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Woodwork 

Winter 2013-2014

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Gil Arad's Birthing chair/stool - Part 2: The Campaign design

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(Gil, with a plane in his hands, standing in his shop located near Jerusalem, Israel)

Gil Arad is an Israeli furniture maker, a teacher and a designer. In a recent blog post I showed his first attempt to build a chair that cradles the mother as she deliver her baby. The chair includes a void in the middle to allow the baby to be pushed through it. After making his first chair, with a hole cut in it's solid wood seat, Gil decided on a different approach for his second design: to steam bend strips of wood, then to laminate them together with glue to a crescent shaped seat.

In his steam bending chamber, fed by an old pressure cooker via a tube from an old irrigation system and into the plywood chamber, he “tendered” the oak and ash strips.

Then he forced them to bend over a special mold that he crafted. Bending them was a lengthy process that involved wedges and clamps. At the end he managed to get the individual strips to conform to the radius he wanted. 


The next step was to glue them together, again under tension and over a mold. After the glue dried Gil shaped the seat with rasps and a sanding machine. 


Gil turned the chair’s legs from oak and attached to them turned walnut “socks” that he formed, then separated, from one continuous stock. He turned a tenon on each of the socks and glued it into a hole at the end of each of the oak legs. 

To anchor the legs onto the seat Gil made a makeshift slanting threaded flange that accommodated a pluming fitting he installed at the top of the legs. To make the flange he cut a brass coupling on an angle and welded it to a round brass washer that he pre-cut to shape. 


This chair was given to the midwife who delivered his second chilled, and Gil reported that she made great use of it as she traveled across Israel helping to bring babies into the world.