three-footed chairs again

three-footed chair


I’ve been making one of these chairs again lately; and took some time to get some new photos of the old one the museum owns. This is a small chair; and quite nicely done. It has a new seat rail, so at some point it must have been apart…

It looks like either a fruitwood or maybe beech in the posts. The seat board is oak. No idea if it’s original or dates from the time of the new seat rail.

Notice the movement of the rear post. Lots of angles to be bored here; and this chair is fairly plain – i.e. not many pieces. Some have double arms, multiple braces, additional spindles below the seat, etc.
rear view three-footed chair


These chairs are common survivors in England. They also appear with frequency in Dutch artwork of the 16th & 17th centuries; but seem to have not been made in early New England. Four-legged chairs with board seats are well-known in New England; but the 3-legged version just seems to drop out of use. Can it be that they were made here & ALL the New England ones didn’t survive? Seems far-fetched.  

One of the little mysteries surrounding New England furniture studies…

Here I am one hot night putting together the frame of the new one. I am making a turned crest rail for this one. I’ll try to get some shots of the rest of the process.

Meanwhile, remember that American Furniture often has great photos of stuff, details & all. Alexander and Trent had a piece about “board-seated turned chairs” not too long ago…

“American Board-Seated Turned Chairs, 1640–1740” by Robert F. Trent and John D. Alexander in American Furniture 2007, edited by Luke Beckerdite. I always encourage more woodworkers to read this journal, even if it’s just for Gavin Ashworth’s photos.

3 thoughts on “three-footed chairs again

  1. .

    Users’ preferences aside, you said that three-legged version of chairs of that pattern entail some awkward angles to drill.

    The other reason that mitigates in the favour of 3-leggers is that the end-user may have had an uneven floor.

    This would probably be the case for vernacular furniture in 16th & 17th century England where floors were either flag stones or beaten earth.

    Could it be that, in the land where timber was far more plentiful in those days, floors were boarded?


  2. Peter, I continue to be amazed by the quality of your work and research, very interesting stuff. Here’s a chair I did recently; you’re right about the angles, they take a lot of patience.

    • A guide at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk UK claims that 3 legged chairs were “sat in backwards” That is with your legs through the uprights when you would then lean over the back

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