This is how much I dislike these chairs: I have offered to give my children $100 each and a new stick chair if they will let me burn theirs to the ground.
This is how much they like the chairs: They refuse.
These chairs are based on the scene at the beginning of the film “The Fellowship of the Ring” where Bilbo is beginning to write his tale at Bag End. My kids adore these movies (I much prefer the books as they were life-changing for me). So this style of chair was the logical choice for the kids.
At the time, I had never made a backstool with an integrated armbow before. And I struggled to make the sticks as I was trying to turn my sticks at this point. (I gave up turning sticks after these chairs and now shave all my sticks.)
I could go on and on about everything that is wrong with this chair. But I won’t.
After I finish “The Stick Chair Book,” I think I’ll make a couple replacements for my daughter’s red hobbit chairs and see if they’ll take the bait. And, I’ll be sure to publish the plans here, too.
— Christopher Schwarz
67 thoughts on “Hobbit Chair: Against my Better Judgment”
I’d love plans. Ever think of contacting Weta workshop and ask the reason for the chairs? Who made them and why???
Well… I like it. And I want to make one.
Adorable. I’m calling those spindles “corn dog spindles.”
I do, truly appreciate the eclecticism — where else will you see a red Hobbit chair next to a wall-hung coffin with a Buddha candle inside. Just marvelous.
You may not be happy with them but I like this one and your daughters certainly love them.
I think I can see why you don’t like them, but I definitely understand why your kids love them.
It will be most interesting to hear what Rudy and Klaus have to say about this one. Personally, I do kinda like it, too.
My thoughts exactly,
I’m with your kids. Cool chair.
You are too hard on yourself, that’s a nice chair. Your daughters are smart, because they know that maybe someday the chairs will be worth a lot of money, especially if you signed them.
I don’t think it has anything to do with money
So… They are just waiting for Chris to die so the price of the “Hobbit Chairs” goes bunkers. LOL
Chris those girls deserve some royalties from the fortune you’re going to make from selling millions of plans!
Understand why you’re girls love them. A perfect article idea with plans for us hobbits!
Never give your children something that you later wish to be firewood. They will prefer it to anything because they instinctively understand that parent-abuse is acceptable only when you have enabled it! It is akin, though the direct opposite, to making (or purchasing) something you think your cat will use or like, which they will NOT. Cats are perverse in that they will only appropriate the objects you rather they would not, like your favorite chair. Your children and cats may sincerely love you but there are limits to how they will express it.
It’s nice to see this photographed though. I’ve paused the films in Bag End more than once to sketch some of Bilbo’s furniture for someday projects. It’s not my style even, but somebody in the production had to make all that and there’s a story I’m sure.
Thank you for sharing Chris. I think it’s pretty cool 🙂
The seat and legs are distinctly Schwartz. Overall, it looks like an American Welsh Stick Chair and a bretstuhl had a torrid affair
I love it. Soooo much character.
Might I suggest a replacement chair from the Elvish style? Perhaps something from Rivendell. That might get them to switch. Although you’re fighting a lot of history with their current hobbit chairs.
I first read that as Elvis style, was picturing a gold lamé finish
Like the Hobbit chairs–you’re a good dad! Also, you’re right–the books are much better and were life changing for me as well.
Yeah, that’s not going to be my first chair project.
Follow through with your plan, and I think that your daughters will just end up with 2 chairs that they love, and you will still have $200 in your pocket. You just can’t compete with sentiment. Lovely chair, btw.
I love the fact that you don’t love them. There’s hope for the rest of us!
I too have furniture items that I made …..and hate.
I too gave them away to my kids and friends only to see them 20 years later.
It’s like your old high school picture that keeps resurfacing, you just can’t undo it.
I’m with you on the books v. the movies. The chairs? Meh.
What’s the saying, “It’s so ugly It’s cute”. I think you captured that sentiment perfectly. What a hoot, thanks for sharing.
Are the legs fluted square tapers?
Personally, I think anyone who wants to burn a treasured piece of somebody’s childhood and replace it with something they think is better is the worst kind of person. That’s how we get movie reboots.
Just saying. 😉
Thanks for the picture
Great chair! Flawed? Yes, but built with passion and soul! No wonder your kids love them.
