Creating a Chair Scoop?

Creating a Chair Scoop?

On a lot of hardwood chairs, the butt area is scooped out to make it more comfortable. Is there a recognized best method for doing this or do you just go nuts with a chisel, router and sander to get this scoop?

Rob Johnstone: The coolest way I ever hollowed out the butt-scoop on a chair was with a U-shaped jig on the top of a table saw. When I was first asked to do it (for a how-to book editor), I thought the guy was nuts and pretty much told him to scoop out his own butt. After a bit of talking, I saw the wisdom of his idea and it worked great. It is to difficult to describe in words the process (and it really pains me to write that), but I’m sure it is in print somewhere.

Ian Kirby: The seat of a chair is generally shaped using tools designed for the purpose. The heaviest cuts are made with an adze. The blade is curved like a gouge and may have a long or short handle. A ‘bent’ draw knife called a scoop is used to refine the adze work, followed by a compass plane and/or travisher.

The seat is generally brought to shape by sawing. The scooped out areas are carefully drawn on the seat blank and the deepest are cut out first. It’s a fairly sequential operation so there’s no need to go nuts.

Ellis Walentine: Professional chair makers use specially shaped drawknives called scorps and inshaves to do the roughing out. Then they smooth the scooped surfaces with a broad, curved spokeshave called a travisher, pulling or pushing it “downhill” on the wood to prevent tearing out the grain. You can sand the shaved surface if it suits the style of the chair, although on Windsor chairs, most people appreciate the evidence of work left by the various shaving tools.

Rick White: I haven’t had much experience with this, but I have seen some chair makers who have designed a jig for their routers that remove much of the material for this scoop. I also remember seeing people do this with a spokeshave.

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