View Full Version : How to carve a contoured chair seat?

06-26-2005, 08:42 PM
I'm planning to make several barstools with contoured seats (like a carved Windsor chair seat). Does anyone have any power tool suggestions for accomplishing that, rather than inshaves, scrapers and rasps?

06-27-2005, 08:44 AM
Whatcha got against hand tools? :)

Saw David Marks show over the weekend. He used used a router with a shop made jig to rout a bowl shaped hollow into a thick slab of wood for a tabletop. Cut some sheet material into a pair concave arches and attached them into a framework for the router base to ride on. The framework was attached to a round base which fit inside a piece with the same diameter cut out of the center which was clamped to the workpiece. Pretty elaborate set-up for a one-off, but Marks makes a lot of jigs and such for his stuff.

You could also use an angle grinder freehand if you're any good with something like that. I'd use traditional hand tools if I were to attempt something like that.

06-27-2005, 08:55 AM
Two approaches that I have seen to accomplish this task using power tools ..
1. Use a series of templates and make a series of shelves..rather like the way rice is grown on terraces in mountainous regions then smooth out the steps with a carving chisels,rasps or similar.
2.Use an "Arbortech" or similar carving grinder which can be found by searching for "Power Carving" and go at it freehand

The former method is going to give you more easy reproduction so that they look consistent but involves more set up.
I haven't done much of this type of activity but scorps and similar hand tools look to be the way that most people go to get there seats scooped out.
As you purposely asked about power tool options I presume there is a reason for this.

Best of luck

06-27-2005, 11:37 AM
>2.Use an "Arbortech" or similar carving grinder which can be
>found by searching for "Power Carving" and go at it freehand

I have direct experience with the task you are going for. I am in the process of making 6 bar stools out of maple with a simple carved out seat top. In this case it is not the windsor chair profile but a simple hollowed out seat.

I used a power carving for a angle grinder with very iffy results. The tool was very hard to control and required lots of power sanding with a 7" disk sander starting at 24 grit.

If you go this way do yourself a favor and buy Kaindl Woodcarver Gold. This tool is the second one I bought (Woodshow demo convinced me to spend for the second unit). This tool is about 400% better than the others in it is much easier to control and won't catch and cause the unit to go flying off in some strange direction.

www.1woodcarver.com is the web site for this unit.

The carving is the easy part. Getting it smoothed out takes 2x the time that it does to carve


"This parrot is no more" (MPFC)

06-28-2005, 09:04 AM
I have considered making a jig to suspend a router above a seat like a pendulum and using a dish carving bit for such an effect, has anyone ever attempted this?

Sawdust Making 101

06-29-2005, 11:09 AM
It's called a 3d duplicator, and I've tried that. Came out pretty good for the first time. If you can fit them into it side-by-side, works better than I expected. You still have sanding and cleanup but it worked

Darrin O
07-01-2005, 06:04 PM
Luthiers use a set-up like that to make a dish for bending guitar backs. It doesnt seem terribly difficult.

I know a guy who figured out a way to do it using a cove cut on the table saw, but i've not seen him do it.

"Ever notice how good enough, is usually neither good nor enough?"

07-02-2005, 02:28 PM
In the April popular woodworking, theres an article entitled "cheating with chairs" that explores traditional, and non traditional ways of going about what you have in mind.

Just got to reading it and remembered your post.