I have sworn off chairmaking for a couple months as I finish up some cabinet jobs and four teaching gigs overseas. But when August rolls around, this chair and I are going to have a serious conversation.
I stumbled on a pair of them at Colonial Homestead in Millersburg, Ohio. The only information about them on the label was they were from New England and were likely made between 1790-1820.
To my eye, they look remarkably modern. I love that the rake of the spindles and legs are in opposition to each other. The armbow, of course, is also a piece of work. It’s laminated from two pieces – both steambent as far as I could tell.
While I would love to make a faithful copy of this chair, I don’t think that’s a good starting point. The seat is incredibly small. I do not have a reputation for a large posterior. In fact, several rescue parties have been dispatched to find my missing butt. My wife often jokes that when we become rich she will pay for implants for me.
But when I sat in the chair I felt like a cork in a wine bottle.
So the seat has to be a bit wider. Aside from that change, however, the chair is fairly comfortable and straightforward to build. I might omit the bead detail on the front posts. I might not. Because of the thick paint on the chair, it was impossible to determine the wood species that were used (likely pine for the seat). So I’ll just have to guess based on historical examples.
I haven’t built a low-back chair for many years. Should be fun.
But first, dovetails.
— Christopher Schwarz