House of Chairs

 

black finial

My family & I took a quick trip to visit friends in Maine. No class, no workshop, lecture, etc.  Just plain fun. Scattered about the self-proclaimed “house of chairs”  is a great mis-mash of ladderback chairs. When I began woodworking in 1978, I started with this book.

MACFAT cover

 

It showed how to make a “shaved” chair. Same format as a turned chair, but no turnings.

Here’s a turned Shaker chair –

shaker rocker

 

 

Many years later, I learned some about furniture history & found references to “plain matted chairs” and “turned matted chairs” – matted referring to the woven seats. (See American Furniture, 2008 for an article on shaved chairs – “Early American Shaved Post and Rung Chairs” by Alexander, Follansbee & Trent. )

Here’s a nice $15 version, from French Canada. Through mortises all over, rungs & slats. Probably birch. Posts rectangular, not square. Did they shrink that way, or were they rectangles to begin with? 

 

 

sq post 1b

sq post 1a

 

Rear posts shaved, not bent. 

 

sq popst side

sq post rear

 

Tool marks, sawing off the through tenon, hatchet marks from hewing the post. 

 

sq post tool marks

 

Small wooden pins secure the rungs in the post. Did not see wedges in the through tenons. Tool kit for a chair like this is pretty small, riving & hewing tools – drawkinfe, maybe a shaving horse? – tools for boring a couple of sizes of holes. what else? A knife? a chisel for the slat mortises…

 

sq posat thru t

 

Here’s an armchair – also shaved.  Big. the curved rear posts angle outwards. the arms meet the arris of this post…one front post has a nice sweep to it. I forget if the other does…

sq post armchair

It was a tight spot that had enough light…so I had to tilt to get the whole chair in this shot. 

sq post armchair overall

The side seat rungs and the arms both have this bowed shape…

sq post armchair overall rear above

Although the arms have been moved down in the rear stiles. 

sq post armchair mortise in rear

I couldn’t get high enough to really capture the shape of the rear stile… I’d guess these stiles are bent this time, not shaved. 

sq post armchair rear stile

The front stile, swept outwards. 

 

 

sq post armchair front post

 

You should see the cheese press. A masterwork of mortise-and-tenon joinery.  Next time I’ll empty it and shoot the whole thing. 

cheese press detail

 

cheese press detail 2

 

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11 thoughts on “House of Chairs

  1. I love Appalachian stick furniture. My apartment building just cut about fifty cherry trees so up to my neck in green cherry. I am working on my second green wood stool and its coming along nicely. This is very inspiring.

  2. That is a really cool cheese press, I’m guessing it has two sets of pulleys for mechanical advantage, one each side and that windlass pulls up a movable lower level?

  3. The big armchair may be either French-Canadian or French, if beech. The arms on the Chipstone chair arm similarly high, presumably to accommodate a heavy cushion on the seat, otherwise you’d lower the arms too!!

  4. […] The book Make a Chair from a Tree has been out of print for a long time.  Old copies are expensive and difficult to find; but there is good news!  I was happy to see in a recent post on the Lost Art Press blog that an updated version is in the works, as well as an upcoming book by chairmaker Peter Galbert.  Alexander’s book inspired many, including Peter Follansbee (see his related blog post here). […]

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