Windsor Chair Resources

Windsor chairmaking tips-tools

 || Tip Index ||


QUESTION: There are the traditional reamers that look like(at least to me)a tapered spoon bit. Then there are the wooden reamers you can build by turning a cone shaped piece of wood and inserting an appropriately tapered piece of steel with a burr turned on it. And the last option I can think of are the metalworking reamers -- I can get a multi-fluted reamer that will fit in a brace that has about the right angle.

I was thinking that the machinist's reamer might be easier to use because the multiple contact points would help avoid the tendency to make the reamed hole oval. DK12/30/02

REPLY: I use a chairmakers reamer made by Fred Emhoff.(Wharton Valley Tools (607)965-8420).I know a lot of guys who use it also. I've had it for years now , and have wanted for no other. MT 12/31/02

REPLY: I've 4 reamers around here and the Emhof reamer is the best by far. The traditional spoon reamer can be a nightmare when trying to ream the leg tapers in a softwood seat. Though, it does perform better in one situation. The tapers for a armpost in the armrail. You have to be quite careful using a emhof reamer here, it requires some pressure to get started and cut enough to split the armrail. The spoon reamer which scrapes and requires little pressure works wonderfully. I've yet to make one of the tapered sawblade reamers you mentioned. There was an article in Woodwork awhile ago and they raved about it. JT  12/31/02

REPLY: I agree with the others on the Fred Emhof reamer. Its double the price of a spoon reamer ($85), but works wonderfully and tracks well. BG2  1/2/03

REPLY: This is my $0.02 on DK's question on reamers. I think you should give Fred Emhoff a call (Fred Emhoff.(Wharton Valley Tools (607)965-8420 I have no affiliation other than being a satisfied customer). He is not only a chairmaker, but also a machinist. So he will be able to address your thought on using a machinist's reamer, and other reamer (and spoon bit)questions in general. GB 1/2/03

REPLY:  I have both a spoon bit reamer and the Emhoff. At least 9 times out of 10 I use the spoon bit. I find it faster, especially in the woods I use for seats, like poplar. I'd go with the spoon bit reamer and spend the difference on an Emhoff travisher, which is an outstanding tool. BG 1/3/03

QUESTION:  I just recieved my reamer from Highland Hardware ( a Clico) and have been messing around with it on some scrap. I find it actually works quite well at drilling and tapering the hole all in one shot. Does anybody do it this way, or is there a practical reason why leg mortises should be drilled at a set diameter and then reamed? MP 2/12/03

REPLY:  No reason you can't do it that way. My experience with the clico (spoon reamer) was that it was slow and very grabby and drilling a hole first made it go quicker. My experiece with that reamer also led me to find another reamer. It's hard to beat Fred Emhof's tool. Though I still reach for the clico when starting to ream an armpost hole in an armrail. The emhoff requires more pressure to start and I've split a couple of rails. The clico just scrapes so it can be used with light touch. JT 2/14/03

REPLY: I bore a 5/8 mortise in the seat before I do any reaming. This gives me a first look at the symetry of the legs when I insert 5/8 dowels. It's easy to adjust the angles if need be with the reamer. Plus, I think the idea of boring the pilot hole from the top of the seat, is to minimize any tear out created by a spoon reamer breaking through the saddled seat surface. Experiment and do what works for you. BG2 2/18/03

It sounds like many of the Emhof reamer users are anxious about the future supply of this much valued tool. I have one, like it and I would encourage any builder without one to get one while he still makes them. On the other hand -- if you look in the RESOURCES section of this website you will find a builder by the name of John Alexander. He has lots of good ideas,pictures and plans. One of the items of interest for me was the wooden reamer he uses and encourages builders to copy. After seeing several other guys with them in their tool kit, I decided to make a couple of my own. If you have a lathe and an old saw laying around -- you are in business. With wooden handles on the reamer, I find it very comfortable to use and it cuts(scrapes) a nice tapered socket. I have been using it continuously for 10 years and I have filled it maybe 10 times. A final benefit: you can choose your own taper ratio if you care to deviate from Fred's taper. If you mess up the whole thing you've only lost a couple hours and gained an appreciation of what they went thru in the early days. DO 9/22/04


© Copyright Windsor Chair Resources, All Rights Reserved