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Chair ideas

3586 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Lola Ranch
I have build a 48" red oak, round pedestal table with 2 12" extensions. I am looking to build 6 chairs to go with it. I have never built chairs before. I have one design that was in Wood Magazine that looks OK, but I am not crazy about it. I'm looking for some pictures of chairs that some of you have made (nothing TOO fancy) and some recommendations of books or websites that are chair oriented. I have the tools, but no experience with chairs at this point.

Thanks for any ideas.
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build chairs

Thanks Bill for the kind words.

I recommend building your own chairs. It does not have to be complicated and it's fun.

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That chair is put together almost exactly like mine but lacks any stretchers or a curved splats. Stretchers really add strength especially if someone rocks back onto two legs and I highly recommend adding some.

The angled corner blocks are a must IMHO.

You will be appreciated as a chair maker more if you build them comfortable to sit in. That is why I usually put a lumbar curve in the splats.

I believe It is most helpful to build a prototype chair to use as a pattern.


I am planning to build a prototype and have purchased a 2"x12"x11' piece of ash for that purpose. Ash is relatively cheap around here because of emerald ash borers, and it looks nice enough to keep the chair if it turns out well.

The lumbar support is a good idea, but the thought of it causes me mental pain. I'm the kind of guy that can build almost anything given a set of plans, but as far a creative goes---not so much (read "not at all"). Changing the back leg and getting the curve to look natural would be a real task for me.

Do you steam, laminate or band saw the curve in the splat? How do you determine the correct amount of curvature for the lumbar support?

I usually laminate thin strips and a curved form for the curved chair parts and sometimes I cut them to shape on the bandsaw. Just cut some shapes out of scrap wood, sit on a stool and have someone hold the shapes against your back until it feels right. You'll know when you have it right.


Mind telling the details of that last chair you posted, with the cantilever seat. Is the seat just attached in a mortice? Or is there some corbel type supports underneath the picture doesn't show? I wouldn't mind trying my hand at one of those if you wouldn't mind.

You do beautiful work, I'm always impressed with your work you post and appreciate it. :thumbsup:
George Nakashima's "Conoid Chair" was my inspiration for the cantilevered chair. You can copy my stuff all you want but on this on George gets the credit.

The seat is thick, 1-3/4", where it attaches to the legs by way of a double lap joint and then a very large screw through the back of the legs into the seat.

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This detail photo exposes the imperfection of my joint which is none-the-less quite strong requiring no further re-enforcement.

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I noticed on your walnut chairs you have a dado running around the inside of the seat. It looks rather narrow. Do the corner braces have a tenon that fits into that dado? Is it used just to ease the assembly process or is the corner brace glued into the dado for added strength?

You mean the dado in the rails beneath the seat? It's 1/4" x 1/4" held down 1/2" from the top edge. I use this to insert wooden cleats that hold the seat in place and allow for movement. And, yes, I do put a little tongue on the corner blocks to fit into the dado. In this case I held the corner blocks down a bit to allow for the folds in the upholstery.

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