Brought to you by: Robs Repairing, Dubai. Pls Contact: 050 745 9491, evenings & Weekends

Brought to you by: Robs Repairing, Dubai. Pls Contact: 050 745 9491, evenings & Weekends
"You break it, we fix it."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Rob's Rocker

The year is 2015, the month: January. There is a new project on which I have embarked in this new year with the hopes that it will bring some level of success beyond the yearly scraping by that we tend to fall headlong into when laden with unbearable bank dept - at levels above the 50% of your salary - many of you, I'm sure, will understand and feel the angst of what I am trying to say here.

 In any case, several weeks back I decided to take on a laminated plywood project. And of course while doing so I decided that it was only going to be "worth it" if I delved in and took on the most complicated project the wood working world has to offer - that of building a rocking chair. Yes folks I have taken on the challenge of sculpting me a laminated plywood rocking chair. Welcome to the project, enjoy.

It all started with a futile search thru this city. I was trying to find a quality rocking chair in Dubai. I could not. So then I began asking the question: "Why can I not make my own rocking chair?" It is as it turns out a very foolish question to ask one self because the answer is formed as a result of vanity, pride and the DIY folly of the male of the species.

All that aside, I then found a template that fit what I was trying to achieve and scaled it up to one square equals one inch size.... You know what I mean, I am sure.

And the result was something pretty intriguing and inspiring even at this stage. I was all in, as they like to say over and over again at ADDIDAS. Ever since I was little, I have built things. Mostly model airplanes and mostly out of balsa wood. So if you start talking about cyano acrolyte glue joints and accelerants, and laser die cut parts and plastic molded canopies, I'll surely as not, smile, wrinkle me nose a bit, in a tribute to the foggy wiff that comes off a cyano-acrolyted joint that's just been hit with a spray of accelerant, and join heartily in conversation with you. 

The lamination of three quarter inch or, as they call it over here, eighteen mil ply is in essence just another glue joint. Only  now there are aliphatic resins to consider and max open working times and min clamping times. As for laser die cut parts, HA! Good luck because now you have to do the cutting with a jigsaw and a steady hand and a focused eye. Sixty percent of this project is used up for cutting out the parts that you have to laminate together.


Eventually, the dang blasted cutting out of all the pieces is over with leaving you with a pile of individual parts and you say to yourself: "now the real work begins", that is lamination and assembly of all those bits you cut out.

And so thus begins the real work. The first bits are the rocker frames which basically support the whole rocking chair and keep every thing straight and true in the end.


By the way, when I was building model planes, I used cloths pins mostly for clamping pieces of the balsa plane together. Here with the rocking chair and lamination, the secret is to have as many clamps as possible and they should have good clamping force and capacity. Still, the concept is the same. You are keeping the pieces in line and held tightly to each other while you wait for the glue to set. That is what makes a joint good - how well it has been lined up and clamped.

So now that the frames were done the next step was to see how the rocker bucket fit in ref to the frames. What needs to happen is balance. The rocker has a center of balance and depending on how you angle the bucket and how far you would want to shift it fore and aft determines where the centre of balance will end up and consequently how "right" the rocking of the chair will feel when the chair is built. So it is pretty important to get the angle right and the location fore and aft also.

In between the rocker frame and the bucket both left and right sides there are transition layers, four of them so when  you get all these lined up how they are supposed to be then you drill holes through all the layers which will guide you where to drill locating holes for locating pins in the final assembly of rocker frames to the bucket.

But first you have to build the bucket. This involves straight layup and gluing of 12 layers and then on each side of the twelve layers goes another five layers but each of those five is raised and brought forward by one eighth of an inch so as to form a bucket seat! Ya I know, it is amazing isn't it! Then the two transition pieces get glued on the outside of the bucket.

what's pretty impressive is the sight of the frames and bucket the first time you fit them together.

It is at this point you finally begin to see that the journey you have embarked apon may well end in victory.... Then you  sober up again and realize that there shall be a lot of clamping in your near future as you contemplate final assembly of frames to bucket.

This too shall pass, the clamping part I mean. And when it does, you take a bunch of pictures to send home to family because like any good man, you too have just MADE something! Something with thine own hands. Something useful. Something tangible. 

At this point again you say to yourself: "now the real work begins", that is, the sanding, the shaping, the sculpting. This is where you let your beast loose, this is where all that manly creativity will manifest itself. You will shape and sculp like none other than Michelangelo when he looked at the big chunk of marble that was to become his monumental "David" and began to chip, chip, chip away. But whereas Michelangelo had his chisels and mallet, you on the other hand have your 36 grit disk on an 11000 rpm grinder set up as a sander, ooh ya.

So you spend time. You shape and you sand til you're coughing up sawdust paste as phlem, and... you end up with something like this. 

Now hold on! It ain't near finished yet. But one could certainly be persuaded to agree that it is coming along just fine, thanks. I will keep you updated on the progress of this guy as we get nearer still to the finishing line. Peace out! As the hipsters may well say these days.

Jan 21 2015,

And now, after five coats of MinWax brushed clear lacquer over a coat of lacquer sandable sealant, and a bit of polishing in between, I think I can safely call it finished. Yeah!

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