Tapered reamers

Hi again!

Did I mention I love making stuff? I do I really really do just love to make stuff, mostly out of wood. I also love the tools… I have too many of them.

Long before I learned how to make Windsor chairs (from Mr. Michael Dunbar) I had read I needed a tapered reamer for the leg sockets. So when I came across a Bung hole reamer (which is tapered @ 10 or 11 degrees) I bought it and figured out how to sharpen it and make a hole with it. I never used it to make anything with. I have acquired another, smaller, one. I never made anything with it either.

Then (decades ago now) I traveled up to New Hampshire (not for the primaries) to attend a chairmaking class at the prestigious Windsor Institute. The Sack Back Chair class is/was the required first class. And I bought all new Spoon bits and a new tapered reamer just for the class. I really enjoyed that class. I cannot enthuse too much over how much I liked it there. (I also reforged two trashed drawknives, one into an inshave and one into a saddle knife. I had a couple of good drawknives and spokeshaves.)

Mr. Dunbar at the Windsor Institute uses ( advocates the use of? ) a steel reamer with an 11 degree angle. Several other people who teach Windsor chair making advocate using a 6 degree taper on their reamers. Here is my Fred Emhoff reamer: it is an excellent tool and still works great!


The question is; WHY? Why is there no agreement? Even historically there was no agreement on how the leg sockets should be. Some had legs in blind holes (holes not all the way through the seat) with straight sides and fox wedges. Some made them with straight bored holes and a shoulder on the leg to prevent the leg from pushing through. And some makers used tapered leg tenons into tapered sockets. I suspect that even originally the tapers did not match from one maker to the next, since the reaming tool would have been made by the local smith and then the chairmaker would have made his legs fit what he had.

The reason I’m getting into this is on account of a spinning wheel I am repairing.


It’s joints are all tapered, and none of them are 11 degrees. They scale out close to 7 or less. Thus I am making a pair of 6 degree tapered reamers very like those described by Jennie Alexander and Curtis Buchanan on their websites, out of wood and an old sawblade. Why a pair? I need several holes tapered that are @ 1/4″ on their small end so I am making a mini one as well as a full sized one. Here’s the mini in progress: for more on it’s making visit me at Lumberjocks.       http://lumberjocks.com/Lazy_K/blog


I hope that Mr. Dunbar will forgive me but I may have to try making a chair with them too… just as an experiment to see and feel the differences.

be well , be safe


PS: the Windsor Institute is closing it’s doors this year. If you ever wanted to take a class there hurry! your time is up! I am sad in that I will now never be able to take more classes and get Knighted 😉

I had imagined that he might sell the school to someone of his students so that IT would carry on after he retired. But it seems not to be.

I hope his retirement suits him well.