walnut high chair

I think I mentioned earlier that the walnut high chair I am working on is not based on an existing example, but loosely based on period work. One thing I decided to do is rake or cant the rear stiles both towards the back of the chair and towards the sides. This results in a broad base, nice & stable with a fidgety kid in the chair. But creates some geometry for laying out & cutting the mortise & tenon joints.

 The front frame is simple enough, because its front face is going to be plumb. So the only rake here is side-to-side.

front frame test fitted

But the rear frame, I wanted the rear stiles flared out at the same angle as the front, but narrower overall. Took some tinkering, I cut a scrap of pine with notches in it, to clamp to the faces of the rear stiles, to test the angle. Good enough so far.

 But in the side view, I want the rear stiles to angle back both above & below the seat. So the side seat rails have 90-degree shoulders where they meet the front stiles’ side mortises. And angled shoulders where they meet the rear stiles side mortises. AND those rear stiles’ mortises are cut at an angle to accommodate the flared seat plan. Got it so far?

bevel set to sight mortise chisel
side view, test fit. shows rear stiles' shape

That’s as far as I got today, even without any eagle distractions. Tomorrow I’ll mortise for the side stretchers in the rear stiles; then cut the corresponding tenons on those stretchers. Then start mortising the rear stiles for the rails above the seat…

right now, the rear stiles are extra long, so the shims under the front stiles.

front view, test fit


As far as working the walnut versus the oak; I have a hard time gauging how it’s going. It feels weak to me, and I don’t like the way it mortises. Much less forgiving than oak. Oak I can beat this way & that. The walnut I find chips and breaks in places where the oak never would. Here, I sawed tenons where I would ordinarily split them in good oak.

sawing tenons

Maybe it’s a factor of the species, or kiln-dried versus green-ish, or even random-sawn versus radially-split stock. Either way there’s no danger of me defecting to the walnut camp. After this chair, it’s back to oak for me. I remember my friend Daniel O’Hagan telling me that everything you need you could make out of either white oak or white pine. As I recall, he was making a walnut joined stool at the time. I’ll stick to oak & pine.

One other thing, anyone thinking about the furniture books I offered for sale the other day, several are gone – so check the list and if you have any questions, send an email. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/furniture-history-books-for-sale/


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