Visting Brian Boggs Chair Maker

If your wife comes to you one day and tells you that she wants to go to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC to see how the Vanderbilt’s lived, tell her “sure, let’s go.” Then while strolling the Biltmore Village below the mansion, shopping at all the retail stores, head a block East and take a right on London St. There you will find the studio of chair maker Brian Boggs.

My wife and I visited his shop this past weekend while in Asheville. The building he operates out of is nothing fancy. In fact without noticing his sign out front, we almost passed it up. When we walked in, I looked at one of his chairs and sat down. His wife Melanie looked me up and down and asked “are you a woodworker?” I said I was and asked her how she knew. She said that most woodworkers will walk in and immediately sit in one of his chairs.

Melanie was nice enough to spend a few minutes with us and explain some of Brian’s furniture. She even took us into his shop area where we were able to sit in his new Sunniva outdoor swing. The thing was impressive and very comfortable. You can see the swing here on his website. http://www.brianboggschairmakers.com/product/sunniva-swing/

I don’t have any photos of his shop because I thought it would have been rude to do so. All I have to say is that it is worth the time to stop by and swing in for a visit if you’re in the area. The amount of 16/4 mahogany he has in stock was probably worth more than my house. However, if you do visit, don’t expect to have a long conversation with Brian about woodworking. He was extremely busy while we visited. One of the things that I noticed about his shop is that I didn’t see a table saw. He may have had one, but considering a lot of his work is curved, him not owning one doesn’t surprise me. He does have a sweet Old Iron band saw that looked like it was the staple of the shop.

After the tour, I asked Melanie if Brian would like some hemp oil to try out. She went into the shop and asked him if he did. It must have peaked his curiosity because he came out and asked me about it. I told him it’s made from hempseed, is solvent free, contains no VOC’s, is environmentally friendly, but is not readily available in the US. I gave him a small 4 oz container of the oil and wrote down the website where he could buy it. Whether or not he will use the oil on his furniture in the future remains uncertain, but being able to give him something he was unaware of was pretty cool.

My $15.00 shaving horse

I always liked the idea of having a shaving horse. A few years back I built a set of windsor dining chairs and shaved the spindles with my draw knife and spokeshaves. Back then I didn’t have a shaving horse so I ended up using my woodworking vise to get the job done. While the vise worked, I knew that using a shaving horse would be a lot more comfortable and a lot more fun. I’ve seen shaving horses for sale on different websites but the problem was that they were over $500 a piece. I knew that wasn’t going to fly so I had to make my own.

Then one day I ran across an article Brian Boggs did for Fine Woodworking. The shaving horse he made was simple and straight forward to make. Right then I knew I had my plans. The one problem that I saw was that he used 2″ thick material to make his. I wasn’t about to splurge big money on 2″ thick ash or maple so I decided to make mine out of good ole southern yellow pine.

I went to Lowes and picked out two pieces of 2x10x8’s that were as clean as possible without any knots. Total cost was $14.73. While Fine Woodworking showed “plans” for the horse, they weren’t exactly what one would call plans. They didn’t go into great detail about how to actually build the horse and a lot of detailed measurements weren’t even given. So I just eyeballed where I thought edges should be and built the horse as close as possible to Brian’s.

Building the horse wasn’t complicated at all and it only took me a weekend to make. I milled the body out, shaped the back legs and made an extra long front leg. The nice thing about using a 2×10 is that you can cut both back legs out of one piece that’s 21″long. Once the back legs were installed, I leveled them with a compass and shaped the feet so they would sit flat on the floor. Then I took the front leg and leveled the horse, marked where the top of the leg ends and trimmed it flushed.

The only caveat of using 1 1/2″ stock as opposed to full 2″ stock is that the head becomes narrower. Brian’s bench head is 5 1/2″ wide due to the fact that he had three 2″ wide boards glued together. My bench head could only be 4 1/4″ wide due to three 1 1/2″ pieces glued together. Fortunately I don’t think that’s a big concern due to the fact that mostly what I’ll be shaving are spindles.

The one thing I did differently from the plan was that Brian used a bicycle tire tube to act as a spring for the key. I didn’t have an old tube lying around and didn’t feel like buying a new one so I ended up using a big fat rubber band instead. While it works, I’m sure the tire tube would work much better since it would have more spring to it.

I also just shaped the seat using a chair shave and spoke shave then sanded it smooth with a random orbital sander. Brian wrapped his with leather which gives his horse a real nice look. I did however glue a piece of leather onto one side of the hold down bar so that the horse would grip the stock better.

All in all I”m very happy the way the horse turned out and I can even take it apart for storage or to travel with. Now I just need to find me some fresh cut logs to make a chair.

Saw bench design

I designed this thing primarily to be used outside. I own a band saw and table saw and normally would rip any wood with those tools so, I figured if I ever needed a saw bench I would be outside away from electrical outlets.

Its three legged design allows the bench to sit still and not rack on an uneven floor or the ground. The front legs splay apart in both the X and Y axis. The joinery was tough to cut because of the splay. The sides of the legs were it met the top weren’t 90 degrees because of the angle of the splay. The back leg is a simple through tenon.

I kicked the stretcher over to the left so the saw wouldn’t hit it on the down stroke.

The overall dimensions are 28″ long x 19 1/2″ high x 19″ wide. The height of the bench is knee high as all saw benches are suppose to be.