Farewell, Fair Roorkhees

This morning I mailed two Roorkhee chairs to customers on either side of the continent. It was a bit of a bittersweet job. I’m glad to have these chairs completed and out of the house. But the kids liked sitting in them, and I became enamored with them for some surprising reasons.

For one, they are damn comfortable – as comfy as a Morris chair. And they look good with our traditional/modernist furniture. But that’s not where my affection ends.

This week, my daughter Katy and I have been humping these chairs all over the city to photograph them – across parking lots, through parks and in and out of cars. I carried one of these chairs with one hand and while loaded with a complete photography and lighting rig. Even Katy was able to tote one of these chairs all day without any complaint – each chair weighs about 10 or 11 lbs.

And when it came time to pack them up to their final destinations, all the leather, brass and wood fit into a box measuring just 24” x 12” x 6”. With the packing material, the box weighed between 13 and 14 lbs. I could have packed them into an even smaller box if UPS had carried the right size.

Within a few minutes of packing up these chairs, I received two more orders for them.

I’m going to make only one more run of these chairs this year – I have books to edit, lay out and write. So if you want me to make one of these chairs for you, my recommendation is for your to make them for yourself. They are incredibly easy to construct, and my plans for them will be published in a fall issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

But if making them doesn’t interest you (bovine phobia?), here are the details for this last run of 2012:

• The chairs will be in genuine mahogany, finished with garnet shellac, just like the chairs shown above.

• All the hardware is solid brass or steel and aged to look vintage.

• On leather, I’ll offer a choice of colors for this run that ranges from the cognac color shown above to a rich black.

• The depth and width of the seat can be customized for you – the originals were quite narrow (about 16″ between the legs). The current run has about 17-1/2″ between the legs for “modern” hips. And I can go to about 19″ before engineering becomes an issue.

• The chairs are $750 each, delivered in the United States.

If you want one, let me know before June 30 at chris@lostartpress.com.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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18 Responses to Farewell, Fair Roorkhees

  1. Marshal says:

    I need to show these to my wife! Look like a FUN project.


  2. Steve Jones says:

    I am absolutely stoked about making a pair or two of these. Will the article address alternatives to leather (e.g. canvas) and mahogany? I don’t get no superstar discounts.


    • lostartpress says:


      Any wood will suffice for the frame. As to the covers, canvas will work just fine. I hope to offer specific alternatives and techniques in the coming months. Bottom line: Build one and it will all become clear and simple.


      • Robert Justiana says:


        The chairs are awesome, and I’d love to build one or two. Would it be advisable to try them without the turnings for those of us who are currently lathe-deprived? Will the article suggest sources for hides and hardware? Thanks.


        • lostartpress says:


          The lathe work is so simple that even I can do it… Any friend with a lathe could turn these legs in less than an hour.

          As to leather sources, the world is your oyster. Any Tandy store will have plenty to choose from. Check out Brettuns Village: http://www.brettunsvillage.com/ for hides at a reasonable price. Really, the leather work on these chairs is a piece of cake.


    • rwyoung says:

      It seems to me that the latheless could use a spokeshave to shape the legs.


  3. Jon says:

    They indeed look like beautiful chairs. What about rawhide in place of leather? It would be less likely to stretch if kept dry and even lighter-weight. Any historical examples of raw-hide upholstered chairs?


    • lostartpress says:

      I haven’t seen any references to rawhide for the seats in traditional chairs. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t done. And it doesn’t mean it cannot be done. During the last 120 years these chairs have been covered in a wide variety of stuff.


  4. Rascal says:

    I can’t wait to see this article! I definately gotta make a couple of these. I too am lathe deprived. Would a mini lathe be wide enough to handle these legs? I gave my son a Jet mini several years ago for turning pens. Maybe this is what I need to justify a full size lathe? Been thinking about building a spring pole too, but not sure I want to go that route.


  5. Bob Jones says:

    I’m looking forward to the article and I plan to build at least 1 for me without a lathe. I bet chamfers will look nice. I hope you will follow your own advice and build one for yourself 🙂


  6. Chuck Nickerson says:

    As one of the two customers, I do plan to build some for myself.
    This way, I also have a Schwarz original.


  7. Andrew Yang says:

    Is this foreshadowing a name change to Lost Art Press & Furniture or Schwarz & Daughter Co.?


  8. John Kuszewski says:

    Thanks for the pictures of the packed-up finished product, Chris.

    I actually have visions of taking these down a notch, replacing the turned legs with (straightish) pieces of branches, with the tenons cut with a Veritas round tenon cutter. Then they’d be the ultimate camp chair to take along to Boy Scout camp.

    Am I being stupid? Is there anything about this chair’s engineering that’d prevent it from working when made in a fairly slipshod, non-dimensional way? I’ve never built a chair before.


    • lostartpress says:


      It’s six sticks and four dowels. It’s hard to mess up. The plans will show you where to drill the holes so the chair is comfortable. I’ve built lots of chairs. This is the easiest, most forgiving and most comfortable one yet.


      • John Kuszewski says:

        Do the leather arms serve any structural function? Seems to me that if you’re putting them on with some tension, that might be significant. Same question for the straps on your first chair.


        • lostartpress says:

          Yes. The arms hold the legs in place. And they are a place to put your arms….

          The side-to-side straps operate similarly. Those straps are completely necessary.


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