A Firsthand Look at a Gragg Chair by Don Williams

A couple weeks ago I got to look over Don Williams’ version of the Gragg chair, an incredible early-American example of a steam-bent elastic chair.

Made from oak that Don harvested himself, the chair is incredibly lightweight, flexible and comfortable. It’s like sitting in an exo-skeleton that is hinged in all the right places. And if I didn’t already know a good deal about Samuel Gragg’s chairs, I’d have guessed that the chair was a contemporary design.

OK, so if you aren’t up to speed on Gragg’s work, check out Williams’ article on building the chair in the current American Period Furniture journal, the annual publication of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. Read this blog entry I wrote about the chairs as Williams was building them. And check out several kinds of Gragg chairs here.

Williams is considering making these chairs for market and is perfecting the tricky jigs and techniques required to make them. And he’s tweaking a couple joints to prevent the chairs from failing (he’s seen enough of those while at the Smithsonian).

— Christopher Schwarz

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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5 Responses to A Firsthand Look at a Gragg Chair by Don Williams

  1. tsstahl says:

    Very reminiscent of metal outdoor furniture to my uneducated eye. Now I know the modern manufacturing behemoths copied art from the past.

    Was it Shakespeare that said nothing is new under the sun? Which in turn came from the Christian Bible?

  2. They have a very lovely one of these at the Huntington Library that I was looking at just today. Many of you from your office could have seen it and other cool wooden things, when you were here last weekend.

  3. Mitch Wilson says:

    I was looking at that December blog just yesterday. It’s that chair that has encouraged me to take a couple or three chair building courses next year. Is there any way of getting the APF article online or some way of ordering this issue of the journal?

  4. mike siemsen says:

    Mitch,
    Join SAPFM and they will probably send you one, They always send out the current issue.
    http://www.sapfm.org/membership/join.php

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