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November 15, 2000

Today I bought the wood for a high chair that I'm building for my daughter, who will be adopted in approximately May if all goes according to plan. I bought the project plan from Wood magazine's online store.

This is a first for me in a couple of ways; I am building with hardwood rather than plywood, and from a plan rather than from my own design. (Well, the sawhorses were also built from a plan; but they're not furniture in the same way that all my other projects have been. I will be diverging from Wood's plan in the following ways: the wood I am using is maple, rather than cherry; and I am planning to do most of the joints with dowels rather than screws. I am continuing my quest for beautiful, seamless joints.

November 28, 2000

I am about halfway done building the base of the chair; while none of the joints are invisible, they are getting progressively tighter and more accurate. One side of the base took three hours to join and is not quite straight; the other side took half an hour and is much closer to straight. I am making a lot of progress in using two tools, my backsaw and my power drill. With both, I am moving away from using jigs toward working freehand, and I am getting more accurate results freehand than I had been getting with jigs.

Tonight I finally came up with a method for drilling that consistently produces straight, perpendicular holes. If I clamp the workpiece to a level surface, I can use the spirit level on the handle of the drill to check one axis, and I can use a line drawn on the side of the workpiece to check the other axis. This works better than drilling down and trying to use the spirit level to check both axes.

December 6, 2000

Tonight it actually looks like a chair! the three main parts -- base, seat, and back -- are finished. Next I will join them together, and then move on to the arms and the tray. I'm guessing I will be done in early January.

December 31, 2000

On Friday I finished constructing the chair, including arms. The tray remains to be done; hardware for attaching the tray to the chair came in the mail last week. Friday was my first day of working outside my apartment; Jimmy, the building handyman (and a woodworker) said I could work in his office.

January 21, 2001

The resolution to my finish dilemma arrived in the mail yesterday. I had been agonizing about whether to use epoxy coating on the tray; I ultimately decided against it on the grounds that it is too difficult and if the coating chipped it could potentially be toxic. Instead I decided to use water-based polyurethane varnish. I bought some J. W. Etc. varnish from Safe Coatings.

So like I say, it came yesterday; I tried using it and it works really well. I'm building up a thick layer of varnish on top of the tray for easy washing. I'll post a picture of it soon.

(Later) I just attached the tray to the seat; a procedure that was worrying me over whether the sliding mechanism would work properly. Well, it works fine, and looks real nice! (The design Ellen painted on the tray top is beautiful.) I still need to do some final touch-up on the finish of the tray; but for all intents and purposes I'm done with the project. Next up, a coffee table.

February 16, 2001

A picture of the tray:

September 4, 2001

Here it is in use!: