I built a prototype of a Morris-inspired outdoor chair this during the last week. The chair wasn't supposed to be a prototype but I made a major goof on the chair
, so I am keeping it for us. I decided on a week ago to make two of these All-Weather Morris chairs for our daughter Kristel for Christmas:
The plan and the article about making the chair are by David Theil in the book 'Arts and Crafts Furniture Projects' as published by Popular Woodworking. Beside the picture, you see my parts cutting plan.
There is a striking similarity between this chair and a "real" Morris chair with photos and plans in the same book:
Some day, I hope to tackle making the real chair.
The plan called for construction out of 3/4 inch thick pine. But, I decided to use 1 inch thick (5/4 dressed) western red cedar instead. When I picked up Margaret from physical therapy Monday at noon, she was very surprised to see a load of 16 foot long 5.5 inch wide, 1 inch thick cedar on the roof rack of the car. I drove very slowly and carefully. Here enough of the wood for two chairs and two stools is sitting just outside my woodworking shed:
The plans call for 71 parts in a chair and stool after cutting all these parts ((as well as 10 more that I found I needed (but more on that later)
most of the edges were rounded over on my router table using a with a 1/4 inch roundover bit then sanded with 80 and finally with 120 grit paper. Here one part is about to be sanded:
The four legs were made as Ts using screws glue and simple butt joints. In fact, all the joints in the chair and stool are butt joints. David Theil only glued and screwed a few of the joints in his chair and used a brad nailer on the rest. I glued and screwed all the joints.
The top of the back legs were cut at a 5 degree angle, started on the table saw then the cuts were finished by hand:
The top edge of the stretchers had to be cut at an angle and my guided circular saw made this an easy task: Now I realized that I had goofed!
The bottom side stretchers were supposed to be installed with the top edge 8 inches off the floor. I installed them with the bottom edge 8 inches off the floor. I decided to add another set of side stretchers lower down, so that the bottom of the extra stretchers will be in the proper position:
Next, the side slats were installed:
It turned out that 15mm thick plywood was exactly correct to use as spacers.Now I realized that in correcting the above goof the way I did, I had compounded the problem.
The front and back rails were supposed to rest of the side stretchers 8 inches off the ground and there was no way to make this happen. What I should have done when I realized that I had installed the stretchers in the wrong place was to remove them in spite of the glue. At this point, I declared this chair to be a prototype that I would keep rather than give away. The only solution that I could think of was the install the two sides inside out, that is with the slats on the outside rather than the inside of the chair. I proceeded to do this. Cleats were installed to support the front and rear rails: Things went from bad to worse.
I dropped the assembly and split the board used as the front of one of the front legs:
This I managed to fix with lots of glue:
From distances greater than a metre, I could not see the crack in the repaired leg at all. It is about time something went right.
Now to the arms. Tapers needed to be cut on the back of each arm. I couldn't bother getting out a rail and plunge saw to do the job for such a short cut; rather I just cut the taper freehand with my table saw. It was surprisingly easy to do and to cuts were perfect. I realize that this could be dangerous and do not advocate that anyone else follow my example here.
A piece was cut at an angle at the front of each arm then glued together in order to create a bent arm:
The front part of each arm was strengthened with two Miller dowels:
Beveled cleats were attached to the inside of the front and rear rails:
Next, I stained most of the parts then installed the seat slats:
I built the frame for the chair back and tested it for size and position:
The back is to be attached to the chair with a continuous hinge (stainless steel, of course)
. A bevel had to be cut on the bottom of the back stiles. I set up my Incra sled to do the job but thought better of it. That setup seemed awkward and, in the end, I simply sawed the bevels by hand:
The seat back was temporarily installed:
It's a good thing that I tested the back, because I realized that if the back were allowed to descend all the way forward it would put undo pressure on the hinges and, eventually, pull out the screws that were holding the hinge. This seems to be a design flaw not noticed by David Theil. A way to prevent this was to place some sort of blocks on the sides of the back that would be stopped by the arms. Margaret suggested that a make these with a angle matching the angle of the tapers on the back of the arms so that the blocks blend in to the design. I did this, and we both think that they do blend in well ?and they do a good job. Here is a picture with the seat back folded forward as far as it has been allowed to go:
The back can assume one of three angles the use of a simple back support with embedded dowels that fits into a pair of holes drilled in the back porting of the arms. I secured each of the the dowels in the support with glue and with a Miller dowel drilled through the support at a 90 degree angle and into the dowel:
I love those Miller dowels - they come in so handy so often!
Here the back support is about to be inserted into a pair of holes in the chair arms:
The chair is a somewhat unusual size for outdoors; that is bigger than a Muskoka chair but smaller than a lounge chair. This means that I was unable to find a ready-made pad for it. But I found a nearby place that will make what I want and am awaiting a quote (probably about $100 per pad)
David Thiele's stool also has a pad, but I am leery of placing pads on furniture that people are likely to be resting dirty shoes upon. So, my stools will not have pads. Since there will be no pad, I had to change the stool design a little bit. The other thing that I didn`t like was that the stool is rather plain. I wanted it to have at least some hint of being Arts and Crafts inspired. But I also wanted to stick to the butt-joints only restriction so not introduce something like through tenons. What to do? The aspect of Arts and Crafts that appeals most to me is the exposure and featuring of the joints. There is a somewhat interesting joint formed by the L seen at the tops and bottoms of the legs and I decided to feature those joints in the stool top.
Both Margaret and I think that this creates the desired impression.
Here is photo of the completed chair and stool:
They are both finished with one coat of Sikens Cetol 1 078 Natural stain. I will store them inside during the winter and add a second coat in the spring.
I will post a picture with the [ad once I get a pad.