Oooh how about a chair chat featuring this chair and 1 each of rudy and klaus’ early good and terrible chairs?
They are right. You are wrong. Well, it could use a little glitter….
Nothing wrong with these chairs. Pretty good for an early attempt IMHO. They look like they have lots of character and personality. You might kick yourself if you send them to chair heaven (or hell).
I think the chairs are right where they need to be. I have two bedside tables made from plans in the old Workbench magazine. One made by my dad, the other made by my father in law. Just typical 50s painted utility furniture. Wouldn’t trade them for anything.
My Daughter is a costumer at Weta studios and word may reach them under some unfavourable tidings.. beware the power of Hobbits who have their chattels blasphemed..
Anyhow iv’e made some chairs that I thought in retrospect could have reaped more provinence. , good onya Dad!!
Regardless of your feelings about the design or execution, what you’ve accomplished here Chris, is the very thing that you’re inspired by when researching and presenting old stick chairs. Once we’ve made something and released it to the world, either through use, or sale, or gift, it is often others who decide it’s value. How many songs have been written that have taken on an unexpected or even unintended life by the author? To make something that brings another joy, or that they otherwise cherish, is one of the most amazing aspects of what we do. I respect your humility, but will gently remind you that you’ve done well sir.
My youngest has been bugging me for a hobbit chair. It’s on my short list. I had to grab screen shots to study because she wants a copy of the chair from the movie. I can see the inspiration in yours, but obviously your goal was not to create a reproduction/copy. If you really zoom in on the movie chairs, they have some weird features. Kind of a cross between a plank chair and a stick chair but with what appears to me to be turned and reeded legs. Can’t tell how the battens are joined either but being a movie prop I’m sure they aren’t joined, probably just screwed on. I’m sure your daughters like them for what they are though. And they’re a piece of their childhood, which is way more important to them than being a perfect design.
Your daughters have excellent taste. And you are far too hard on yourself. Like any skill, chair making is a cumulative effort. We all begin at step one and move up from there. And of course, we cannot forget the love with which they were made. That is what really makes them so beautiful. Looking forward to this book.
I think the chair is fire engine red so that nobody notices the super secret forbidden trap door of wonder underneath it.
So you turn out to be a Tolkien fan who prefer the books? Why am I not at all surprised?!?
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings” were the books I read the most as a young’un — and I read and reread a lot (and still do). I lost count of my Tolkien rereadings somewhere around the one hundred times-mark at age 15 or so, and I still take them out and read them again at least once a year. When the films came out, I tried watching them, but had to stop after *The Fellowship of the Ring”, as I couldn’t bear the gratuitous changes they made. Of course adapting a book to film means that some, well, *adaptation is unavoidable, and I was prepared for that, but they’d also tried to “improve” on the characters and the story, and that I could not take.
As far as life-changing fantasy goes, though, I think over the longer run, Terry Pratchett has won out in my head …
About the Hobbit chair, well, your writings on staked and stick chair forms has made me very curious about and more attracted to them, so I’m purty dang sure that down the road a bit I will want to try my hand on at least one. Let’s just say it won’t be a hobbit one, though.
Thank you, nevertheless, for letting us see it!
(Apologies for the misplaced asterisks that turned half a paragraph into italics, instead of just a few words as was my intention.)
And now the real question: what would be a Pratchett style chair? Maybe a witch cottage one? Or a chair in the treacle mine street police station?
Mad Hamish’s wheelchair?!
Hot cattails on a tin roof! I’m with you on those back sticks.
So if your path is followed through to it’s conclusion, and we follow a similar path, then we can expect that we will dislike our earlier works so much we must do them over? What happened to your love of the vernacular? Why don’t you just accept them as historical pieces? What happened to built for a lifetime? Accept them.
I’ve also paused the movie to look at the design in Bilbo’s hobbit hole. It’s so cozy! I love the chair. It has a warm and welcoming look.
Totally get it. I personally get much of my inspiration from the furniture that Pa builds in the Berenstein Bears books. That’s true. I’m not being facetious.
I have a special corner that for 10 years has been occupied by an Ikea ‘Poäng’ chair that offends my New England Yankee sensibilities. Yet is the only place I sit. Should paint it red?
