wainscot chair notes

About three or four weeks ago, I planed up some stock for the wainscot chair I have to make this fall…and once I returned from Country Workshops’ spoon camp, I started the joinery for this project. I don’t have any photos from the shop this week worth looking at, so some of what we will see here are the original chair.

The front stiles (and rear ones too actually) are planed to a cross-section that defines the seat plan. Here is the rear stile, seen from the top – showing the angle between its front face, and the side of the chair.

rear stile, Lincoln family chair

This arrangement is probably the most common in wainscot chairs, as opposed to having square stiles with angled tenon shoulders and/or angled mortises. I covered this concept in the article back in 1998 c0ncerning the three-legged wainscot chair at Chipstone.  (see Peter Follansbee, “A Seventeenth-Century Carpenter’s Conceit: The Waldo Family Joined Great Chair” in American Furniture, ed., Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 1998) pp. 197-214 also at http://www.chipstone.org/framesetAFintro.html)

Here’s the diagraoms from that article, first from a “typical” wainscot chair:

seat plan diagram, wainscot chair
The Chipstone chair, (known as the Waldo chair) has square stiles, as do some four-legged wainscots:
seat plan for Chiostone chair


 Another feature of this particular chair is some inlaid decoration along the edges of the rear posts, rails & muntin. It seems that the original had heartwood & sapwood of walnut. I had no sapwood, so I used walnut & maple. I don’t recall seeing this sort of decoration along the edge before. My recollection of it usually has it centered on stock instead.

Here’s the crest rail, bottom rail & muntin. the crest rail’s carving still needs some detail, but the bulk of it was done this afternoon.

inlaid work, Lincoln chair repro


Here’s a detail of the original crest. Note the asymmetrical carving. On our right, the carver left an outlined “blank” area, just where the incised arcs teminate. This band then has punched decoration in it. But on the other side he cut the incised curved lines all the way up to where this band should be. I chose to leave the band on both sides.  It’s very deep V-tool work. Some of it cuts right into the inlay, and the opposite arcs stop just short of it…

crest rail, Lincoln family chair


This chair came from the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. I did another wainscot chair based on a Hingham example a year or more ago. See some of that chair here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/new-wainscot-chair/

the two Hingham wainscots share some features; two vertical panels in the back, the general shape of the crest rail, the orientation of the rear stiles (radial face is the side of the stile). the proportions are different, as is the seat plan. The turnings are different, the arm shapes are similar. I’ll get more photos as I work on this chair this month & we will compare the two more closely.


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