200-300 year old Irish Chair design. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 05-14-2016, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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200-300 year old Irish Chair design.

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Size:  49.2 KBWhen I went to the Irish Cultural Center in Chicago back in 2012 there was a chair on display.
The Museum Curator told me it dated between 200 and 300 years old, back in the time when the Irish (not lace Irish) lived in huts with dirt floors.
They would make chairs and other items out of whatever materials were laying around and available.
I photographed it and went home to consider making a few.

So in my stockpiles of junk I had some rotted out maple from a hollow tree and I cut some branches for the legs and seat back. The branches were Box Elder and Mulberry. That was in 2012.
The first picture shows that chair on the right side.
.......................................
But what I'm here to display to you today is the first picture, chair on the left.
It was made of a Ambrosia Maple sliced slab with Tulip Poplar branches for legs and seat back support, and a Walnut seat back.

These designs are true to the times and culture except I added lags and screws to make the chair last forever. They sit low (16") and the seat backs hit you in the lumbar part of the back.

The second shot is the seat . The grain is stunning.
Third picture is the side with a swept back look.
Fourth shot is the backside. It shows the seat back was notched into the slab and heavily lagged and screwed.

The legs are basically pegged into place and lagged from the top.
Strong and indestructible.

Enjoy
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Last edited by Steve Neul; 05-14-2016 at 07:31 AM.
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post #2 of 18 Old 05-15-2016, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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What, No Lookers?
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post #3 of 18 Old 05-15-2016, 09:49 AM
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I'm always looking.
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post #4 of 18 Old 05-15-2016, 02:59 PM
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Me too....BUT I thought I posted yesterday....maybe on another thread you had about them or wrong button and poof it's all deleted...

I like!!! is the check in bottom going to give busting issue??? or did you brace for it underside?? Very unusual to see seat bottom with grain running that way....but you usually have my questions covered and I overlooked.

I love that style of chair.....NOT mass produced!!!!!
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post #5 of 18 Old 05-16-2016, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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There were two cracks.
I epoxied, glued and flat steel braced them both.

Yeah I always try to do something not seen before.
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post #6 of 18 Old 05-16-2016, 09:41 PM
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Nice work, Aard!


By the way, I have this log of mulberry wood 11" in diameter drying for more than a year: There's some natural checking and cracking. Do you think I can use it to make something?
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Keep thy axe sharp.
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post #7 of 18 Old 05-17-2016, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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The top photo and the chair on the right has a mulberry seat back. It has very pretty dark internal grain.
Try milling the log 1/2 open and see if the internal grains are also split. They might be fine.
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post #8 of 18 Old 05-17-2016, 05:40 AM
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Should I wait to let it dry some more, or begin sawing to see what's inside?

Keep thy axe sharp.
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post #9 of 18 Old 05-17-2016, 11:21 AM
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Nice history and woodwork. I will have to keep these chairs in mind for a future build.
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post #10 of 18 Old 05-18-2016, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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If your Irish, Travico, it is part of our bleak history.
My history and family line go back to 370 AD, in written form and back to (speculated) Jeremiah of Biblical origins, unwritten.
So the history interests me.

Jig saw
One year out on a 11" piece, I would say it's time to saw and properly sticker that log up for the air drying stage..
I try to get logs cut to 2" slabs (8/4ths). You can always cut them thinner later, but you can't add thickness. I have a cheap moisture meter from Lowes. I check the moisture and once it falls below 20-25% I start kiln drying stage and high temps to kill any wee beasties that might be living in the wood.
Further info can be gleaned from the Forest and Milling section of this site. Knowledgable folks over there.
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post #11 of 18 Old 05-18-2016, 09:51 AM
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Cool! I was initially a little disappointed that you used all that hardware instead of more traditional joinery, but looking at the chairs again I can't say I blame you. Very neat looking. I'm thinking they'd look really cool in a garden or something.
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post #12 of 18 Old 05-18-2016, 09:57 AM
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Why is that design contributed to the Irish?