Of course you are a fan of LOTR. Why else would you build Radagast’s throne? Which I happen to love.
OK, but these are pretty damn charming!
I gave my parents ceramics I made when I first started. Later, when I got better at it, I wanted to induce them to give up the old pieces by offering them something nicer I had made in exchange. You would have thought I was asking them to give up a puppy. They still have those old pieces.
Mr. Schwartz, Have you forgotten the reason you built the chairs? Wasn’t it because you love your daughters (and LOTR)?
That’s why they are not going to be burned, traded in, or otherwise dismantled. I have the same feeling about the wizard’s wand I shaved for my Harry Potter obsessed daughter. The plastic molded D****y gift shop item was not going to be bought… So for Halloween, I created a simple wand out of scrap mahogany. She loved it! She still loves it! I would love to replace it. But I will never be able to replace it. Yes, I cringe every time i see it, but I will never be able to rest it from her hands. She loves it.
That is… absolutely just fun and charming.
Do you have any plans for a shaving horse? I’m looking for one so that I can shave my own pins for timber framing.
I don’t use a shaving horse, I’m afraid. There are good plans in Drew Langsner’s “Country Woodcraft” and Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook.”
I think the world needs to know how many BTUs are in a hobbit chair…
I’m going to save you money! Come burn any chair you want in my house for just $50! Bargain!!! (And I’ll be happy that I don’t have to rid myself of it myself…)
Kids love any furniture that’s kid-sized. My mother had a little stuffed rocking chair (think, 1940’s stuffed living room chair with rockers) that she totally loved as a kid. When I was a kid, it became mine. It was still at my grandparents house, for me to use when I visited. I loved having a chair of my own that fit me. When my grandparents passed on, it went to my mother for safekeeping who thrilled visiting children when she pulled out the chair and set it front of the TV for them, “while the adults talked”. Unfortunately she only had the one chair, and if there was more than one child inevitable fights over the chair would ensue.
When my parents passed on, the chair passed to me. Which caused no small amount of anger in my sister. She wanted it because she’s a school teacher and wanted it for her reading corner in her classroom. She hasn’t spoken to me since that moment, much to my delight. I even promised to make her copies of it so she could have more than one, but no bother. Good riddance.
The way my sister fought me for that chair, I say “don’t get your hopes up” in getting those hobbit chairs from your kids.
BTW, I’ve never seen another one of those chairs. Making a new prototype of it is on my short-list of projects to do this summer.
I like it. CHAIR CHAT!
Simply send a sample of the ashes. I bet f you won’t have any. Beautiful chairs. Soften up, dude!
The books and the Lost Tales remain life changing, and without any intent to denigrate, the imagination may soar beyond the limitations of cinema. A star shines in the hour of our meeting . . .
“Well it won’t bring much cash, but it’s sentimental value is through the roof!” The Simpsons S12E03
The chair looks cool and I would love to build one. Where might I be able to get plans? I have not seen them in the LAP.com site yet. Maybe you might give a workshop in the future.
Thanks for being an inspiration and guide for so many years.
I wasn’t sure where to ask questions on chair building from the Anarchists Design Book. I am starting to work on the backed stool and was wondering a couple things. The high stool is built with 1 1/2 2x material. You built the backed stool with 2 1/2 thick material. Does the seat for the backed stool have to be built using 2 1/2 thick material? Also you atate that you built the top rail out of 18″ long material and then state that you can buy firewood that is 14 – 20 long which is perfect for a top rail. Foes that mean the top rail can be as short as 14″? If do, do you have to make any modifications to the spacing on the spindles?
When a chair, stool or backstool doesn’t have stretchers, the seat needs to be quite thick. I use 8/4 for my seats, which finishes out at 1-3/4″ give or take. You could get away with thinner, but there is some risk.
On the top rail, 18″-long is what is comfortable. As it gets shorter, you will start to feel the ends of the crest bite into your back a bit. So yes, you can make it smaller, but it’s not ideal. And yes, you’ll have to adjust the position of the spindles.
Chris – I do not see a referent to “the high stool” in my copy of the ADB. Is this in an add-on that you did later?
I don’t see how to remove my comment, but I just answered the question for myself. I did not connect the high stool image in my mind to the reference above and thought there was something I missed.
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