You got here from there?
It wasn’t exactly a straight line, but there really was a path from the plywood prototype to the finished piece. I started by transferring the rocker and seat locations and curves from the prototype (see the previous post) to a piece of foamcore that a neighbor had discarded (1/4” plywood is my usual choice, but the foamcore was there).
It wasn’t anything fancy; I setthe prototype down on its side on the foamcore and traced the rockers, then pulled a side off so I could transfer over the seat and back profiles. I had an overall concept of the piece with its branching components, and I played around for a few hours filling in the details until I had a basic sketch to work with. A good eraser really helped with this!
I then spent some time bandsawing rough parts out of some left-over 12/4 and some plywood, then screwed things together with drywall screws. A rough prototype emerged (I didn’t add rockers), but it gave me a chance to see if what I envisioned was going to work at all.
It also gave me a sense of whether I could create the front/back shapes that I wanted if I kept going down this path. It wasn’t exactly pretty, and an awful lot was missing and/or wrong, but it was encouraging enough to want to move ahead.
My goal at this stage of any design is to figure out the important questions, and then to answer them as well (and as quickly) as I can. I had answered the most important question: ‘did this idea have some potential?’ Now came the tougher issues of refining the very rough visual elements and how to actually build this thing. I decided to laminate up the main components out of 1/8” bending ply. That meant building lamination forms. I took the curves off of my sketch and made up the four main bending forms: for the rockers, the rear legs, the arm supports, and – for lack of a better description – the front legs. Laminating the bending ply was easy. I added the front profile to the rear legs, but I left the front legs and arm support wide – I knew I was going to need to play with those.
And then I stopped. And thought. And thought some more. About the branching joint. I knew what I wanted, but this was going to require a very solid joint and some serious experimentation.
Next post: experiments in three-way lap joints.