One of the parts of my next armchair that I’ve struggled with is the shape of the armbow. On my most recent chair, I used a maple arm that was cold-bend hardwood. It’s a sleek look, but I decided that it was too complex for “The Anarchist’s Design Book.”
So I decided to go back to the first stick chairs I built in 2003 and use a three-piece armbow. This form of arm is chunkier, but you don’t need to bend anything, and it can be really strong if you orient the grain so it follows the curve of the arm.
The armbow is 7/8” thick and 2” wide for the most part. Then it swells to 2-3/8” at the hands. Well, swells isn’t the right word. I began expanding the radius of the outside of the arm along the front 4”. How did I do this? French curves.
Then I used a second french curve to make the front edge of the armbow.
This was not all one flash of inspiration. This was four iterations. Draw it on paper. Cut it out in 5mm underlayment plywood. Stare at it until I hate it. Repeat.
I kept doing this until I didn’t hate it.
Then I cut out the arms in some air-dried locust (thanks Brendan!).
Tomorrow it’s back to working on the seat.
— Christopher Schwarz