walnut high chair assembly pt next

Well, it’s time to finish a few things, or I will be over-run and have to admit defeat. First off is the walnut high chair. I finished the drawboring and pinning of the frame, and made the seat for it yesterday.

 We’ve looked at drawboring before of course, it is critical to this way of woodworking. Here I am marking the location of the pin hole on the tenon.

marking drawboring


tenon marked for its pin hole

Then I knock the joint back apart, and bore this hole slightly closer to the tenon shoulder than the marks indicate.

a little closer to the shoulder

Here I am shaving pin stock, my method uses a large framing chisel; this one’s 2” wide and about 15” long. It’s quite heavy. The weight of the chisel helps with the downward momentum; I find that when I use a lighter chisel I have to push harder. It took some careful culling to get straight-enough grain in the walnut to split the pin stock. 

shaving pins

Assembling the frame is a matter of pulling the joints tight with temporary metal drawbore pins, then one by one driving in the tapered wooden pins.

final assembly

A really good fit will shred the pins like this one did:

tight fit w pin

I made the seat from a piece of the resawn walnut – didn’t get photos of that process; but it took much fiddling to get the fit the way I wanted it…now to peg it to the seat rails, then fasten the arms in place.

seat in place

11 thoughts on “walnut high chair assembly pt next

  1. Peter, it looks like you rely purely on the pins for keeping the joints together. You don’t mention glue–not even hide glue.

    Where does glue fit in the context of 17th c. woodworking?


    • Alex
      glue is not necessary in the joinery; the drawbored mortise & tenon rely on the pins to pull the joint tight. Hide glue is used in the period to edge-join stock to make up wider panels, and for applied ornament.

  2. Where do the designs for your carving come from? Do you draw/invent them yourself? They are truly magnificent. How many hours did it take carve the detail into the chair?

    • Gary
      all my work is based on studies of 17th-century originals in museum & private collections in New England and over in the UK as well. I have extensive photos and notes from many visits to numerous collections. Often, as in the case of this high chair, I combine things this way & that, so it’s not an exact copy of a period chair. But all its patterns are taken from existing works. The carving on the small rectangular rear panel of the chair is about 90 minutes’ worth of work.

      • Wow! I would’ve thought it would be considerably more time consuming than that. I just ordered your Lie-Neilson DVD in hopes to learn more. keep up the good work. It’s beautiful.

  3. I’m not sure from the views if the front legs are parallel. If not, I’d love to hear more on the “fiddling” for that nice fit of the seat over the arm posts.


    • Mike
      the fiddling is why the camera got put aside. I made a template of the seat from matboard, and then marked out the square cut-outs from that to the walnut board. Used a brace & bit to make some holes, then used a coping saw to cut out the shapes in the board. Then some trial & error in test-ftting. Yes, the front stiles cant towards each other in the front view – so I had to tilt the seat down on one stile’s top end, then get it slid down enough on that stile so it would engage the other. so there is some gapping here & there, but I tried to minimize it. I undercut the sides of these square holes where they sneak around the stiles. only got one small split. They are often broken on surviving chairs.

  4. Peter,

    How dry is the walnut you are using? Was there a particular reason for using walnut?
    Looking forward to the box workshop at Drews
    in June.


    • John
      the walnut is kiln-dried I’m afraid. and it’s been a winter project in my shop, so no moisture has really worked its way back into the wood. I wrote a number of posts about the project, several of which outline my thoughts on the wood. the reason for walnut was customer preference. see you at Drew’s.

  5. Peter,

    My walnut experience is with kiln dried. The splits and chipping will wrinkle your emotional stability.


  6. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is
    very much appreciated.

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