The differentiating features of the Darvel
Chairs highlight the difference in technology available between their makers
and their counterparts in England. In every case the arm-bow is made from
a naturally curved branch, which is halved, opened out and joined at the back.
Many still retain a little bark. This is similar to boat building technology
where curved branches are used to make 'knees' and 'ribs'. The later chairs
have arm-bows cut from the solid plank. The spars or spindles are almost always
9/16 inches in diameter and have been made using a rounding plane on a treadle
lathe. They have not been turned by hand.
The Rounding Plane used to shape the
spoke backs of the Darvel Chairs.
A typical workshop of the time.
From examination of dismantled seats it is evident that spoon-bits were not available to the makers, which accounts for the very thick seat slab. This gave the leg sockets a good housing without the risk of the lead screw piercing the finished surface of the seat when the socket was drilled. The headrest is always sawn out of the solid.
This and the way in which the arm-bow was formed suggest that the Makers were not comfortable with steam bending, unlike the Windsor Chair Makers.