ on Friday AM and several of us went there to load our trucks with free cherry, cedar and mulberry. There were lots of prizes that we hope to see at future show and tells.

The Show and Tell had some very interesting work from the membership, and unfortunately, some pretty poor photography to go with it. There were Wil's natural edge pieces, and some pyrography pieces by Tony. Ed brought a hollow vessel that had been made in two pieces, and defied anyone to find a glue line. There was also a Longworth chuck which was made by a member who's name I can't recall (note, will edit it in when someone tells me!) Keep bringing your work to the meetings- as you can see, it's great for getting ideas and giving them too!

Our main topic for the night was Peter Galbert, a well know chair maker from NY State. Peter began his presentation by talking a little bit about the history of the Windsor and what attracted him to making them. Much of the work is done without the use of electrons with very simple hand tools. Peter opened up his tool box to show us some tapered reamers and "tools of the trade".

The presentation went from being somewhat theoretical to practical pretty quickly. Peter's got about 200 chairs to his credit, so he's worked out a bunch of the kinks and how-to's to be able to figure out how to get things done.

One of the things that needs to be done on every chair is you need to turn 4 legs. I suppose that's a good thing when you are talking to a woodturning group, since it peaks everyone's interest to watch the shavings fly!

Peter spent some time discussing layouts and his methods for "getting it right". When you need 4 legs to looks basically the same, it's important to do the same things well over and over, so Peter always works with the same process doing the steps in the same order. It's very interesting to watch a spindle turner who has probably worked on 800 of the "same parts" to see how effiiciently they work, and before we knew it, Peter has made a pretty sweet leg from a billet of maple.

From there, we shifted gears to assembling a complex arm without measuring and without any complex math. It looked like smke and mirrors, and if you were present, you know that's at least half true :-)

Peter's method for assembly was largely based upon his experience in 200+ chairs and knowing how they fit together. His use of tapered tenons and stepped tenons is very simple to comprehend, and he made it look very easy to replicate. If you've ever tried building something, you know that the truth is it's somewhere between voodoo and a Rubik's Cube, with a touch of juggling thrown in to boot! The arm assembly demonstration was very interesting to watch how each operation dictated the layout for the next operation. In about 30 minutes, Peter had mocked up the entire arm assembly used in his rocking chair below.

In the end, Peter displayed a couple of the techniques he uses in his workshops on building a Windsor chair. The techniques, like so many other things in woodturning, were shared openly and freely with the membership. It is probably our greatest resource- knowledge, and the willingness to share it- that keeps woodturning moving forward at the
breakneck pace it is!

Until the next time, keep the pointy side of the gouge in the wood and the round part in your hands...