It looks like it could have been used by most of our ancestors thousands of years ago. It is about the next most simple thing to sitting on a log.

George
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post #13 of 18 Old 05-19-2016, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Cant say it is specifically Irish, but I copied off of an example in The Irish Cultural Museum, Chicago.
So we know the Irish used and made them with available materials 2-300 years back.
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post #14 of 18 Old 05-19-2016, 01:49 PM
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Okay ... I didn't join this site to be negative. I don't mean to offend anyone. But these "chairs" ... I don't understand.
I assume, 200 to 300 years ago ... all the way back a few thousand years ago, people took pride in their accomplishments. Home owners built furniture to last. Something they'd be proud to have the locale bigwigs sit in if they came for a visit.
With those legs splayed the way they are, I wouldn't trust that chair to hold up a plant from Walmart.
They used hand tools, so rustic is the way things looked ... but there's a HUGE difference between a rustic look and a "just-slapped-together" look.
Rough hewn wood can still make functional chairs that wouldn't tip over while you were taking your boots off.

Rant over and I apologize if this post hurts any feelings. I love the pattern in the seat ... great piece of wood, there.
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post #15 of 18 Old 05-19-2016, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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No feelings hurt.
First off,
Irish history was brutal.
First the Romans came in and were eventually driven out. Then came the Vikings...driven out... then came the English with their Catholic Church...Beaten down.
Then we had the IRA (Irish Republican Army) all the way into the mid 1970's.
My timing might be off here but....In Ireland back in the day times were extremely rough and as stated those folks were living in dirt floor huts and their cooking fires were fired by animal feces and the livestock and crops was confiscated by the Catholic/English and sent to England to their people. Wood was scarce as well. You used what you found and survived on it. If you found a branch, you used it. If you found cow crap, you burned it..
There was the wealthy who weren't Irish, and the Irish were enslaved or at least treated poorly, basically, in their own country by the English and Catholic church. My ancestors line left in that time era. The Catholic church owned ~85% of all Irelands property. It took a few hundred years and with the Irish, staving and poor...they revolted. Now ~20% of Irelands land is owned by the Catholic church and English were beat back.
Fine detail and quality craftsmanship wasn't in the cards....BUT...the chair was solid and did last 2-300 years until I saw it.
It was utilitarian, not fine craftsmanship.

My example is actually a cleaned up version of the original.
I dowelled in those legs a solid 1 1/4" and from the top I ran 3" long lags into the top of the legs and used Liquid Nails glue.
Guaranteed your 400 lb fat aunt won't even make this chair twitch or cringe.
This chair is here for the long haul.

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post #16 of 18 Old 05-19-2016, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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As said. No feeling hurt,
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post #17 of 18 Old 05-20-2016, 12:00 AM
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I am glad I didn't insult ... but there's an aspect of the chair I find "haphazard" and no, it won't support my aunt, even though she doesn't weigh as much as you envision.

Here's my problem with it ...
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post #18 of 18 Old 05-20-2016, 05:13 AM Thread Starter
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Incorrect.
The diagrams are not representative of this chairs construction. I am totally aware of design/structural ramifications.

It already has supported a 350lb friend who wanted to try sitting on it. Not a problem. I had no doubts or reservations about him or heavier people than him.

Only 1 leg (front left) is slightly back by ~1". The rest splay properly. One rear leg appears to be forward but look at the pix's again. That leg has a foot like appendage .

The back legs in your diagram are the main key to stability (as the diagram shows) since bodyweight Is more to the rear in a chair while sitting. The front legs in your diagrams are the same as each other and are directly below (maybe slightly forward) of the seat front face, and are not part of the balance equation anyways.
And as said, the legs are rock solid.

So bring on Aunt Jemima !

Last edited by aardvark; 05-20-2016 at 05:49 AM.
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