Am considering making a copy of a contemporary settee I saw in a model home near Phoenix. It was done in zebrawood, which I thought was a little extreme. What species might look better, and most of all, how would one do the circular crest rail. The one on the original was segmented into two or even three pieces.
For the crest rail I would do a long exposed tenon for strength. When cutting out the curve, leave a flat/square section to cut your joinery off of. On the seat joint to the vertical leg , I would have more dovetails showing. What wood to use is personal preference.
One method would be steam bent so as to give continuous grain for strength and appearance. Like Thonet, this may take some effort and experimentation. Will Zebrasood bend with steam? Steam is the traditional solution, though not universal.
Another solution would be bent lamination, keeping the plies matched so as to produce a rail that is still attractive and strong.
I think the chair in the photo has a design derivative of the classic Chinese chair. Some of those had a complex interlocking joint that used the center back splat as a spline that locked the joint into place.
That bench has a strong japanese influence. Steam bending zebrawood or other exotics is questionable at best. I would research japanese joinery and go that route. Built up by brick construction will look poor in my opinion. A long tenon will be adequate combined with the tenon splat.
Great looking piece. If I were making this out of a wood that wasn't so "busy" then I'd do a bent lamination. If I was going with spalted maple or zebra wood then I'd go with a tenon. Those dovetails for real or are they some sort of spline? Grain doesn't seem to match??
I believe the dovetails are real. I built my Sketchup model with six pins, while the one I saw has four.
If you examine the pics, you can see how the builder either cut a chamfer or a hollow across that joint's edge, which makes sense, when you see the joint apart. Those knife edges are delicate.
Back to the crest rail. The more I look at the photos the more I think the rail is not zebrawood, but something else. Something that either can bend more readily that zebra, or lent itself to a lamination buildup with less grain definition.
It is almost pure creamy color, with some brown streaking. I have seen northern maple with that kind of streakiness. We called it "brown" maple.
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