Roorkhee Chairs with No Turning


The turnings on the Roorkhee chairs I build are beyond simple – easier than pen turning, to be sure. But some woodworkers simply do not want anything to do with a lathe. For those of you who fall into this camp, here are some ideas.

1. Get over your fear/dislike of the lathe. It’s a fun machine, whether powered by foot, indentured servants (e.g. children) or electricity. This would be a fantastic first turning project.

2. Pay someone to turn the legs for you. There are lots of production turners who could bang these legs out in about an hour.

3. Make the chair with legs shaped by other tools. As shown in the photo above, in the 1930s version of this chair made by Kaare Klint, the makers omitted the cylindrical turning near the top of the leg. The shape at the foot could be made with a drawknife, spokeshave and a gouge or two.

Then there are the chairs shown below, which have a “Land of the Lost” feel to them – kind of mid-Chakka, if you ask me. I think they look clunky, so I’d opt for one of the three choices above.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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10 Responses to Roorkhee Chairs with No Turning

  1. rjusty says:

    It’s interesting to see Klint’s version of the Roorkhee. I have long been fascinated by his folding “Propeller Chair”, and hope to someday build one. It would (though more modern) addition to a collection of high-end folding and portable furniture.

    • rjusty says:

      I meant to say It would “make another great addition to the collection”, which in my case will start with a Roorkhee. I suck at typing, and today I’m eating Vicodin. :)

      Robert Justiana

  2. Bob Jones says:

    Nice. I’m planning a build now with no lathe. I don’t hate a lathe, but I don’t have the time or money for one yet…

  3. mikeagnew says:

    “mid-Chakka” made me laugh out loud. I had a sudden vision of Will Ferrell dumping dinosaur urine on himself.

  4. Randy Goodhew says:

    I’ve got a pair of real Kaare Klint chairs that I found in an antique store in Florence, KY. I paid $45 for the pair. No turning/no woodworking required! Now I need to make a pair using your plans.
    Asante sana (Swahili for Thank you).

  5. Patrick says:

    I’ve seen that pic before and the chairs are supposed to go together bunkbed style to save space in the tent. :)

  6. Scribe says:

    “Easier than pen turning”? Be careful, you’ll anger the pen maker’s syndicate. As near as I can guess, they’re everywhere. And they’ll come after you with their little blocks of highly-figured exotic wood.

    Tread lightly…

  7. Jonas Jensen says:

    I must say that I like Kaare Klints version better than the one with turned legs (but then again I am from Denmark where we like boring looking furniture). It looks a little “cleaner” without the weight saving turnings at the top of the legs.
    Jonas

  8. Lane says:

    I was just thinking yesterday that, since I have no lathe or the funds for one, that I could certainly make this using a spokeshave and chisel to round the legs/stretchers. Now I’ll have to do it that way. :)

  9. Fran Caron says:

    Chris, the look of the ” chunky” style chair looks more like the chair as created by the locals in the Indian villages. The seats and backs may have been woven or made of canvas and lashed together with cord.. The buffalo hyde would have been and English addition as the finer turning on the legs. The chairs would not have had round stock for the rails, but mortice and tenion joints. To view the native ” hand tool” methods search the web for ” charpoy” there are some interesting vidios on their methods. Charpoy, in India, means four legs and the modification of the bed to the chair is a change to accomodate the non Indian needs for a sitting charpoy. My assumptions are based upon my living in India for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, 1970-1972, as a vocational education instructor in an Industrial Training Institute on the eastern side of the country where life is not as comercialized as the western side. The vidios on the net are taken in Pakistan at a much later time than Roorkhee was created as an Industrialize city. Fran Caron BVEd

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