some chair terms illustrated w period examples

some pictures, spurred on by Chris Schwarz’ last 2 posts on his blog, and my earlier one from today.

A stool. common as can be, but early ones (16th/17th centuries) are less common than hen’s teeth. This one’s from the Mary Rose (1545)


Joined stool. simple, you’ve seen this sort of thing here hundreds of times.

MET stool small file

Its cousin – the joined form. same thing, just stretched out.



While we’re at it, let’s get the wainscot chair out of the way.

wainscot chair Pil Hall


a variant – the “close” chair, “settle chair” of Randle Holme, although his illustration might be a different version.

metcalfe chair


This is what Holme illustrated, I can’t imagine a more difficult way to build a chair.

dug out chair 001

Turned chairs. Ugh. these get weird. First, the “turned chair”  “great (meaning large) chair” “rush chair” – lots of names could mean this item.


This is the one Holme said made by turners or wheelwrights, “wrought with Knops, and rings ouer the feete, these and the chaires, are generally made with three feete.’ = I would say, except when the have four feet.

welsh chair overall 2 welsh chair 12


Like this one: the real kicker here is that these chairs have beveled panels for seats, captured in grooves in the seat rails. Thus, sometimes called: a “wooden chair” = chairs often being categorized by their seating materials.

DUTCH turned chair



Now we have a “wrought” chair, “turkey-work chair” – and so forth. I mentioned in a comment on Chris’ blog the other day, forget the construction here, (joiner’s work, w turned, and in this case, twist-carved bits) it’s the upholstery that makes the splash. These were top-flight items in the 17th century.



Same gig, only leather. (this photo is I think from Marhamchurch Antiques)



Randle Holme’s turner’s chopping block looks a lot like Chris’ image today from Van Ostade, of a “country stool” – I’d have a chopping block in my kitchen if I could…but we’re out of space.

turners chopping block



That was fun, I never get to use much of that research these days.

Back to spoon stuff tomorrow…there’s a mess of them available here =


12 thoughts on “some chair terms illustrated w period examples

    • Holme says a “buffet” stool is a joint stool. Maybe upholstered? Beer or brewing stools – if we have something here it’s buried in Maureen’s files. God knows when we’ll dip into those folders…

      • I was wondering about these beere stools. That’s also an old spelling of bier upon which sits a coffin: 1611 Bible (King James) Luke vii. 14 Hee came and touched the beere.
        1658 Sir T. Browne Hydriotaphia i. 7 Feretra or Beers of Wood. There’s a tradition (maybe Victorian, ugh) of calling joined stools coffin stools round here. They are about the right height!

  1. On the dugout chairs, Chinnery says they weren’t all “dug out” from a log. The examples he cited were made from two pieces. You find a rotted log. Remove the junk inside and fit a seat board inside. So you let mother nature and bugs do the work for you.

    • makes sense – except one of these I scanned is said to be oak – don’t see oaks rot that way much. So I bet it’s not really oak. Sycamore would be perfect here in the US, or catalpa. Not so heavy that way too. I still wouldn’t want one, nor want to make one…godawful things.

    • A friend made a couple of feed-troughs for cows with the hollow log method. They held up surprisingly well over the years. Surprising, because the rest of the wood rotted, but not the outside. My guess is they rotted while the tree was standing, but I’m no forrester.

      • The red oak that I made my joined stool from came from a tree that fell over because the core had rotted out at ground level. It didn’t break off so much as kink and fold over; like a drinking straw bent at 90 degrees. There was a lot of tension in that fold! It made cutting it off kind of exciting.

        The butt end of the trunk is still lying in the ravine – now I’ll have to go and check it out for a dugout chair. I can’t upload photos here, but I made the stump my gravatar!

  2. I wonder if dugout chairs coul possibly have been burnt out like Native American burl bowls were often made.

    Wow, that turners chair…showing off?

  3. Awesome, I’ve been looking for pics of that kind of chair since seeing one at the armory antiques fair years ago and getting the crazy idea to make one. Now I know to google dug out armchair.

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