I’m in Roorkhee chair production mode this weekend. I have two chairs that need to go to a (very patient) customer in December. And I have enough material to eek out a couple more chairs – if I don’t make any mistakes.
(Hey, I might get to keep one of these chairs for myself. Or I can sell it and help pay my daughter’s tuition.)
With this run of chairs, I’m implementing a change to the stretchers that has been in the works for several years. I experimented with it when “Campaign Furniture” first came out, but never put it into production.
The goal is to shore up a weakness in these chairs – the stretchers can split when subject to too many beef brisket sandwiches. Before the book came out, I increased the diameter of the stretchers compared to historical examples and relied on riven or dead-straight material. That helped.
To strengthen them more, I contemplated switching to hickory for this component, which is likely the strongest chairmaking wood. But its color would clash with the mahogany components.
So instead I’ve beefed up the stretchers to 1-7/16” in diameter and have left the center sections octagonal instead of turned round. This does several things:
- The stretchers don’t roll around on the floor when assembling and disassembling the Roorkhee.
- They are indeed stronger – there’s more material.
- You cannot feel the facets when they are wrapped in the 14 oz. latigo leather.
I now make the stretchers before making the legs. The turnings on the stretchers are easy, and that gets me warmed up for the legs, which have sections that transition from round to square. One false move on the leg turnings and you have made pricey firewood.
— Christopher Schwarz