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Mortising Reel Seats - An Alternative

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The last seat I made was almost life threatening. That particular seat is now mounted on the wall as a testament to man over nature.

I'll cut to the chase so folks don't think I'm getting off topic, again. I chucked up a seat in my mortising gizmo and simply placed the mess on the belt sander as you would normally use it on a router. It sanded a nice even, level flat. All I had to do was round over the edges of the sanded flat to make the seat fit.

End of story. Those wishing to know no more, move on to the next message!

For those of you who wish to know more of a drunkin' way to make reel seats, I'll tell you how this came to pass...

A customer sent me a blank of Spanish Cedar. This was to go on a flamed blank I made him. He cut the wood from downed trees after Katrina. The wood was indeed  stunning! You know the tree. It's the same one you see in the swamp movies when you see moss hanging off of trees.  I turned down his blank and placed it in the jig gizmo and turned on the router. I took the first pass and when lifting the seat off the router, it threw a chunk off the seat across the room. I wrote him and told him of the failure.

He sent me a 6" chunk of limb to replace it. I got four 1" X 1" X 4" blanks from it. Perfect! I thought I would get a few blanks for personal use from it. LOL I took the blanks and turned them into rough cylinders.  One exploded. 3 left. Next, to drill out the centers. I got two drilled. The third and last was spinning chucked up in the lathe. I got through it and popped out the ass end. As I was backing out the bit, the spinning blank grabbed the bit, broke the bit and chuck loose from the tail stock and now the bit and tail stock are turning at about 1200 RPMs. Before I could reach for the stop switch, the bit broke inside the piece and pulled the remaining bit and chuck out of the tailstock. A good 3 pounds of spinning metal.

I never saw it fly past my head. It landed on the other side of the shop...smoldering.

That particular piece of wood looked like something out of a cartoon. It looked like Bugs had shoved a carrot up Elmer's shotgun barrel just before he pulled the trigger. It's hanging on the wall. 

Anyway, that left two blanks. I final turned them to final on the lathe. Beautiful!  One was a bit nicer than the other.  I took the one that was not much uglier and put it in the mortise gizmo and it exploded as soon as it hit that 25,000 rpm bit.  One left, what to do? Simple, sit down and open a beer and think about it.

I remembered a Winston cork seat that had a flat simply sanded into it. I could chuck up the last seat and push it against the vertical belt sander.


From there all I had to do was round over the corners so the bottom of the reel foot actually fit the insert and I was done! It was more or less oval when finished. Quick and easy...

I know there are a lot more experienced guys making seats but this was (to me...belch) wonderful!  (Mike Shay)

    This story was so good that I will allow it to be retold in our upcoming April Fool's day contest. It has been a while since the contest was held, and we clearly need to do it again.

    On April 1 I will send an announcement to the list announcing the contest. Use the reply to all option to tell us your best shop disaster of the year. I invite Todd Talsma and Bret Reiter to join me as co-judges.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    If you need some more cedar, let me know.  I'll even turn one or two seats to size for you.  (Harry Boyd)


      I can feel the luv!

      Thanks so much for the offers of wood!

      It's appreciated!

      LOL  (Mike Shay)

    Are you sure your last name ain't Nunley?  (Mark Wendt)

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