Spinning Chairs to Study

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To develop a good eye for chairmaking (or spoon carving or alligator wrestling), you need to study as many chairs as possible. Do it until your eyes glaze over.

Here’s a set of nice “Spinnstuhls” compiled by Rudy Everts in Bavaria. These so-called sewing chairs are from southern Germany and the Alps. These chairs are interesting to me in several ways. Some have a traditional undercarriage for chairs from this region – radical rake and splay, legs that taper to the floor, battens to thicken the seat – but some do not.

Check out the bent legs on a couple examples. A good guess is these came from a bent section of the tree, perhaps a branch or from the root section of a trunk.

Also, the variety of uppercarriages is fascinating. Some are joined, some look sawn from solid and some look bent.

Look through the gallery. Zoom in. Class dismissed.

— Christopher Schwarz

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20 Responses to Spinning Chairs to Study

  1. Joe Newman says:

    Looks almost like they’re (splay) designed for extreme side-to-side leaners.

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  2. Jonathan Schneider says:

    The extreme rake and splay might be
    Useful to resist pushing the chair backwards while kicking the sewing Maschine…

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  3. Continental cousins of the Welsh Stick Chair? Some of these examples have elements which would look completely at home at St Fagans.

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  4. johncashman73 says:

    It’s interesting, the leg taper going toward the floor, rather than toward the seat. I’d be interested to see one of your chairs with that configuration. But then I suppose it would be a Bavarian chair, not Welsh.

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  5. Haandkraft says:

    Looks a bit like an old Danish type of chair called “kringstol” – Like this one: https://www.lauritz.com/en/auction/kringstol-fra-aeroe-samt-trebenet-skammel-2/i4303944/

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  6. Brian Eve says:

    I think it’s cool that none of the arm rails on these chairs use a doubler. I thought the doubler gave the arm rail strength where it needed it. So much for what I think!

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  7. Edward Jednacz says:

    What I like about the chairs is they don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect chair

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  8. Richard Mahler says:

    I am curious as to why at least two of the chairs are both wide and shallow, nearly triangular, with virtually no functional arms. It seems that they could seat two small persons.

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  9. Richard Mahler says:

    It is also interesting that the majority have turned back and arm spindles (some half-round) but the legs are invariably quite plain.

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  10. Hmmm… Chris, if you make it back to STL in the near future, check out the Missouri History Museum. They have an exhibit there with an Irish chair that looks similar to this. I wondered why the back was so low on it. Maybe it’s a spinning chair…

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  11. Ken says:

    The arms on a conventional chair would be in the way while spinning. These seem to be either splayed wide enough to be out of the way or very low.

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  12. Chris Schwarz…..slowly becoming a chairmaker.

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  13. pinusmuricata says:

    The word spinne denotes spinning (and spider), so perhaps some characteristics of the chairs might have to do with that activity?

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  14. Scott Maurer says:

    Someone might call one or two of these “Banker’s chairs”. I would be very comfortable using an adaptation of this form for an office chair. It appears sewing has something in common with IT in that we like to sit the same while doing our work.

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  15. Mike Robertson says:

    Also interesting that none of the seats are saddled. Wonder if that was more comfortable for spinning (so you could change position more easily?) Or if was just easier to skip the saddling…..

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  16. burroborracho13 says:

    Those curved legs have had me up several nights the past few weeks. Can’t remember where I saw them or if it was a fever dream. Finally split some out the other day from the butt end of a log. Thanks for posting these.

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