The finished chair! A blueberry showcases the small size.
In small scale, assembly can be one of the most challenging steps. A crooked leg or stile can easily destroy the illusion that you have worked so hard to create. Assembling this chair had two particularly challenging aspects: (1) making sure the various pieces were cut to length correctly so that there were no visible gaps between the pieces and (2) getting the legs at the same angle–about 10 degrees off the vertical from the front and side.
Oh yes–by far the biggest challenge came from pieces trying to fly away/ A pair of tweezers with ridges helped there.
The two stiles for the back were attached first. A small bur in the shape of a ball, held in a pin vise, made small indentations on the seat where the stiles would go. These indentations served several purposes: hiding some of the glue, covering any raw ends of the stiles, and making sure the stiles are attached in the right place.
The legs were next. I was aiming for a 10 degree angle. The legs were rounded on one end, and sanded lightly to an angle where they would hit the seat.
As it turned out, the easiest approach was just to flip the chair over and attach the legs by eye, rotating frequently as it dried to make sure the legs were in the right place.
When everything was dry, the last steps were to attach the rail on the back, the additional spindles on the back, and the spindles between the legs.
I would try to improve on one or two things if I make it again, but overall I’m pleased. I hope the person I made it for is, too!
The first step was to find some pictures on the internet and pull together measurements. Lots of websites have useful information, including these: for photos of simple windsor chairs, for dimensions, or for detailed drawings and tips on construction.
After testing a few different woods, I settled on boxwood–it has a fine grain, is flexible and strong enough to withstand turning to small diameters, and the color is neutral but not bland (in case the chair is not stained).
The final pieces:
The most challenging part of the chair were the various spindles–for the legs, the stiles on the back, the spindles connecting the legs… you get the idea.
The spindles were formed on a lathe using a combination of roughing down to about 2 mm, using a graver as a scraper to thin it another half millimeter, and then sanding with 180 grit sandpaper and fine files to get the spindle down to a mm or less, depending on the piece.
The drawplate was used to get the spindles down to their final diameters.
I’ve worked in various micro scales most of my life. Recently, I’ve become intrigued by the potential for added detail that 1/48 scale (quarter inch scale) offers. After all, it’s absolutely huge in comparison to 1/144! The challenge, though, is how to bound that potential. Should drawers open? Cabinet doors have working hinges? Should the lumber be to scale in thickness?
When I was asked to contribute a 1/48 scale chair to an exhibit about dollhouse scale at the recent IGMA show in Teaneck, NJ, I decided to see just how detailed I could get. This is the result. To learn more about the process of making the parts and assembling this chair, stay tuned for my next post.