Stick Chair, Not Stickley Chair
Since I was already covered in sawdust from another project (I love that!), I decided to tackle another project that I've been wanting to do for months, a Kentucky Stick Chair. I found some plans online and bought some treated 2x2's the other night before heading home. Along with some all thread rod and some acorn nuts and washers, I'm good to go. Normally, I would setup stops and do this mass-production style, but I'm only making one chair, just to see if I like it. The fact that it's made of wood and folds up like a kinetic sculpture is really cool.
Stock photo from plans...
My fine cabinetry habits kicked in and instead of measuring each stick, I measured on and used it as a template for each successive stick. The holes for the threaded rod were also done template style to make sure it all lines up perfectly.
Some assembly required...
Here, all the pieces are ready for assembly. The threaded rod gets progressively harder to feed through the holes as you add more sticks. I also discovered that you should install the two center rods first, since it has the most overlap, hence the most friction. After at least three attempts, both on the driveway and the back of the pickup to save my back, I gave up. Figuring out which holes line up with which for 25 sticks is not something that should be attempted after a six pack. I gave up and headed for the showers, knowing when I'm defeated. I may have lost the battle, but tomorrow, I'll win the war (even if it kills me).
So, after my second cup of coffee, I decided to give the chair assembly another go. Even sober I assembled it wrong the first time and got bonked on the head a couple of times. Trying to maintain my composure, I decided to try using some Amsteel I had lying around as an easier and more flexible version of the threaded rod. This went much easier. I was easily able to thread it and then cinch it up tight with a bowline and a couple of half hitches.
It's actually quite comfortable. The damn intermediate pieces create a psuedo-curve that is easy on the back. The way you bring the ends together torques the whole assembly into a surprisingly ergonomic seat.
All I need now is to bring home the acorn nuts and washers I bought (sigh...), and my hacksaw at work to lop off the extra all thread. HINT: When cutting any threaded rod, thread on a nut before you make the cut, then when you back off the nut, it dresses the threads up for you nicely so you don't have to fiddle with a file. After the final hardware is installed, I'm going to give it a serious sanding to round off all those 90° corners. Maybe I'll scribe some feet onto the legs, but nothing too fancy. These will look awesome down at the beach! I do have to admit that even though "Some Assembly Required" are my three favorite words, assembling this damn thing was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life...;)
Of course, never being satisfied with just following the plans, I started looking at the assembly with an engineer's perspective. The plans called for 1.25" thick stock, but I used 1.5" 2x2's (don't ask), which meant my chair was 20% wider than it should be. I started thinking about removing a stick or two, but then I realized that it would make the gathered ends too narrow for comfort. The additional width actually makes the chair look almost like a love seat or at something a tad more substantial than your standard folding chair. I like it. I'll leave it, and I'm probably going to install a cup holder on the starboard side...;) Now, I just have to decide if I'm taking it to the movies in the park Saturday night. They're playing one of my all-time favorite movies - Princess Bride. Now where did I put that t-shirt?